My Dream of You by Nuala O'Faolain
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I have read her first book, a memoir, and then Julie sent me "My Dream of You" in the Bodacious Box of Books, and I loved it. It's long, and starts pretty slowly, seeming like one of those novels in which the main character keeps doing dumb and self-destructive things again, again, and again. . . but then it had bolts of humor, and some characters who offered insight and common sense, and the main character seemed to be growing and learning from her dumb actions, and I ended up reading it in about three days and really enjoying it. I know a little about Irish history, and O'Faolain's stories helped me understand a little more about (HUGE GENERALITY COMING! SORRY!) what makes "the Irish experience" what it is--I knew the Famine was bad, but parts of this story tie into the fact that the enclosure movement took advantage of the Famine, so that the native Irish were too weak to resist. People were living in holes in the ground! There were dead bodies lying along the roads! And many of the English landlords viewed the native Irish people as vermin. WOW.
BUT that's not even really the focus on the novel, and I think O'Faolain took a huge risk in all the strands she brought together--Kathleen's historical research, her family's immediate history (mother's death and father's behavior), and her life as she turns 50--but I think it works. It's a sad but a healing book--"bittersweet," I think. And I don't think I'd've liked it when I was younger--under 40, say. But I certainly did like it at this stage of my life.
Sad to find out that Nuala O'Faolain died in 2008 of cancer, discovered only 3 months earlier, but good to know she died after a last trip to various countries with some of her siblings. AND that there was a big funeral for her in Dublin and the streets were filled.
I loved the old priest's advice to Kathleen: "Do the thing that's less passive," he had said. "Do the active thing. There's more of the human in that." (509)
View all my reviews
And I do have to review (I think) my yearly re-read of Rosamund Pilcher's Winter Solstice, and I have a feeling I have one other book I read and forgot, but I am in need of a new one. Until I regroup financially I don't want to buy anything, but I would like both the new Barbara Kingsolver and the new Anne Lamott, which I thought I'd find under the tree. HOWEVER, Mom gave me money and I won $20 on a scratch ticket (!!) which would about bankroll two new books. Still, I think I'll go to the Library today for a free check out. The print out that comes with checking out a book says that I've saved $1599 this year, and it would be fun to push it over the top to the $1600 category!
We have had two big, all-snow, and perfectly timed snow storms in the past week: 10" on the 27th and 12" (here; about 6" in Lewiston) on the 29th/30th, so it is a winter wonderland. Due to get cold tomorrow, so I think I'll take Saki out sledding if she's interested TODAY. Still no snow boots in my life. . . maybe I'll stop by Reny's and see what's on offer.
ETA: We had a lovely time, even scoring Nate as company! What great conditions and fun.
2012 has been a big year, but I really think almost every year is! My resolutions are to stretch more (both physically and mentally--travel and experiences!) and to write at least one political letter/month about gun regulations. AND to finish Moth's sweater.
Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I love this book, and I read it almost yearly. While it glorifies many aspects of life and smooths over others (grief, for example: I don't understand how Oscar could function two months after his loss; a year might be more realistic and certainly give Elfrida more reason to feel it's time for him to move on to healing), relies on "deus ex machina" and various other flaws. . . . it's a good-hearted, warm, nicely written book for an Anglophile in a cold climate, and it nicely fills that "I have nothing to read" gap that often springs up around Christmas!
I remember giving my grandmother a large print copy for Christmas a year or so before she died; I got my copy at a church rummage sale (note the theme! I do this a lot and win a few, lose a few) and it's a lovely hardback that stays open nicely for knitting. Now that I think about Rosamund Pilcher, I wonder if there's a movie version of this bobbing around the UK somewhere.
Anyway. A highly recommended book for people who want the cockles of their hearts warmed but also have some literary standards. Highly enjoyable. Read #4, or so!
View all my reviews