Since this is a blog about writing AND reading, I’m going to share a few thoughts about the books I’ve been reading lately. I’ll probably add something to Goodreads later, but for now this is it. Truthfully, I’m too lazy and disinclined to log on to yet another site (albeit a good one) and do several different mini reviews and/or status updates.
I just finished Elizabeth Jennings The Button Collector, and below is the review I posted on Amazon. I liked the book so much that I wore a pair of black and white button earrings that one of my daughters gave me for a birthday many years ago. Wearing them reminded me of a day we spent together at Fernandina Beach, Florida as we ambled about the tree lined streets and in and out of the nice gift shops. If that doesn’t make sense to you, it will if you read the book.
As I put fingers to keypad, I’m asking myself what it was that I liked so much about this book. Was it the author’s skillful way of describing characters so well that I felt that I knew them? Was it because I could identify with them and see the so-called universal in all of them…and in me? Was it because of the scene descriptions, some of which took place in places like the Outer Banks of North Carolina that I have visited? The truth is that I liked everything about the novel, especially the author’s clever way of using buttons as starting points for family stories.
The story begins at a flea market where Caroline sees jars of buttons that remind her of her mother’s assortment of buttons collected over the years. Soon thereafter, Caroline has a bout of insomnia during which takes her mother’s button jar from the back of a closet and begins sifting through the buttons…and through her memories.
Each button conjures up a memory of a person and of an event in the life of Caroline’s family. Ranging in variety from a pink plastic button edged with white that belonged to her sophisticated cousin Gail to a large brown leather covered one that belonged to a elderly neighbor, each has a story to tell. Every family has its stories, and I loved the author’s novel approach of using a series of button-related vignettes to share events and changes in the life of her family.
All families have sadness, pain, death, and challenges. They have periods of closeness and of separation, and yet despite time, distance, and even death, there is a connection between family members. Just as buttons hold clothing together, Emma, Gail, Hank, Miranda, Charles and the other family members are held together by the emotional ties that bind.
An excellent book with well drawn characters, The Button Collector will connect with the spirit of every woman who reads it.
At night I’m reading The Misremembered Man, a heartbreaker of a novel by Christina McKenna. The protagonist is a 40 something year old who struggles with depression, loneliness, and thoughts of suicide. Abandoned by his mother and raised in a Catholic orphanage in Ireland, Jamie’s past is filled with pain and misery (understatement). My friend who led our discussion of this book at our last book club meeting shared some painful research that she had discovered about the approximately 30,000 children who had been starved, beaten, and sexually abused in these homes.
I finished Ron Rash’s The Cove about two weeks ago. A master of description of place and scene (are they the same thing?), I had no problem picturing the dark and forsaken area where Laurel and Hank lived. And character development? Rash excels at that too. I despise the mean spirited Chaunceys the world! And did I mention that all writers could learn something about foreshadowing from Rash. I had an uneasy feeling about that well from the first description.
For fun, I read some of Succulent Wild Women by Sark, a colorful (in more ways than one) reminder to live life with gusto and confidence. An interesting read, Sark touches on many subjects. I just opened to the page (121) about journaling, and here’s what she had to say: “Whatever coaxes us out of hiding, to write, record and express, is a revolutionary act. I says that we believe our lives count. Our lives do count.”
What about you? What have you been reading lately? If you’ve read any of the above, what was your impresssion? What did you learn from your reading?