Monday, May 23, 2022

Three Books

The Moons of Jupiter by Alice Munro is a collection of quietly unassuming powerful short stories, many of which were first published in the New Yorker--which is for me a recommendation of quality.  Set in contemporary (late 2oth century) small-town Canada, they delve into the human condition with unerring precision. I really enjoyed this and will look for more of her story collections.

More good reads from the Book Pusher's bag. Kristin Hannah seems to be immensely popular just now--NYT bestseller and all that. I often see her recommended on FB pages for readers. Both of these were enjoyable, almost un-put-downable.

The Great Alone is set in backwoods Alaska where a troubled Vietnam vet takes his wife and daughter to live off the land, away from the corruption of society (and the PTSD demons that pursue him.) The descriptions of life off the grid and the other homesteaders are vivid and the setting is awe-inspiring.

The Winter Garden is set in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, with lengthy, beautifully done flashbacks to the Siege of Leningrad that seem all too relevant today with the war in Ukraine.  Again, the prose is beautiful, the descriptions fascinating,

And yet . . . both books left me annoyed with one or more of the characters and feeling manipulated by the author. (I know--that's what authors do, myself included.) But some of the characters' choices seemed really unlikely to me and the plots a bit soap-opera-ish. 

Several reviews described Winter Garden as a tear-jerker and I guess that's part of my problem with it. Both novels are squarely in the genre of Women's Fiction--relations between sisters, husbands and wives, mothers and daughter(s) are at the forefront in both books. 

Still, I enjoyed reading them and learned a lot about Alaska and the Siege of Leningrad. Good reads, just a little soppy for my taste.



Sandra Parshall said...

Hannah writes popular fiction geared toward women readers, but she does delve into history and situations outside the usual. I confess I have never finished one of her books, but she's giving millions of readers something they can become immersed in and possibly learn from, so kudos to her. My own fiction reading has become so narrow that I'm almost ashamed of myself. I prefer nonfiction these days.

Marcia said...

The last book I read by Hannah was about the Dust Bowl. Title escapes me. I did learn a lot of history (I assume she was accurate) but you're right about the characters often making decisions that are a little out of the realm of plausibility.