We hope to both entertain and inform you about what we’re reading, listening to and watching here at EVLD.
Get ready for a great new mystery series! Suzanne Chazin introduces readers to homicide detective Jimmy Vega in her latest novel Land of Careful Shadows. In Lake Holly, fifty miles north of New York City, the very town where Vega spent the better part of his childhood, and where his ex-wife and daughter still live, a woman’s body has been found in a reservoir. The victim is a young Hispanic woman and the recovery of her purse reveals a picture of her and a baby girl, possibly her daughter. A disturbing racially charged note is also found in her purse. Where is the child and is she alive? Is this a crime of passion or a hate crime? As a Latino himself, Vega knows how hard it can be to fit into the community but the influx of undocumented immigrants has further widened the divide of haves and have-nots in Lake Holly. Vega soon finds himself crossing paths with old acquaintances in unforeseen ways. He is also called upon to face hard truths about himself and his own family as he investigates the killing. Populated with well developed characters Land of Careful Shadows is more than just a police procedural. The keen insights into race relations, undocumented immigrants as well as Police relations with community members, makes this mystery a timely and important read. Readers will find themselves hoping to hear more from Chazin and her skillfully drawn detective Vega.
The Avon Library Book Discussion Group will meet Wednesday April 15th at 6:30 pm to discuss Longbourn by Jo Baker. Drop ins are welcome. If you have any questions please contact the Avon Library at 970-949-6797.
The popularity of Downton Abbey and Upstairs Downstairs have certainly shed a light on the great divide between classes. It has become impossible not to link elaborate hairstyles, uninvited dinner guests, and a fire blazing in a fireplace to the staff that ensured the comforts of high society; but what of houses such as the legendary Longbourn in Pride and Prejudice? Luckily readers have Jo Baker’s novel Longbourn. While the Bennett sisters, assisted by Mrs. Bennett, search for suitable matches that will ensure their futures, if not their happiness, what of the possibilities and desires of the help? Baker introduces us to a cast of delightful characters that serve the family. Mr. and Mrs. Hill have been in service at Longbourn for ages, in fact Mr. Hill’s age is beginning to be a problem. Sarah an orphan taken on as help when she was just a child is now a housemaid and mentor to young Polly, an adolescent that must quickly learn a life in service. Sarah yearns for a different life and an opportunity to see more of the world. When a young man appears and is hired on to help at Longbourn, and a young footman from the newly arrived neighboring Bingley’s notices Sarah and show true interest in her, Sarah’s world is suddenly upended. Austen fans may balk at liberties taken but Baker sheds a new light; some may argue a more realistic light, on Regency England, especially those not lucky enough to be born to society. Filled with heartbreak and romance, Longbourn is engrossing and thought provoking.
Looking for a light, fun read? The magnificence and fantasy of Old Hollywood comes to life in Kate Alcott’s latest historical novel, A Touch of Stardust. Set during the tempestuous filming of the movie classic Gone with the Wind Alcott mixes fictional characters with real movie icons to provide readers with a glimpse of Hollywood legend. Julie Crawford like many other young girls has left her somewhat privileged life in Fort Wayne Indiana for the glitz and glamour of Hollywoodland. Julie however doesn’t aspire to be an actress; instead she yearns to be discovered as a screenwriter. Landing a job in the publicity department she finds herself in trouble with the boisterous David O. Selznick on her very first day. Luckily she is befriended by the notorious Carole Lombard. Lombard, profane and independent is living with the not yet divorced Clark Gable and is perfect tabloid fodder. Hired as Carole’s assistant and still working for the studio to ensure that no bad publicity reaches the press Julie begins to see parallels and vast gaps between Carole’s self made life and the life Julie desires. Julie begins to discover that she is in charge of her destiny and must decide what she wants for her future. Chocked full of details of Gable and Lombard’s love affair as well as the drama and production of Gone with the Wind, A Touch of Stardust is a delightful read.
