Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Book Review - The Land of Decoration

The Land of DecorationThe Land of Decoration by Grace McCleen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A heart rending story of a very religious father, raising his 10 year old daughter alone, preparing them for the soon to be end of the world. Their world is centered on going to religious meetings, going door-to-door to tell others of their beliefs and daily Bible readings.

Judith is so enthralled with this life, that she copes by making what she calls "The Land of Decoration" in her bedroom. She crafts scenes and people and events out of the cast off bits and pieces of life. She believes that she can make miracles happen and has conversations with God. It was not clear to me if she really heard God speak or if it was in her mind.

Due to their beliefs, Judith is ridiculed at school by a hateful classmate and what starts out as taunts soon lead to more dangerous acts by he and his friends. All the while, the father is working hard at his job, where there is a strike and he continues working with grave results.

Rather harrowing to read, with many sad events. But, Judith retains her faith and in the end, although her father has seemed to lose his, I had the impression that he would capture it again. The story inspires me to consider my own faith and what I would be willing to do for it if challenged.

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Monday, June 18, 2012

Book Review - The Doll and Other Stories

The Doll: The Lost Short StoriesThe Doll: The Lost Short Stories by Daphne du Maurier

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

All written by the age of 23, Daphne Du Murier shows a superb deft hand at short story writing in this recently published collection.

As a huge fan of "Rebecca" as well as most of her other books, I was excited to discover these, and with the exception of one or two rather strange ones, they did not disappoint. She is quite insightful into the psychology of relationships as well as the depth of the human mind to manipulate as well as to justify its' actions.

A terrific group of stories and well recommended.

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Friday, June 15, 2012

Book Review - Miss Buncle's Book

Miss Buncle's BookMiss Buncle's Book by D.E. Stevenson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Miss Buncle's Book by D.E. Stevenson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Needing income, Barbara Buncle writes a book under the name of John Smith. She bases her story on her neighbors and friends in her small village of Silverstream, although not using their names. This causes a big uproar with those who see themselves in the book and not in a very good light. The book is a huge success and Barbara, a single woman, is helped by her publisher to keep her identity a secret.

The reactions of an array of characters are so amusing. Many of them want to sue her, but without any sound basis. The emotional range of the characters is both amusing and charming and so fun to read. Barbara sets out to write a second book and at the same time feels love in the air for herself.

D.E. Stevenson is a delightful storyteller and a joy to read.

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Miss Buncle's Book

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Book Review - The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

The Prime of Miss Jean BrodieThe Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Since I had heard that this was Sparks best book, I was prepared to really like it but I am left wondering what I missed that I did like it more or think it was so incredibly good.

Miss Brodie makes it clear that she knows she is in her "prime" and that she is wanting to give her best to the girls in her class during this "prime". She is quite unorthodox in her methods, not wanting to teach the assigned subjects, but to instill in her group of girls much about live in the forms of religion and art and music. She has profound effects on each of them while her own life seems to be sad and rather unfulfilled.

There are some funny moments here and a lot of poignant ones.

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Monday, June 4, 2012

Book Review - Someone at a Distance

Someone at a DistanceSomeone at a Distance by Dorothy Whipple

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The North family live in the country of England. They are an extremely happy and close family of four. Reading about their days is an absolute joy. Ellen, the wife and mother is totally at peace, loving her role as domestic goddess.

Louise, a French girl, arrives to be a companion to the North's elderly mother, who lives nearby. Louise is completely self absorbed and only out for what she can get. Her unhappy love affair in France has driven her to find ways to make her now married lover see that she has done very well for herself.

She sets her sights on Mr. North and soon has him ensnared with her charms. Mrs. North and teen aged daughter Anne see the two of them together one day on returning home early and their idyllic life is in tatters.

Rather than try to explain, Mr. North leaves with Louise and within weeks asks for divorce. Although so miserable, he believes that he cannot make things right with Ellen.

Dorothy Whipple writes with a deft hand at exuding both joy and sorrow in life and is a delight to read. This was her last book.

Although ending rather hopefully, it is full of the sadness of human frailty.

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