Thursday, August 20, 2015

Tumbleweeds by Leila Meacham

Finally read the second book by Leila Meacham.published in 2012,  paperback is 466 pages plus a guide for book club readers or others.  Enjoyed it, not quite as much as "Roses" or it's prequel "Somerset" which was her  3rd novel,  but it was a good summer, light  novel reading.  The characters are interesting and the story kept my interest through the entire novel.  The prologue opens in 2008, " The call he'd been expecting for 22 years came at midnight when he was working late at his desk.  He had a second's start, the kind of stab he'd experienced often in the first years when the telephone rang in the early hours....." So it begins with Jesuit priest, Father John Caldwell.  The call is from Trey, his best friend from childhood and through high school.  The three main characters, John, Trey and Catherine,  three children with heart tugging stories whose lives are well portrayed by the title flower, tumbleweeds.  What  could have been a gushy story keeps interest and winds through their lives as each character develops into an individual, unique as the Texas prarie landscape.

 It is quite different from the author's sagas of Roses and Somerset,  but readable.  Surprising outcome as I  had thought all along there would be a mistake, a Hollywood ending was not to be as the author explains in the reading guide. I am not sure what southern fiction means, as this is  described, but  find it intriguing and as always the author has done accurate research.

I give it 4 ****.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Books donated, making space, Ahab's Wife and The Friday Night Knitting Club

August 2015 donation stack
I donated a stack of favorite books that I have read  the last few years to the library for the bookstore or shelves as needed there.  I continue with my sporadic efforts to declutter and although I have a built in library in our study with  shelves filled with collections of books, floor to ceiling, I realize that I am not likely to ever reread these books again and so why keep them.  Yes, they were all great reads and yes, they all had memorable lines, quotes, etc. but the truth simply is, it was time to clear spaces. First I  perused them and reread hilited passages that I had marked.  But off they went, well the library will either use them or for sure the revenue from selling them and someone else can appreciate them as I did.   I have my collections of hardback classics and adored  authors such as James Michener and David McCullough for which there will always be space, I have some old books from the  1940's that I retrieved from PA when clearing my late Uncle's home, my late aunt had collected and kept these books.  Back then one did not dispose of books and  very few bought books, so they were treasured.  Today paperbacks and reprints have replaced the hardback, classic bindings with unique sketches, in fact many people today simply read on Kindles or electronically.  I do some of that, but still am old school enough to prefer a book.  There is another phenomena at work, some books are only available on Kindle or e-read versions; in my experience most of these are not worth wasting one's eyeballs on and would not be worth printing, but e-versions make them available for less discriminating readers.  So books, books to a lifelong reader like me will always have a place in my home, but really I do not need to hold onto everything I purchase.    

I recalled that I read this one long ago, a new author to me but a superb writer and tale teller.  I  purchased  it in September 2004, as I contemplated imminent retirement and moving to MN.  I noted that it took me a long time to read it, finally finishing in February 2005.  We were so very busy with moving even though we had been aware of the imminence since 2003 when we bought this MN home.  Surprisingly this book traveled back and forth across the country and back to CA to return to MN and a top shelf space in my library.   It is a wonderful book, an excellent story, that as the back cover states, from the opening line you know you are in the hands of a master story teller, "Captain Ahab was neither my first husband nor my last..."  As with the other books I donated, I paused, do I let it go or not.  Well I know no one who would want it and so off to the next reader wherever that person may be.  
 Here is but one wonderful passage from Ahab's Wife, page 197,  Captain Ahab is talking with Mrs. Sparrow, :  "What does the word  mean, Nantucket?  
 It's the Indians' name for the faraway land, for its distance from the mainland.  
And Kentucky--its meaning?  
Also an Indian word--the dark and bloody land. 
 *****Beware the treachery of words, Mrs. Sparrow.  They mean one thing to  one person and opposite to another.  They are like all conventional, land born habits.  Words seem to be well woven baskets ready to hold your meaning, but they betray you with rotted corners and splintered stays."  

Or page, 553, "It is a splashing spanking surf tonight.  Earlier, there were  fists in it and the water pow pounded the shore.  "

Another book carefully donated is the Kate Jacobs tale, The Friday Night Knitting Club.  An interesting tale from the opening page, "choosing your wool is dizzying with potential.  The waves of colors and textures tempt with visions of a sweater or cap and all the accompanying compliments you hope to receive but don't reveal the hard work required to get there.  Patience and attention to detail make all the difference.  And willingness.  Challenge keeps it interesting, ..."

Weekly a group of women gather at a New York City yarn shop to work on their projects and share the stories of their lives.  

Page 137 caught my hi liter back when I read this and it still strikes me today, too little too late..."..when you're young you always think you'll meet all sorts of wonderful people, that drifting apart and losing friends is natural.  You don't worry at first, about the friends you leave behind.  But as you get older, it gets harder to build friendships.  Too many defenses, too little opportunity.  You get busy.  And by the time you realize that you've lost the dearest best friend you ever had, years have gone by and you're mature enough to be embarrassed by your attitude and frankly by your arrogance."    So true as I have learned moving here to MN where the people are into their lifelong routines and  seldom make room for new  friends.  Sure e have acquaintances, but few real friends.