Saturday, October 3, 2015

Fall Books #3

The Lake House by Kate Morton
One of my favorite authors (The Forgotten Garden, The Secret Keeper, The Distant Hours, The House at Riverton) is back with her latest tale and it is a winner.  In fact, don't bother planning dinner, taking the dog for a walk, or getting anything done once you've read the first page - you will be trapped by this mysterious, gothic, obsessive novel.  Once again, Morton takes us to England, this time to 1933 to a secretive noble estate where Anthony and Eleanor Edevane's infant son, Theo, has disappeared.  Juxtaposed with this mysterious tale is the story of Sadie Sparrow, a London detective who is currently in hot water with the police leadership after leaking her frustrations of a child abuse case to the press.  Sadie runs to her grandfather in Cornwall and steps into a world of mystery as she learns of the Edevane cold case.  Morton does a masterful job of going back and forth through a multitude of time periods:  pre-WWI as we see Eleanor's childhood and the children's author who writes a famous story full of fairy dust and magic; the love story of Eleanor and Anthony, and the role WWI has in their marriage; the childhood of their three girls, as well as their old age; and Sadie's youth and the choices she made that forms the life she lives now.  I ignored everything at my house for three days, not able to put down this 600 page book.  It is a delicious tale, full of complex issues and characters, sprinkled with mystery, and just plain delectable to the very last page.

The Girl in the Spider's Web by David Lagercrantz
She's back...Lisbeth Salander, the complicated, tortured, odd, brilliant, and thoroughly fascinating character of Stieg Larsson's Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series.  Yes, I know Larsson dropped dead of a stroke before his first three books even hit it big.  And yes, I know all about the years-long court case, arguing over who had the right to the rest of the story ideas.  Finally, however, after settling all the disagreements, the agent hired a writer to finish the series.  David Lagercrantz is not merely a ghost writer; he is a legitimate author with numerous other books in publication and yes, he knows how to write.  The beauty of Spider's Web is that even for those of us who read all three of the previous books, it isn't necessary.  Once again, we enter the world of Mikael Blomkvist, the creative, ethical, super-talented journalist, looking to keep his magazine afloat yet getting dragging into the underworld of computer hackers, murder, and corporate espionage.  After selling a majority share in the magazine to keep it running, Mikael and his partner, Erika Berger, realize that their new partners are less interested in investigative reporting that keeps the government honest and more interested in salacious articles about empty celebrities.  As for Salander, she is in hot water after hacking the NSA, kidnapping a nine-year old autistic savant, and continuously eluding her Russian gangster sister. Book Number Four of the Millenium series is a worthy occupant of the book shelf.  I read tirelessly and obsessively, late into the night, waiting to see how Mikael and Lisbeth would survive their latest escapades.

Lost and Found by Brooke Davis
This is a quirky, odd, engrossing debut novel by a wonderful new Australian voice.  I was actually given a copy of this by a customer at Village Books, when we were talking about one of my favs on the bestseller wall, A Man Called Ove.  This lovely woman told me about her fav, Lost and Found, and then came back in to loan me her copy - wow.  Gotta love this incredible independent bookstore and its customer base:)  Here's the premise:  Seven year old Millie has just lost her father to cancer, and mom is not handling it well.  In fact, she takes Millie to the local department store and leaves her in the 'humongous old-lady' underwear department.  As in...leaves her and never returns.  And Millie is not your ordinary second grader - she's obsessed with death and likes to whisper to everyone she meets, "You're going to die" which of course is true, but doesn't go over well with young children and their mothers.  Ultimately, Millie makes her way back to her own house, which is empty of mom, her clothes, and unfortunately, food.  Enter the next two main characters...Agatha Pantha, the scary old neighborhood woman who has not left her home in seven years and Karl the Touch Typist, who constantly twitches his hands, typing out the things he says and who has escaped the old folks home where his son abandoned him.  These three misfits set out on an adventure to find Millie's mom.  This book is in turn side-splittingly funny, sad and depressing, and ultimately redemptive.  The international crowd has discovered this wonderful new author; I hope the folks in Bellingham eventually do as well.

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
"Brilliant, just brilliant" are the first words that come to mind upon finishing this new PNW bestselling novel.  Groff has won numerous awards for short-stories, and has two previously well-received books; Fates and Furies should get her noticed by the big  guns in the literary world.  It is, however, a hard book to describe.  On the surface, it is about a couple, Lotto and Mathilde, who have just begun their married life.  Sounds rather bland, and admittedly, I questioned the story line for the first 70 pages.  However, the brilliance of the prose wound its way around my brain, and ultimately so did the characters.  The most frustrating, devious, admirable, and ultimately complex characters I have run across in ages: Lotto, an aspiring young actor, raised wealthy, a golden boy everywhere he goes; Mathilde, freakishly tall and pale blond, undetermined if she's stunning or plain, brilliant, subservient (or is she?), and whose back story is finally told in Part II named Furies - Part I is Fates.  Throw in a few intriguing minor characters, such as Chollie, the childhood friend, Antoinette, the grasping, obese, agoraphobic mother, and Rachel, his gay younger sister, and this is an utterly engrossing story.  I would highly recommend it as a book club read as there are no easy answers or conclusions to be drawn here; Fates and Furies would definitely illicit some fascinating questions and conversations about family, relationships, and our place in the universe.

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