Mother’s Day Books

mothers dayHappy Mother’s Day! It’s a bit late, but you’ve been out with your mom or your children all day anyway, right? But if you’re still feeling the glow of a wonderful day, and want to extend it by reading a novel or two about mothers, I’ve got your list.

Room by Emma Donoghue. 2015 Oscar winning mother. An intimate, thrilling, painfully true book about the bond between a mother and child. https://daeandwrite.wordpress.com/2013/05/10/room-reality-v-fiction/

Consequences by Penelope Lively. Booker Prize-winning novelist Lively gives the reader a historical tour de force of mothers and daughters and the consequences of their relationships. https://daeandwrite.wordpress.com/2014/05/09/mothers-and-daughters-three-generations-of-consequences/

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The Lake House by Kate Morton. What happens to a mother and a marriage when a child goes missing? A wonderful, atmospheric, historical novel. https://daeandwrite.wordpress.com/2016/01/17/family-secrets-the-lake-house-by-kate-morton/

Reunion by Hannah Pittard. Family fallout after the death of their father. Kentucky author Hannah Pittard’s widely-acclaimed novel. https://daeandwrite.wordpress.com/2015/10/17/we-are-family-reunion-by-hannah-pittard/

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. Complex, interesting characters, an intricate plot told in reverse, a racially mixed marriage. https://daeandwrite.wordpress.com/2015/10/17/we-are-family-reunion-by-hannah-pittard/

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Stunning, futuristic (I hope), misanthropic, and heart-breaking. Read it just the same.

Books sort of about mothers/more about family: retro_mothers_day_greeting_card-rdfc07e9db80c422098a3b6b38c07e695_xvuat_8byvr_324

Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen. What would P&P be without Mrs. Bennett? https://daeandwrite.wordpress.com/2015/11/23/thankful-for-pride-prejudice-by-jane-austen/

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney. Another mother-of-the year candidate who inspires her children to untold heights of sibling rivalry. https://daeandwrite.wordpress.com/2016/05/04/the-nest-by-cynthia-daprix-sweeney/

Fates & Furies by Lauren Groff. The seldom-seen hand of the mother who rocks the hip, swinging, NYC apartment from seclusion in Florida. https://daeandwrite.wordpress.com/2016/01/07/fates-furies-by-lauren-groff-2/

Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi. Mirror Mirror on the Wall. https://daeandwrite.wordpress.com/2015/03/31/mirror-mirror-boy-snow-bird-by-helen-oyeyemi/

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. A Kennedyesque family with a secret, or two. https://daeandwrite.wordpress.com/2015/08/10/kennedyesque-we-were-liars-by-e-lockhart/

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler. A truly unique mothering experience. https://daeandwrite.wordpress.com/2014/10/03/monkeying-around-we-are-all-completely-beside-ourselves-by-karen-joy-fowler/ 

Happy Mother’s Day & Happy Reading!

 

 

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Summer Reads 2015

dog_driving_carHeaded Out for A Little Fun in the Sun?  Want to take the perfect book(s) with you?

I thought I might be able to help.  All of these are in paperback, because I find it much more difficult to haul 5-8 hardbound books.  Any of the below books would be divine at the beach or the pool, on the campground or in the air.  I often try to match my reading to my destination, hoping to add a little insider info to my trip.  Just a tip.

Happy Vacating!

In Euphoria, Lily King’s intoxicating trek into the exotic locale of Papua, New Guinea, three anthropologists (Australian, euphoriaAmerican and British) find themselves far from home.  King’s anthropologists are simulacrums of Margaret Mead, her husband Reo Fortune and her future husband, Gregory Bateson.

Originally reviewed:  https://daeandwrite.wordpress.com/2015/01/17/love-in-the-time-of-malaria-euphoria-by-lily-king/

f_doerr_allthelight_fAnthony Doerr’s gorgeous novel won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize.  All The Light We Cannot See encompasses WW2 within an examination of the lives and worlds of two teenagers:  Marie-Laure LeBlanc, a blind French girl, and Werner Pfenning, a German whiz-kid desperate to live the coal mine fate of his home town of Essen.   Written mostly in the present tense, with recurring flashbacks throughout both children’s lives, All The Light progresses inevitably to their meeting during the siege of St.-Malo, France, in August of 1944.

