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Sunday Salon: the Relieved Post

November 14, 2010

The Sunday Salon.comI read a lot this week y’all! I think I’m finally back to my usual reading self. :) For months now, I’ve been dealing with periodic reading droughts, which is incredibly confusing and frustrating. I’ve read far fewer books than last year, which is fine: I’m not overly concerned with numbers. But I can think of multiple periods since, say, May, in which I was reading less involuntarily; this is not fine. I have no idea what caused this, but I’m glad it’s finally banished!

I’m going to talk about as many books as I can in this post, despite knowing I could easily write full posts on many of them. Sometimes, I loved a book so much that I really want to devote an entire post to it, but then since there are limited days in the week I end up never talking about it at all, which is a bit silly. Also, it’s getting to the ‘crunch time’ point in the year, and I noticed a few days ago that I didn’t talk about half of my August reads on the blog. I understand that lots of people don’t try to talk about every book they read, but for me on a personal level, I enjoy getting to as many of them as possible. So look for some themed posts soon! ;)

So: here’s a whirlwind tour of what I’ve been reading in November. :)

I picked up Fall on Your Knees by Ann Marie Macdonald hoping for a rich, gothic family tragedy, and she delivered. Her writing style is so lush and gorgeous: at times, it got a little bit overblown, but this was her debut novel, and I still enjoyed it. I’m a prosey type of girl at heart: give me writers who revel in their language, and I’ll always be happy. I was a bit skeptical of mixing normal narrative with journal excerpts at first, but Macdonald pulled it off magnificently: even her switches in narrative point of view, since the characters each had their own voices. And oh those characters! It’s a book filled with girls and women, but the one man at the center has the kind of omnipotent force that husbands and fathers did have in those days. The strengths the women find all fit in with the historical context of their lives; Macdonald never slips in modern beliefs or attitudes. So while the book is teeming with issues of sexuality, sexism, religion, racism, and more, it still works as the best kind of historical fiction. I love that! Also, at its heart the novel is character-driven, which is why I devoured it: I had to know what would happen to this family. I could go on for ages about everything I found in this book: the way Macdonald uses classic tragedy tropes, her stunning ability at writing about incest without feeling lurid (and why we should not automatically dismiss books containing incest), the way place informs every page (and the odd similarity between Cape Breton and the Brontes’ moors), and more. But I think I’ll let you discover all of that for yourselves! I’ll be honest: before I started, I was nervous that this book wouldn’t be for me at all (and the Wuthering Heights epigram did nothing to allay my nerves). I gave it a chance, though, and I’m so glad that I did: this is definitely a book to savour and reread! So even if you’re not positive you’ll like it, this is me telling you to try it anyway. ;)

When I posted Anna Katherine Green’s The Leavenworth Case in my weekend plans, several of you expressed curiousity about it! I picked it up by chance off of my library’s new release shelves; I was looking for a mystery, but I really wanted a classic too, so it felt like the universe popped it in there just for me. Green was an American author in the late 19th/early 20th century, and she published this detective novel a decade before Sherlock Holmes arrived on the scene. This book is a classic kind of manor mystery, although it’s technically set in the richest neighbourhood of New York City. ;) A wealthy middle-aged man is found murdered in his library, with all of the doors and windows still locked, making it clear that one of the household committed the deed. He is a widower, but has two nieces living with him, both in their early 20s, both stunningly beautiful. We see the story unfold through the eyes of a young gentleman lawyer, Everett Raymond, whose attitude towards beautiful women is about what one would expect. Drawn into the case by a coincidence, he remains there with a determination to clear the women’s names. Fortunately for him, the clever, laconic, older detective working the case, Ebenezer Gryce, finds Raymond’s standing as a gentleman useful and allows him to help with the investigation. I won’t describe all of the twists and turns, but Green is a clever plotter and left me not quite sure of who was the murderer until the very end. Raymond’s voice is consistent throughout, and will draw the inevitable Watson comparison. However, Watson always annoys me a bit with his obtuseness, while Raymond’s vision is hopelessly obscured by his determined mental image of women, rather than a general lack of intelligence. Green is definitely a mystery author of the classic/Golden variety, which is a style I love. Fortunately for me, she went on to a long writing career. Unfortunately for me, most of her works are out of print. They’re all available at Project Gutenberg however, and have sparked a sudden unexpected interest in ereaders. But more on that another time! ;)

