Princes of Ireland

Rutherfurd, Edward. The Princes of Ireland. Narrated by Richard Matthews. Books on Tape, 2004.
Rutherfurd, Edward. The Princes of Ireland. Doubleday, 2004.

Reason read: in honor of the Cat Laugh Comedy Festival in Ireland.

Rutherfurd’s Princes of Ireland opens with a lesson in geography, anthropology, and history. I am always learning something new with historical fiction, like the difference between overlords and feudal lords. Did you know that Celtic warriors rode their horses naked? Kissing each other’s nipples is a show of forgiveness? Clans buried their warriors standing up, facing their enemies camp, to keep an eye on them? So many customs and traditions and that is not even getting into the politics of the country!
Although I kept making comparisons to Thomas Flanagan’s Irish series, Rutherfurd’s Ireland is much rowdier than Flanagan’s epic tale. People stealing horses for animalistic (pun intended) pleasures was a head scratcher for me. I have heard the rumors of men with sheep, but horses? Mythology and rituals abound. As an example, the success of the season’s harvest is dependent on the druid’s blessing. All of these details are a vehicle for the clever entanglement of fact and fiction – details so interwoven it is hard to tease them apart.
My favorite part of the story was Rutherfurd’s mastermind of the relationship between Margaret and Joan. Margaret’s misconceptions and prejudices of Joan were skillful and plausible. It was like a medieval gossip rag. Here is another drama: the king’s wish to divorce his Spanish wife for the love of another. The townspeople quarrel about who is in the right.

Edited to add a quote I liked, “Marriage is like religion, in a way, it requires an act of faith” (said by Dame Doyle, p 740).

Author fact: beyond the Ireland saga, Rutherford has also written London, Sarum, and The Forest which are all on my Challenge list. I am not reading the novel about New York.

Book trivia: Princes of Ireland is epic. It spans seventeen centuries of Irish history and is only part one of the saga. The Rebels of Ireland continues the journey.

Nancy said: Pearl did not say anything specific about Princes of Ireland.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Ireland: Beyond Joyce, Behan, Beckett, and Synge” (p 110).

Tenants of Time

Flanagan, Thomas. Tenants of Time. Warner Books, 1989.

Reason read: to continue the series started in March in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.

This is the account of the Fenian Rising of 1867 in the time of the Parnell Special Commission. All of Ireland rises up and greets war with bravery and stern determination. The chief storytellers are Patrick Prentiss and Hugh MacMahon, but you’ll also meet Robert Delaney, a shopkeeper and Ned Nolan, a terrorist. Like Katherine by Anya Seton Tenants of Time walks a tightrope between fact and fiction – a beautiful balance of great storytelling.

As an aside, I have a pang of nostalgia reading about Waterford crystal. I dated someone who lived in Waterford. He was my first “exotic” love.

Quotes to quote, “It was in a different world that he tended his roses, not the world of the white March morning” (p 174), and “It was a moment hinged upon silence, upon dreadful expectation” ( 201).

Playlist: “A Nation Once Again”, “The West’s Lake”, and “God Save Ireland”.

Nancy said: Pearl called the entire trilogy “magnificent.”

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Historical Fiction for Kids of All Ages” (p 114).

Year of the French

Flanagan, Thomas. Year of the French. Henry Holt & Company, 1979.

1798. Ireland. It all starts when a school teacher is asked to write a letter to a landlord. Arthur Vincent Broome offers a narrative of the events that followed. Malcolm Elliot writes a memoir. Sean MacKenna shares a diary. Characters from every angle share a voice in the telling. Thus begins a long and tumultuous history of Ireland, starting with the Rebellion of 1798. As with any war, the Rebellion is violent tide that sweeps up anyone in its path, be they Protestant, Catholic, Papist, landowner, landless, landlord, farmer, soldier, blacksmith, teacher, poet, peasant, gentry, French, English, Irish, man, woman, or child. Narratives come from all of the above and readers are cautioned to read carefully, to concentrate on the voices. Flanagan puts you into the plot so well that at any given moment you are either on the side of the Protestants or Catholics. Either the French or the English welcomed you into their camps. Year of the French describes war maneuvers as well as personal rifts between families, struggles in marriages and livelihoods.
As an aside, I felt like Year of the French was half written in a foreign language. Words like boreen, kernes and omadhaun kept me diving into Google for answers.

