With one notable exception, I am truly engaged in light summer reading gear. Here’s what I’ve read and listened to in the past few weeks.
The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood – We’ll begin with the exception. I’ve read The Handmaid’s Tale and Moral Disorder by this author, and Atwood is certainly not light reading. She’s won or been a finalist for the Booker and other prizes many times, and The Handmaid’s Tale took the Arthur C. Clarke Award in 1985. The Robber Bride, written in 1993, is far and away my favorite so far. I plan to read many more of her books. Zenia is an unforgettable character, and the feminist overtone provoked much reflection. I bought it in a used book store – bet you can find it. Highly recommend.
Now, onto the beach reads – and audiobooks that get me to and from the coast.
Bull’s Island by Dorothea Benton Frank, one of the three, three-name Lowcountry writers, as I call them, along with Mary Alice Monroe and Ann Rivers Siddon (whom I haven’t read much). I listened to the audiobook of Bull’s Island, and it provided a light contrast to the darker Atwood book I was reading – although the southern accents of the readers were appalling.
Monroe, who is active in coastal environmental issues, often works her interests into her books, and I’ve learned a few things while enjoying a good romance. Many of Monroe’s and Frank’s books involve characters who move away and distance themselves from family, only to be drawn home to reunite.
Frank follows that formula in Bull’s Island. The author had moved to New York by the time she wrote this book, though, and she made sure readers knew that she is now city savvy – the many dining experiences became a bit tedious for this reader, as did the stereotypical gangsta boyfriend. But I couldn’t help but love the manipulative MIL, a southern version of Phoebe whats-her-name, that wonderfully devious character on The Young and the Restless soap opera I watched decades ago.
Now I’m reading Comfort Food, Kate Jacobs’ follow-up to The Friday Night Knitting Club, which I heard on audio. The book is good enough to keep me going – has all of the elements for a decent chick-lit read. The main character, a food-show hostess, falls way flat, but some of the supporting characters are keeping it interesting enough.
And finally, I’m listening to Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher, and I am loving it. This audiobook is an excellent example of how much the reader can affect the audiobook listening experience. Perhaps if I were from England or Scotland, I would have as much of a problem as I did with the reader of Bull’s Island. But I’m not, so it all sounds right to me. This is another older book that my sister read last year and enjoyed. I thought it would be too fluffy, but I’m enjoying it very much indeed. I highly recommend reading this book around Christmas, which is when the book takes place.
So I’ve gone from Margaret Atwood to Rosamunde Pilcher. Diversity is the spice of life, right?
Happy page-turning with your toes in the sand!