I know that there are many of you who do not think of vacation time as reading time. I do. In my mind, the number of books read equates to the greatness of the vacation.
We were on vacation last week and I finished several (cough, cough) books. Okay, I just counted how many books I read and I am embarrassed to tell you. (The number rhymes with the word “fine”.) One book was a “re-read”. I reread Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen, a book that I had suggested to you a couple of weeks ago. I still really like it.
At the beginning of the year, I posted a list of books that I wanted to read this year. I read four of the books from my list while I was gone. I will tell you about three of them this week.
Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield –
Diane Setterfield is the author of The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel and the newly released Bellman & Black. I thought that The Thirteenth Tale was an engrossing story so I was eagerly looking forward to the new book. Bellman & Black is what I would call a dark story. It is the story about William Bellman, a friendly lad, who is taken into the family business, even though he is not the rightful heir. He is successful with the business. As he travels through life, he seems to have it all and then illness ravages his village and his family. In a raw emotional state, he makes a deal that he does not quite remember; the consequences of which lead to his downfall. The atmosphere of the book gets heavier and heavier as it moves to its conclusion. The story line was interesting and I am glad that I read it. If I were to suggest a time and place to read it, I would suggest that reading it in front of a fire in the winter would be the best setting. It isn’t a bright sunny day read. (That may be because we could use warmth and sun around here and in my current state of mind I would not want to read such a dark story in nice weather.
After Visiting Friends by Michael Hainey
After Visiting Friends is about a son’s quest to discover the truth about his father’s death. Michael Hainey was six years old when his father died. His mother didn’t want to talk about it nor did his father’s co-workers. As an adult, Michael used his reporter’s instincts to push through the veil of silence to find the truth.
The book was interesting to me because it was all about Chicago. Michael Haney’s father and mother met when they both worked at the Chicago Tribune. The author talks about the places they went on their dates and throughout their time together. He also put historical context in to explain the times. I could relate to the places and history. In that way, the story was interesting.
I wonder if you were not from Chicago if the story would hold as much appeal. It is interesting to see everything that the author had to go through to get to the truth but then I wondered if he felt satisfied with the truth. Would finding the truth be satisfactory even if it meant that he found his father had clay feet? I am not sure that that question was answered.
I had wanted to read this book after seeing the reviews. I enjoyed it. I would be interested in hearing a non-Chicagoan’s response to the book.
Jana Bibi’s Excellent Fortunes by Betsy Woodman
I put this book on my list because an author that I liked recommended it. I don’t even remember which author at this point.
This story takes place in India. The main character’s life story is told over the course of the book. It starts as Jana, the main character (a woman in her 50’s), receives a letter that she has inherited “Jolly Grant House” in Hamara Nagar. She decides that she is ready for the adventure of moving to the house that she visited as a child. The story revolves around the characters that live and work around the house and their desire to save the town.
I will admit that when I started the book, I was not too thrilled. I was wondering why I was reading this tale about India and I was not immediately drawn in to the book. I stuck with it and it did get better. The characters in the book are well drawn and it is a good story. Just be ready that the beginning may be a bit slow.
I am writing this on Valentine’s Day. I hope that you are treated well by your Valentine and if you don’t have one, that you treated yourself well. While I think you should always treat yourself as well as you treat others, you could be extra nice to yourself on Valentine’s Day.
Thanks for reading!