To Russia, With Love

Girlleftbehind

190px-Labordayjoyce

The_goldfinch

Hi there. It’s me.

Let’s talk books.

If I love a book, I shout it from the rooftop (figuratively speaking): I mention it to everyone I know, blog it’s wonderfulness, email the author, rate it on Goodreads,  tweet my rating, and (try to) get all of my friends to read it.

I’ve read a few books this year, and until now, have not had the desire to shout about any . So, I thought I’d give a quick synopsis of what I’ve read the past month, what I’m reading now, and how I feel about them.

Just in case you were wondering.

I read Labor Day by Joyce Maynard for my Wine Not Read book club. It’s about a lonely boy and his lonely mother who take an injured escaped convict home from a store and spend five days with him at their house. With the movie out, all the press, the author being interviewed by Matt Lauer, I figured it would be great. It wasn’t. It never grabbed me emotionally and I was disappointed. Perhaps if the story was told from the woman’s point of view instead of from a thirteen-year-old boy, I might have enjoyed it more. Perhaps not. This one is not worth shouting.

I also read The Girl You Left Behind, by JoJo Moyes, a dual timeframe story set in WWI and modern day. I loved the beginning of this book: the story about Sophie and Edouard during WWI, and the decision Sophie’s forced to make while waiting for her beloved Edouard to return safely from war. It was really well done and hooked me immediately. However, I didn’t connect with the modern day story of Liv and Paul and that changed my feeling for the book from “love” to “like.”

I admire this author, who blew my mind last year with Me Before You. Moyes’ The Last Letter From Your Lover was also truly enjoyable.  The Girl You Left Behind does not hold a candle to either of those. It was good. Not great. But good. No shouting. No rooftops. Okay, maybe a fourth third floor balcony.

I am in the middle of The GoldFinch, by Donna Tartt, a 771 page story about a young boy in NYC who survives an accident that kills his mother. The writing is beautiful, but the details are exhausting and I need to take  breaks, which is something I don’t ordinarily do. I never cheat on one book with another. Each story gets my full attention until completion. I just can’t do it with this one. I will finish it. Eventually. But I need a few moments to breathe.

This leads me to the other book I’m currently reading, and the reason for this message.  I’m talking about Six Days in Leningrad, written by none other than my most favorite author, Paullina Simons. In this memoir of her first visit back to Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) in 25 years, Simons describes beautifully how she feels returning to her childhood home, in order to do research for her book The Bronze Horseman. Yep, that’s right. This is the story of how she got the information and inspiration to write THE story.

sixdays

Reading Simon’s poignant account of her visit with her father, I realize just how much of herself and her own Russian life she put into her beloved trilogy. This one is a keeper.

I’m heading for the roof.

Enjoy!