Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Buried Giant, by Kazuo Ishiguro

In Kazuo Ishiguro’s long-awaited seventh novel, The Buried Giant he once again defies reader expectations by venturing into new territory.  The Buried Giant, labeled by some as “fantasy” fiction, is nothing like Ishiguro’s previous works.  Fans of Remains of the Day will be pleasantly surprised to find his newest novel to be nothing like that modern classic, yet equally compelling.  The novel opens on what appears to be, at first glance, a typical medieval village, where two of its oldest inhabitants have grown increasingly anxious to set out on a journey to visit their son.  It soon becomes clear, however, that something insidious is afoot, as the villagers seem to easily forget matters that aren’t immediately at hand: missing children, quarrels, former neighbors.  In fact, the old couple can hardly remember what it was that drew their son away from his ancestral village.  Was it a quarrel, something they said?  Despite this fog that seems to cloud their memories, making their past together (both good and ill) seem hazy, they are determined to seek out their son.  This journey begins to take on the flavor of a quest as they meet not one, but two brave knights, encounter a mysterious boatman, malicious pixies, ogres, and at first avoid, then later seek out a dragon’s lair.  This is a beautifully written novel that shouldn’t be genre-bound.  Fantasy enthusiasts and literary connoisseurs alike will be equally drawn in by this page turner.  In fact, I think I will blame a recent sunburn on its potential to make one’s own surroundings fall quickly and solidly away.

Monday, April 13, 2015

How to Catch a Frog

The subtitle of Heather Ross's delightful book is "and other stories of family, love, dysfunction, survival, and DIY." Illustrated with her own beautiful drawings, this book is part memoir, part how-to manual, and a total joy to read. Heather tells stories of her childhood growing up in primitive circumstances on a Vermont mountain, her forays into trying to build a creative business, and her relationships with her family, friends, and lovers. In other words, she takes us on a path through the messiness of everyday life. Her previous books, Weekend Sewing and Heather Ross Prints, focus solely on her creative endeavors as a fabric designer and artist. Here, in How to Catch a Frog, we come to know Heather as a creative, thoughtful, and adaptable person who has carved a beautiful life for herself.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Keeping Kate by Lauren Winder Farnsworth

At the age of 10, Kate loses her parent in a car accident.  She was sent to live with her kind uncle but not so kind aunt.  Shortly afterwards, her uncle dies, and she is then sent to live with the Brooks, a very wealthy family who paid for her education in exchange for household duties.

After graduating from college, Kate finds employment with Thorne Field Ranch as a nanny.  Kate is determined to make life for herself on the Utah ranch, taking care of a little girl named Addie.  When she meets her irritable employer, Kate is force to confront the past she's been running from and face a future she never dreamed possible.  This latter-day twist on the classic Jane Eyre is a romantic and gripping read.