Ethan Frome – Edith Wharton

So it has been MONTHS since I last posted.  I got a new job last year and it has been a little time consuming.  I’m still reading a lot but updating the blog has fallen to the wayside.  That said, I’m going to try and be better about updating.

So onto Ethan Frome…

One day in high school, my sophomore English teacher overheard me gossiping about some show on the WB (that’s the old CW for you youngsters) and said that if I like “those kinds of shows” I would love The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton.  Long story short, I hated The House of Mirth.  I wanted to like it as I was fond of the teacher but I just could not get into it.  Recently, I’ve wondered if I didn’t like it because it was “assigned” and I had six other classes and homework and sports and I couldn’t give it my full attention.  A co-worker LOVES Edith Wharton and has been telling me to try her again.  So I picked up Ethan Frome and I won’t lie it was great.  I give it 5 out of 5 stars.  Clearly, I misjudged Ms. Wharton and her writing.  Her characters are well-drawn, the story is intriguing and it was difficult for me to put it down.  Her observations are spot on and while the story it a tad depressing, I can see why this is her most read story.

So it looks like I’m going to give The House of Mirth another try.  They say you should re-read the classics every ten years and it has been longer than that since I graduated high school.  Maybe now that I’m not being assigned the read and subsequent essay, I’ll be able to enjoy it more.

A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving

Seriously, LOVED this book.  This definitely goes on my “stranded on a desert island what 5 books would I bring” list. This if the first book I’ve read by John Irving and I will absolutely read all his other books.  A few years ago, I saw John Irving, Stephen King and J.K. Rowling do readings at Radio City Music Hall and by far John Irving was the most entertaining.   He read a passage from Owen Meany and you could hear a pin drop in the audience as he channeled the high-pitched, screeching voice of Owen Meany. 

This is a great story about the bonds of friendship between a dwarfish boy, Owen Meany and his best friend Johnny Wheelwright.  But it is predominantly a story about faith.  When Owen hits a baseball that kills Johnny’s mother, he starts to believe that he is an instrument of God.  A Prayer for Owen Meany follows the spiritual journey of both main characters.  Owen’s is unwavering whereas Johnny is faltering.  Politics also plays a major role in the story and at times I was a little annoyed with how much Johnny grew to despise the Reagan administration.  Even though I got a little annoyed with his political rantings, it still did not detract from the whole story for me because…Irving is a master storyteller.  The Christmas pageant scene alone is worth the price of admission.  Here are few of my favorite quotes:

“I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice. Not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother’s death, but because he is the reason I believe in God. I am a Christian because of Owen Meany.”

“When someone you love dies, and you’re not expecting it, you don’t lose her all at once; you lose her in pieces over a long time — the way the mail stops coming, and her scent fades from the pillows and even from the clothes in her closet and drawers. Gradually, you accumulate the parts of her that are gone. Just when the day comes — when there’s a particular missing part that overwhelms you with the feeling that she’s gone, forever — there comes another day, and another specifically missing part.”

Make no mistake at over 600 pages, this is a long read.  I’m a pretty fast reader and even my pace was slow while reading this book.  But I enjoyed every page.

A Discovery of Witches – Deborah Harkness

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I really enjoyed A Discovery of Witches and when I finished I was happy to discover that it is first in a trilogy! (Though I was disappointed the 2nd book won’t be out until Summer 2012).  It’s a little on the long side and probably could have been about 100 pages shorter BUT that didn’t […]

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The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern

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This has been a very buzzed about book, the advance copies were a hot commodity and while I had an early copy, I was hesitant to read it but only because I wanted to read it on a weekend where I didn’t have anything else to do. From the first sentences —“The circus arrives without warning. No […]

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Stories I Only Tell My Friends – Rob Lowe

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A friend at work gave me a signed copy of this book and it has been on my shelf for a few months.  After overhearing in the elevator that he really wrote the book (no ghostwriter needed), that he was incredibly nice to work with and talking to a few other people who gave Stories […]

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The Language of Flowers – Vanessa Diffenbaugh

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This is going to be a relatively short post as I’m on vacation this week!  But for those of you that are packing up to head out for the long Labor Day weekend, you should put The Language of Flowers in your suitcase, beach bag, etc. I can’t tell you how many family members have […]

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Darth Paper Strikes Back – Tom Angleberger

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I’ve been waiting for this book for about a year and I’ll admit I did a little happy dance when it arrived in the mail!  I read the first title, The Strange Case of Origami Yoda about a year ago in my kids book group and it was FANTASTIC.  A pitch-perfect middle grade book.  Like […]

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The Hangman’s Daughter – Oliver Potzsch

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Set in 1660 Germany, the local hangman Jakob Kuisl is called to investigate the murder of a young boy.  Pulled from the water a small tattoo is found on his shoulder and suggests that witchcraft may be involved.  With memories of witch hunts and trials that occurred 70 years before, the town is set on […]

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French Lessons – Ellen Sussman

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French Lessons has been on my radar for a while, mostly because I think the cover is quite gorgeous. It follows the stories of 3 French tutors and their American students through the course of one day and is definitely escapist literature.  I enjoyed the descriptions of Paris life.  Though I’ve never been there, I could certainly […]

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The Story of Beautiful Girl – Rachel Simon

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The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon is definitely one of my favorite books for 2011.  The story opens on a rainy night in 1968 when Martha, a widow and former school teacher opens her front door to two strangers,  Lynnie and Homan.  Martha soon discovers that Lynnie, a young white woman who is developmentally […]

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