Monday, December 19, 2011

Book Club Review - My Name is Mary Sutter

Robin Oliveira has written an unflinching piece of civil war fiction. Mary Sutter, a supremely skilled midwife, is focused on her goal of becoming a surgeon in a time when the idea of women nurses was controversial. She is a tough woman struggling to follow her natural calling.

As the book opens, the South has just attacked Fort Sumter. Men of all classes are enlisting in what is expected to be a three-month engagement where the south will be quickly beaten. Mary, having been turned down everywhere else, approaches Dr. James Blevins about an apprenticeship. He turns her down, ostensibly because he plans to enlist as an army surgeon. Mary heads south without the help or support of her family to help in the hospitals in DC. Even there she is rebuffed until there is a desparate need.

Mary receives her apprenticeship, but it is with a very high price. She must make difficult choices and endure unimaginable conditions. Most of the book club members liked My Name is Mary Sutter. The historical detail (which I liked tremendously) was a shocking reminder of how ill-prepared the United States was for war. For some members, the graphic details of the hospitals and surgeries were difficult. Several of the characters, including Mary's twin seemed thinnly drawn, but it is Mary and her tenacity which move the story forward. Her persistence and courage carry her and the reader through to the end.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Now In Paperback - December 2011

The Voice, by James Kaplan
Frank Sinatra was the best-known entertainer of the twentieth century—infinitely charismatic, lionized and notorious in equal measure. But despite his mammoth fame, Sinatra the man has remained an enigma.  Now James Kaplan brings deeper insight than ever before to the complex psyche and turbulent life behind that incomparable voice, from Sinatra’s humble beginning in Hoboken to his fall from grace and Oscar-winning return in From Here to Eternity. Here at last is the biographer who makes the reader feel what it was really like to be Frank Sinatraas man, as musician, as tortured genius.

The Lake of Dreams
A Novel, by Kim Edwards
Karen Vail of Titcomb's Bookshop in East Sandwich, Massachusettes says "This is a captivating novel from the best-selling author of The Memory Keeper's Daughter."  

Edwards delivers the story of a woman's homecoming, a family secret, and the old house that holds the key to the true legacy of a family. With surprises at every turn and brimming with vibrant detail, “The Lake of Dreams” is an arresting saga in which every element emerges as a carefully place piece of the puzzle.

The Memory of Love
by Aminatta Forna
“Forna, a former BBC journalist and documentarian, has seen the cruelties of the war-ravaged West African country first-hand, and has devoted a career to chronicling them. In careful, precise prose, Forna makes even the seemingly commonplace details meaningful.”—Nora Dunne, The Christian Science Monitor
Adrian Lockheart is a psychologist escaping his life in England. Arriving in Freetown in the wake of civil war, he struggles with the intensity of the heat, dirt and secrets this country hides. A story unfolds about ordinary people in extrordinary circumstances and the indelible effects of the past.

An Object of Beauty
A Novel, by Steve Martin
“Even those who know little about contemporary art will enjoy this novel, and they will definitely learn something along the way.” -- Kat Bailey, Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA
Lacey Yeager is young, captivating, and ambitious enough to take the NYC art world by storm. Groomed at Sotheby's and hungry to keep climbing the social and career ladders put before her, Lacey charms men and women, old and young, rich and even richer with her magnetic charisma and liveliness. Her ascension to the highest tiers of the city parallel the soaring heights--and, at times, the dark lows--of the art world and the country from the late 1990s through today.

Take Me Home
A Novel, by Brian Leung
“Every now and then, a small, quiet, well-crafted novel is just what the doctor ordered. . . . Take Me Home by Brian Leung fits the bill.” -Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Adele "Addie" Maine is returning to Dire, Wyoming, forty years after the deadly events that drove her away from her husband without a word.
Years earlier, when Addie first heads West to stay with her brother Tommy, she is wary of the Chinese working alongside the white men in the local coal mines. But when Tommy falters at homesteading and the mine becomes their only path, Addie's eyes are opened through her association with one Chinese man in particular, Wing Lee—and a bond forms between them that is impossible and forbidden, even in a territory where nearly everyone is an immigrant. Together, Addie and Wing harbor a secret, and when racial tensions escalate to a combustion point, Addie will face a devastating choice between fighting for what is right . . . and survival. Take Me Home is a searing, redemptive novel that explores justice in a time of violence, and the sweeping landscape between friendship and love.