I’ve been working my way through the books of Marcus Borg, because I find his vision of progressive Christianity so inspiring. As I expected, I greatly enjoyed The God We Never Knew, although I did find the Jesus chapter redundant (having read his Jesus book previously). Borg distinguishes between two ways of conceiving God: the more authoritarian construct Borg grew up with and the more spiritual one that has just as deep roots in Christianity. Borg is a scholar, and I was impressed with his case that the latter is just as Biblically valid as the former. He then goes on to look at how conceiving God in this way makes all of the problems/concerns people express about an authoritarian God go away. Since I only have a small space to devote to it, I’m not going to outline his argument (so please don’t assume my very brief summary is what he’s actually writing and attack that: read the book first!), but it resonated deeply with me. I love Borg, and I only wish he had a church where I’m living: I would become a member asap!

After finishing Fall on Your Knees, I realised I wanted more epic family stuff, so I turned to one of my favourite authors: Salman Rushdie. I’ve had The Moor’s Last Sigh on my shelf for at least a couple years, so I brought it along with me as an option for my library-free period. I’m so glad I did, since it was exactly what I’ve come to expect from Rushdie! It actually reminded me quite strongly of Midnight’s Children, although it was perhaps a bit ‘lighter.’ From the title, I expected it to be set in Spain, but the vast majority of the story occurs in India, primarily Kochi and Bombay. Like Midnight’s Children, the novel is narrated by a man looking back in his life; in this case, he’s telling his family history, although for most of the book his intended audience is invisible. Incorporating stories of the Portugese and Jewish communities in India, jumping between the most privileged and least privileged worlds of Bombay, spanning most of India’s twentieth-century history, The Moor’s Last Sigh made Rushdie’s vision of his homeland come alive. There are strong women and strong men, evil women and evil men, with lots of missed opportunities, miscommunication, and misunderstandings (in fact, one of the characters plays with mis- words, in a typical moment of linguistic humour). And while the story itself is more tragic than not, the writing is so playful it’s still a joy to read. If you’ve read Rushdie before, The Moor’s Last Sigh is exactly what you’re expecting. If you haven’t, this would be as fun a place to begin as any. :)

I won a copy of Flow by Elissa Stein and Susan King for my post about vaginas back in March. It’s a US-focused cultural history of periods, and I love the design of the book. It’s almost a coffee-table style one, with lots of pictures of advertisements, thick, glossy pages, and fun layouts throughout. When I live on my own, I probably will keep it on my coffee table! It’s also a light-hearted look at how women have historically been told that periods are creepy/dirty/etc. and how the ‘femcare industry’ (pads, tampons, douches, hormonal drugs, etc.) has capitalised on that in the twentieth century to the tune of billions of dollars. Stein and King are really funny, and I often found myself giggling while flipping through the pages. I was also fascinated by all of the old advertisements they included; in my opinion, the strongest part of the book was their analysis of US pop culture period stuff. The weakest part was the historical background bits. I completely understand why they needed to generalise and move quickly over large swathes of history, but I must admit the nerd in me got a bit twitchy. Fortunately, these bits are just a small part of the book, so as a whole I still loved it! I loved its positive celebration of women (although, Stein and King don’t have universal praise for periods: they completely acknowledge that for some women, periods are horrible things that wreak havoc on their health) and its non-judgemental attitude (for example, when discussing oral contraceptives I never got the sense that Stein and King think all women should reject them). It really feels as if Stein and King just want women to think about periods, be aware of the cultural messages they’re receiving, and make an informed choice about everything from what to use for the blood flow (I did think my beloved cup got a bit short shrifted, but I’m biased!) to deciding on doctor-prescribed medicine to diagnosing oneself with PMS. And I learned so much interesting information, even though I’ve been reading women’s studies books for awhile now! For example, did you know that the ‘water cures’ included aiming powerful streams of water at a patient’s clitoris to bring her to orgasm? I did not. Or that a study was conducted in which, after renaming PMS with a gender neutral title, researchers found that equal amounts of men and women believed they suffered from it? This makes perfect sense to me, but the next time I’m lecturing one of the guys in my life about PMS, I’m glad I’ll have a study to back me up. ;) All in all, a really fun book that I highly recommend! Stein is currently working on a cultural history of ageing, which I can’t wait to read.

