Book picks as published in the June 12, 2019 St. Albert Gazette. For more great reads, check here.
A Brightness long ago : a novel
By Guy Gavriel Kay
A masterful new novel set in a vivid world evoking early Renaissance Italy and offering an extraordinary cast of characters whose lives come together through destiny, love, and ambition. Unforgettable figures include a healer determined to defy her expected lot; a charming, frivolous son of immense wealth; a powerful religious leader more decadent than devout; and, two larger-than-life mercenary commanders.
Bina : a novel of warnings
By Anakana Schofield
Bina, a plain-spoken older Irishwoman, is under police surveillance for a crime considered so unspeakable that she cannot refer to it directly upon threat of immediate arrest. As a last resort, Bina has taken to her bed to write out her own version of her story. Slowly, we piece together the truth: at the heart of this book is a deliberate act of merciful euthanasia that brings with it an awful burden.
NATURAL CAUSES THE BOOK OF SOULS HANGMAN’S SONG
Reading Oswald’s Inspector Tony McLean series is like eating peanuts – you can’t stop at just one. I read the first three back-to-back, like a chain smoker lighting the cigarette in her hand with the one between her lips. He’s a likeable guy is Tony McLean. He’s intuitive, doesn’t cut corners, and goes the extra mile, much to the chagrin of his boss, DS Duguid (a.k.a. “Dagwood” by his officers). But McLean is no “yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir” kind of guy. He gives as good as he gets and meets Duguid’s scorn with pragmatism and common sense – certain to irritate the DS even more.
We are aware that McLean has suffered a loss as he makes oblique references to his girlfriend, Kirsty, while investigating the apparent ritual killing of a young woman in Natural Causes. However it’s only while he’s investigating this death that we truly understand the magnitude of his loss. This young woman appears to have been murdered many years before and as Edinburgh is bathed in blood with a new series of killings of young women, McLean believes that they are all connected. When McLean meets Madame Rose (I like to think of her/him as a rather large Medium), she poses the possibility that a supernatural force could be at work in these killings. This hint of the occult, spiritualism and the supernatural plays a role in all of Oswald’s novels.
In The Book of Souls, we finally find out what happened to McLean’s girlfriend, Kirsty, (no spoilers here). The body of a young woman, brutally murdered is found in Edinburgh, echoing ten similar murders of young women twelve years previously. The murderer, known as the Christmas killer (for the time of year that he committed these heinous acts), was convicted and sent to prison. But the Christmas killer has been murdered by a fellow prisoner.
So did they get the wrong man or is someone out there replicating the murders?
When McLean attends the suicide of a young man by hanging, the whole scene seems “off” to him. When two other men are found hanged, supposedly having committed suicide, McLean begins to investigate the three deaths as anything but suicide. As in The Book of Souls, Madame Rose plays a significant role in Oswald’s The Hangman’s Song. And like the other two novels, McLean isn’t just saddled with one case at a time. He’s also investigating a prostitution and human trafficking ring, leaving the poor guy little time for sleep or even a cup of tea. And all around this case is the whiff of something sinister and unexplained, leaving everyone involved, vulnerable and in danger.
The Seniors Drop-In Book Club will meet at 2:00 pm on Wednesday, June 12 in the second floor Training Room to discuss the memoir Feeding my mother: comfort and laughter in the kitchen as my Mom lives with memory loss by Jann Arden.
About the book
Based on her hugely popular Facebook posts and Instagram photos, Feeding My Mother is a frank, funny, inspirational and piercingly honest account of the transformation in Jann Arden’s life that has turned her into the primary “parent” to her mom, who is in the grip of Alzheimer’s.
Jann Arden moved in to a house just across the way from her parents in rural Alberta to be close to them but also so they could be her refuge from the demands of the music business and a performing career. Funny how time works. Since her dad died in 2015, Jann cooks for her mom five or six times a week. Her mom finds comfort in her daughter’s kitchen, not just in the delicious food but also just sitting with her as she cooks. And Jann finds some peace in caring for her mom, even as her mom slowly becomes a stranger. “If you told me two years ago that I’d be here,” Jann writes, “I wouldn’t have believed it. And yet we still fall into so much laughter, feel so much insane gladness and joy. It’s such a contrast from one minute to the next and it teaches me constantly: it makes me stronger and more humble and more empathetic and caring and kind.”
The many people who are dealing with a loved one who is losing it will find inspiration and strength in Jann’s wholehearted, loving response and her totally Jann take on the upside-down world of a daughter mothering her mother. Feeding My Mother is one heck of an affirmation that life just keeps on keeping on, and a wonderful example of how you have to roll with it. (amazon.ca)
Book picks as published in the June 5, 2019 St. Albert Gazette. For more great reads, check here.
The Red address book : a novel
By Sofia Lundberg
When Doris was a girl, she was given an address book by her father, and ever since she has carefully documented everyone she met and loved throughout the years. A charming novel that prompts reflection on the stories we all should carry to the next generation, and the surprises in life that can await even the oldest among us.
Late-life love : a memoir
By Susan Gubar
On Susan Gubar’s seventieth birthday, she receives a beautiful ring from her husband, a gift that startles her into an appreciation of their luck. As she contemplates their sustaining relationship, Susan considers how older lovers differ from their youthful counterparts–and from ageist stereotypes. A memoir proving that love and desire have no expiration date, Late-Life Love is a retort to negative valuations of old age.