Book Review

October Newsletter: Atonement book review

atonementAtonement by Ian McEwan
A book review by Richard McGee

I have been reading novels selected to Best Lists.

Atonement was listed as one of the best novels written in the 20th century and was nominated for several awards.

Atonement is the story of a thirteen-year-old girl, Briony, that is a witness to a crime and falsely accuses a young man, the boyfriend of her older sister. Her testimony leads to his conviction and incarceration and it alienates the sister from the family. As Briony grows into adulthood, she realizes the error of her testimony and the story evolves into her attempt to correct her wrong.

This is not a simple read. The author delves into extensive details of the life of Briony so that some scenes may remind you of the painstaking detail in Virginia Wolfe’s “Mrs. Dalloway”. I first read about a fourth of this book before setting it down for several months. When I picked it back up, I began again at the first and am glad I finished it.

The story began slowly but hooked me so that I could hardly lay it down to sleep at night. The big plot turns in the story pulled me toward the end. When I started this book, I wanted to watch the movie it inspired after I read it; but after reading the book, I no longer desire to see the movie. The author does such a great job of taking us into Briony’s thoughts, that I am certain a movie will disappoint in comparison. I recommend this book as an excellent read.

Book Review

October Newsletter: The Monkey’s Paw

The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. Jacobs

Glenda Bonham

If you’re searching for a classic Halloween tale, The Monkey’s Paw won’t let you down. First published in 1902, the short story has been a horror/suspense standard over 100 years.

The story of the Monkey’s Paw has been adapted by the Simpsons, Are You Afraid of the Dark, the X-Files, Tales from the Crypt and more. Stephen King seems fond of the tale as the theme of Pet Semetary centers on the unintended consequences of bringing back the dead. Another King story, The Dead Zone, features a reference to the classic tale when protagonist John describes his psychic powers as being similar to the Monkey’s Paw.

The basic lesson learned in The Monkey’s Paw is “be careful what you wish for.” That to desire more than you have is one thing, but to cheat, to skip steps and cut corners to get there, will rarely if ever end well for you. It’s a warning to the reckless. It’s also one of the best short stories ever penned.
Happy Halloween!

This short story can be read online free of charge at: https://www.owleyes.org/text/monkeys-paw

monkey's paw

Book Review

September Newsletter Book Review: The Far Pavilions

The Far Pavilions by M.M. Kaye

Submitted by Glenda Bonham

the far pavillionsM. M. Kaye (Mary Margaret Kaye) won worldwide fame for her epic novel The Far Pavilions, an international best-seller in 1978. The book was made into a movie and a Broadway show.

It took her 10 years of writing and editing before she submitted the first draft of The Far Pavilions to a publisher. The story is set in India during both national and tribal conflicts of the turn of the 20th century. It opens with the birth of a British child born during his parents touring in India. After the deaths of both his parents, he is adopted by his father’s housekeeper and lives his childhood as a poor Indian subject. In his teens he is discovered by the British and sent to England for formal studies. His story is one of conflict of cultures, faiths, and loyalties for he returns to India as an adult. Here he finds romance, danger, and a struggle for his own identity.

The Far Pavilions has been recognized as one of the finest historical fiction novels of the 20th Century, alongside such epics as Gone With the Wind. It has won acclaim in English speaking countries and translated into dozens of foreign languages.

This was followed by Shadow of the Moon and Trade Wind. She also wrote and illustrated The Ordinary Princess, a children’s book and authored a dozen detective novels, including Death in Kashmir and Death in Zanzibar.

A look at famous authors, Book Review

July Newsletter Book Review: Lewis Grizzard

Screen Shot 2019-07-23 at 2.55.55 PMBook Review by Glenda Bonham ~ Lewis Grizzard

If you’re in the mood for some light reading this summer to rest your brain along with your body, consider picking up one of 25 books by Lewis Grizzard. Born in Georgia, he was first a sport writer, writing for the Atlanta Journal and moved on to become executive sports editor at the Chicago Sun-Times. His career was successful, but he was unhappy living in Illinois and longed to go back to the South. He outlined his personal struggle in “If I Ever Get Back to Georgia, I’m Gonna Nail My Feet to the Ground”.

After two failed marriages, he returned to Atlanta to write sports, but found his calling in humor as a columnist. He soon enjoyed enduring popularity across the nation because of the perceived humor, humanity, patriotism, and “old-fashioned” values that permeated his writings. At his peak, he was syndicated in 450 newspapers and was making regular appearances on television and the stand-up comedy circuit. He appeared with famous comedians such as Jerry Clower. In 1988, Grizzard made his television acting debut on the sitcom Designing Women, in the episode ‘Oh Brother’ where he portrayed a half-brother of Julia and Suzanne Sugarbaker.

Some of his humorous books are collections of his newspaper columns “Chili Dogs Always Bark at Night” and “Shoot Low Boys – They’re Riding Shetland Ponies”. Other writings are results of his failed relationships such as “If Love Were Oil, I’d Be About a Quart Low” and “They Tore Out My Heart and Stomped That Sucker Flat”.

Some of his book titles have become main stream remarks such as “Life Is Like a Dogsled Team; If You’re Not the Lead Dog, the Scenery Never Changes”.

If there was one thing Lewis Grizzard was not, it was being politically correct, even for the time of his popularity. He made relentless fun of Yankees and pointed out flaws as he perceived them in politics and pop culture of the 80’s and 90’s.

Biting Southern humor knows no age limit. Lewis Grizzard’s books stand as testimony of this statement. Screen Shot 2019-07-23 at 2.56.09 PM.png

Book Review

June Newsletter Book Review: Clarissa

clarissa-or-the-history-of-a-young-lady-5

Book Review—Reading Clarissa ~ By Richard McGee

For the last few years I have been trying to read as many of the literature classics as I can. It has been an interesting effort with a wide variety of subjects. I have reread some that I had first seen many years ago in college and I have discovered some new ones that I had not heard of before.

“Clarissa, or the History of a Young Lady” is one I was unaware of. Written by Samuel Richardson, it was published in 1748. In 2015 the BBC rated Clarissa 14th on its list of the 100 greatest British novels.

The story revolves around Clarissa Harlowe, whose quest for virtue is challenged by a libertine, Robert Lovelace, who strives to compromise her morals to prove that virtuous women do not exist. Mistrust, jealousy, and greed by her family are the biggest impediments for her and push her toward Lovelace. The author makes us care about Clarissa and we feel the angst as she is pressured from all sides. The novel is unusual as the entire story is told in letters between the characters. It was interesting to see this different way of relating the tale.

This was a challenge for me to read. Clarissa is among the longest novels written in the English language. The digital copy for my Kindle was nine volumes for the complete book. The other challenge is to get a copy of the book. You probably will not find a copy of it in your bookstore. Amazon recently made it available in print and kindle editions but they appear to be condensed versions. I downloaded mine from the Project Gutenberg website where 59,000 books with copyright expired are available for free. When you have time, I recommend you read this one.