Have I been gushing enough in this post? Because be prepared for even more of it: it’s time to talk about Thomas King’s Medicine River. Last year, I read his later novel Green Grass, Running Water which reduced me to a shameless fangirl state. So what was my reaction to this, his first published book? The same shameless fangirl state! This has a much more straightforward novel structure, so if slightly experimental stuff makes you nervous, then grab this one first instead. Because King is such a reading treat, you owe it to yourself to not miss out. Medicine River is a small town near a reservation in Western Canada. We see this town and its residents, primarily Native Americans, through the eyes of Will Sampson, who runs a photography studio. The novel intersperses contemporary events in Will’s life with memories he has of childhood, and King has this understated emotionally powerful thing that going on that literally took my breath away. He writes just enough into the book, and trusts the reader to make of it what they will, and it results in a perfect story. It also has one of the loveliest friendships I’ve come across in fiction: Harlen Bigbear has, much to Will’s bemusement, become a best friend. I don’t want to tell you any more, because I went into the book not knowing anything about it (other than that Thomas King wrote it), and I think that made it even more magical. Just go get your hands on a copy!

A couple of months ago, Jo Tatchell e-mailed me asking if I’d be interested in reading her new nonfiction book about Abu Dhabi, A Diamond in the Desert. Although I rarely accept review copies, I’m an international relations nerd, so after reading a few pages online to make sure the writing wouldn’t drive me insane, I happily accepted. I think Tatchell has a great writing style: she made Abu Dhabi come to life, and her power of description extends to people as well, so reading the book felt like I was tagging along after her as she wandered through Abu Dhabi. She’s British, but her father worked in Abu Dhabi when she was a child, so she’s lived there off and on since the 70s. In order to write this book, she went back and interviewed various people, both expat and native, in the city; she also undertook a hunt to find the newspaper archives to learn more about its recent past. That being said, I think the book lacks a strong structure: parts of it read like a travelogue, parts like a history, parts like a childhood memoir, and parts like a novel (I was particularly disconcerted to see a conversation she had with a Texan in a bar rendered in dialect). This made me feel a bit unsure as to how much of the book I should trust as hard nonfiction, as opposed to what stemmed from a softer, memoir-type approach. The lack of cohesion also led to me wondering why some of the stories were in the book in the first place. At the end of the day, Tatchell definitely writes about Abu Dhabi as a British expat: of course, that’s who she is, but the way she writes about Arab culture, particularly the tribal past of the UAE, her glossing over of British colonial exploitation, and her portrayal of non-British white expats (i.e.: Americans and Australians) left me with an eyebrow raised on several occasions. I think if you picked up this book expecting a subjective, travelogue-inspired, nostalgic meditation by a Brit on Abu Dhabi, you’d be delighted with it (especially if you’re a British reader, lol). Unfortunately, I was expecting something more academic/journalistic (in her e-mail to me, Tatchell mentioned her friendship with Emma Larkin, so I assumed it’d be like one of her Burma books), and by the time I realised my mistake, it was difficult to change gears. With the caveat just mentioned, I would recommend this, and I’m definitely interested in reading Tatchell’s novel (entitled Nabeel’s Song or The Poet of Baghdad depending on where you live) since her writing was so wonderfully descriptive.

I think that’s probably enough for one day. :) As always, do let me know if you’ve read any of these books and agree/disagree with me! Or if I’ve inspired you to give any of them a go.

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61 Comments leave one →
  1. November 14, 2010 3:25 pm

    I want to read The Moor’s Last Sigh. But I’m saving it. It and Shalimar the Clown are the last two Rushdie books I haven’t yet read, and I suspect Moor’s Last Sigh is the better book, so that’s the last one I’m going to read. I’m excited for it.