Line I liked, “I have never broken the law when sober” (p 92). Amen to that. Here’s another from the diary of Sean MacKenna, “There are some pf these fellows who don’t know that the world is round, and for all they knew, they were being marched off to the edge of it” (p 260).

Confessional: I always keep a running biography list of characters whenever I see there are too many to keep track of. For example, Citizen Wolfe Tone is the founder of the Society of United Irishmen. Donal Hennessey has a handsome wife and is the father of two sons. Malachi Duggan is a unicorn in Ireland because he doesn’t drink. Matthew Quigley owns the tavern where Duggan doesn’t take drink.

Orbital information: I love it when one part of my life informs another. In Year of the French Flanagan writes the words “the parting glass.” If I wasn’t listening to an Irishman’s music, I wouldn’t know “The Parting Glass” is a funeral song (and a very beautiful one at that).

Book trivia: Year of the French is book one in Flanagan’s trilogy about the history of Ireland. I am reading all three.

Author fact: Amherst College holds Professor Flanagan’s papers. Too cool.

Nancy said: Pearl called Year of the French magnificent.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Historical Fiction Around the World” (p 113).

Outlander

Gabaldon, Diana. Outlander. Read by Divina Porter. Recorded Books, 1997.

Reason read: Valentine’s Day is in February. Outlander is somewhat of a romance.

Modern day is 1945. War is afoot. Claire Randall is on holiday with her newly reunited husband, Frank. Both have been involved in the war, he as a soldier, she as a nurse. Scotland is a chance for them to reconnect, a second honeymoon of sorts. The couple finds useful ways to spend their time, him researching information on family ancestry and she looking for herbs and medicinal plants. While wandering around the Inverness countryside, Claire hears a tiny humming noise emanating from Scotland’s version of Stonehenge. Upon touching a buzzing stone, Claire faints then reawakens in 1743. So begins the journey of Claire Beauchamp that everyone knows so well. the burning question on everyone’s mind is how will she get back to modern day history professor and husband, Frank?
The real question to me is, after tangling with her husband’s ancestors, would she change her own present day life? On the heels of reading Kindred by Octavia Butler, I couldn’t help but make comparisons between the two time-travel novels. Butler’s Californian heroine, Dana, not only accepted her situation readily, but understood her purpose for being sent back to slave-era Maryland. Gabaldon’s English heroine, Claire, barely questions her jump back in time and seems to integrate herself into 1743 seamlessly. Dana finds a way to take her husband back in time with her while Claire not only leaves her modern day husband behind, but falls in love and marries a 1743 Scotsman. Claire’s main purpose, after some time, seemed to be her usefulness as a nurse and her knowledge of events in the future to save the clan who took her in. Neither Dana or Claire seem too anxious to return to their original place in time.

As an aside, when I mentioned to a friend that I had started Outlander her eyes lit up as if I had just handed her a million dollars. “Oh, I love that book” she gushed. I could tell she wanted to say more , but I hushed her with a “nope, nope. nope.”

Author fact: Gabaldon, at the time of publication, was also a professor. cool.

Book trivia: There is a certain craze surrounding Outlander. My husband cannot wait for me to watch the series. Even though there is a movie of the same name, they are not one and the same.

Playlist: “Up Among the Heather”.

Nancy said: Pearl classified Outlander as paranormal. She also calls it the best of the five (at the time) books in the series.

BookLust Twist: Pearl favored this one. From More Book Lust in the obvious chapter of “Time Travel” and again in Book Lust in the chapter “Romance Novels: Our Love is Here to Stay” (p 203) and “Romans-Fleuves” (p 208).

Brooklyn

Toibin, Colm. Brooklyn. Scribner, 2009.

Reason read: October is festival month in Ireland. Time to celebrate the green isle. I also needed a book with a one-word title for the Portland Public Library Reading Challenge.

