Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Finished The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis. I have read this book many, many times. This time I listened to an audiobook version, read by Michael York. York's reading was spirited and fun. I didn't even realize he was the reader until I was a few chapters in and suddenly recognized his voice.

What a deep affection and respect I have for Aslan. Is that silly? I don't care. His tremendous strength and goodness pull me toward him. He is a metaphor for Christ and I am an atheist.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted

Finished The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted by Bridget Asher. This book has been on my TBR pile ever since Border's had their going out of business sale last summer. At the time I stocked up on lots of books that I had flagged on Shelfari. The cover and title of this book held me back for a while. It seemed so girly to me, and a few of the other books from that purchase had turned out to be way more chick than lit. However, as soon as I was a few chapters in, I knew it was going to be excellent. The characters and their situations are very real and believable. Descriptions were genuinely detailed and original, and Asher's sense of humor is unforgettable. I so enjoyed this book. The descriptions of food are tantalizing and luckily, there are recipes in the back. This book is much deeper than the cover gives it credit for. A must read for anyone who loves food, quirky characters and/or France.

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Magician's Nephew

Finished The Magician's Nephew by C. S. Lewis. Although it was the sixth to be published, it's actually the first book in chronological reading order of Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia. I've read this book before, but I did not enjoy it nearly as much as I did this time. This time I listened to Kenneth Branagh read it as an audiobook. It was charming. He has a different voice for each animal in the newly created land of Narnia. You can tell that he's having a ball reading this book aloud.

The many references to Genesis are perhaps lost on younger readers, but bring more relevance to the story for me since I'm interested in Lewis as a theologian as well.

The best part however was the realization that the wardrobe in the next book was made from the wood of the apple tree planted by Diggory as a boy and that Diggory grows up to be the old professor who takes in Lucy, Peter, Susan and Edmund during World War II.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Dawn O'Hara: The Girl Who Laughed

Finished Dawn O'Hara: The Girl Who Laughed by Edna Ferber. This was Ferber's first novel, published in 1911. Dawn is a New York newspaper woman who wears herself to a frazzle, working for her own keep and to pay for the care of her husband, who is institutionalized as a result of alcoholic insanity. When her health finally fails, her sister Nora comes to care for her and to take her back to Michigan, where Nora lives with her husband and children.

Under Nora's watchful eye and the administration of many eggnogs, Dawn recovers. Through Nora and her husband, Dawn meets Dr. Ernst Von Gerhard, a German doctor who is brought in to consult on Dawn's case. Ernst helps Dawn find a place to live and a job with a Milwaukee newspaper. The slower pace of this metropolis makes it possible for Dawn to return to work and to begin writing her novel. She takes a room in a German boarding house where she meets many interesting and quirky characters. She also is befriended by Blackie, the paper's cantankerously generous sports writer. Among this cast of supportive and benevolent characters, Dawn thrives. Nora's husband Max takes over the keep of Dawn's invalid husband, Peter, and all correspondence with the institution where he resides. Nora is left free to live without that strain, except, that she is not free to love another.

Over time her friendship with Ernst grows to be so much more. This feeling is mutual. As much as Nora hopes to never see her dangerous and manipulative husband ever again, she is unwilling to divorce him while he is unable to speak for himself. Then, after ten years of treatment, Peter's doctors feel that he is ready to return to normal life. After he is released from the asylum, he tracks Nora down and demands that they pick up their marriage where they left off. Nora is terrified by this, but her two champions, Blackie and Ernst come to her rescue. In the end it becomes obvious that Peter's doctors were wrong. He is just as mad as he ever was.

I so enjoyed this book. I have always loved Ferber's writing. She has a way of inserting the reader into a cultural atmosphere that suspends all disbelief. This book hit a lot of painful chords for me. As the ex-wife of a mentally ill alcoholic, the story of her broken health and the terror at dealing with him after finding peace and happiness for herself hit very close to home. This created a strong personal connection for me with Dawn and her story. I feel sure that I will read this book again some time in the future.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Betsy and Joe

Finished Betsy and Joe, the eighth book in Maud Hart Lovelace's Betsy-Tacy series. Betsy, Tacy and Tib are now seniors in high school. Cab has left school to run his family's furniture business, Carney is off at Vassar, but Joe and Tony are both still there, both vying for Betsy's attention and heart. As always with these books, I really enjoyed this read. It's now 1910. Betsy's older sister Julia is being vocally trained in Berlin. Deep Valley continues to be a quiet, idyllic, predictible place. Betsy "goes with" both Tony and Joe. She loves Tony as a friend and worries about what he's up to when he's not spending time with the crowd, but it's really Joe that Betsy feels drawn to. She and Joe have a number of misunderstandings and Tony leaves town to become an actor. Betsy and Joe make up and they graduate, wondering what the future has in store for them all. A comfortable bedtime read.