    Marcus Borg sounds great, also. I wish I’d brought my Marcus Borg book with me to New York. :/

    • November 15, 2010 6:50 am

      ZOMG, Shalimar the Clown is my favourite, favourite Rushdie! lol I have the INCREDIBLE audiobook, which probably has contributed to my love. I think I’ve reread it 5 times at least. Shalimar feels a lot more unique than Moor’s Last Sigh too (ie: you won’t be thinking…wait, haven’t I read this Rushdie?). I’ve still got Grimus, Fury, The Ground Beneath Her Feet, and all of his essay collections left. And of course, the book that’s coming out soon!

      I bet your big ol’ NYC library has some Marcus Borg. ;)

  2. November 14, 2010 3:32 pm

    I really like Ann Marie Macdonald’s prose and the way she writes but I think unfortunately Fall On Your Knees just wasn’t for me. Maybe I need to re-read it because so many others have loved it!

    • November 15, 2010 6:51 am

      That’s too bad! I can see how it won’t be for everyone though. :)

  3. November 14, 2010 3:40 pm

    I have yet to try a Rushdie book, but I am looking forward to reading one of them :)

    I remember feeling the same hesitation about Fall on Your Knees, when my parents bought it for my birthday a few years ago. I remember that in the end, it left a huge impression on me. That is about all I remember though.. And something about a lake or waves and a loss? I don’t know.. I guess I have to reread it at some point.

    • November 15, 2010 6:52 am

      I’ve loved Rushdie for so long now…I think I first read him in 2003 maybe?

      There’s lots of sea/ocean imagery in Fall on Your Knees: maybe that’s what you’re remembering?

  4. November 14, 2010 3:44 pm

    Fall On Your Knees made me take back everything awful I’ve ever said about Canadian woman writers. The Way the Crow Flies is darker, but equally awesome.

    • November 15, 2010 6:54 am

      Please tell me you did not badmouth the Atwood! I even loved Handmaid’s Tale, and I hate like every other dystopian novel ever. Except for maybe 1984, but only because a professor of mine who grew up in the Soviet Union was in awe of how well it captured life there. ;)

      I’m a bit more skeptical of The Way the Crow Flies, since I don’t have any inherent interest in the 60s and had to study the Cuban Missile Crisis WAY TOO MUCH in college, but it sounds like I’ll just have to suck it up and read it anyway!

  5. November 14, 2010 4:49 pm

    I’ve been wanting to read Fall On Your Knees for a while and now I’ll really have to pick it up. The Leavenworth Case sounds fantastic as well. I love mystery novels, but they have to be well-written. This sounds perfect!

    • November 15, 2010 6:58 am

      Hope you enjoy them both when you get to them! :)

  6. November 14, 2010 4:55 pm

    I LOVE Fall On Your Knees – it’s one of my favourite books to read and I’ve read it several times. The characters are just amazing – her writing style isn’t spectacularly masterly but her grasp of her characters and her ability to portray them so intimately just had me falling in love!

    • November 15, 2010 6:59 am

      I’m so glad that it lives up to rereadings! I really enjoyed her writing too though, hehe. Isn’t it funny how we all react differently? :)

  7. November 14, 2010 5:05 pm

    I’m glad you enjoyed Fall On Your Knees. I wouldn’t read it for years because I was worried about the portrayal of my island from an outsider. But I took a deep breath and took the plunge a few years ago. I’m glad I did. It really is a beautiful novel. I chuckled as I read it because I kept thinking, “Hey, I know that place!” whenever she mentioned a landmark.

    I caught the resemblance to Wuthering Heights and it made me like it even more. The crazy family, forbidden love, the whole thing. There are definitely moor-ish places around here, especially this time of year when the wind is blowing. I’m a sucker for a gothic tale anyway.