Originally reviewed:  https://daeandwrite.wordpress.com/2014/12/16/all-the-light-we-cannot-see-by-anthony-doerr/

the secret place

Tana French has become one of my obsessions.  She publishes a new book, I must have it in hard back and begin reading immediately.  In the Woods, her first novel, remains my favorite of her five books; however, all are excellent.  Her most recent, The Secret Place, is my second favorite.  These are page-turning, mystery novels set in Ireland with a cast of realistic, driven and haunted characters.

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Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter.  On the rugged, Mediterranean coast of Italy, a land of five towns clings stunningly to the edge of the cliffs;  accessible only by boat, offering fresh seafood pulled daily from the Ligurian sea by men whose families have done the same for centuries and a hiding place from the modern world, the Cinque Terre seems just the place for Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor to have sought refuge during the filming of Cleopatra in Rome.  In Jess Walter’s sumptuous novel Beautiful Ruins, they do just this.  And the tale of the IT couple’s visit to Porto Vergogna, a lonely innkeeper, a starlet, star-crossed lovers, a wannabe screenwriter (whose big concept is “Donner!,” a movie about the Donner party,) a nauseating Hollywood producer and fifty years of frustrated confusion make the novel one of my top five reads.

Originally reviewed:  https://daeandwrite.wordpress.com/2014/08/17/simply-beautiful-beautiful-ruins-by-jess-walter/

VacationersA New York family brings a large set of first world problems to Mallorca, where even more challenges await:  a Spanish tutor both mom and daughter have the hots for, a retired Spanish tennis stud and lots of gorgeous food and descriptions and you have The Vacationers by Emma Straub.  https://daeandwrite.wordpress.com/2014/08/29/the-vacationers-by-emma-straub/

Other books that would make great traveling companions:  The 19th Wife, by David Ebershoff (Utah); Boy, Snow, Bird (Maine); Where’d You Go Bernadette, by Maria Semple (Seattle); The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion; The Perfume Collector, by Kathleen Tessaro (Paris), Dominance, by Will Lavender.

I’d love to hear what you’re reading!

Seaside Resort in the South of France 1927 by Paul Klee 1879-1940

Mirror, Mirror: Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi

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“Pretty is as pretty does,” my grandmother must have told me thousands of times.  And one can never really believe a mirror anyway.

At least not in Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi which begins:  “Nobody ever warned me about mirrors, so for many years, I was fond of them, and believed them to be trustworthy.”  This is the voice of Boy Novak, a girl.  The first narrator.  The daughter of a brutal and sadistic rat catcher whose absent mother is never discussed, living in the Lower East Side of Manhattan in the year nineteen hundred and thirty-something.

Boy runs away to idyllic Flax Hill, Massachusetts, a town where “people make beautiful things . . . [where they are] interested in the process, not the end product.”  Boy marries a jewelry artist named Arturo and becomes stepmother to his young daughter Snow.  But after Boy gives birth to Bird, she sends Snow away.

In Boy, Snow, Bird, it is not only the mirrors that are untrustworthy.  Things are more often than not the opposite of how they appear.  This is the first novel by Ms. Oyeyemi I have read, but according to the New York Times, she is thirty years old and a five-time novelist.  Besides the fact that I hate her a little bit for that accomplishment, I love her writing.  The following is from the section of the novel narrated by Boy’s daughter, Bird, who also has an issue with mirrors.

Sometimes mirrors can’t find me.  I’ll go into a room with a mirror in it and look around, and I’m not there.  Not all the time, not even most of the tie, but often enough.  Sometimes when other people are there, but nobody ever notices that my reflection’s a no-show.  Or maybe they decide not to notice because it’s too weird.  I can make it happen when I move quickly and quietly, dart into a room behind the swinging of a door so it covers me the way a fan covers a face.  Maybe I catch the mirror off guard somehow.  It starts to look for me — “look for me” isn’t quite right — I know mirrors can’t see.  But the image in the glass shifts just a little bit off center, left, then right, then back again, like its’ wondering why it isn’t reflecting all that standings in front of it.  I know a girl just came in; now where’s she at?

