Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Review: The First Warm Evening of the Year by Jamie M. Saul

I hadn't read Saul's first book, Light of Day, but it did get good reviews. In this novel, there is a main character, Geoffrey Tremont, who was a child actor and now did voice overs. Lives in NYC, runs with a sophisticated crowd, has a girlfriend who he sees when he wants, comes and goes as he pleases. He receives a  letter from a lawyer, who tells him of the death of a childhood friend,Laura, who has asked that he be executor of her estate.
He takes a few days off, heads to Shady Grove, a little town in the country, and so the real story begins. He meets a friend of his old pal Laura, Marian is a widow. A widow not looking for a different life, happy with her greenhouse and nursery/landscape business, happy with her boyfriend, happy with her life. Or so we think. 
If you are thinking that this story is hokey or sounds contrived, it's exactly what I was thinking as I kept reading. I kept saying this is crazy, this would never happen this way. Life would never happen this way. I would put the book down, and then I would pick it up again and continue reading. It is one of those kind of books. It is a book that would be a good Nicholas Sparks movie. 
Having said all of that, I think I do recommend this book. It was an easy read and as long as you don't "read" too much into it, you will be glad you picked it up. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Review: Jackie After O by Tina Cassidy

I, like everyone else on that fateful day, remember where I was when President Kennedy got shot. I was home sick from school, my mom had gone to tea next door with our neighbor Arlene. I was sitting there watching TV, when the news bulletin came on. I went running next door to tell my mom.  Camelot was no more.
I was very interested to see if this author could add anything new to what we already knew about Jackie O. As I understood the book to be about one year in the life, I was pretty confused when the first half of the book  was jumping back and forth. I could not figure out what year the author, Cassidy, was writing about. When she finally started telling us about Ari Onassis, I figured it out, 1975. The year Jackie took on the City of NY over the proposed demolition of Grand Central Station. The year Jackie became a book editor for Viking. The year Aristotle Onassis died, and left her a widow once again.
I am not sure that this book gave me a whole lot more insight then I already had by reading newspaper & magazine articles. There were plenty of news stories on TV, telling us all about the fight over Onassis' millions.
Unfortunately for Cassidy, Jackie O's life played out in the press. I kept reading, wanting to read something that was new and unpublished. I didn't get what I wanted. What I did get was a reminder of how Jackie could twist people around her finger, and got what she wanted. How powerful she was in that regard ! She did have some fine victories in the fight to save historical buildings. She had great success at Viking and then again at Double Day. She did finally come into her own. But I am sad to say, that the mystery that was Jackie Kennedy Onassis, went to the grave with her.
I recommend this book if you would like to refresh your memory about the sometimes glamorous, but mostly tragic life of Jackie O. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Book Review: Postcards by E. Annie Proulx

I happen to think Proulx is a great writer. Just read the short story, Brokeback Mountain and you will have to agree. Postcards, Proulx's first novel, is a very rambling story..much like it's main character, Loyal Blood.
This is the story about the Blood family and life on a farm in Vermont. Although, most of the story is played out far from Vermont, the reason for the story is buried quite close to the farm.
Loyal Blood had to run from the family and the farm, when he  killed his lover, a woman named Billy. Billy had asked Loyal over & over to leave Vermont and find a more exciting life elsewhere. He loved his farm and he was the glue that held the farm & the family together. He did not want a different life.
Once Billy was buried in a cave near his family's farm, he took off and never returned. Hmmm....
He travels all over the western part of the country, picking up odd jobs, working in the mines, working with an archeologist and trapping for fur. Along the way he finds a stash of postcards. One by one, he mails the cards home, never leaving a forwarding address. Never staying long enough in one place to let anybody know where he was. The mailing of postcards, by all sorts of people,  plays a big role in this book.
The rest of his family moves on with their lives. They lose the farm, the father, Mink, hangs himself in jail. The one armed brother, nicknamed Dub, moves to Florida and gets rich. The sister, Mernelle, marries a man that she meets through a want ad and lives a perfectly normal life. Until her mother, Jewell, dies in a weird car accident and her beloved husband leaves her a widow.
All the while, Loyal is moving from one town to another for years, sending these postcards back to the family as if nothing had changed on the farm. Oblivious to all that has happened.
Although this book gets a little slow at times, and sometimes I was waiting for the scene where Billy was killed and why (which never really came), I liked it. It was Proulx's first attempt at being a great writer.
She succeeded.