Monday, March 31, 2014
Mira Jacob carries her readers into the life and world of Amina Eapen and her family, over twenty or so years, from early days in India to the US in the 1980's and 90's. Amina heads home to New Mexico, from her world as a photographer in Seattle, when her mother calls, concerned about the erratic behavior of her father, a prominent neurosurgeon. What those two sentences don't capture is the lush richness of character that Jacobs presents her readers, to tease the palate, and satisfy the appetite. As the story progresses, both retrospectively and in the modern day, each scene, each character, is laced with with depth and detail that make these seem like situations and people you might encounter in your own world: stubborn, idiosyncratic, loving, funny, quirky -- real (but real people you wouldn't mind knowing, and definitely wouldn't mind having a meal with, if Kamala, Raj, or Jamie were doing the cooking.) One of the things I enjoyed most was the role food and flavors played in this novel.
This is a novel of mind and memory, and how the two can interact at different times of our lives. It also is a novel of heart, hope, and ultimately, healing, as we move forward with the bumps and upheavals of life. This book supposedly took Ms Jacob 10 years to complete. I hope we don't have to wait that long for another chance to dip into the rich vibrancy of her world.
Thank you to LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program and Random House for this book. It is available for sale 1 July, 2014.
Friday, March 28, 2014
Thursday, March 27, 2014
Though the first half of the book moved a bit slowly for me, the pace did quicken as the mothers got closer to Europe. The personalities and backgrounds of the women featured in the book did seem to cover various walks of life, allowing glimpses into the worlds of different slices of society during the Depression. There were also some memorable characters introduced in Paris, notably Griffin Reed, an expatriate American journalist and Florence Dean Powell (based loosely on Anna Coleman Ladd, an American sculptor, fascinating in her own right, one of the artists who designed lifelike masks for gravely wounded soldiers.) While the book itself was a nice enough read, it was the pages of history it lead me to explore that really have enriched my life. Thank you April Smith, for again bringing these subjects to my attention so that I could delve more deeply, and thank you to dearreader.com and Random House for sending a copy of the book my way. I am grateful, and grateful to the men and women who honor our country by serving in the armed forces.
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
I read this delicious book just before we moved. In fact, I think it was the last book I read in the old house, and I was just too dang busy to do a proper review. Now, of course, it's a month after I finished it, and though the book has stayed with me, many of the details have fled. I do remember thinking that I loved some of the details the author included -- the cost of something on a advertisement/sign painted on a building, etc. Those made things more realistic, tangible, for me. I liked the two stories, present and past, and liked that though they were related, there was no denouement where the two characters were blood relations or something. What a great feeling to read a book you like, and to learn something from it as well. In this case, I learned a lot about the Orphan Trains, which were an amazing piece of US history -- well intended, and in some cases, ending happily, but in others, opening up worlds of heartbreak.
Sunday, March 23, 2014
Loved this book so much that I downloaded the kindle app for my phone to read it, since I couldn't get a hard copy in my hot little hands -- and I seriously despise going to the dark side with e-books. My big thing, though, was I wanted more backstory on Simon and Baz! (Will do a proper review at some point, but go read the book. You won't regret it.)
Thursday, March 20, 2014
The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II by Denise Kiernan
Maybe it was my childhood awareness of Oak Ridge, maybe it was my love of history, but I had put this book on my reading list. A friend sent it on to me (thank you Nancy!) when she saw I was interested in it. Such a fascinating collection of people, in a fascinating time and place. All were very ordinary, and very extraordinary at the same time. The secrecy surrounding the project, some of the rules and regulations, and the level of detail thought through in some areas (while totally ignored in others, such as what to do with the mud at the site, to allow people to get about) was fascinating. It did take me a little bit to keep the various people and their story lines straight (for though this is non-fiction, there are times when it really doesn't read as such.)
I found this a thoughtful and though-provoking look at history, and the women, from janitor to scientist, who helped build the atomic bomb. They did, indeed, change the world.