Monday, May 7, 2012

Prayer for Owen Meany

Author:  John Irving,
Published by: Ballintine Books, 2009
Reviewed by: Nellie

    From his very first sentence John Irving pulled me into A Prayer for Owen Meany.  Irving, himself says of this sentence, "I may write a better first sentence to a novel than that of A Prayer for Owen Meany, but I doubt it."  This is a story about self-determination or lack of it.  It is about Destiny and about making things happen for yourself.  It is about being prepared for your destiny when it appears.  
   Yes, this novel is about those things and more.  It is about the unforgettable character Owen Meany who gets our attention from his very first utterance. Owen Meany, a tiny boy who looses control and rages when his Sunday School class lifts him up over their heads causing his teacher to exclaim, ". . . Owen Meany. . . You get down from there." (What was she thinking?) 
   John Irving skillfully introduces us to the characters of Gravesend New Hampshire. Every one of them have a purpose to the story.  Each character and many of their names are important to the story.  It wouldn't be the same without any one of them.  How people react to Owen Meany says much about their character and determines much about how their lives turn out.  
   While the story is about Owen Meany, destiny, God and the people they encounter, it is incidently a story about the times - a story about the 60's and its aftermath. It is a story about America and its own destiny.  
   Owen Meany, a child and a man comfortable with the hardness of granite had a distinctive voice could not be ignored or forgotten.  Irving's voice, in this novel is also not easily forgotten.  He has made me laugh with stories that still make me smile and he has made me question what I know about life and about what is important.  A Prayer for Owen Meany is not a story that happens every day.  It is as unique as is Owen himself, as unique as every character of Gravesend and as unique as each of us are as we search out and meet our own destiny. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012


 Author:  John Barlow

Hope Road , a mystery is reviewed by Nan, here at this link
Letters From a Hill Farm
This is Nan's very nice blog that covers a range of topics.  Today's is a book review with photographs from the area written about in Hope Road
By-the-way, the book is only $2.99 today at Amazon.  I haven't read it but Nan has convinced me to do so.  Click on the link above to buy it.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Warmth of Other Suns

Author: Isabel Wilkerson
Published by Vintage Books 2011
Reviewed by Nellie

     Starting with the story of Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, The Warmth of Other Suns  takes us on a journey that began in 1915 when the first African Americans began to leave The South for cities in the North. As descendants of American slaves, African Americans found many reasons to leave their home for unknown places. They were usually treated poorly, underpaid, undereducated and otherwise mistreated by their whiter neighbors.
     Isabel Wilkerson lovingly tells the story of Ida Mae, Dr. Robert Joseph Pershing Foster and George Swanson Starling as they face hardships in The South and ultimately decide to move north into a world unknown.  Their stories cover the entire scope of The Great Migration from 1915 and continued to 1965 and include great and not-so-great milestones in the history of The United States of America, the "land of the free, home of the brave."
   This is a long book - more than 500 pages - but it is an easy read of a very hard subject.  I considered myself pretty knowledgable of  problems between African Americans and others in America, but what I knew was just the beginning.  in The Warmth of Other Suns, Wilkerson leaves out little but she does so with a warmth and care that makes you care about the characters both their good and less attractive characteristics. She covers a subject that could be depressing but isn't because she shows us the joy and strength of  our human spirit.
     I read this book as quickly as a work of fiction.  It flows freely between time periods but does so in a way that made me glad to travel.  
    I recommend it for people who are interested in learning a part of history seldom written about or people who just like a good story.  A Warmth of Other Suns has several of them.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

News from Dead Mule Swamp

Author:  Joan H. Young

News from Dead Mule Swamp is a just released book from Joan H. Young introducing Anastasia Raven as the central character.  The newly divorced Anastasia or Ana (rhymes with Ghana) has bought a fixer-upper home right next to the Dead Mule Swamp and not too far from Cherry Pit Junction. She seems to be enjoying her new-found freedom and taking out her frustrations against her ex by taking a sledge hammer to the walls and ceiling of the home which she has claimed as her own.
     Things are going just fine until she finds an old newspaper which soon disappears right before she discovers a local man dead in her swamp. The reader works alongside Ana as she learns her way around the community in which she has chosen to live as well as accompanying her while she figures out just what her old newspaper had to do with the recent death.
     At just over 37,500 words, News from Dead Mule Swamp qualifies as a very short novel but that is just the right amount to tell this story.  In this first of the Anastasia Raven mysteries we not only meet Ana, the "star" of the series but we are introduced to several of her neighbors, including the intelligent Cora who is a bit of a mystery, herself.
       Joan Young has been successful in fulfilling several of the things I look for in a book.  The story was entertaining, interesting and made me want to keep reading until I completed the story.  When I was finished, I wanted to read more about Anastasia Raven and her swamp.
     Good News!  I have just read that Ms Young is working on the first sequel, Paddy Plays in Dead Mule Swamp  to read more about it and about other works by Joan H. Young, you may click on this link, Joan Young's Blog.  The link below will take you to Amazon where you can buy the Kindle edition of News from Dead Mule Swamp for just 99 cents.  What a bargain!
     Once you have read it, yourself, write me a note in the comments to let me know how you liked it.