Saturday, January 17, 2015

Saturday book box - January 17th

This week I've continued my reading and listening, and am now trying to catch up on the remaining volumes of the Maine Readers Choice Long List that I must finish by the end of next month.  Here's the list for the past week of what I finished:

A Symphony of Echoes
 by Jodi Taylor - #2 in the Chronicles of St. Marys series

As I've said before, I'm not a time-travel fan, but this series is so fun. I love the characters, the plots, and the whole insouciance of this group of "historians" who magically zip through time fixing things that weren't quite right in history, or even go forward a bit to see how things might be. In this one the group goes looking for Jack the Ripper, witnesses the murder of Thomas a Becket, tries to save Do=Do birds from extinction, and makes sure a would be interloper doesn't screw up the succession to the british throne in the days of Mary Queen of Scots. Great fun in audio, and just what the doctor ordered as an antidote to an overdose of really heavy reading.

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by Ben Ames Williams

It's taken me over six weeks to savor this 866 page chunkster.  It was worth every minute.  Our book club chose to read this one over two months, and I can't wait to get together with them next week to compare our reactions.  It is the story of the founding of the town of Union in the midcoast area of Maine.  In 1786 when the town was established there were 17 families and 75 inhabitants.   Although written as an historical novel, the people and events were all real, and many of the places, and names are familiar to those of us who live here in this area.  Union today has a population of 2300.  It is only 16 miles from where I live.

Starting in the 1770's and going until 1784, the story tells us how the central characters, Mima Robbins and Joel Adams, meet, court, eventually marry and ultimately produce 10 children; how they cleared the acres and acres of land of the thick forests of trees, planted crops, built houses, raised barns, hunted, trapped, lugged buckets of water, battled mosquitoes and black flies, and always, always, always had to be worrying about surviving the long cold winters.  Always the thought was "Come Spring everything will be OK".  As I sat here reading in my comfortable home with indoor plumbing, central heating, power, inter-connectivity with the world, instant access to news, enough healthy food to feed my family, and the knowledge that good medical care is only a 911 call away,  I was in awe of the strength, fortitude and independent spirit of those early settlers.  I don't know if I could have done it!

It's a lovely long winter's nap read and highly recommended to anyone who wants to get a real feel for what life was all about in the days of the Revolutionary War and the founding of our country.

It's not easy to find this one - not available in audio or ebook, but most libraries can get it for you.

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 Nora Webster
by Colm Toibin

Although I own the e-book, I devoured about 80% of this one in audio.  I loved the dulcet tones of  Fiona Shaw's narration.  It was perfect to tell the beautifully written story of Nora Webster, widowed at age 40, who had 2 grown daughters, and two pre-teen sons at the time her beloved Maurice died a painful premature death.  Toibin skillfully lets us into the terror she faces as she balances a precarious budget, learns to live a lonelier life, and eventually comes to terms with her change in status and opportunities.  A truly elegant story, one worth reading in any format.


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