In an effort to be more attentive to this blog, I’m sharing a couple of recent reviews that I posted on Amazon. Though quite different from each other in theme and style, both of these books merit five stars.
Home Across the Road, Nancy Peacock
“This is the kind of novel that leaves the reader wondering, “How did the writer do this? How did she create such a believable, evocative, and soulful story about families who lived together and yet separately?” The Redd families, one black and one white, live across the road from each other, and both families’ lives are intimately and intricately tied to Roseberry, the plantation home of the white Redds.
“The story of several generations is told through the eyes and memory of China Redd, the oldest living of the black Redds. Weary of life, she lives in her small home across the road from what used to be a stately mansion and recalls days gone by and the people who lived them. Sadness, heartache, tragedy, and pain visit both sets of Redds throughout five generations, and China believes much of it to be associated with a pair of abalone earrings.
“Not only is Nancy Peacock a master storyteller, she is also a gifted scene creator. Among dozens of others, I enjoyed reading the description of the small, abandoned Tastee-Freez with its faded signs and the “cracked and tufted with weeds” parking lot. It was there that Jenny and Coyle met and where he described Roseberry and its grounds for her, using a stick to draw the back door “that China entered and exited every day.
“Smoothly written and powerful, this is a book whose characters and their stories stay with the reader.”
Losing the Dollhouse, S. Jane Gari
“One of the many reasons I admire this book is because the author explores some of the most important attributes a human needs for surmounting life’s challenges: resilience, courage, and honesty.
“Despite painful family issues, S. Jane Gari’s inner strength and hardiness helped her spring back from all of them, including divorce, cruelty, and molestation. As an adult reviewing her childhood and early adulthood, Gari takes a look at the events that shaped her and courageously writes about them in an honest, unflinching way. Almost right away I found myself thinking of a quote credited to Anne Lamott: “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”
“Well-written and riveting, the book encourages the reader to examine his or her own life and the forces that have shaped it.”
Because of my desire to become a better writer, I’ve begun rereading some books about the craft, one of them being Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. I had forgotten how good this book is, how delightfully written and engaging. Not really a how-to book, nonetheless Bird by Bird is filled with advice, experiences, and truth.
Here’s one of the truths I was thinking about over the weekend when I used research for a future book as an excuse to visit the South Carolina’s Low Country. It’s from the introduction:
“One of the gifts of being a writer is that it gives you an excuse to do things, to go places and explore. Another is that writing motivates you to look closely at life, at life as it lurches by and tramps around.”
You’ve got to love that! Life as it lurches by and tramps around–indeed.
What have you been reading lately? Please share.