Jackie's Corner is a bookshelf by the Lodo Coffeebar in our Downtown store that contains as many books, with Jackie's reviews posted with them, as she can physically cram on there. Here are some new titles that hit The Corner this week:
The Cookbook Collector
This is the first book I've read by Allegra Goodman, though I thought her name sounded familiar when I got the ARC. It should--she's a best selling author and a National Book Award finalist. But frankly, it was the title that pulled me in.
This book has a broad range--from millionaire dot.com execs to literal tree huggers, book collectors and poetic references to food. It's about two sisters at its most basic, one a hugely successful workaholic, the other a drifting PhD candidate who just can't seem to settle down. And all the people they surround themselves with, willingly or unwillingly. Goodman is often compared with Jane Austen, and I can kind of see that with her deft complexity for weaving several disparate characters and times into one engrossing story. It is a love story on many different levels, as well as a "coming into one's own" kind of story that is very gratifying.
But I cannot say it better than a jacket-copy line from the ARC--this book is "about the
substitutions we make when we can't find what we're looking for: reading cookbooks instead of cooking, speculating instead of creating, collecting instead of living."
The News Where You Are
This is a little book, seemingly simple on its surface but deeply rich when you turn a closer eye to it. The surface is about Frank, a local British newscaster for a regional news show, and his reactions to the death of his famous predecessor, the demolition of some buildings his father spent his life designing, the reality of his depressed mother in a nursing home, and moving his family from the country to the city. But the undercurrent of it all deals with, essentially, what we do with old things: old people, old buildings, old jobs, old mementos piled in the attic. This is a book about reinvention and demolition and what is involved in choosing one or the other. To borrow a term from across the pond, it's BRILLIANT.
This is going to make a fantastic book club pick, especially since it's coming out as a
paperback original. I also highly recommend her first book, What Was Lost, another
beautifully nuanced novel with a touch of mystery to it.
Laura is in the sandwich generation--she's got two kids at home, a thriving nursing career, a loving husband, and a very difficult mother who shut down years ago when Laura's father died. When her mother has a massive stroke, Laura breaks her mother's long held demand for privacy by beginning to read to her the letters her father wrote to her mother years ago, describing their perfect love. Or at least that was always the story. As the letters unfold, a different tale of her parents lives and relationship emerges, and Laura finds she has more in common with her mother than she ever dreamed.
The Writing Circle
This is a book about a writer's critique group made up of all levels of literati--
historians, popular fiction writers, biographers, poets, all at various levels in their
careers. It's a bit of a literary soap opera with former and current relationships among the members, secrets kept and ideas stolen. There are 7 characters, all well represented, and the story moves along at a brisk pace. I found it thoroughly