a few books and some (more!) cross stitch
There’s a new cross stitch in the shop … On An Autumn Lake. Thank you so much for your lovely words and support for my little shop and its cross stitches – you have truly made my week :-) I am so very grateful.
I have truly laboured over this cross stitch – it took me hours and hours to get the border and cornerpieces just right. As for those trees – oy! But so very satisfying. My favourite part – I love the house, yet another one I’d move into in a flash! And the wee people – I love cross stitching people … I’ve been making up some brooches with their faces and will hopefully have them ready for show later this week. Along with some linen hand towels that have bands of cross stitch using the borders. So many good things calling for my time.
And then there’s the reading. I have to confess … since the bookstore closed, I haven’t visited another (bookstore that is). I feel a bit over bookstores. But I do have the family ipad and I’ve been buying all my reading matter as ebooks. Eeeeek! Part of me feels unbelievably guilty for doing this, but another part feels quite rebellious. The book industry – not the retailers, but the publishers – has screwed the Australian consumer royally and frankly, I’m happy for them to take it in the neck for a while. But we won’t dwell on that – let’s just talk books.
Since The Help and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (both amazing and heartbreaking) I’ve plowed my way through Cutting for Stone, Mudbound and This is Where I Leave You. Three utterly different books.
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese – unbelievably good. Oh my! This man is a poet – a magical weaver of words. It reminded me a wee we bit of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin in that its setting and history – Ethiopa – was almost completely unknown to me (in CCM it was first half of the 20th century Greece). My only exposure to Ethiopa has been what I’ve seen on the news – violence and starvation – and a tiny glimpse of its beautiful mountains and animals in a recent BBC documentary on the Great Rift Valley. Well! There is obviously so much more to this ancient and beautiful country than that – the Emperor Hailie Salassie, the Christian church, the relationship between Ethiopa and the Italians and Ethiopa and Eritrea, the expatriate community – especially the Indian community. The medical aspect of it is fascinating – I suppose I have a bit of a bias towards this because of my current study, but I lapped up every page describing surgeries and clinics and patients – awesome detail. And the characters are incredible – I feel so very attached to them and feel the need to look back at certain chapters every day, so as to see them again. They are so complex, many of them so generous and loving, the twins as teenagers – so very real, sometimes positively grating, other times breathtaking. It was a HUGE story, every page captivating and beautifully written … You must simply must, must, must read it. What’s it about? A family. Love. Loyalty. Civil War. Death. But above all, love.
Mudbound by Hillary Jordan – totally different. Almost more like a play than a novel – I could imagine it being read on the radio. Set immediately post world war 2 in the Mississipi farming Delta. Told through the voices of several of the characters – a white farmer, his wife, a black sharecropper farmer, his wife, their son – a tank commander who’s recently returned from fighting in Europe, the brother of the white farmer – a bomber pilot who’s also recently returned from Europe … I think that’s it. Again, very good writing – Jordan does a beautiful job at showing rather than telling. But heartbreaking injustice. Really, really infuriating. I couldn’t say it was one of those novels that have altered how I look at the world (Cutting for Stone has!) because there was little in the content that I haven’t read before. But the very personal way the story is told, from all those different viewpoints – each one so very, very enmeshed in what is happening, but each in a different way – is what makes it a brilliant book and very deserving of its Bellwether Prize (for contribution to social justice).
After Cutting for Stone and (especially) Mudbound I needed something a little lighter – enter Jonathon Tropper’s This is Where I Leave You. Oh my goodness. Very, very entertaining. Laugh out loud moments. But also full of poignancy and wistfulness, of lives of promise that weren’t lived, and relationships that were allowed to wither and falter (and quite a bit of sex – it’s definitely not for the prudish). It’s not at all preachy, and the main character has plenty of flaws – they all do! – but they are so real and quirky that you can’t help but warm to them (there’s even a moment where I thought, oh he’s not that bad about a man who had behaved ATROCIOUSLY!!!! – I smacked myself and got over that!) and think “Oh come on! Try again! You can do it!” An awesome story of family and love and love lost. I enjoyed it so much I’m now reading an earlier Tropper novel, How to Talk to a Widower.
*sigh* Now there are dishes to be done, family to go and join, school shirts to wash … so I shall love you and leave you for now.