Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Book Review: Ithaca

In Susan Fish's new novel, a woman who has let herself be defined by her family life is suddenly widowed and is forced to learn a new way to live. When Daisy's geologist professor husband drops dead of a heart attack she feels like her solid, sedentary life has been fracked. The spring of his passing also marks a change in her community. Anti-fracking signs appear on the roadside and Daisy finds herself wondering about them.

Where once Daisy kept herself apart, even in the weekly suppers she hosted while her husband was alive, now she feels the urge to participate. She begins to take a class to learn about fracking. Along the way she meets new people and is exposed to new ideas. She keeps hosting the Wednesday dinners, but becomes involved in them instead of watching from the outside. She begins to find her voice.

The story is quiet and sometimes slow, but Fish's portrayal of human emotion is incredibly complex and perceptive. The secondary characters are so well drawn. One is a young single mother with a struggling family farm. One is a retired professor who rents a room and confesses to having given up a child when she was young. One is a man whose wife has MS and the two of them become close. The way they become close and how close they become has as much to do with her back-story as his. Her new ability to be close to people now that her husband is gone is the main story- but the people she gets close to have complicated, real lives. They don't seem to exist just to help tell Daisy's story. You can imagine they go home and live real lives without her.

Ultimately, this is not a book meant to educate you on fracking or tell you what to think about it. It is more about how Daisy learns to engage with her community, to find her own way to contribute and recognize her value. At first, she dismisses herself as too old, uneducated, just a housewife. But she comes to see her gift of bringing people together and getting them to tell their stories. She learns to balance the parts of her old life with her new desires.

The resolution of the story is a bit open-ended (like life) and felt very true to the character. I enjoyed the read.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Movie Review: Gone Girl

I don't usually review movies, but since I reviewed the book yesterday and said I'd be seeing the movie, I'm making an exception.

Often, when I love a book, the movie can be a disappointment. It's really hard to tell the same story from an external point of view when it was originally internal. The screenplay was written by the same author who wrote the novel and - as a writer - I was blown away that she was able to tell this story so well in both mediums.

There are a few minor changes to condense the story, but fans of the book will find all the things that were great about the read have been translated into the film. We watched the movie with a couple who hadn't read the book and they enjoyed it too.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Book Review: Gone Girl

This is a difficult book to review without giving anything away. It's about a marriage that has begun to fall apart when the wife goes missing. Did the husband do it?

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It's told in alternating narrative and both main characters are writers. It's so well-written with such intricate details and insight into relationships between men and women and real characters with inside jokes. Halfway through the book, I was already looking forward to rereading it, and by Part Two I had forced my boyfriend to start reading it. He got custody of the book when I fell asleep and stayed up until 2am to finish it.

Gone Girl is clever, fun, edge of your seat reading. Tonight, we're going to see the movie and can't imagine how they'll translate it for the screen.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

New Gig

I've just started writing for the Today's Author blog, which is a great site for writers to interact with other writers and get inspiration. I just wrote my first blog for them about NaNoWriMo, the writing challenge in November when all your writer nerd friends try to write 50,000 words in thirty days. Here's my take on it.

I'll still be updating this blog with my book projects, my house projects and my book reviews. But I'll probably be shifting writing focused posts to Today's Author.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Partial Book Review: The Light Between Oceans

I'm usually much more careful when I pick a book to read. When it isn't the newest book written by an author I already love, I'll start with a friend's recommendation, read lots of Amazon reviews and check out the first few pages before buying. Every time I skip this process, I regret it. You'd think I'd learn.

I bought The Light Between Oceans on a whim. The premise is killer and the novel starts with a couple of lighthouse keepers finding a live baby and a dead man when a boat washes on shore. Instead of following that thread, the book then backtracks to explain how the couple met and fell in love . . . for the next eighty pages or so. When we finally get back to the point - do they keep the baby? is she really an orphan? - we are subjected to pages of supposedly adorable moments of baby-talk and the joys of parenthood. If you removed all the scenes where nothing happens to move the story forward, this book might be thirty pages long.

I made it more than  halfway, but I give up. Life is too short and my copy of Gone Girl arrived today. I did follow my strict rules on book finding for that one so my expectations are high.