Monday, September 29, 2008

The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton

The Wednesday Sisters is a light and entertaining read about friendship and loyalty. The "sisters" (who are not really sisters,) are comprised of 5 women who first meet in a neighborhood park in Palo Alto, California during the late 1960's. Each of the women is assigned a role early on by the narrator, Frankie, and none of them stray far from these early perceptions. Frankie is a quiet Midwesterner, Linda is brash and outspoken, Kath is a Southern belle, Ally is mousy and secretive, and Brett is brilliant and always wears white gloves. All are married and have children, or are trying to have children.

The group starts out meeting regularly on Wednesday mornings, discussing their families, married life, as well as slowly discovering who they really are. Eventually they start a writing group, with a shove from Linda (the pushy one, of course.) Though it starts out slowly, the women learn to be honest rather than polite when critiquing one another's work, and the characters grow into themselves through this process, learning to balance their home lives with their writing, while gaining a level of success along the way. The writing also gives the friends some insight into one another's lives, helping them understand each person's unique point of view.

As the novel progresses, the women each come into their own while sticking together through all that life throws at them, including marital strife, illness, infertility, and the social unrest that is prevalent during this period in history. The ending I found a bit unlikely, as if the author was trying to wrap everything up with an incredible, tie-up-all-lose-ends-and-make-everything-okay ending, which feels forced in this case. Book clubs looking for something a little less heavy might want to look into this title - I read it for a club, and I am looking forward to a lively discussion!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld

In her latest ambitious novel, Curtis Sittenfeld tackles the life of a fictional first lady. Although not acknowledged anywhere in the book, the heroine of Sittenfeld's book is clearly based on Laura Bush. Combining actual events from Mrs. Bush's life with fictional characters and happenings, she draws a portrait of a quiet yet strong woman.

Alice Lindgren is a reserved, bookish young lady, the only child of equally reserved parents who grows up in a small Wisconsin town. Her liberal-minded and book-loving grandmother also resides with them, and is a very big influence on Alice during her formative years and beyond. Alice grows up sheltered and loved, but is involved in a tragic accident during her senior year of high school that thrusts her into the adult world and haunts her throughout her life. Despite the tragedy, Alice is able to continue on with her life, obtaining her master's degree and becoming a school librarian. She's also involved in a couple dating relationships, but nothing with any staying power, until she meets Charlie Blackwell at a party. Charlie is handsome, charming, fun-loving and a bit on the wild side, as well as a member of one of Wisconsin's most powerful and rich families. They enter a whirlwind relationship, becoming engaged after just 6 weeks of dating. When Alice meets her future in-laws at the family's summer compound in Door County, she realizes just how different she and Charlie are, but they persevere on, marrying a short time later. Alice stands by her man as he undergoes an unsuccessful run for the Wisconsin State Congress.

The novel then follows Alice and Charlie through the years - having a child, establishing themselves in a wealthy Milwaukee suburb, and living the good life. All the while, feeling guilty about her good fortune, Alice is secretly sending donations to worthy charities, something that will ironically benefit her husband down the line. Eventually, after a few trials in their marriage, Charlie settles down and gives politics another try. Alice reluctantly finds herself the First Lady of Wisconsin, then the First Lady of the nation.

The book is very well-written and engaging most of the way through. I did get bogged down in the final section, although I am not sure why, and it seemed as if it took me forever to finish the book. It is a fascinating look at how a woman manages to hang on to herself and her views while married to a man whose very public policies and practices do not line up with her own values. While this is a work of fiction, it did pique my interest in our current First Lady, and I now have more knowledge and respect for Laura Bush as an individual as a result.

Monday, September 22, 2008

October Displays

Coming Next Month:

With October just around the corner, we're getting ready for fall with our October Book Displays, which will include books on celebrating Halloween, and the always-popular Horror Fiction! Come in and see what great titles the library has to offer! Prepare to be spooked....

We'll also be highlighting our books on Domestic Violence, in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness month, as well as National Book Award winners and nominees. With the presidential election growing ever closer, we'll have information on the election available as well.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Books into Movies

Several movies that are being released this month originated as books - here's a list, including the title the movie was based upon:

The Duchess, based on the book Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Foreman, stars Keira Knightly and Ralph Fiennes.

A Thousand Years of Good Prayers is based on the book of the same name by Yiyun Li.

Blindness is based on the book of the same name by Jose Saramago, and stars Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo.

Choke by Chuck Palahniuk is now a major motion picture (of the same name) starring Sam Rockwell and Anjelica Huston.

Spike Lee's new film, Miracle at St. Anna is based on the novel of the same title by James McBride.

Finally, Nicholas Sparks' book Nights in Rodanthe hits the big screen with Diane Lane and Richard Gere.

Is the book better than the movie? Check them out for yourself and see what you think!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Banned Books Week

In recognition of Banned Books Week: Celebrating Our Freedom to Read (Sept. 27-Oct. 4), here is some background information on this unusual celebration:

- Officially recognized since 1982, Banned Books Week is a reminder not to take our freedoms for granted - we are all free to read what we choose.

- Books are challenged for a variety of reasons, but generally the person making the challenge is trying to protect others from "difficult ideas or information."

- Books on display in the library include titles that have been challenged over the past several years for a variety of reasons. Very few of them have actually been banned, thanks to the vigilance of many librarians!

- Curious about what books have been targeted? Check out the display at the library - some of the titles will surprise you!