Posted by: mollyscafeistanbul | August 1, 2011

Molly’s Café: July 2011 books

The first book I finished in July was Inge & Mira by Marianne Fredriksson. It is about two women who meet by chance and develop a very strong friendship. They both live in Sweden, but Mira is originally from Chile. We learn about her troubled past during the Pinochet years, when two of her children were killed. Later she moves to Sweden, where she divorces and acclimatizes to a new culutre. We also learn about Inge as she looks at her relationship with her ex-husband and her daughters. Another woman who comes into the story is another Chilean woman in the UK who has become a lawyer to help other Chileans. The characters are very strong and some of the things they have experienced are really shocking, including Inge’s experiences. I really enjoyed the book and highly recommend it.

 

Another book I finished is one I have mixed feelings about. This is Oh Pure and Radiant Heart by Lydia Millet. The premise is kind of odd– Robert Oppenheimer, Leo Szilard, and Enrico Fermi, the fathers of the atom bomb, appear in modern day New Mexico. Although in real life they went on to die in their old ages, in this book they are transported in time just after the testing of the first atom bomb. A woman called Ann and her husband Ben end up taking them in and the story continues with Szilard deciding to go talk to the president about stopping nuclear weapons. They connect with Larry, who had a lot of money and funds their travels and generally supports them. Along the way they meet up with the hippies in the Peace Camp near the testing sites in Nevada and then are joined by thousands of fundamentalist Christians who think Oppenheimer is the messiah. The story is filled intermittently with factual information about atom bombs and nuclear weapons, much of which was appalling in the government’s callousness towards human life. The US still has thousands of nuclear weapons and some in the government are itching to use them. As a story, it is funny in parts but I had a hard time getting my head around it.

 

I remember reading Joyce Carol Oates years ago, but a couple of her books came into the café recently, so I finished one, The Female of the Species. I didn’t realize she was also a horror writer and some of the stories are horrifying. The first one is about a young girl of 6 who carries her baby sister up and up onto the roof of their house during a garden party. There the story ends and the reader has to guess what might have happened. A lot of the stories deal with bad relationships and the last one deals with a nurse who becomes an angel of mercy, killing patients in the dead end hospital. This is not bed time reading!

 

Sometimes I have to take a break from books that make me think. Therefore, I read what I call a “popcorn” book, one that is hard to put down. This time it was Patricia Cornwall’s Point of Origin. It deals with a fire that included a homicide as well as a very bad young woman who escapes from the insane asylum to wreak more damage. Cornwall’s stories are well put together and not too gory so I galloped through it, staying up till midnight one night to finish it. Back on the shelf now!

 

 

 

Another book I just had to finish was Sea Glass, by Anita Shreve. I don’t think I had read anything by her before, but I found she was a good writer and I enjoyed the book. It is set in the time just around the onset of the Great Depression of 1929, so in a way it was timely, since the world is in a depression now. A young woman, Honora, meets a young man, Sexton, and after he courts her for a while they marry and move into a huge old house on the Atlantic coast. He is a typewriter salesman who others perceive as a little shady. Parts of the story are told by a loom fixer, McDermott, and a young Franco (French Canadian) boy, Alphonse, who also works in the mill. The reader gets a look at how it is for the people who work in the mill and live in the housing (abysmal conditions– no plumbing, for example). McDermott takes a liking to Alphonse and takes him along with him fishing and other places. Along the way they come across Honora, and McDermott falls in love with her. We also meet Vivian, a socialite who lives in another big house up the beach. Her finances are fine, as her father is conservative in his investments. She and Honora become friends, and eventually, after Sexton loses his job and goes to work at the mill, Vivian shows up at a union meeting at Honora’s house and starts to help out. The ending was not what I expected or wanted, but it was a good story. By the way, it is called sea glass because Honora likes to walk the beach looking for bits of glass that have been changed and polished by the sea. Hmmm, a little metaphor here?

 

There are lots more books on the shelves, so come get some!

 

 

 

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