Colm Toibin writes with such clear sincerity one can easily walk in young Eilis Lacey’s shoes as she navigates entry into adulthood. Unable to find decent employment in rural Ireland, she is taken under the wing of Father Flood, an Irish priest who has emigrated to the big city of Brooklyn, New York; the land of opportunity. Father Flood has seen Eilis’s talents and believes she will do well in America. Leaving behind her widowed and weak mother and vivacious sister, Eilis slowly makes a life for herself in her strange new city. Even though she is naive she finds work, starts college for a career in book keeping, and even finds a nice Italian boy with whom to fall in love. But, Brooklyn is not Ireland. It’s not even close to feeling like home. No one is her true family. When she is called back to Ireland following a family tragedy, it is no surprise that Eilis falls comfortably back into old routines. Only this time she is a different, more confident young woman. Both worlds feel right to her. Both worlds are home but which one will she chose?

I found myself identifying with Eilis in small insignificant ways. I wear makeup when I need a little extra courage. I think my sister is the coolest person on the planet.

As an aside, I found myself humming “My sister Rose” by 10,000 Manaics after every reading of Brooklyn. It could have been sung from the perspective of Eilis Lacey.

Author fact: Toilbin has written a bunch of other books. I am reading a total of four of them for the Book Challenge.

Book trivia: Brooklyn was made into a movie in November 2015.

Nancy said: Pearl explained that Brooklyn was in the Ireland chapter of Book Lust To Go because the first and last parts take place in a “beautifully evoked” small Irish town (p 111).

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Ireland: Beyond Joyce, Behan, Beckett, and Synge” (p 110).

The Van

Doyle, Roddy. The Van. Penguin, 1997.

Reason read: to finish the trilogy started in March in recognition of St. Patrick’s Day.

The Van picks up pretty much where The Snapper left off. Daughter Sharon is now a new mom with a toddler, Gina. Jimmy Rabbitte’s house is getting too small even though some of his children have moved out. A baby can do that. Unemployed and bored, Rabbitte babysits Gina until his best friend, Bimbo, loses his job. Suddenly as men of leisure they have all the time in the world to play endless games of pitch and putt, ogle teenage girls and roam the bars drinking and trying to pick up women (or as they say, “chasing women who had “fine sets of lungs” and “their arses fit nicely on the stool; there was noting flowing over the sides” p 266). It isn’t until Bimbo buys a van with the hopes of turning it into a burger food truck that the two men start to have a purpose for getting up in the morning. They have no idea what they are doing and in the end it nearly destroys their friendship. By turns funny and desperate, The Van was my least favorite of the series.

Favorite parts: Jimmy Sr.’s boredom takes him to new heights. I laughed when he tried to understand the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins…and when he gets a library card.

Author fact: I have one last Doyle book to read, A Star Called Henry.

Book trivia: The Van is the final installment in the Barrytown trilogy. The cover illustration is weird…until it isn’t. It is a weird perspective of Jimmy, Bimbo, and their van. The view is of the underside of the van as if you are looking up from underwater, but at a floating angle.

Playlist: Bob Geldof, “New York, New York”, Kylie Minogue, The Cure, “Mighty Quinn”, “Teddy Bears Picnic”, Megadeath, Anthrax, The The, UB40, “Nearer My God to Thee”, “Hippy Hippy Shake”, and Georgia Satellites.

Nancy said: Pearl called the whole Barrytown trilogy humorous.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Irish Fiction” (p 125).

Snapper

Doyle, Roddy. The Snapper. Penguin Books, 1992.

Reason read: to continue the series started in honor of St. Patrick’s Day and Ireland.