    • November 15, 2010 7:00 am

      I’m glad that YOU didn’t hate it! I can imagine being super nervous about the setting under those circumstances. :)

      I love most gothic fiction, but Wuthering Heights and I aren’t the best of friends unfortunately. Every time I give it another go (I read it for the first time when I was in middle school), I end up enjoying it less and less. :(

  8. November 14, 2010 5:07 pm

    Flow sounds quite interesting; I’ve never heard a lot about historical menstruation, so it’s a bit sad that their historical context is lacking, but otherwise, sounds good. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

    • November 15, 2010 7:01 am

      I should have clarified! The actual bits about women & their periods in previous times (like, what they used to catch the blood) are really neat. It’s the background (like, the portrayal of the Middle Ages as the Dark Ages) that made me wince a bit.

  9. November 14, 2010 5:32 pm

    I loved Fall on Your Knees and The Way the Crow Flies. Both are amazing! Fall on Your Knees was one I never expected to love. I read a really interesting review of Flow the other day on a blog. It was a pretty conflicted review that had a problem with the lack of exploration of other cultures. Very interesting stuff!

    • November 15, 2010 7:02 am

      It sounds like I’ll definitely be giving The Way the Crow Flies a go then! Which blog did you read that on? It was definitely very US white centric, but I don’t think it pretended to be anything else, which is why it didn’t bother me. :)

      • November 16, 2010 10:42 am

        Here’s the review: http://www.raisingmyboychick.com/2010/10/reviewing-flow-the-cultural-story-of-menstruation/

        That’s what I suspected. I don’t always agree with what the author of this blog says, but she writes some very thought-provoking posts. My old roommate and I will talk about the stuff on here for hours, usually to the conclusion that we aren’t sure we agree, but we’re glad we talked about it haha.

      • November 16, 2010 12:23 pm

        I read the post: thanks for the link!

        You know, while I was reading Flow, it did occur to me that they were using woman to mean biologically born female, but I’m not sure how one could write a book about periods using any other meaning. I checked to see if the blogger had written about Natalie Angier’s Woman: an Intimate Geography, but she hasn’t. I wondered because that’s an incredible book centered around female biology, one that I loved to bits, but one that is also mainly focused on women born biologically female. I don’t think I’ve read enough to speak intelligently about transgendered issues, but I do wonder what a transgendered-inclusive book on periods could even look like.

  10. November 14, 2010 5:48 pm

    Glad you liked Fall on Your Knees. Her other novel is The Way the Crow Flies and I liked it just as much so I recommend it too. McDonald is a playwright here but we all wish she’d write more novels, she’s that good.
    I love Rushdie’s nonfiction but never knew quite where to start with his fiction. I don’t like fantasy but it sounds like The Moor’s Last Sigh may be the one for me, thanks for that.
    I haven’t tried Thomas King’s work but I’ve put him on my “to be considered list” since you like him so much. (my “to be considered” list is right below my “tbr list” so it’s not much of a push to get on it when I’m ready) :) Have a good week.

    • November 15, 2010 7:16 am

      It sounds like everyone likes The Way the Crow Flies! Awesome. :)

      I’ve read most of Rushdie’s fiction at this point, and the only one I think of as fantasy was his kid’s book Haroun and the Sea of Stories. The rest all definitely have magical realism going on, but I wouldn’t call that fantasy! My favourite Rushdie is Shalimar the Clown, but I think any of them could work…maybe read the summaries and see which appeals to you the most?

      I think Medicine River is definitely literary fiction, so right up your alley!

  11. November 14, 2010 5:52 pm

    You reading comeback list here is way more in-depth than any I’ve ever experienced! :) I’ve had Rushdie’s novel on my TBR list for five years and honestly don’t know what is holding me up other than life itself. Your great list here though has me aching to get my hands on some great reads. Thanks for sharing! :)

    • November 15, 2010 7:17 am

      I’m glad you enjoyed the list! :) I’m a huge Rushdie fan, but I totally acknowledge that he’s not for everyone. Still, do give him a go! If he makes you nervous, maybe start with Haroun and the Sea of Stories? It’s marketed as YA/kids book I think, but I really enjoyed it.

