Friday, August 29, 2008

summer booklust

Truthfully, I haven't had much success making things this summer, but I cannot say the same for reading. For most of our vacation it was my hobby of choice, and my solitary subway ride home has really been adding up in reading hours. I've even finished another Canadian novel since I took this picture, but for now I'm going to see if I can do a quick recap of the six books above, three of which are part of my Canadian Challenge list.

A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews: Gut-wrenching. The insight into the lives of Manitoba Mennonites was fascinating, and yet so heartbreaking. After reading Toews' memoir for her father, I could see him in this novel's father character and it just added so much more emotion to his fragile existence. The tragedy of being shunned by your own community is hard to fathom, but I rooted for the whole family despite their impossible future.

Loving Frank by Nancy Horan: Shocking, even though I never saw it coming. Most of the way through I had a difficult time empathizing with Mamah Cheney, the married woman who left her family to be with Frank Lloyd Wright. Her daughter was under 2 when she left and as much as I tried, I just couldn't get over choosing a man instead of your children. I feel bad even admitting it here, but I just couldn't let the feeling go. Regardless, the novel was a wonderful study of a particular time in history, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The ending knocked me clear off my feet and I can't stop thinking about it. And to know that it's goodness.

Novel About My Wife by Emily Perkins: I saw the author on Rogers Television on what must have been a very impressionable night. The next day I decided to pick the novel up as my vacation treat - a brand new hardcover about two creative types dealing with marriage and pregnancy. Unfortunately I was disappointed. The tension was good, even creepy, but in the end I don't know exactly what happened and it left me annoyed. For the time I invested, I wanted to at least understand the ending. I must be losing patience as I age - it was just like the end of Half Nelson, which still bugs me even thoughI enjoyed Ryan Gosling's performance.

The Given by Daphne Marlatt: Long ago someone handed me Ana Historic and I devoured it. I loved that novel, and to this day I rank it as an all-time favourite. So you can imagine my high expectations for The Given. Sadly, my experience wasn't the same. Definitely there were beautiful passages and fragments of thoughts that I savoured, but the story itself wasn't as complete for me and I lost interest quickly. I dog-eared many, many pages - I just think the novel form wasn't right for this story. Does it count if I say the cover is fantastic?

A Map of Glass by Jane Urquhart: Oh, Jane Urquhart. I adore everything she has written and this particular novel was spectacular. Also, I read it at the cottage, in Prince Edward County, having no idea that the novel was set inPrince Edward County. Clearly this added another dimension to my experience, but I wouldn't have needed it, the novel was such a pleasure on its own. Her language is so clean and gentle, and I fall into another rhythm when I'm inside one of her stories. The characters fascinated me and the whole notion of landscape informing our essential nature is inspiring.

The Tenth Gift by Jane Johnson: I chose this mainly because the story synopsis mentioned a 17th century embroidery pattern book, but I enjoyed it far more than I was expecting to. Of all these books, it was the lightest and swiftest, almost like chick-lit for the fibre geek (that's me). I learned historical facts I never knew, travelled from the British Isles to Morocco and enjoyed descriptive passages about fabrics and needlework. It was exotic, authentic, and I know my Mom is going to love it!

Hmm, I just realized that's a lot of girl power - I should sneak a male author or two in soon! And next time I'll try to get back to the knitting comparisons. Six was simply too much to tackle this late at night.


Rebecca said... [Reply to comment]

oh i like Jane Urquhart, too. and i totally agree with your assessment about Tenth Gift being chick lit for fiber fans. I loved it's embroidery emphasis, but found the story not as deep/complex as I liked/hoped. will have to check out your other reads as well. thanks for sharing, i always love to learn what people are reading.