I get tired of mysteries. Luckily I picked up this book and can totally recommend it: love water memory by Jennie Shortridge. A woman is found in water up to her knees in San Francisco Bay and her fiance Grady learns about it in the news and comes to get her. She does not remember anything and is diagnosed with dissociative amnesia. At Grady’s she learns who she was and who she is. He has issues with his family and she finds out that she had experienced awful things with hers and in fact reconstructed her life with a hard shell around her. They both learn about love again, love for each other (carefully) and for family. Especially since I am reconstructing my self, without the amnesia, this story really struck me. It was well written and did not seem impossible at all.
It has been a long time since I have read anything by Anna Quindlen, so when I stumbled upon Still Life with Breadcrumbs I was happy to take it home. I would say that her writing appeals more to women, as once again the protagonist is an older woman who feels like a has-been photographer. She is 60, not in demand anymore, and running out of money. She decides to rent a place in the country outside of New York City, where she meets a variety of characters, including of course a man. She find random crosses in the woods and takes photos of them, not knowing where they are from or why. We find out at the end of the book. I liked the fact that she is older and still becoming wiser. The characters are well described and not stereotypical and I could relate to the fact that she is in transition. A good, mellow read.
I also stumbled upon The Torontonians by Phyllis Brett Young. I don’t usually read introductions, but I decided to read this one and was glad I did. The book was rather famous at the time it came out (around 1960) but I had never heard of it. The woman telling the story had been brought up in the Annex in Toronto, at the time a neighbourhood of well-brought up affluent families. However, at the time the story is happening, it had become an area of run-down boardinghouses. Karen and her husband had managed to move out of their small apartment in Toronto into an old farm house that they renovated and then watched at the area was developed into a middle class suburb. Karen is depressed because everything seems to be built on materialism and the modern equivalent of snobbery. Although I am in the generation behind this one, it resonated with me, as I remember living in a new development with my family, with women going back and forth to each others’ homes, maybe knocking, but definitely going right in. I remember also some of the places and brands that are mentioned in the story. Karen would be horrified to see how wild the materialism has become in our modern age, moving from washing machines and dryers (that we take for granted) to the latest in smart phones and now rampant epicureanism. I am not sure how this book would resonate with young women now (and after all it is another book aimed at women) but I think her struggles with remembering the good and not so good old days, maintaining friendships with former student girlfriends and with her husband, and deciding how to direct her life are themes that we still deal with.
There are probably not very many mysteries set in Saudi Arabia, but I came across one called finding Nouf by Zoe Ferraris. She had been married to a Saudi-Palestinian and evidently lived in Jeddah, which is probably the most liberal of Saudi cities. She must have lived there long enough to get some insights into the culture, which is pretty amazing for a foreign woman– in any culture, let alone one as contained as Saudi culture, especially for women. Through the story, this addresses the difficulty of women to escape their containment, as well as the religious containment of the male protagonist. Through the story we learn a lot about such things as tracking in the desert and of family relationships as Saudi culture very slowly changes. It is a good story and a very interesting look into the culture.
The library has some shelves for new books (even though they might be a couple of years old). When I was passing by there I picked up a book called Delicious by Ruth Reichl. A woman standing beside me said she had read it and really enjoyed it and I should read it too. I told her I would check it out but if I didn’t like it I would come after her (and of course I have no idea who she is). It was the story partly of an ugly duckling who eventually gets a make-over, she makes new friends in New York City, and she gets intrigued by a correspondence between a young girl called Lulu and the famous chef James Beard during World War II. The correspondence part actually reminded me of another book I read a few years ago (and which name I totally forget) about a man who found letters from 1000 years ago in an ancient synagogue in Cairo and put together a story from those. This was not a fictional correspondence, by the way. One of the parts I really liked about this book was her description of going into the Italian cheese shop and the butcher and other old fashioned places. It really reminded me of Istanbul, though the cheese shops there were Turkish. At any rate, I enjoyed Delicious and would read something else by the same author.
A few years ago I read a couple of the books about The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, set in Botswana. This is another one, though there must be a gap and both detectives are now married. This volume is The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon, written by Alexander McCall Smith. Precious Ramotswe is the lady who has a sweet outlook on life, as do most of the characters. However, as in life anywhere, there are conflicts and mysteries that she is brought in to solve. It is indeed a sweet story and it gives some insights to life in that part of Africa. There was actually a tv series based on these books, which unfortunately did not last long, but I will have to check it out on YouTube. In the meantime, I will go back and look for more books about Precious and her local mysteries and some of the books that Smith has set in other locales.
I am so grateful to the Orillia Public Library! And to the fact that it is only two blocks from my home. It is a treasure trove of books and other things and I am a very regular customer there. We in North America are very fortunate to have these incredible resources.