  12. November 14, 2010 6:01 pm

    I need to get my hands on that novel by Green. It sounds wonderful and a great way for me to spend some more time with a good mystery. I’ll have to see if I can locate a copy somewhere.

    I really want to read Flow. It sounds marvelous. I’m sure it would make Matt blush if I brought it home, but he can deal with a little discomfort and maybe learn something! :)

    • November 15, 2010 7:22 am

      For me, Leavenworth Case was a total comfort kind of read!

      I’m sure that Matt can take a little blushing, lol.

  13. November 14, 2010 6:56 pm

    I loved both Fall on Your Knees and The Way the Crow Flies although they’re both very dark. Flow sounds interesting. What an eclectic reading list!

    • November 15, 2010 7:23 am

      It’s funny…Fall on Your Knees was definitely dark for me, but it followed the classic tragedy mold so well, and had an uplifting note at the end, so I didn’t feel sad when I finished. Which I’m grateful for!

  14. November 14, 2010 7:26 pm

    You always are reading so much and so much good “stuff” too that it’s hard to know on what to comment. I guess I have to comment on Green since I had never heard of her and as a fan of Doyle, I am…well, to say the least…intrigued. I definitely will be checking her out in the future.

    While there was no controversy here today :), I did enjoy the post and hope to return more often than I have been — and not just for Sunday Salon posts.

    • November 15, 2010 7:24 am

      I’m glad you enjoyed the (controversy-free) post! :) I can’t say I’m a huge fan of Doyle, but I do love the Golden Age mystery authors, so it’s fun to read the forbears.

  15. November 14, 2010 7:28 pm

    I’ve had the MacDonald book on my shelf for years and can’t think of why I still haven’t read it. After reading your review of it I know I have been missing out on something that I would enjoy.

  16. November 14, 2010 7:34 pm

    We’ve been talking a lot about Abu Dhabi and Dubai in my urban geography class, and I’ve been looking for books on the two cities. I will have to look into A Diamond in the Desert and see if it matches what I’m looking for. Flow sounds interesting. I love looking at old advertisements.

    • November 15, 2010 7:25 am

      I’ll be curious to see what you make of Diamond in the Desert if you get to it! Also, I’m jealous that you’re taking an urban geography class. lol I had just begun a marvelous book, Favela, in CO but didn’t finish it before moving only to find that my library here doesn’t carry it. :(

  17. November 14, 2010 7:44 pm

    I’ve had Fall on Your Knees on my tbr list for awhile now so I was really excited to read your review and see that you enjoyed it so much. I’m going to have to request it from the library now…glad to see that you are reading so many great books! Always adds to my TBR list :)

    • November 15, 2010 7:35 am

      Yay! I hope you like it as much as I did! :)

  18. November 14, 2010 8:39 pm

    The God We Never Knew sounds like the kind of book I’ve been looking for…do you think it’s a good introduction to the author’s work or would you recommend something else to start off with?

    • November 15, 2010 7:36 am

      I think it’s one of his older books, so it might be neat to start there and work your way up to his more recent stuff. :) But honestly, I think you could start anywhere! I began with The Heart of Christianity, which will let you know whether his brand of Christianity works for your or not.

  19. November 14, 2010 9:12 pm

    I SO love your salon post, Eva!!! They make me so happy…I could just listen to you gush about books all day :D And like I just told you on twitter, I scored a copy of Fall on your Knees on PBS just now after reading your review!! Yay :D Really want to get my hands on the Thomas King books too. Sounds excellent!!

    • November 15, 2010 7:36 am

      Aww: thanks! Squee for Fall on Your Knees! And if you come visit me I’ll send you home with Medicine River. ;)

  20. November 14, 2010 10:12 pm

    I read Fall on Your Knees several years ago and I LOVED it. I’ve been wanting to reread it for a while now to see how it holds up over time.

    I’ve been wanting to read Flow for a while now, but I keep forgetting to put in a request at the library!

    • November 15, 2010 7:38 am

      I’m curious to see what you’ll make of it! It’s definitely white-centric though: I think I forgot to mention that in my post.