Memory can be tricky. It is also known to differ from person to person. Often, memories are intentionally suppressed, other times they are revisited again and again for sheer pleasure. The loss of memory can also provoke keen anxiety. But should its loss really be feared? That is the question at the heart of Kazuo Ishiguro’s latest novel, The Buried Giant. Opening after the fall of Camelot and the death of King Arthur, the novel revolves around Axl and Beatrice, an elderly couple that are often shunned by their community as forgetful and untrustworthy. Everyone in the community however, is a little forgetful. A strange mist has appeared over the countryside and when it appears memory often fails. Beatrice convinces Axl it is time they travel to their son’s nearby village and make amends for past misunderstandings. Although they are not quite sure of their destination, the pair begin a journey that will lead them to encounter many oddities, from mythical beasts to warriors and priests. Combining aspects of medieval travel tales, fantasy, and even allegory, Ishiguro has created an unforgettable story of love, war, dedication and the power of memory. The Buried Giant is a literary masterpiece that may be read as a magical tale yet many a reader will find there is much more to ponder.
The Avon Library Book Discussion Group will meet Wednesday March 18th at 6:30 pm to discuss Benediction by Kent Haruf. Drop ins are welcome. If you have any questions please contact the Avon Library at 970-949-6797.
While Holt, Colorado cannot be found on any map, the fictional town has all the atmosphere and detail of a real small town on the High Plains of Colorado. Fans of Kent Haruf’s previous novels, Plainsong and Eventide, will be delighted to read his latest Benediction. Dad Lewis, Holt’s longtime owner of the hardware store, is suffering through terminal cancer. His wife Mary is deeply devoted to him but is beginning to struggle to care for him by herself. Their daughter Lorraine returns home from Denver to assist her mother but it is the absence of estranged son Frank that occupies Dads thoughts. A cast of characters, each struggling with their own burdens attempt to ease Dad’s pain and suffering. From the Johnson women, an elderly woman long widowed and her maiden daughter to the neighbor who has been left to raise her granddaughter after the death of her daughter, everyone has had their share of loss. Yet there is also much joy and life in the little community of Holt. As Dad’s health further declines he examines his life and the others, those that will be left behind, begin to lean on one another. Benediction is a thoughtful contemplation on a life lived, complete with joys and sorrows, triumphs and mistakes. It is quite simply a novel that will touch reader’s hearts and minds.
Families, relations, clans, often a blend of fierce love and dysfunction, can be difficult to describe, and yet countless novelist attempt to examine their inner workings. Perhaps none are as successful at this task as Anne Tyler, and her latest novel, A Spool of Blue Thread, stands to prove her expertise. Abby and Red Whitshank of Baltimore have been in love since 1959. They have raised four children in the home that once belonged to Red’s parents, but when Abby’s memory begins to fail, quickly followed by Red’s health, the now adult Whitshank children are called together to assist their parents. As the family gathers memories are revisited and secrets are revealed, emotions run high as legendary family stories are retold and reexamined with fresh insights. From the story of Red’s parent’s arrival in Baltimore in the 1920s to the Whitshank grandchildren’s childhood dramas, readers are treated to four generations of love and laughter, jealousy and sorrows, proving that families can often defy explanation yet remain uniquely compelling. Tyler is adept at creating characters that readers are drawn to, yet are sometimes put off by, in many cases not unlike members of actual families. Rumored to be Anne Tyler’s last novel, A Spool of Blue Thread is not to be missed.
Home. A powerful and multipurpose word. Some argue it is where ever you and yours are, others that it is a place that one can never return to once they have left. This is one of the many complex themes tackled in Ludmila Ulitskaya’s novel The Funeral Party. Manhattan in the summer can be an oppressive place, for a group of Russian immigrants it is made all the more unbearable because they are gathered together to sit by the death bed of a beloved friend, Alik. An artist, friend to all, and particular lover of women, Alik is confined to his loft apartment where many desperate friends wander Read the rest of this entry »