23 March 2012

What I Read This Week (and...the week before)

Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood by Ann Brashares: It was ok, it took me about an evening. I liked the way three of the girls acted, but I came away (if I were an impressionable young girl) with, "Even if you make a giant mistake, good can come of it," and "Don't be afraid to jump, even if you fall." Both of those sentiments seem innocuous, but in the context, I assure you they were not.

Shroud for a Nightingale by P.D. James: Remember how I endorsed James before? Now, I'm not so sure. I actually liked this one the best of all of them, but there are some iffy relationships if you are a more conservative reader. And I still can't decide if I like Inspector Dalgliesh or not.

The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards: I cautiously suggest that those who know me in real life should give this one a try. I read it for my library book club, and the discussion was very interesting considering that not all of the ladies in my group were Christians. In fact, we have one very tolerant Atheist.
The story is about a doctor who assists in the labor of his wife. Unexpectedly, they have a boy AND a girl, but the girl is born with Downs Syndrome. The doctor decides to give the baby girl to the nurse and asks that the nurse send her to an institution (this was in the 50's clearly...if it was now, the baby girl would probably be dead). When his wife wakes up (apparently they used gas during births?), he tells her the girl died. The nurse decides to abscond with the child instead of taking it to the institution, after she sees the deplorable conditions there. The children grow up separate for twenty-five years, and the secret grows within the family in a way tearing them all up. It's a sad story, but it's an interesting story. I've honestly never read anything where the protagonist of the story is a person with Downs Syndrome. Also, it brings up a LOT of questions about the value of a person. Like, I said earlier, if the baby had been born today, she would have been killed in the womb. Considering that this sort of thing is happening right now, maybe stories like this are becoming more and more important.

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith: Read this for my church book club. I'm leading so, I can't discuss it much here. I liked it. I thought the ending could have been more emotionally satisfying, but it was probably more realistic. It's written like a diary from a girl whose quirky family is living in an abandoned castle in England. That sounds sort of boring the way I just said it, but it really is good. Maybe after our meeting, I'll be able to do a better review. Maybe. Probably not.

Death of a Perfect Wife by M.C. Beaton: Another Hamish MacBeth mystery story. It was as formulaic as ever. Cute and funny, but still sort of earthy. Hamish is offered another promotion, but refuses because he loves his little village of Lochdubh, and he seems to fall out of love with his former interest, Priscilla. Also, he solves a mystery. These books are so funny because no one you like EVER dies. It's always some outsider who comes in to make trouble in the village, and serendipitously they are murdered by another outsider equally as unlikeable.

Postmodern Pooh by Frederick Crews: This is my review from Goodreads - I gave this three stars because I couldn't give it five. I wanted to give it five because it's HILARIOUS!
It's basically a satirical recounting of a fictional postmodern literary critique conference on the subject of Winnie the Pooh. Each "scholar" takes Pooh for his/her own personal spin in order to denounce the decline of the gentleman, or expose Piglet's hidden abuse, or lament the cause of woman. The book takes all the theories of the postmodern literary field and airs them for the world to see them for they really are: Absurdities.
However, I can't give it five stars because I don't want any of my conservative friends to unwittingly pick it up and be shocked at me. If you haven't caught on by cultural osmosis, a lot (and I mean A LOT!) of postmodern literary theory is obsessed with sex. Frederick Crews in his satire makes frequent use of this, and there are things in the book that are a pretty sketchy. So, it's funny, but consider yourself warned


Carrie said...

I've wanted to read The Memory Keeper's Daughter for awhile now. I still want to. Mostly I think it will prompt good conversation.

Can't wait to hear what you have to share about I Capture the Castle!

BerlinerinPoet said...

I think it was good. It was very sad, but VERY good for discussion.

Hooray! I can't wait for book club either! And that cake you are bringing. :-)