Monday, November 30, 2009

The Late George Apley

Finished The Late George Apley by John P. Marquand. It won the Pulitzer in 1938. It is the story of a privileged Bostonian, born in the 1860s, who watched the world around him change drastically until his death in the 1930s. Social norms, automobiles, World War I, electric lights on the Boston Common, Freudianism, Ernest Hemingway, Cubism, Lady Chatterly's Lover, all are touched upon. The book is written as a biography, compiled by a longtime friend of Apley's and consisting of occasional narration, but mostly letters written by Apley to friends and family. The book is engaging and humorous. It was interesting to read so much about the history of the area I grew up in. This was Marquand's first serious novel. He is perhaps better known for his Mr. Moto mysteries.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Waterless Mountain

Finished Waterless Mountain by Laura Adams Armer. It won the Newbery Medal in 1933. It is the story of a young Navajo boy who wishes to be a medicine man like his uncle. He has various dreams and visions which seem to guide him on his path. This book is a bit slow, and methodically told. The dialogue is annoyingly simplistic. The details are interesting as are the various customs and examples of family relations. The illustrations in the book are by Armer as well. The edition I read had an unusual forward written by Oliver La Farge, author of Laughing Boy.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Anne of Windy Poplars

Finished Anne of Windy Poplars several weeks ago. This is the fourth book (chronologically) in L. M. Montgomery's series, although it was the seventh written. Anne has been hired as principal at Summerside High School. The book spans three years. Anne lives in a house called Windy Poplars with three elderly women. During this time she encounters the resistance of the Pringle family and also befriends Katherine Brooke, a bitter, lonely colleague. The book contains narrative as well as letters that Anne writes to her fiancee, Gilbert, who is in medical school. The stories turn the tables on Anne so that she is usually aiding students and friends in crises and muddles instead of experiencing crises and muddles of her own. Thus we encounter a fully mature Anne.

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Dog's Life

Finished A Dog's Life by Peter Mayle. Written from the perspective of Mayle's dog Boy, this book describes life with Mayle and his wife in their house in the south of France. While very humorous at times, I got a little tired of the schtick. On the other hand I was at times reminded of Hitty: Her First Hundred Years since both are memoirs of non-humans told via anthropomorphism. I enjoyed Mayle's A Year in Provence much more.