So I can join the roundup over at The Modern Mrs. Darcy, here are a few capsule reviews of what I’ve read in the past month:
The Hundred Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais. This is my book club selection for the month of May. One of our members had seen the movie and loved it, so we put the book on the list. It’s the story, a novel, of Hassan Haji and his journey to becoming a Michelin three star chef. Starting in India, with stops in England and rural France, it ends in that most food-oriented town, Paris. It’s the author’s first novel, and I think it was good, especially for a debut, but not really great. Part of that may be that I am not a foodie. But the other part was that I found it odd that a man who is not Indian himself, and had never been to India for more than a couple of weeks, would choose to write in the first person as an Indian. While I am not generally a politically correct person, I thought maybe he needed a little more intensive experience before he tried that.
Still Alice by Lisa Genova. Oh, my goodness. So heartbreaking. A wonderful novel that deals with the devastation that is Alzheimer’s. In this case, Genova has chosen a younger person to be the sufferer and that choice really makes a difference. While early onset Alzheimer’s is not as common as the disease that attacks the elderly, it’s bleak prognosis and the effect on a person’s life and family are the same. My stomach was in knots as I read it, and I wept at the end.
Left Neglected by Lisa Genova. After reading Still Alice, I felt compelled to read the next Genova book. This is the story of a woman who is in a car accident that causes a traumatic brain injury, leading her to be faced with a condition called Left Neglect, where the brain ignores everything on the left. It simply does not recognize them. A beautiful story of learning to live with impairment and compromise, Genova’s book is a true antidote to those who so easily declare “I wouldn’t want to live like that!” – especially when they are young and fearless and relatively unattached. It is refreshing to read an author who says straight out that a diminished life, while different, can still be worth living. Not as good as Still Alice, but I enjoyed it a lot.
And finally, An Incomplete Revenge and Among the Mad by Jacqueline Winspear. Books 5 and 6 in the Maisie Dobbs mystery series. Set in London and neighboring parts after WWI, Maisie is a woman making her own way in a whole new world. A world devastated by the effects of the Great War, and now the effects of the worldwide depression. I find Maisie’s character enjoyable, though some reviewers over on Goodreads certainly don’t. While they find her cold, I find her realistic. She is a woman born in the “lower class”, educated beyond what her birth would normally have allowed, who saw the worst of the world as a nurse at the front lines in France during the war. Nobody who lived that life would be open and cheery and carefree. Winspear has good cases for Maisie to work on and I think she plays mostly fair in laying them out. I will continue reading the series.