I can safely say most everyone knows about Doyle’s first novel, The Commitments. It was made into a pretty good movie and had a phenomenal soundtrack. I am willing to bet more people know the music than the book or the movie combined. The Snapper is like an episode of Seinfeld where a whole lot of nothing happens to an ordinary group of people. The plot centers around the fact Jimmy Rabbitte’s sister is pregnant. If you remember Jimmy Rabbitte, Jr., he was the guy who started the band, the Commitments. He wanted to be a manager of someone famous in the worst way. Remember how, in The Commitments he was always practicing his interview? In The Snapper his dreams have changed slightly. Still looking for fame, he now wants to be a disc jockey. But enough about Jimmy Jr. This time he isn’t the lead character. He is firmly in the background while his sister, Sharon Rabbitte, takes center stage as a twenty year old unwed mother-to-be. Like The Commitments, the dialogue carries the story. Family members and friends all try to guess the baby daddy. I felt bad for Sharon’s highly emotional and confused father. One day embarrassed about who knocked up his daughter, the next reading everything he can about what she is going through. The Snapper gives a spot-on account of the good, bad, and ugly elements of pregnancy.

Author fact: Doyle has also written books for children.

Book trivia: The Snapper is the next book in the trilogy, but can easily read on its own. Aside from the Rabbitte family, there is nothing to tie The Snapper back to The Commitments.

Playlist: Jennifer Rush’s “Power of Love,” “The Hills Are Alive with the Sound of Music,” “Just a Spoonful of Sugar,” Bon Jovi, Curiosity Killed the Cat, Tina Turner, Victor Sylvester, Alison Moyet’s “Is This Love,” Alexander O’Neil’s “Fake,” and James Brown’s “Living in America.”

Nancy said: Pearl thinks of Doyle when she thinks of Irish fiction.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Irish Fiction” (p 125).

Commitments

Doyle, Roddy. The Commitments. Vintage Contemporaries, 1989.

Reason read: The Commitments takes place in Dublin, Ireland and St. Patrick’s Day is in March. Plus, I needed a book about music for the Portland Public Library Reading Challenge.

Having never seen the movie of the same name, I had no idea what to expect from the book. Much the same way “The Full Monty” made me laugh out loud, so did The Commitments. It’s a fun read. A lively group of young unemployed men and women want to be a band. They want to be famous and rake in the money, but they don’t know what it takes. When they hire a manager the first thing he tells them is that they will be a soul band. The then instructs them to stretch themselves to find out what “soul” means to them: the streets? The act of getting outside one’s self? What they learn is that relationships are hard and people are complicated. Doyle takes us through the first installment of the Barrytown trilogy with humor and grit.

Quote to quote, “For a few minutes the Commitments broke up” (p 64). Aint love grand?

Author fact: Doyle has won the Booker Prize.

Book trivia: Despite The Commitments being more of a novella at 154 pages, it was made into a movie in 1991.

Playlist (and there is a lot): Animal (from the Muppets), Al Green, BB King, Big Joe Turner, the Byrds, Bruce Springsteen, Berry Gordy, BP Fallon, Blood Sweat and Tears, the Beatles, Booker T and the MGs, Bachman Turner Overdrive, Charlie Parker, the Crystals, Depeche Mode, Diana Ross, Dolly Parton, Eddie Floyd, Eddie and the Red Hots, Echo and the Bunnymen, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Frank Sinatra, the Four Tops, George Michael, Gladys Knight, George Jones, Herbie Hancock, Human League, Isaac Hayes, John Coltrane, Joey Irish Fagan, Jackie Wilson, Jethro Tull, Joe Rex, Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, Led Zeppelin, Little Richard, Lamont Dozier, the Monkees, Madness, Madonna, Martha Reeves, Marvin Gaye, Microdisney, Martha and the Vandellas, Otis Redding, Phil Lynott, Peter Tosh, Percy Sledge, the Ronettes, Roxy Music, Rolling Stones, the Shangra-Las, Simple Minds, Smokey Robinson, the Supremes, Screaming Jay Hawkins, Steve Cropper, Sam Cooke, the Strangles, Stevie Wonder, Screaming Blue Messiahs, Scraping Foetus Off the Wheel, the Specials, Tina Turner, U2, Wilson Pickett, and Yoko Ono.
Songs: “Anything Goes,” “Bells of Rhymney,” “Chain Gang,” “Dancing in the Streets,” “Get On Up,” “Knock on Wood,” “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World,” “I Heard it Through the Grapevine,” “I Thank You,” “I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better,” “Louise,” “The Lord is My Shepard,” “Masters and Servants,” “My Girl,” “Morning Has Broken,” “Moon River,” “Night Train,” “Out of Sight,” “Papa Got a Brand New Bag,” “Relax,” “Reach Out (I’ll Be There),” “Sex Machine,” “Stop in the Name of Love,” “Stoned Love,” “Tracks of My Tears,” “When a Man Loves a Woman,” “Walking in the Rain,” and “What Becomes of the Broken Hearted.”

