Saturday, September 17, 2011

BT: The House at Riverton by Kate Morton

Secrets and elements of mystery, war and the inevitable changes it brings are just some of the major themes in this book. It is difficult to review without giving away spoilers.

Grace's destiny, or so it would seem at the time, will be a life of service. She is first hired at the Riverton house when she is fourteen years old in 1914. Her mother worked there before her and it is her mother who sends her off because of a lack of money. Grace's first position is a house maid and has various cleaning duties. During her cleaning of the library, she comes across three children from a visiting relative who are playing there. The lives of these three children and Grace's interaction with them will govern the remainder of the book. The story takes place in England.

The narrator is in first person, Grace, as she is recalling her life of servitude as an elderly woman at an assisted living apartment. She has a daughter, Ruth and a grandson, Marcus. Grace decides to tell her story to Marcus by recording them on cassette tapes and sending them to him in America. The book is written in flashbacks with most of the book occurring from 1914 ~ 1926. A movie is going to be made about some of the events at Riverton and Grace is contacted by one of the producers for an interview. Floods of memories come back to Grace, but she is ever the faithful servant and does not give away all of her mistress's secrets.

I enjoyed this book, but it does have a flow of sadness, of melancholy in the writing. I think this was intentional as this is how Grace's memories come back to her. I found this aspect rather difficult and the book seemed to weigh heavy on me. I hope Ms. Morton's other books have a lighter feel. Still, it is a recommended read.

She doesn't know I cry for the changing times. That just as I reread favorite books, some small part of me hoping for a different ending, I find myself hoping against hope that the war will never come. That this time, somehow, it will leave us be.
All Good Things, pg 71.

The House At Riverton
This edition published: 2008, hardcover, 473 pages
Atria Books, New York.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Book Thoughts: Crossing Lines by Paul Volponi

This is a disturbing novel of how cruel humans can be to someone or some group that is different from the societal norm. This is a work of fiction, but I am sure that the events in this book could really happen - and this is sad.

You find out right away that Alan is different; perhaps colorful or flamboyant would be better words. Alan hangs around with the girls and is President of the high school Fashion Club. The boys feel uncomfortable around him, try to stay away from him in the gym locker room and generally avoid him at all costs. The football team players start to hackle him. Alan does dish it back out with his "distinctive" wit, which may not have been in Alan's best interest.

The book is written in first-person and is narrated by Adonis - one of the football players. Adonis, through out the book, is put in situations where he has to interact with Alan. For one, his sister and girlfriend are in the Fashion Club. The girls tell Alan that Adonis will help keep the football players away from him. Adonis half-heartedly agrees to help only to impress his girlfriend. Alan was holding his own up to this point until, one day, Alan turns up the heat a bit and things go downhill for him from there.

This book is as much about Adonis as it is about Alan. It is an excellent novel that makes you think about how you may treat people who are different and that everyone has a place in this world and deserves to be accepted or at the very least, respected. Highly recommended.

Crossing Lines
Published: 2011
Viking - Penguin Group
Widely available in hardcover and ebook forms.

Book Thoughts: High Country Bride by Linda Lael Miller

iddy up cowboy! I ventured into the world of what, to some, would be called the "typical" romance novel. I wanted to see what it was about these that some people hated so much, and honestly I think it may be more the fault of the book blurbs than the actual narrative. It is likely that the "haters" have not actually read any, so how can one judge?

The story is about the son, Rafe McKettrick, of a wealthy Arizona Territory ranch owner. Let me stop here and just say that, yes, the names are stereotypical of what we might think that western names would be for the time period. Actually there are three (well four) sons, but Rafe is the focus of this book. The father (Angus - like the beef) thinks it's time for his sons to marry and bear progeny; after all, he is 75 and wants grand-kids. He tells his sons that the first one to marry and have a child (girl or boy) will inherit the ranch. Rafe is the oldest son and he writes to a mail-order bride outfit. This leads us to Emmeline who through circumstances in her life, decides to respond to the ad and journeys to Arizona from Missouri.  Emmeline is a strong woman, but she does have some weak moments. She definitely held her own in this family of strong male characters. What happens after Emmeline shows up is what the book is all about, so you will just have to read it!

I read this rather quickly - yes it is that captivating with a mix of action and character development that keeps the pages turning. The author does, at times, write a little bit too "western" with some typical phrases and words, but these just made me chuckle and I moved on.

Lesson: Don't always judge a book by it's blurb! I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would, and intend on reading the rest of the books in the series by this author and maybe some others.  They are interesting and fun with only a few sex scenes thrown in; these scenes where short and I thought added to the story at the appropriate times.

High Country Bride - Book 1 of the McKettrick Cowboys
Published: 2002
Pocket Books - Simon and Shuster
Version: eBook in ePub format.
Widely available in paperback and ebook forms.