What I’m Reading, May 2013

  • A Basketful of Broken Dishes, by Naomi Stutzman
    The intimate, candid voyage of one woman for a relationship to her personal view of religion and how her discoveries mended her marriage and enabled her to understand and forgive relatives in a strict Amish sect.  Written by her daughter.
  • Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, by Lois McMaster Bujold
    Part of the sci fi Vorkosigan saga set centuries in the future, when intergalactic travel has been perfected  but human traits and behavior have not changed, this plunges handsome and deliberately obtuse cousin Ivan into the kind of complex, dangerous political and romantic situation usually faced by his dashing but handicapped cousin Miles.
  • Head Over Heels, by Jill Shalvis
    A best-selling romance writer whose work is frank, vivid, and physical, but well written.  In this one, set in the fictional small town of Lucky Harbor, wild-child Chloe (with a major health concern—chronic asthma) falls for the strait-laced but sexy sheriff Sawyer.  Kudos for including a person with a disability and showing her living her life to its fullest.
  • Illuminations: a novel of Hildegard van Bingen, by Mary Sharratt
    An extraordinary woman of the Middle Age, Benedictine abbess, visionary, and polymath, is brought to life in this fictionalized account of her life.  From childhood sequestering, through her visions and writings, and to the establishment of her own abbey, she shows the intelligence and courage found in women during those dark times, but usually overlooked.
  • It’s Fine by Me, by Per Petterson, Graywolf Press, 2012, translated by Don Bartlett
    This small treasure of a book gifts the reader with more of Petterson’s excellent, spare, clean writing that somehow simultaneously conveys unspeakable emotion.  An eighteen-year-old Norweigan hasn’t had an easy life; and the story provides insight into why through occasional flashbacks.  NOT a “poor-me” saga, deep compassion surfaces again and again.
  • Magnificence, by Lydia Millet
    Susan Lindley, a woman adrift after her husband’s death and the dissolution of her family, embarks on a new phase in her life after inheriting her uncle’s sprawling mansion and its vast collection of taxidermy.  While she restores the inanimate objects, an equally derelict human menagerie joins her.  “Funny and heartbreaking.”
  • The New Republic, by Lionel Shriver
    Set in an imaginary country beneath the Iberian Peninsula, this political and social satire spotlights personality cults, terrorism, media frenzy, and love through the persona of its hero.  A complex and stimulating, yet humorous, approach.
  • Royal Blood, a Royal Spyness mystery, by Rhys Bowen
    One in a series of delightful mysteries set in the 30’s, about Georgie, 34th in line for the British throne and poor as a churchmouse.  In this one, she’s called upon to solve a murder in Transylvania and continues her unrequited love for a penniless Irish peer.
  • The Secrets They Kept: The True Story of a Mercy Killing that Shocked a Town and Shamed a Family, by Suzanne Handler
    The title tell it all.  The author discovered a murder in her family that had occurred decades before and been covered up.  She ponders the reasons, the immediate consequences, and the impact on later generations.
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