Nancy said: Pearl mentioned the “Barrytown Trilogy” as an example of humorous Irish fiction even though she feels on the whole, fiction coming out of Ireland is sad.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Irish Fiction” (p 125).

January Jinxed

January is a month of great indecision. I can’t decide if I want to say more…
If there is one thing I can say for the January books, it is that most all of the fiction made mention of great music. Some musicians I knew, some I didn’t. Some songs I knew, some I didn’t. I had fun looking it all up though.

Fiction:

  • Sanctuary by Ken Bruen (EB & print). Music: Philip Fogarty, Anne Lardi, Rolling Stones, Snow Patrol, Johnny Duhan.
  • The Farming of Bones by Edwidge Danticat (EB & print).
  • Moonlight Downs by Adrian Hyland (EB & print). Music: Lucinda Williams, Slim Dusty, Nick Cave, The Warumpi Band, Ry Cooder.
  • The Catastrophist by Ronan Bennett (EB & print). Music: Charles Tenet.
  • Graced Land by Laura Kalpakian (EB & print). Music: Elvis, Elvis, and more Elvis.
  • The Beijing of Possibilities by Jonathan Tel (print). Music: Leonard Cohen, Beethoven, and the fictional heavy metal band, Panda Bear Soup.
  • The Passage to India by E.M. Forster (EB & print).

Nonfiction:

  • Barcardi and the Long Fight for Cuba by Tom Gjelten (EB & print).

Series continuations:

  • Master of Hestviken: the Son Avenger by Sigrid Undset (EB & print).
  • The Persuader by Lee Child (EB & AB).

Early Review for LibraryThing:

  • Fine, Thanks by Mary Dunnewold (EB). Music: Ella Fitzgerald, Dave Brubeck, Mose Allison, Talking Heads, Aaron Copeland (can you tell, Dunnewold really likes music!).

Sanctuary

Bruen, Ken. Sanctuary. New York: Minotaur Books, 2009.

Reason read: Bruen’s birth month is in January. Read in his honor.

Warning! This is the kind of book you can read in one sitting. It is less than 200 pages with a very fast paced, tight plot. That isn’t a bad thing. It only means you can reread it a second or third time. You may need to.
The first time I met Jack Taylor I wasn’t sure I liked him. Like his creator, he carries a massive amount of surly anger inside him. Everything Jack Taylor mutters is dripping with sarcasm. Because I met him mid series (Sanctuary is the seventh book), I was hoping Bruen would bring me up to speed on exactly what makes Taylor tick. I wasn’t too disappointed. He is ex-police, booted from the force for his excessive drinking; walks with a pronounced limp and wears a hearing aid. He has stayed “friends” with a former partner, Ridge, and often discusses unsolved crimes with her. In this case, Taylor has received a check list of future murders: two guards, a nun, a judge, and a child. Ridge, recovering from breast cancer surgery doesn’t think much of the list, but when a guard, a nun, and a judge all die, it is hard for Taylor to ignore the list.
Taylor also has a priest for a nemesis. Who gets on the wrong side of the church in Ireland? Apparently Jack Taylor.
Here’s another detail to Sanctuary that I loved: Bruen’s inclusion of music. I could have compiled a “Sanctuary Playlist” from the music he mentions. To name a few: Snow Patrol, Philip Fogerty, Rolling Stones, and Johnny Duhan.

Line I loved, “Books had brought me through so many hangovers, not that I could read them then, but they were a lifeline to some semblance of sanity” (p 65).

Author fact: There are a bunch of YouTube videos of Ken Bruen talking about his writing process and how he got started. Like reading his book, once I started watching, I couldn’t stop. He is a fascinating person.

