The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

the red tentLong before I knew about Goodreads and before I’d even figured out how to place holds at the library (it’s hard to remember those dark days), people kept recommending the same book. Not just people, actually. Women. Women I knew at church, women in my book club, friends who knew I liked to read were all recommending The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. Like so many recommendations, I fully intended to read the book, but it never quite made it to the top of my list at any given time. When a friend picked The Red Tent for book club last month, however, I was thrilled to finally see what all the fuss was about. Continue reading

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

the golem and the jinniI mentioned earlier this week that I was nearing the end of The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker. I actually finished it that very same day, but it’s taken me until now to figure out what I want to say about it. I haven’t read a book like it in a long time (if ever).

First, the basics. A golem (that’s fable speak for clay man [or in this case, woman]) stranded without a master and a jinni recently released from the flask where he spent the last thousand years meet on the streets of New York one night at the turn of the 18th century. As the golem (Chava) and the jinni (Ahmad) form an unlikely friendship, their respective immigrant communities get caught up in the same story. It’s fable, fantasy, and historical fiction wrapped up in one. Continue reading

Zorro: A Novel by Isabel Allende

zorroI can honestly say that I did not spend my teen years obsessing over any bands, singers, or actors. Not any current actors, anyway. A couple friends and I devoted all those energies to the 1957 Zorro television series and later to any version of The Three Musketeers we could find at Hollywood Video. Having a friend who worked at a movie store was an amazing set up for classic movie fans like ourselves. In an instance of the stars aligning in the best possible way, I was falling in love with Spanish literature (including the great Isabel Allende) when Zorro: A Novel by Isabel Allende (translated by Margaret Sayers Peden) was published in 2006. The book combined my adolescent love for Don Diego de la Vega and my burgeoning appreciation for Latin American literature. Continue reading

Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawson

flight of dreamsOf all the categories on Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2016 Reading Challenge, the first one concerned me the most: a book published this year. With the exception of a few series finales, I can’t think of the last time I read a book the year it was published. Often, I don’t even hear about a book until a year or two later. When I heard about Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawson, I knew I’d found my book. Flight of Dreams is part historical fiction, part mystery. The majority of the novel follows the final 3-day flight of the Hindenburg through the perspectives of three crew members and two passengers on board. There is still some debate about what happened to the Hindenburg, and Lawson makes the most of that ambiguity to heighten the mystery.  Continue reading

Emily’s Ghost by Denise Giardina

emily's ghostYesterday was Charlotte Brontë’s 200th birthday. The internet (or at least the part of the internet I frequent) was flooded with tributes to the author and quotes from Jane Eyre. I enjoyed it all. Jane Eyre was the first classic I loved and the subject of my most successful scholarship essay. I owe a large chunk of my college education to Charlotte Brontë. Her sister Emily, though, was a mystery to me for my formative reading years. I’d read everything else I could get my hands on by the other sisters (including Anne), but I deliberately avoided Wuthering Heights after more than one friend told me it was dark and depressing. (I still don’t read dark and depressing very willingly.) I didn’t read Wuthering Heights until it was assigned for a class my last semester in college. The need to understand the book well enough to write about it forced me to read it more carefully than I would have otherwise. I loved it. Continue reading