Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Photograph by Penelope Lively (2002)

I was out with my kids yesterday and we made a stop at our main library downtown where they have a huge selection of English books. I picked out four to take home and I started on this one first. It was not very long and once I got into it, I couldn't put it down, just kept reading and reading until I was finished. It was a very compelling book.

The story starts out as Glyn, a 60 year old professor, is looking for a document in a cupboard and unexpectedly comes across a picture of his wife, Kath, holding hands with another man. As he looks closer, he sees that the other man is Nick, Kath's sister's husband. Glyn is in shock - what does this mean? He decides to find out and goes straight to Elaine, the sister, to find out if she knew about this. The book is about the consequences of him finding the picture but also about what happened to Kath, which we only find out little by little.

The book also examines two marriages, and the theme of paying attention to those closest to us, and how important this is. Glyn realizes, through his search for information, that there was a lot about his wife he simply didn't know, and this turns out to be tragic.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Recent reading

I've been reading (as always!) but been too lazy to sit down and write a respectable post about some of the books I've been enjoying. So here is a quick review of two books I got from the library:

Gilgamesh by Joan London (2001)
I loved this book! It was a bestseller in Australia and is a well written first novel about three generations of a family of outsiders in search of a place to call home. From London to the Australian wilderness, back to pre-war London, to Armenia, Persia, and back to Australia again... It was a quick read and I got completely caught up in it and finished it in one day. The characters came to life, as did the landscapes they travelled through. I highly recommend it - look for it at your library!

The Unredeemed Captive by John Demos (1994)
If you like history you will enjoy this. Based on original documents (diairies, letters, sermons) which are extensively quoted in the book, the author tells the story of Eunice Williams, a young girl who was captured from the town of Deerfield, Massachusetts in 1704 by a French and Indian war party, and adopted by an Indian family at a settlement in Canada. The rest of her family, along with many others in the town, are also captured or killed, some manage to escape. Her father, the prominent Puritan minister John Williams, is captured but released after a few years. He mananges to get the rest of his family back - all except for Eunice. And as they discover, after many years of negotiation with the French and the Indians, she doesn't want to come back. Fascinating story, very detailed and gives the reader a good idea of what life was really like for early Americans.