HISTORICAL FICTION, A BIOGRAPHY, A FAIRY TALE – OH MY!
Yes, November was an interesting month of reading.
MADAME PICASSO by Anne Girard: Beginning1911, it is set in that wonderful time in Paris that is so much fun to read about. A fictional historical novel, it tells the story of Eva Gouel, one of Picasso’s first loves. A seamstress at the famous Moulin Rouge she spots him in the audience and later meets him backstage. Names like Matisse, Gertrude Stein, Apollinaire, George Braque, Maurice Chevalier to name a few appear. Even the sinking of the Titanic makes an appearance. Eva Gouel is fairly hard to find in the history books, but she did exist. Picasso describes some of his art himself which was nice to read. It is a well-researched novel set in a wonderful time to read about.
IF YOU LIVED HERE, I’D KNOW YOUR NAME, NEWS FROM SMALL TOWN ALASKA by Heather Lende: I’m on a quest! I’m reading a book by an author from every state in the nation (you can read my declaration here). This is my selection from Alaska with a separate blog to come. I will say I enjoyed this book and the inhabitants of Haynes, Alaska. Heather is a frequent contributor for NPR’s Morning Edition.
TINSELTOWN – MURDER, MORPHINE AND MADNESS AT THE DAWN OF HOLLYWOOD by William J. Mann: The basis for this book is the murder of William Desmond Taylor, then the president of the Motion Pictures Directors Association, in his own home. It is billed as “The Day of The Locust” meets “Midnight in the Garden of the Good and Evil” and “The Devil in the White City”. The books says the crime has never been solved, but other books have been written devoted to this topic. It starts off fast, but it gets bogged down in the middle. As it goes into the history of 1920’s Hollywood, the rivalry between Adolph Zukor and Marcus Loew is investigated, as is the lack of morality, Christian vigilantes, anti-trust violations, and of course, sex and drugs. There is ALOT of information but the murder somehow gets lost along the way. It left me wanting to read The Day of the Locust about the people that lived on the fringes of Hollywood.
STATE OF WONDER by Ann Patchett: I am a fan of Ann Patchett, so I was excited to find this book. But – it gets downright wierd as it follows Dr. Marina Singh into the Amazon to investigate the death of an employee of a pharmaceutical company and also to investigate the progess of a drug that is being researched. This part was interesting, but when she gets to a village deep in the Amazon, she finds there is research being done on women that bear children well past menopause. I found most of the characters flat, almost unlikeable. When the women go into the jungle to chew on the bark on trunks of trees, I found it unbelievable. Then, there was an ending that left a lot to be desired.
THE WISHING SPELL (#1 The Land of Stories) by Chris Colfer: This book is about twins Alex and Connor as they journey to a fairy tale land through an ancient book of stories. Here they meet all the characters they read about growing up, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty are all queens of different kingdoms, married to the “Charming” brothers. Goldilocks is a wanted fugitive, the evil queen who poisoned Snow White has escaped prison and the son of The Big Bad Wolf is intent on revenge. The twins want to go home and they begin a scavenger hunt taking them through the kingdom. It was great fun! The author is an actor on Glee!
THEN AGAIN by Diane Keaton: This is as much about Diane Keaton’s mother as it is about her. Her mother kept about 85 journals over the course of her life and much of this book is Diane sorting through these and learning more about her mother. Her life seems to be mentioned in passing, she’s in a play with Woody Allen and then she has broken up with him. She has a childhood crush on Warren Beatty – and then they are together. She makes The Godfather with Al Pacino and years later they are a couple, then not, and then they are, and then not. It is an enjoyable book. My favorite section was her hanging out with Larry McMurtry – I wish she would explore this more in depth at a later time.
ONE DOG AND HIS BOY by Eva Ibbotson: I am writing a series of blogs regarding Women in Art, and Eva Ibbotson was my choice for the letter “I”. I had never heard of her – and I’m so glad I found her while researching women artists that start with the letter “I”. You can read that blog here. I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to any 8-13 year old that loves dogs. It was described as Lassie meet Roald Dahl – and that’s not too far off. Basically it is about a boy and a dog that belong together, his parents who think they can buy him anything to make him happy – anything but a dog, and the journey the boy and the dog make to be together (which includes a trip the circus, an orphanage and a monastery).
That’s it for November! Happy Reading!