In its review, the New York Times says, “Oyeyemi picks myths and fairy tales because she sees the blood and guts behind the glitter and ball gowns. In essence she’s a writer of rather enchanting horror stories, but like the candy-colored blood of the dead ballerinas in Dario Argento’s 1977 horror film “Suspiria,” her violence is all the more gruesome for its misleading pulchritude.”  http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/02/books/review/boy-snow-bird-by-helen-oyeyemi.html

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The author herself admits as much, saying she writes retold fairy tales.  “And fairy tales teach lessons, she says. Lessons like ‘Everything that you see is not necessarily what it is. You have to find another way to know things. You have to find another way to know things. There is inner vision. And then there’s exterior vision. There are levels of seeing.'”  http://www.npr.org/2014/03/07/282065410/the-professionally-haunted-life-of-helen-oyeyemi

In Boy, Snow, Bird, beauty is desired, deceitful and dangerous.  And perhaps that is the point of the Brothers Grimm original tale as well.

Once upon a time in the middle of winter, when the flakes of snow were falling like feathers from the sky, a queen sat at a window sewing, and the frame of the window was made of black ebony. And whilst she was sewing and looking out of the window at the snow, she pricked her finger with the needle, and three drops of blood fell upon the snow. And the red looked pretty upon the white snow, and she thought to herself, would that I had a child as white as snow, as red as blood, and as black as the wood of the window-frame.

Soon after that she had a little daughter, who was as white as snow, and as red as blood, and her hair was as black as ebony, and she was therefore called little Snow White. And when the child was born, the queen died.

After a year had passed the king took to himself another wife. She was a beautiful woman, but proud and haughty, and she could not bear that anyone else chould surpass her in beauty. She had a wonderful looking-glass, and when she stood in front of it and looked at herself in it, and said,

            “Looking-glass, looking-glass, on the wall,

dfd91135db5fde17a2f44144a2e79482                                              Who in this land is the fairest of all?”

The looking-glass answered,

    “Thou, o queen, art the fairest of all.”

Then she was satisfied, for she knew that the looking-glass spoke the truth.

I highly recommend Boy, Snow, Bird for your book club.

MENU

Just for giggles, I’ve designed a menu based on Walt Disney’s Seven Dwarves (none of whom make an appearance that I can see in Boy, Snow, Bird).

Doc:  Mix a pitcher of Gin & Tonics and pour into a beaker.  (Tonic originally contained quinine as a malarial prophylactic.)

Sneezy:  Anything with black pepper.  Steak au poivre, chicken with black pepper are the two that come immediately to mind.  Here are ten more:  http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/oct/04/peppery-peppercorn-recipes-truffles-monkfish-gratin-10-best

Dopey:  Bugles chips (tiny little dunce caps) to dunk into bugles-original-flavor1

Grumpy:   Buffalo Chicken Wing Dip.  Spicy, yummy and just hot enough to put a little fire into your soul.

INGREDIENTS:
2 (10 ounce) cans chunk chicken,
drained
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese,
softened
1 cup Ranch dressing
3/4 cup Tabasco
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
Heat chicken and hot sauce in a skillet over medium heat, until heated through. Stir in cream cheese and ranch dressing. Cook, stirring until well blended and warm. Mix in half of the shredded cheese, and transfer the mixture to a slow cooker. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top, cover, and cook on Low setting until hot and bubbly.

Sleepy:  Dried cherries, almonds, dark chocolate chips mixed together.  Why?  Because they all make you sleepy!  And it’s yummy! http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/health/diet-nutrition/g796/sleep-inducing-foods/?slide=13

Bashful:  A blush wine

Happy:  Cupcakes with little happy faces.

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MUSIC

There are several ways to go here.  You could do some moody, New Yorky jazz from the 1930s.  I would play The Decemberists’ The Hazards of Love c.d. all the way through.

MOVIE CASTING

Arturo:  Javier Bardem

Boy:  Emilia Clarke from Game of Thrones certainly has the look for it

Boy’s mother:  Tilda Swinton

Snow:  Lily Collins (maybe but she’s already played Snow White I think — so maybe some unknown who is younger).

HAPPY READING!