  21. November 14, 2010 11:09 pm

    What a diverse collection of books. I have only read The Moors Last Sigh, and I really enjoyed the Jewish and portuguese slant of the books. Rarely do Indian authors write about minority communities here. That said, I found the ending to be a drag. Have you read Shame by Rushdie? it’s a thinly veiled satire on Pakistani politics and it’s hilarious! I ink you might like it.

    Thanks for the Anna Katherine introduction, I love classic, cozy mysteries. This sounds just right up my alley.

    • November 15, 2010 7:39 am

      I have read Shame! It was my second Rushdie and made him one of my very favourite authors. :) The ending of Moor’s Last Sigh was definitely really, really dark: I wasn’t expecting it to take that turn. But then I saw that this was his first novel after the Satanic Verses thing, and it made a little more sense.

      I hope you enjoy The Leavenworth Case: classic and cosy is perfect description. :)

  22. November 14, 2010 11:33 pm

    Two Canadian authors, hoorah! Fall on Your Knees is fantastic, although I never noticed the Wuthering Heights connection, Jane Eyre is what comes to mind instead, since I think one of the characters really liked it?

    I’ve actually heard Thomas King speak, at my university (perhaps one of the few advantages of my small southern Alberta university!) He was very funny and warm. I’ve always been meaning to read his books since…

    The God We Never Knew sounds like a religious book I could maybe get on board with, after rejecting the strict christianity of my upbringing and The Leavenworth Case has such an eye-catching cover!

    • November 15, 2010 7:59 am

      The first page of the book has a Wuthering Heights quote: seeing it before starting the novel made me a bit nervous. Jane Eyre is definitely the one with more prominence in the story! :)

      Very jealous you heard King speak! Funny and warm is a GREAT way to describe his writing, so that’s neat that he seems like that in person too. :)

      If you haven’t read Borg before, you might want to give The Heart of Christianity a go! It’s a more general overview of progressive Christianity, and it won me over.

      Also, I love the cover of The Leavenworth Case! Understated and elegant but really fun too. Penguin tends to have great covers. :)

  23. November 14, 2010 11:55 pm

    Lovely post, Eva! “Fall on your knees” looks like quite an interesting book! I liked your observation about the book – “The strengths the women find all fit in with the historical context of their lives; Macdonald never slips in modern beliefs or attitudes.” Many times modern beliefs and attitudes slip into a book, because the author wants us to like one of the characters. It is wonderful to know that Ann Marie MacDonald didn’t do that.

    “The Leavenworth Case” looks like a fascinating book! I love mysteries from the golden era and I am going to add this to my ‘TBR’ list. Your description of this book reminds me of A.A.Milne’s ‘The Red House Mystery’ which has a similar plot – a body in a locked room. Have you read this?

    Borg’s ‘The God We Never Knew’ looks quite interesting too. It was interesting that Borg contrasts the authoritarian God with spirituality in Christianity.

    Your review of ‘Flow’ was quite interesting! Stein and King seem to be quite interesting writers. Your comment “When I live on my own, I probably will keep it on my coffee table!” made me smile :)

    Glad to know that you enjoyed ‘The Moor’s Last Sigh’. I am reading Rushdie’s ‘Midnight’s Children’ now and I hope to read ‘The Moor’s Last Sigh’ later.

    Jo Tatchell’s book has a wonderful title – I love the title ‘A Diamond in the Desert’. It seems to be an interesting book for people who might have lived in the UAE at a particular point in time and are nostalgic about it. From your description, as an objective travelogue, it does seem to have its limitations. But glad to know that you like Tatchell’s prose. Maybe her novel will read better.

    Thanks for reviewing all these wonderful books, Eva!

    • November 15, 2010 8:06 am

      I love it when authors have enough strength to keep their historical characters *feeling* historical too; Andrea Levy springs to mind as another one who does this marvelously. And Laurie King: although Mary Russell is a a v progressive woman for her time, she still feels right if that makes sense. :)

      I haven’t read The Red House Mystery! I didn’t know he’d written anything but Winnie the Pooh. :) My library only has an electronic version available, though. (This is why I’ve decided I need an ereader, lol.)