Book trivia: Sanctuary is book seven of the Jack Taylor mystery series and the only one I am reading for the Challenge.

Nancy said: Pearl called Bruen’s mystery “gritty.” She goes on to say, if you are going to read more of the series you do not need to read them in order because the story lines are contained. As I mentioned earlier, I am not reading any other Bruen mystery for the Challenge.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Ireland: Beyond Joyce, Behan, Beckett, and Synge” (p 110).

January Jumping

Believe it or not, I’m kind of happy with the way January is shaping up already, five days in. After the disappointments of December I am definitely ready for change. I’m running more these days. I convinced a friend to see sirsy with me. I’m not sure what she thought, but I am still in love with the lyrics. Anyway, enough of that. Here are the books:

Fiction:

  • The Catastrophist by Ronan Bennett – in honor of Bennett’s birthday being on the 14th of January. (EB)
  • Sanctuary by Ken Bruen – in honor of Bruen’s birthday also being in January. Confessional: I read this book in one day. (EB)
  • The Farming of Bones by Edwidge Danticat – in honor of Danticat’s birthday also being in January. (EB)
  • Graced Land by Laura Kalapakian – in honor of Elvis’s birth month also being in January.
  • Passage to India by E.M. Forster – in honor of Forster’s birth month also being in January. Yes, celebrating a lot of birthdays this month!

Nonfiction:

  • Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba by Tom Gjelten – in honor of a Cuban Read Day held in January.
  • Beijing of Possibilities by Jonathan Tel – in honor of China’s spring festival.

Series continuations:

  • Persuader by Lee Child – the last one in the series, read in honor of New York becoming a state in July (and where Child lived at the time I made this whole thing up). (AB)
  • The Master of Hestviken: the Son Avenger by Sigrid Undset – this is another series I am wrapping up. I started it in October in honor of a pen pal I used to know in Norway.

Early Review:

  • I am supposed to receive an Early Review from November’s list, but it hasn’t arrived so I can’t mention it. For the first time in a long, long time (perhaps ever, I’ll have to look), I did not request a book for the month of December.

Absolution By Murder

Tremayne, Peter. Absolution By Murder. New York: New American Library, 1997.

Reason read: read in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.

To set the stage for Absolution by Murder: Sister Fidelma mysteries are set during the medieval mid-seventh century. At this time in history there is the well-known debate between the Celtic Christian and Roman churches in the Northumbria region. Its king stages a debate to determine the supreme authority and religious doctrine. The heroine of the series, Sister Fidelma, is an advocate of the ancient law courts of Ireland. But, when the Abbess of the Columban order is murdered Fidelma takes it upon herself to solve the mystery of who killed her friend.
Readers will get a lesson in the differences between blessings at the Trinity versus Columban church. Picture the sign of the cross: is it Celtic with the first, third and fifth fingers raised? Or is it Roman with only the thumb, fist and second fingers? The hand gestures are different yet both are valid forms of worship.

Lines I liked: I will not quoting anything because the author didn’t allow any part of the publication to be reproduced for any reason without the consent…blah blah blah. Instead, I will outline a scene I liked. Because of the time in history Tremayne needed to illustrate a world-is-flat kind of ignorance. Because the science of a solar eclipse was not widely understood in the seventh century, some took its occurrence as an omen something terrible was about to happen. In this case superstition rang true because soon after the eclipse people started to die.

Author fact: Peter Berresford Ellis  is Peter Tremayne’s real name. He started his writing career as a reporter.

Book trivia: Absolution by Murder is the first Sister Fidelma mystery. Nearly thirty more follow.

Nancy said: Pearl said you have to be in certain mood to enjoy Tremayne mysteries and that “those committed to reading the series in order” should start with Absolution by Murder.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Ireland: Beyond Joyce, Behan, Beckett, and Synge” (p 112).

