Category Archives: Suzy

Nora Webster by Colm Toibin (2014)

norawebsterIt took me a while to get into the story of the recently widowed Nora Webster in Colm Toibin’s latest novel, but I ended up enjoying this patient exploration of a woman’s life. After her beloved husband passes away, Nora struggles to take care of her four children while living on a meager widower’s pension.

Narrator Fiona Shaw’s authentic Irish accent enriches the story that takes place in small town of Wexford, Ireland, where Nora raises her two young boys. Nora’s sisters, aunts, and friends all offer assistance and advice as she navigates the unfamiliar terrain of her new life. In Nora Webster, the transition of Nora from grieving widow to resilient independent woman is a wonderful journey for the reader.

The Hundred-Year House by Rebecca Makkai (2014)

hundredyearhouseThis is the quirky and charming story of Laurelfield, a grand estate north of Chicago. Rebecca Makkai unfolds the history of the century old house in reverse order starting with Zee and Doug, a young couple struggling to find their place in the world of academia. At Laurefield, they encounter locked attics, Y2K fears, jealousy and plenty of ghosts. As the past is revealed in the subsequent chapters, you begin to understand that everything is connected in a mysterious way. I loved this unconventional story and you will want to read The Hundred-Year House again as soon as you finish.

Hey 20-30somethings — GenLit will be discussing this novel on Wednesday, March 25 at 6:30pm at Phillies Pizza in Willowbrook. Join the conversation on Facebook.

The French House by Don Wallace (2014)

frenchhouseThis is a charming narrative of a family claiming a piece of a beautiful French island for themselves. Don Wallace‘s description of the natural beauty of Belle-Ile makes you want travel to this remote island and climb the cliffs to the beach.

Despite the fact that Don and his wife Mindy are just barely scraping by in New York City, they decide to buy a ruined house in a small village on Belle-Ile. Repairing it enough to make it inhabitable takes 8 years and multiple trips to the island. There are ancient village rules for building a sane and moral house that take some serious negotiating. Wallace relays the bonds they form with the village neighbors, his struggle with the French language and their love of surfing with a humorous touch that make The French House an enjoyable read.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (2014)

stationelevenOne night during a stage production of King Lear in Toronto, the movie star Arthur Leander collapses. At the same time, the deadly Georgia flu is spreading rapidly across the world decimating the population. This haunting and intriguing dystopia imagines life after collapse of civilization. Jumping back and forth through time, Emily St. John Mandel reveals the details Arthur’s life along with the child actor Kirsten, his former wives, his best friend, and the man who attempted to save his life on stage. A compelling look at the connections that bind us to one another, Station Eleven proves that humanity can survive against the odds.

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (2014)

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is written for those of us who love and work with books. The acrimonious bookseller, A.J. Fikry, is particular about the books he carries in his bookstore and has a long list of genres he will not carry. Gabrielle Zevin incorporates the right amount of humor to transform the snobby bookseller into a lovable character. Fikry has recently lost his wife and is not that concerned with the success of his small bookstore, Island Books. However, after a strange series of events, Firky is forced to change his ways. This is a magical story with plenty of literary references for the reader to enjoy.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford (2009)

This was a moving story of young love facing insurmountable obstacles. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet takes place in Seattle at the start of World War II chronicling the friendship between Henry, a Chinese-American boy and Keiko, a Japanese-American girl. As the war progresses and the Japanese are forced into internment camps, Henry struggles to make sense of the world around him. Jamie Ford accurately captures life on the home front during this troubled time (find more books that take place on the home front during WWII). The audiobook is a great experience as narrator Feodor Chin effectively distinguishes between each of the many characters.

This book is one of the titles we will be giving away during World Book Night on April 23 at local businesses in the community. Visit ippl.infofor information on our participation in this international event.

How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny (2013)

After hearing rave reviews of Louise Penny’s mystery series featuring Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, I decided to try her latest one, How the Light Gets In. The audiobook is beautifully narrated by Ralph Cosham, who captures the quaint essence of the village of Three Pines perfectly. This is the ninth book in the series and Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is investigating the murder of the last remaining Ouellet quintuplet, Constance Pinot. Gamache is surrounded by a rich cast of characters from the little village that includes an eccentric poet with a duck for a pet.

Despite not having read any of the previous books in the series, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and I would like to go back and start at the beginning. A great novel with a cozy winter setting that draws you in.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (2013)

Donna Tartt’s new novel The Goldfinch is a remarkably fast read, despite its size. The title refers to the tiny painting of a pet bird in captivity by the Dutch artist Carel Fabritius from 1654. The Goldfinch becomes central in Theo’s life after a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art with his mother one rainy day. Tragedy strikes at the museum and Theo is left practically an orphan. Over the next ten years, Theo struggles with the loss of his mother and the post-traumatic stress of incident. This is a beautifully written story that captures the essence of New York, the pain of loss, and power of objects.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan (2012)

Robin Sloan’s book has all of the elements of wonderful and unforgettable story. There are a quirky set of characters led by the clerk of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, Clay Jannon. With help from his roommates, childhood friend, and new girlfriend, Clay attempts to figure out what is really going on at the unusual bookstore.  He unknowingly stumbles on a 500 year mystery and embarks on an epic journey. Humorous and well written with a great narrator, this is wonderful novel to listen to.