      I remember you were quite interested by Borg’s analysis in his book on Jesus too (I did a more extensive review of that one with excerpts): it sounds like you might want to track him down! ;)

      I know you’re reading Midnight’s Children, and I can’t wait to see your posts on it! I wouldn’t recommend reading The Moor’s Last Sigh right after it though…it might feel a little bit too similar.

      I think if I’d had different expectations of Diamond in the Desert I would have enjoyed it more…or if she hadn’t written her conversation with a Texan in dialogue. That kind of annoyed me, I can’t lie. ;)

      • November 16, 2010 10:00 am

        I will have to check out books by Andrea Levy, Laurie King and Mary Russell. Thanks for mentioning them!

        Hope you get to read ‘The Red House Mystery’. I think you will like it :) Yes, I also thought that Milne only wrote ‘Winnie the Pooh’ and was delightfully surprised when I discovered this mystery novel by him.

        I will add Borg to my list of authors to be explored :) Thanks for writing about him :) I really like it when writers try to re-interpret religion in today’s context and come out with interesting findings and themes.

      • November 16, 2010 12:26 pm

        I should have clarified that Laurie King writes a series in which Mary Russell is the main character. :) Small Island by Andrea Levy was wonderful! I haven’t read her other stuff yet, but I imagine it’s great as well!

        One of the neatest things about Borg is that he’s not just re-interpreting Christianity from a modern perspective: he shows how the current dominant Christian beliefs, the one we imagine as ‘traditional,’ often came about just in the last few hundred years, and that there are much older Christian beliefs more in tune with today’s progressive Christianity. :)

  24. katrina permalink
    November 15, 2010 4:25 pm

    My reading years been like that a lot of droughts and apathy towards books but i’ve also read some great stuff too.

  25. November 15, 2010 5:02 pm

    I was sorta on the fence with Flow. Not so much because I’m squeamish or feel as though the topic is a taboo, but more because I didn’t know if the topic was so narrow it would put me to sleep. I’m glad to hear it was giggly worth. I’ve added it on my list.

    And on the note of periods, were you like me, while reading Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret, totally confused when they first started talking about using a BELT with their pad. I was all, like, “What?!? What are they talking about! I missed something.” Teehee. I wonder what people of the future will think about us. For instance, I LOVE OB. But I know many people get wigged because there is no applicator. Ah well….Prudes. :P

  26. November 15, 2010 7:48 pm

    So many awesome books here!

    I tried reading Fall on Your Knees back when Oprah first selected it for her book club (I think I was in high school at the time) and it didn’t work for me, although that was like 10 years ago so perhaps I should try again. You’ve inspired me to give it another chance. :)

    And I’ve been meaning to read Borg since you talked about Jesus, and I even borrowed that one from the library, but unfortunately had to return it unread. But I swear I will get to his work soon!

    And Flow! Gotta read that one too! Wow Eva you are really adding to my list today. Thanks a LOT! ;)

  27. November 16, 2010 9:45 am

    I’ve seen Fall on Your Knees in bookstores, but I’ve never read any blogger reviews of it. After reading yours, I’m definitely interested! The Rushdie looks good, too, though since I’ve never read him (ack…I KNOW!!), I’ll probably start with one of his really famous ones.

  28. November 17, 2010 7:48 am

    I’ve just put Fall on Your Knees on my wishlist:) I have yet to read any Rushdie although I have Midnight’s Children on my shelf which I was planning to read this year but still haven’t ;P I haven’t read anything else you’ve talked about, but Flow looks interesting.

  29. November 19, 2010 8:35 pm

    Wow. What a really great collection of books! Glad to see that you liked FLOW!!! I really did as well, though you are right, it doesn’t have a huge amount of detail on some things. Fall on Your Knees is on my tbr, and a few more books here that I’ll have to pick up at some point!

  30. December 6, 2010 10:17 pm

    I’m so glad you enjoyed Medicine River! I just love Thomas King — it’s nice to find someone else gushing over him, too :)

Trackbacks

  1. Favourites Reads of 2010 « A Striped Armchair
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