Ewan McEwan has done it again. THE CHILDREN ACT, his latest release, held my interest immediately...and that's saying a lot. My negative vibes usually kick in after a few pages.  Although Fiona, the main character needs a good kick in the pants! Hopefully she'll get her personal life together and stop acting like a doormat....

Here's a summary...

In the late summer of 2012, a British judge faces a complex case while dealing with her husband’s infidelity in this thoughtful, well-wrought novel.

Fiona Maye, at 59, has just learned of an awful crack in her marriage when she must rule on the opposing medical and religious interests surrounding a 17-year-old boy who will likely die without blood transfusions. The cancer patient, weeks shy of the age when he could speak for himself, has embraced his parents’ deep faith as Jehovah’s Witnesses and their abhorrence of letting what the Bible deems a pollutant enter his body. The scenes before the bench and at the boy's hospital bedside are taut and intelligent, like the best courtroom dramas. 

The ruling produces two intriguing twists that, among other things, suggest a telling allusion to James Joyce’s 17-year-old Michael Furey in “The Dead.” Meanwhile, McEwan (Sweet Tooth, 2012, etc.), in a rich character study that begs for a James Ivory film, shows Fiona reckoning with the doubt, depression and temporary triumphs of the betrayed—like an almost Elizabethan digression on changing the locks of their flat—not to mention guilt at stressing over her career and forgoing children. As Fiona thinks of a case: “All this sorrow had common themes, there was a human sameness to it, but it continued to fascinate her.” Also running through the book is a musical theme, literal and verbal, in which Fiona escapes the legal world and “the subdued drama of her half-life with Jack” to play solo and in duets. (Scroll down for another review and a graphic)

The following book recommendation was sent to me by a member of my summer book group. I trust her judgement.....

B said .....

I have just completed reading THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE by Anthony Doerr for my West Hartford  book club.  It is a book not to miss! It is a poetic, lyrical, story taking place during WWII, spanning time from 1944-2014 in Germany and France, featuring a blind French girl and a German boy in alternate chapters.  The story reads like poetry, it flows like music and its emotional/intellectual range is satisfying and impressive. If you read it,  I can't wait to hear your reactions.......B


September is coming to an end and my TBR (To Be Read) list is overwhelmingly long.  Here's three more releases that sound compelling, created by some notoriously well known authors. So if you're in the mood for a bit of history or a few thrills, the following titles should fulfill your needs. They're on my list....

PERFIDIA by James Ellroy (Historical Fiction)

America stands at the brink of World War II. Los Angeles has been a haven for loyal Japanese-Americans --- but now, war fever and race hate grip the city, and the Japanese internment begins. The hellish murder of a Japanese family summons three men and one woman. The investigation throws them together and rips them apart. The crime becomes a political storm center that illuminates these four driven souls --- comrades, rivals, lovers, history’s pawns. 

THE GOLEM OF HOLLYWOOD by Jonathan Kellerman and Jesse Kellerman (Supernatural Mystery)

Newly reassigned to a Special Projects squad he didn’t even know existed, Detective Jacob Lev is sent to a murder scene far up in the hills of Hollywood Division. There is no body, only an unidentified head lying on the floor of a house. Seared into a kitchen counter nearby is a single word: the Hebrew for justice. All that Detective Lev has believed to be true will be upended --- and not only his world, but the world itself, will be changed. 

THE EYE OF HEAVEN by Clive Cussler and Russell Blake(Thriller/Adventure)

Husband-and-wife team Sami and Remi Fargo are on a climate-control expedition in the Arctic when they discover a Viking ship in the ice filled with pre–Columbian artifacts from Mexico. As they plunge into their research, tantalizing clues about a link between the Vikings and the legendary Toltec feathered serpent god Quetzalcoatl --- and a fabled object known as the Eye of Heaven --- begin to emerge. But so do many dangerous people.

Thankyou for the comments.
All books can be ordered from Amazon directly from this blog. Click on the Amazon Search Box in the Sidebar.


Two Blog readers recommended this bizarre sounding debut novel. Would I read it? Not sure, but in the spirit of  openmindedness and diversification, I'm including WOLF IN WHITE VAN by John Darnielle on my blog.
"Quiet, mysterious, menacing, taking you places you will never, never get out of your head.” 

 Is that a good thing? Some blog readers think so. 

(Wednesday September 24th,  WOLF IN WHITE VAN was nominated for the National Book Award)

Here's a summary from

Wolf in White Van

Welcome to Trace Italian, a game of strategy and survival! You may now make your first move. Isolated by a disfiguring injury since the age of seventeen, Sean Phillips crafts imaginary worlds for strangers to play in. From his small apartment in southern California, he orchestrates fantastic adventures where possibilities, both dark and bright, open in the boundaries between the real and the imagined. As the creator of “Trace Italian”—a text-based, role-playing game played through the mail—Sean guides players from around the world through his intricately imagined terrain, which they navigate and explore, turn by turn, seeking sanctuary in a ravaged, savage future America. 

Lance and Carrie are high school students from Florida, and are explorers of the Trace. But when they take their play into the real world, disaster strikes, and Sean is called on to account for it. In the process, he is pulled back through time, tracing back toward the moment of his own self-inflicted departure from the world in which most people live. 

