Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The History of Love

Most of my book club didn't like this book. I did. It's a complicated story. Leo, a holocaust survivor lives in New York. He feels so alone, he constantly draws attention to himself to be sure he exists. The one thing he ever did in life was to love Alma. He wrote a book for her called The History of Love but it was lost in the horrors of the war. He also has a son with Alma who doesn't know that Leo exists.
Enter Alma Singer, who was named after Leo's Alma. Her parents read The History of Love in Spanish. Leo doesn't realize that his book has been published under another man's name. Alma Singer is trying to save her family. Her mother is depressed after the death of her husband, Alma's father and Alma's brother just keeps getting stranger and stranger. Eventally, the fates conspire to bring Leo and the second Alma together.
This is a lovely story. Sad but full of hope.

A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick

My friend loaned me this book and OH! was it good! A psychological thriller as good as Shutter Island. I don't even want to tell you anything about this book. Basically though, it involves a man who sends off for A Reliable Wife through mail-order. He doesn' exactly get what he expects. Spooky and thrilling and surprising.
This was Goolrick's first work of fiction, he also wrote a memoir which I will never, ever read (Think the Glass Castle) called The End of the World as We Know It.

Swann: A Novel by Carol Shields

I love this author and I had never heard of her before! I stumbled across her in an article about the origins of the Margaret Atwood novel, Alias Grace (fabulous book, by they way). The article was about true murders that occurred in Canada, which leads us back to this book.

Mary Swann is a 50 year old Canadian farm wife who writes poems that she sends in to the local newspaper. One of the few people in town that she associates with is the local librarian who tells Mary of a publisher who is looking for poems. Mary goes to meet the publisher and leaves with him a bag full of her poems which are written on scraps of paper. She then heads home to the farm where her husband murders her, dismembers her and then kills himself.

This story follows the 4 champions of Mary's career. The young female professor who 'discovers' Mary's small book of poetry; the retired newspaper editor who is Mary's publisher; a biographer who is planning a book on Mary and the town librarian.

Throughout the story, all evidence of Mary's work seem to be disappearing and each of the four had hidden secrets that reveal more than they know about Mary's work.

I really liked this book!!