Sharon writes really good reviews; here are some of them on her previous "picks".
In the book "The Glass Room, it's inhabitants were free to gaze out of their large windows onto a beautiful view. In the book "Room", by Emma Donoghue, there are no windows. For years, Ma and her five year-old son Jack have been held captive in an 11x11 foot, lead-lined soundproof shed. Ma has created a loving, warm environment in order to keep her sanity and to teach Jack about the outside world. When the kidnapper appears, we know Ma complies so that he will bring them supplies. The story is told by Jack. How would you try to escape from such dire conditions? Read the book and marvel at Ma's ingenuity and Jack's bravery. It's an amazing story that you won't forget
Being sick with a bad cold and staying home from work had one advantage: I was able to read "The Invisible Bridge" between coughs, sneezes and chicken soup. The book is a saga of an Hungarian Jewish family and their 3 sons. The time period is 1937 through WWII. Andras, the architecture student is the main character, his brother Tibor is studying to be a doctor and his youngest brother Matyas is a free spirit who is very talented in the arts. It is an amazing story, beautifully written. So, don't get sick, enjoy the holiday season, and look forward to down-time after January 25, 2011 when this book will be relased in paperback. We are taking special orders now (the hardcover is still available, if you cannot wait).
The time frame of the story is between WWI and WWII. The place is the Czech Republic. There is great optimism- the war is over! A young, very wealthy couple employ an architect (a veiled Miis Vande Rohe) to design a modern home with a beautiful glass room and oyx wall (such a home exists in the city of Brno). Readers become voyeurs as they obseve the various inhabitants of the home as world events change. I found this a very satisfying story full of interesting characters: the most fascinating is the Glass Room itself. PS I'm now reading "Room" by Emma Donoghue. it is quite a contrast to this one. I'll tell you why next month.
This is a hauntingly beautiful yet heartbreaking story of a family of ultraorthodox Jews called the Satmar. The story opens in Translvania in 1939 when Mila, brought to Rabbi Zalman Stern after her parents have been murdered, is raised with Atara the Rabbi's own daughter. The girls grow up as sisters. As the girls mature, the Rabbi moves the family to the Marais district of Paris. It is here that Atara begins to question the fundamental teachings while Mila embraces them.
The sisters make life choices that force them apart until a dangerous secret threatens the existence of the whole family. Each character strives for perfection, as laid out in the street code of laws the Satmars follow. Yet, there is a realization that even the most pious person is only mortal.
What a thought provoking book for group discussions for people of all faiths.
(The author has thoughtfully put a glossary of Yiddish and Hebrew terms in the back of the book.)
If you loved "The Space Between Us" by Thrity Umrigar, then "The Secret Daughter" by Shilpi Somaya Gowda is the book for you. It is a beautifully written story of two worlds: the Indian mother who surreptitiously gives up her infant daughter for adoption and the San Francisco husband and wife who adopt the infant girl. The bridge between them is Asha, the secret daughter. The contrast of cultures, the similarities of love and support of family, and the remarkable strength of all the women is at the core of this remarkable book. Do not miss this!
If you enjoyed reading "Loving Frank" by Nancy Horan, you will love the new book "Paris Wife" by Paula McLain. It is about Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson. Here again you learn about the life of a genius (but tortured) soul who could never really develop a trusting relationship.
They meet in Chicago in 1921 and move to Paris. We get a close-up look at their literary circle- Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, Scott and Zelda- all who need excessive amounts of liquor to be creative. And create they did!
Told in the first person, we learn of Hadley's passion and sacrifice all in the name of love. "Paris Wife" is a wonderful love story that should have ended differently. This book has piqued my curiosity enough to read "A Moveable Feast" and "The Sun Also Rises".
The book, The Submission by Amy Waldman takes place in Manhattan where a jury to choose a memorial for 9/11 holds a contest. Architects submit plans anonymously. After a close vote, a beautiful memorial garden wins thecontest and the architect's name is revealed. The contestant is Mohammed Khan..a Muslim!
The media is a spark that inflames the entire city with controversy.So many different opinions to this complex issue are represented through the people who suffered loss: the young American widow, a grievieng mother and father and their errant son, an illegal Muslim widow whose husband was a janitor in the Towers, the press, the politicians, and the architect himself.
Is the garden memorial a garden of peace or a garden of Islam? Waldman does an admirable job giving her characters viewpoints that we might not agree with, but can understand their motivation.