The Natural Laws of Good Luck by Ellen Graf
Subtitled A Memoir of An Unlikely Marriage. This just fell into my hands— what delicious serendipity. Ellen, divorced with four grown children, struck out in love until her Chinese friend recommended her brother, Zhang-Lua, back in China. The two had no language in common as well as many cultural misunderstandings that kept cropping up. But when she visited there was definitely chemistry so 18 months later he was ensconced in her old Vermont farmhouse.
What seemed like an unending series of obstacles plagued their union: money troubles (he had difficulty finding employment and she’s primarily an artist), ill health, and finally a devastating house fire. Plus 16 year old Sweet, his recalcitrant daughter, who comes to join them. But Graf has what it takes to roll with the numerous punches, extract joy from this seeming mismatch, and pass it on to us. A jewel!
Going Into Town—A Love Letter to New York by Roz Chast
This started when her suburban-raised daughter was on her way to college in the Big Apple as a kind of guide book. As a New Yorker myself, I found it charming, a nostalgia trip, and even learned a few new things, like the name of the 42nd St. library lions: Patience and Fortitude. Practical tips for navigation, quirky observations, crazy anecdotes, and a hilarious take on some paintings by old masters. A treasure trove.
Careers for Women by Joanna Scott
A surprising historical novel that starts with a young secretary in the early 1950s. She takes a job with the Port Authority but gets involved with the aluminum industry. Even the fall of the twin towers comes into play. The lens: another employee, Pauline, and her daughter Sonia, who is developmentally disabled. The action toggles from Albany to the upstate plant which ultimately blows up. We find out how and why towards the end with vignettes from plant workers, Mohawks, and more. Even though there are bad actors, Scott delves into everyone’s lives and motivations with a nuanced perspective that creates a multidimensional tale. A documentary style, so initially I wondered if it was fiction.
Back next week.