May is a Month

What about May? May was a month of personal disappointments and private pain. I weathered all without much fanfare. Running was nonexistent but I can’t say the same for books:

Fiction:

  • Landfall: a Channel Story by Nevil Shute (EB)
  • Main Street by Sinclair Lewis (AB, EB & print)
  • Martin Sloane by Michael Redhill (EB & print)
  • Bruised Hibiscus by Elizabeth Nunez (EB & print)
  • Adrian mole: the Cappuccino¬†Years by Sue Townsend (EB & print)

Nonfiction:

  • Into Thin Air: a Personal Account … by Jon Krakauer

Series continuations:

  • Jade Island by Elizabeth Lowell (EB & print)
  • Last Seen in Massilia by Steven Saylor (EB & print)
  • Angel at My Table by Janet Frame (EB & print)

Early Review from LibraryThing:

  • 1968: — edited by — Aronson

Added – Plays:

  • Medea by Euripides ~ in honor of the best time to go to Greece.

 

So Long September

What an absolutely bonkers month. September was…How to describe September? The family had a reunion of sorts. The island suffered its fifth shock of the season with a quadruple murder. Running was another head-scratcher as I officially resumed physically therapy for my twisted hips. But. But, But! I was able to log over 30 miles. Nowhere near the 70+ I wanted, but it’s something. At least I haven’t stopped entirely. And the reading? Here are the books:

Fiction:

  • Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald (AB/print)
  • The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman
  • Burton And Speke by William Harrison (fictionalized history/historical fiction…whatever)
  • My Dream of You by Naola O’Faolain (AB/print)

Nonfiction:

  • O Jerusalem! by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre – Confessional: didn’t quite get all the way through this)
  • Everybody was so Young: Gerald and Sara Murphy, a Lost Generation Love Story by Amanda Vaill
  • Living Well is the Best Revenge by Calvin Tomkins

Series continuations:

  • Passions Spin the Plot by Vardis Fisher
  • Henry James: the Treacherous Years (1895 – 1901) by Leon Edel

Early Review for LibraryThing:

  • Boat Runner by Devin Murphy (fiction!)

My Dream of You

O’Faolain, Nuala. My Dream of You. Read by Dearbhla Molloy. Hampton, NH: BBC Audiobooks America, 2002.

Reason read: September is supposedly the best month to visit Ireland.

Irish born Kathleen De Burca has arrived at a crossroads in her life. Nearing fifty she loses her best friend and coworker to a heart attack. As a travel writer, Kathleen has lived in London for nearly thirty years and has never married or had children. Jimmy was the closest person she could call family. But, when she is presented with the lifetime achievement award she was supposed to share with her best friend she realizes there is more to life than travel miles and exotic venues. Why not go home to Ireland? Why not research a century old crime that has long fascinated her?
So begins Kathleen’s story. Her past is as complicated as her future is a blank slate. Giving up everything, she lays herself bare to the tragedies of the past; remembrances of long ago transgressions; all the cringe-worthy scars of yesterday. But, as she says on page 408, “Tragedies end.” And so they do. Kathleen learns to pick up the pieces and face the black slate of tomorrow with a different kind of courage than it took in order to come home.
As an aside, I felt the ending gave O’Faolain room for a sequel. Just saying.

Quotes I fell in love with, “I envied her both the Alzheimer’s and the caring husband until I realized that if she had the one she didn’t know she had the other” (p 410), “Happiness keeps you poised, and you do the right thing without effort, whereas you get things wrong when you’re struggling with lack of life” (p 438), and “Either take account of other people from now on, or go back to the bad old days” (p 484). On a personal note, I took a lot from Kathleen’s words. I, too, am a woman who has repeatedly shunned the thrum of humanity, preferring my own seclusions. I, too, need to embrace and take stock of others around me.

Author fact: O’Faolain also wrote a best selling memoir about her life as an Irish woman.

Book trivia: My Dream of You is O’Faolain’s first novel.

Narrator fact: Dearbhla Molloy won an Audio Award for the abridged narration of My Dream of You.

Nancy said: My Dream of You is “a good novel set in Ireland” (p 126). She also said it is a first novel she was “delighted to have read” (p 89).

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust twice. First, in the chapter called “First Novels” (p 88) and again in “Irish Fiction” (p 125). Also, in Book Lust To Go in the chapter appropriately called “Ireland: Beyond Joyce, Behan, Beckett and Synge” (p 111).