Sunday, January 20, 2008

At Home in Mitford

Jan Karon's "At Home In Mitford" was exactly what I thought it would be -- a charming book about an idyllic community and the lives of those who live there.

The book centers around bachelor rector Father Tim, who after years of living in the small town wonders whether it's time for him to move on. Enter a hostile and unloved boy who he's asked to care for, an attractive neighbor who moves in next door, a dog that only responds to Scripture verses and the discovery of stolen jewelry hidden in his church and his life gets more colorful.

Some reviews I've read complain that the book is too light and the characters aren't realistic. I agree that the novel is easy to read, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. I enjoyed the way the chapters were written almost like separate short stories that I could breeze through. Her descriptions were also so vivid that at times I could almost see the scene play out in front of me.

I disagree with reviewers who say the characters were too unrealistic. I live in a small community and I've come across some pretty eccentric people here. The characters could have been developed a little more, but I'm assuming Karon's subsequent books in the series will develop them further.

Overall, I thought this book was a delight to read. And yes, I do plan to read the rest of the series.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

The Thirteenth Tale

If it hadn't been for a blogging friend I never would have read this book, and boy would that have been a shame.

You see, I'm one of those "classics" snobs (or at least, I used to be). For the longest time I believed that in order for a novel to be good it has to be written either by A*gatha Chri*stie or an author who lived before the twentieth century. Enter Momma Roar.

After I posted a glowing review of Ch*arlotte Bro*nte's "J*ane Ey*re," Leigh Ann (a.k.a. Momma Roar) e-mailed me and told me about Di*ane S*etterfield's book called "The Thir*teenth T*ale." She said that the book "J*ane Ey*re" is mentioned in S*etterfield's novel. I expressed an interest in reading it, and the next thing I knew Leigh Ann had mailed me her copy.

I thought the story would have possibilities as soon as I learned that the main character, Ma*rgaret L*ea, is a biographer who works in a rare-book shop owned by her family. L*ea is summoned by reclusive author V*ida W*inter to her estate to write her biography. W*inter, who is now ailing and who for years had made up various life histories for herself, tells L*ea that she finally wants to tell the truth. In the process of discovering the truth about W*inter's life, L*ea also discovers the truth about hers.

What about "J*ane Ey*re" and its mention in the book? Well, not only is it mentioned in the book many times, but S*etterfield also really captured the mood and style of the classic novel. "The Thir*teenth T*ale" is complete with ghosts, both real and imagined; dark secrets; tragedies; love; and a bittersweet ending. If you loved "J*ane Ey*re," you'll love this book.

So is this book a copycat of Br*onte's classic? I don't think so. While the similarities are there, S*etterfield's book stands on its own. I have to admit that the book moved too slowly for me in the beginning, despite the beautiful way in which S*etterfield described the scenery and movements of her characters. But once the book took off, it really took off.

I can't wait to read another book by this author.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

I Resolve...: The Book Edition

Oh my, did that year go quickly. At the start of 2007 one of my resolutions was to read at least one book a month, as I used to before becoming a mom. Did I meet that goal? Only if you count The New Testament as more than one book, and half-finished books as being "read."

So, without further ado, here's the list:

Books Just Mom Finished Reading in 2007:

1) "They Poured Fire On Us From The Sky: The True Story of three Lost Boys From Sudan," Deng, Deng and Ajak

2) The New Testament. (Surely this counts as more than one book.)

3) "Jane Eyre," Charlotte Bronte

4) "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," J.K. Rowling

5) "Mere Christianity," C.S. Lewis

6) "John Paul the Great: Remembering a Spiritual Father," Peggy Noonan

7) "Charlotte's Web," E.B. White. (This is one of my favorite books from my youth. I read it this time to my son.)

Books Just Mom Started in 2007 and Hopes to Finish in 2008:

1) "The Thirteenth Tale," Diane Setterfield. (The book is fantastic, but I keep getting drowsy. I should probably start reading this during the day rather than right before bed.)

2) "September," Rosamunde Pilcher. (I had to return this one to the library before I really got a chance to savor it.)

Other Books on Just Mom's List for 2008:
I've got a bunch of theology books in my "to read" pile, as well as various books on homeschooling. As for specifics, I do plan on reading the books in the Mitford series by Jan Karon. I've been meaning to get to those for years, but other more pressing books (i.e. those on parenting, etc.) came up.

What's on your list for 2008?