Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Bunch Of Books

 My husband presented me with that latest of the omnipresent gadgets meant for staying in touch. Steve Jobs's iPhone. I was completely happy with my good old phone but even I thought I could use a new one since one of the buttons came off of it. So here he (my husband, not Mr. Jobs) goes adeptly turning off my old phone and connecting the new one and depositing it in my bag all in a good evening's work. Then he calls me as I was driving to work and I was totally surprised and happy to find it in my purse! At first I couldn't find much use for its many features but now I am a complete convert and am a fan of Jobs for a job well done. This is a quality product where every little detail was thought about and implemented to the satisfaction of a critical eye. The only complaint - and I think it a valid one - is that it should have had a good GPS installed. Something along the lines of what the androids sport so well as evidenced by my husband's 2 year old and still going strong google phone. Why am I blabbering out all this here? I would not have been able to capture this beautiful swan if it wasn't for the excellent camera on this phone so readily available in my jeans pocket. It was on a visit to our local park. I had not noticed him there before but apparently he is a regular visitor!

So nance asks if have stopped reading books. Without nance this blog will wither and die and so this post is for nance. I never stopped reading and they are what keeps me sane when things get on a never ending roller coaster or life throws its lemons around. Though I read I didn't have time to sit down and write'em impressions I have of the book and then I feel the soul of it is lost and that I cannot put what I felt on reading it. These are a bunch of books I read the past week. I am writing down a few lines here on each of them. There is not much in common except that they are all about women.

Little Bee By Chris Cleave (Published as The Other Hand in Britain)

With an eye catching byline on the back cover that claims in uncertain terms that they don't want to give out too much about this special story, the book easily came home with me. Yes, it indeed is a special story and  one of the narrators is what makes it so. The girl who calls herself Little Bee is an illegal immigrant to UK from Nigeria and the story begins when she is about to be released from the Immigration Detention Center. It goes onto get her story combined with that of a British couple. The second narrator is the wife who is also a magazine editor. The story revolves around what happened one day at one of the beaches in Nigeria where Little Bee's world collided with that of the British couple as a byproduct of the oil conflict in Nigeria. What was most interesting about this book was Little Bee's narration in first person. Refreshingly worded and told from a different angle, it attracts you immediately. The author draws deeply from his own experience in West Africa and his connection is evident in how well he is able to bring out this female voice. The book has snagged a few awards and will be made into a movie with Nicole Kidman as the second narrator.

The Wednesday Sisters By Meg Waite Clayton

At first glance the urge is to dismiss The Wednesday Sisters as a run-of-the-mil chick flick er.. book. In addition to being a satisfying chick read, it incorporates so many other elements that ultimately it becomes a flick for everyone. Granted, being set in Silicon Valley Bay Area may have twisted my hand a bit but who can resist a bunch of wives meeting regularly in the park in the late sixties eventually evolving into a group of writers and publishers through mutual support and encouragement? I'd like to be a part of that myself. The birth of Intel/silicon valley is a quiet presence all throughout since that is where one of the husbands worked! The venerable Robert Noyce is presented as a distant yet familiar figure. Clayton had her own version of Wednesday Sisters and this could be written in tribute which makes it all the more endearing.

The Dovekeepers By Alice Hoffman

There's been a flurry of various type of keepers lately. Memory keeper, bee keeper, bear keeper, you name it we have it. Something about it makes me not want to touch it and yet when I read one it is always better than expected. So it is with Hoffman's Dovekeeper. It is about four Jewish women from around the time of the Roman occupation of Judea who keeps the doves for a dessert settlement of the diaspora. It is based on the ancient settlement called Masada built on the ramparts of King Herod's Fortress overlooking the Dead Sea. Masada is second only to Jerusalem as a tourist destination. It was appropriated by a violent sect of Jewish fighters against Rome. The book is replete with magic and mysticism, gained and lost love as well as mothers, daughters and war. Each of the artifacts used in the book to perform magic or war was based on an actual such object found in the Museums around Masada and elsewhere according to the author. I found that very intriguing. It is almost as if those objects came to life and told their stories!  It takes talent to bring such a story together with that of four different women and make it as interesting as it is. Hoffman has succeeded very well in doing this.