Sunday, April 24, 2011

March Books

A wonderful Gothic tale of a mother's secrets and her daughter's unexpected chance to heal their relationship. Edie Burchill is stunned to discover that her mother spent part of WWII evacuated to a castle owned by the writer of Edie's favorite childhood book. Chance and circumstance allow Edie to begin to unravel the secrets not only of her mother, but of the three elderly spinsters who have never left the castle. Full of shadows and romance and dreams.

Exactly what the title says: Writers writing about depression. Not for the faint of heart and probably not for someone who has never experienced depression in themselves and/or someone they love, but for me every page seemed to contain a moment of exquisite understanding, a light of hope that my craziness at least does not consist of experiencing things that aren't real. They're very real, and very painful, and yet look at all the beauty in my own and others' lives despite that pain.

When Jody Linder was 3 years old, her father was murdered and her mother vanished. Twenty-three years later, the novel opens with the news that the killer has been paroled and is returning to the small town where Jody still lives. The killer's son was once a friend of sorts, but now that he's helped his father out of jail, what will Jody think? And what really happened on that night so long ago? I love Pickard's writing and evocation of place and character.

In 1909, Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung arrive in New York City for a lecture series. But when a socialite is murdered and a second young woman attacked, young psychologist Stratham younger asks Freud for advice in helping the second woman recover her memory of the incident. Full of twisted characters and twistier motives, this is a cross between mystery and literary with my favorite parts being the turn of the century stories about New York society and politics.

Ten-year-old Tom Fletcher and his family have just moved to remote Helptonclough next to the ancient church. Everyone thinks Tom is imagining when he says he's being watched from the trees--but then his little sister is nearly killed by what may or may not have been a prank. The vicar, Harry Laycock, and child psychiatrist Evi Oliver are both involved with the family and also find the townspeople oddly silent about a string of child deaths in the past. Is Tom crazy? Is he dangerous? Or is it the church and town that have secrets to answer for? Very creepy.

Brendan Prescott is sent sent to London in the service of Robert Dudley. But the orphan is soon caught in the very heart of Tudor poltiics--the boy-king Edward VI is on his deathbed and rival factions are positioning Mary and Elizabeth against one another. Prescott wonders what he's doing in the midst of all this spying and death--but the truth of his parentage may be more than he bargained for.

CeeCee has grown up with a mentally ill mother and a mostly-absent father. When her mother dies, CeeCee is taken in by her great-aunt Tallulah and rescued from the cold north to the warm and flowery south. It's 1967 and 12-year-old CeeCee is soon awash in southern eccentriticies, from the nasty gossip next door to the fading beauty who bathes in an outdoor bathtub to Oleta, the black housekeeper who gives CeeCee more love than she's ever had. Sweet and frothy and easy--and sometimes that's just what you need.

ROOM/Emma Donoghue/A-
The exact opposite of sweet, frothy, and easy, ROOM is told by Jack, who has just turned five as the book opens. Jack and Ma live in Room, the only place Jack has ever known, with Old Nick their only visitor. Ma isn't as happy in Room as Jack, and soon she enlists his help to leave forever. But will the world outside be worth it--or will Jack wish to have stayed in Room forever? I would never have guessed that a story about a young woman held captive for years and the child she gave birth to in that time could be so redemptive and beautiful. Don't let the subject matter keep you from this story--Jack's innocence and literality infuse the book with hope and awe at the creative and driving power of a mother's love.

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