This installment: a fraught literary love affair (f);a suspenseful book on CD (f);a haunting, eccentric girl and her dying father (f); an Iraq war vet and her wolves (f); and finding comfort through food (nf).
Pages for Her by Sylvia Brownrigg
In college Flannery fell in love with Anne, a teacher. A brief, heated affair that ended when Anne and Jasper took up with each other again. Flannery, now a successful writer (though a one-hit wonder) now has a daughter, Willa, with a bigger-than-life artist, Charles. The women meet again at an academic conference and they reconnect indeed. It’s bittersweet since they live on opposite coasts and Flannery appears committed to her life with Charles despite its imperfections. Brownrigg analyzes emotional states with lyric precision and I was captivated but a little let down at the inconclusive ending. (A surprise: in the author’s bio I discovered she wrote the J book Kepler’s Dream which I reviewed recently.)
Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane
Rachel, a TV journalist who broke down after witnessing traumatic action in Haiti and has been living in seclusion ever since reconnects with Brian, a figure from her past. She’d hired him to try to find her father. (Her single mother never divulged his identity.) It seems like heaven. He dotes on her and does all he can to coax her out into the world again. But things get very squirrelly and she realizes she really doesn’t know this Brian at all. A scheme goes terribly awry and she’s embroiled up to her ears. Incredible suspense and an intriguing dangling ending. This book on CD was so mesmerizing that I had to pry myself out of the car for two weeks running.
Malagash by Joey Comeau
That’s the name of the small Canadian town where Sunday returns to sit with her dying father. She surreptitiously records all their conversations in a wild scheme: somehow these snippets will become part of a computer virus she plans to create, which will become a sort of immortality. It sounds screwy but Sunday is a fresh, original voice and I came to appreciate her filial devotion to her eccentric dad and her fierce, quiet spirit.
Wolf Season by Helen Benedict
Rin lives in upstate New York with her blind daughter Juney and three wolves. She’s a tough, angry vet scarred by the Iraq war and wants as little to do with society as possible. The wolves are enclosed but illegal and of course rumors get out. Juney connects with Tariq, son of Naema, a doctor from Iraq now working in the local clinic. Complicated to say the least. A hurricane tips the precarious balance into chaos and it doesn’t end well (sorry to say). Intense, atmospheric, and suspenseful.
The Comfort Food Diaries by Emily Nunn
Subtitled my quest for the perfect dish to mend a broken heart. Three blows at once: the death of her brother, the end of a relationship that had gotten increasingly chillier, and the loss of her home. With little left to lose, she embarks on a journey to reconnect with friends and family, primarily in the south. The question: what foods help you feel better. They’re pretty heavy on sweets and fats, I noted (recipes included). She’s candid about what went wrong in family life and ebullient when things go well, so it’s a seesaw of a trip but all told ends up nourishing and entertaining.
Back next week.