Brilliantly constructed, Wolf in White Van unfolds backward in time until we arrive at both the beginning and the climax: the event that has shaped so much of Sean’s life. Beautifully written and unexpectedly moving, John Darnielle’s audacious and gripping debut novel is a marvel of storytelling.

Check out author John Darnielle at ( You're in for a surprise)

Buy WOLF IN WHITE VAN by clicking on the Amazon Search Box located in the Sidebar.

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Man Booker Prize 2014 Shortlist

Previously open to authors from the UK & Commonwealth, Republic of Ireland and Zimbabwe, the 2014 Man Booker Prize reflects the diversity of the novel in English regardless of the author’s nationality. This year’s shortlist features two America authors, Joshua Ferris and Karen Joy Fowler; one Australian, Richard Flanagan; and three British authors, Howard Jacobson, Neel Mukherjee and Ali Smith. I read The Lives of Others by Mukherjee and highly recommend it, however, I boldly predict Joshua Ferris's To Rise Again At A Decent Hour as the winner...But don't be surprised if I delete my prediction if I'm wrong!

(Thankyou to The Reading Room for contributing to this post.)

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferriswant_to_read_buttonPaul O’Rourke is a Manhattan dentist with a thriving practice leading a quiet, routine-driven life. But behind the smiles and the nice apartment, he’s a man made of contradictions, and his biggest fear is that he may never truly come to understand anybody, including himself. Then someone begins to impersonate Paul online, and he watches in horror as a website, a Facebook page, and a Twitter account are created in his name. What begins as an outrageous violation of his privacy soon becomes something more soul-frightening: the possibility that the online “Paul” might be a better version of the real thing.

J - A Novelwant_to_read_buttonAfter the devastation of WHAT HAPPENED, IF IT HAPPENED, all that should remain is peace and prosperity. Everyone knows his or her place; all actions are out in the open. But Esme Nussbaum has seen the distorted realities, the fissures that have only widened in the twenty-plus years since she was forced to resign from her position at the monitor of the Public Mood. Now, Esme finds something strange and special developing in a romance between Ailinn Solomons and Kevern Cohen. As this unusual pair’s actions draw them into ever-increasing danger, Esme realizes she must do everything in her power to keep them together—whatever the cost.

The Narrow Road to the Deep Northwant_to_read_buttonIn the despair of a Japanese POW camp on the Thai-Burma death railway, Australian surgeon Dorrigo Evans is haunted by his love affair with his uncle’s young wife two years earlier. Struggling to save the men under his command from starvation, from cholera, from beatings, he receives a letter that will change his life forever. This savagely beautiful novel is a story about the many forms of love and death, of war and truth, as one man comes of age, prospers, only to discover all that he has lost.

How to be Both by Ali Smithwant_to_read_buttonBorrowing from painting’s fresco technique to make an original literary double-take, it’s a fast-moving genre-bending conversation between forms, times, truths and fictions. There’s a renaissance artist of the 1460s. There’s the child of a child of the 1960s. Two tales of love and injustice twist into a singular yarn where time gets timeless, structural gets playful, knowing gets mysterious, fictional gets real – and all life’s givens get given a second chance.

The Lives of Otherswant_to_read_buttonCalcutta, 1967. Unnoticed by his family, Supratik has become dangerously involved in student unrest, agitation, extremist political activism. Compelled by an idealistic desire to change his life and the world around him, all he leaves behind before disappearing is this note. The ageing patriarch and matriarch of his family, the Ghoshes, preside over their large household, unaware that beneath the barely ruffled surface of their lives the sands are shifting. More than poisonous rivalries among sisters-in-law, destructive secrets, and the implosion of the family business, this is a family unravelling as the society around it fractures. For this is a moment of turbulence, of inevitable and unstoppable change: the chasm between the generations, and between those who have and those who have not, has never been wider.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselveswant_to_read_buttonMeet the Cooke family: Mother and Dad, brother Lowell, sister Fern, and Rosemary, who begins her story in the middle. She has her reasons. “I was raised with a chimpanzee,” she explains. “I tell you Fern was a chimp and already you aren’t thinking of her as my sister. But until Fern’s expulsion … she was my twin, my funhouse mirror, my whirlwind other half and I loved her as a sister.” As a child, Rosemary never stopped talking. Then, something happened, and Rosemary wrapped herself in silence.

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Don't miss these two new releases by authors that you know well...and if you don't, you'll appreciate the introduction! Both books can be ordered directly from the blog by clicking on the Amazon Search Box in the sidebar.

The Children Act by Ian McEwan 
The Children Act is McEwan at his finest, provoking questions of morality and issues of marriage in this slip of a book. Through Fiona, a family court judge, the reader is introduced to rich characters and a gripping story, as Fiona must decide whether to save the life of a seventeen-year-old boy refusing a blood transfusion because of religion.

My Passages

 DARING By Gail Sheehy

The journalist who brought us  PASSAGES, a landmark look at the key transitions of life—recalls her own remarkable journey in an engaging new memoir, DARING. Sheehy traces her struggles as a single mother, her trailblazing work as a writer for New York magazine and her romance with (and eventual marriage to) charismatic editor Clay Felker. Throughout it all, Sheehy writes, she dared to accept new challenges, tapping her passion and resilience to endure her own "passages."