Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Wednesday Afternoon Book Club*

This has been a somewhat less prolific reading week than some I've had in the past - but I do have two very different books that I am recommending as being worth the time....

  • Lost and Found: A Novel - Carolyn Parkhurst
    On the surface, this is the story of seven pairs of competitors appearing on an "Amazing Race" type reality show. However, as we get to know the characters better, we see that they all have their own reasons for appearing on the show (aside from the obvious winning of the one million dollar prize.) We follow the ever-dwindling number of competitors around the globe (spending a great deal of time, to my delight, in Sweden!) as more and more of their secrets are revealed.
    Aside from simply taking a satirical look at the world of "reality television", this is just a fun story. Don't write it off as just a fluffy little romp around the globe, however - some of the characters have fairly serious back stories. Parkhurst, who wrote the earlier The Dogs of Babel (which I also enjoyed) does a great job of fleshing out characters, and not just allowing them to be flat stereotypes. You find that you actually care about a number of the back stories here. It's an entertaining and quick little read.

  • The Girls - Lori Lansens
    Canadians Rose and Ruby Darlens are, at age 29, the world's oldest surviving conjoined twins. Rose decides that it is time for her to write her autobiography, and at first sister Ruby resists, wondering "how can you write an autobiography when it is not just your story to tell?" Rose insists that she is going to do it anyway, and urges Ruby to make her own contribution. And so, each sister begins to put "her" story into words....
    As quickly paced as Lost and Found was, that's how leisurely The Girls reads. It is just simply beautiful. The story unfolds at a slow pace, but never seems to drag. As Aunt Lovey, the nurse who takes in "The Girls" when they are abandoned at the hospital shortly after their birth and raises them as her own, states "Even ordinary people live extraordinary lives".
    The plot device of having "the Girls" intermingle their chapters could have come off as overworked and tired, but comes across here in as quite fresh. Each girl enriches the story of her sister, in a most natural way - sometimes running parallel, sometimes diverging, but always enlightening. This is just a gorgeous, gorgeous love story. It's not a sit down and devour in an afternoon kind of book. It is a lovely and subtle story, that deserves to be read slowly and savored....

This week, I also read:
Velocity - Dean Koontz
Verdict: No Thumbs. For what it was, it was OK.

and three different Vietnamese Cookbooks - because I was planning on doing some Vietnamese cooking this week, until the grits and gravy discussions started up and got my Southern groove back on!

Previous Summer Reading Lists can be found here and here.

*And as long as I am alluding to the train wreck that is the Tuesday Night Book Club, is anyone besides me watching it?


Alicat said...

I caught the last 5 minutes of it and I think I will keep watching. It reminded me of the real housewives of orange county, which I am embarrassed to admit I watch all the time. lol

bekka said...

i've seen this (Lost and Found: A Novel) in stores and wondered whether it was good.