The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, June 25, 2010

 

A beach, boat and backyard reading list

Editor’s Note: We asked the Board members and Trustees of the Gleason Public Library to recommend some books for your summer reading pleasure.

Amy Livens, FOGPL Board member, recommends:

My Life in France, by Julia Childs. This memoir tells of her time in France with her husband, Paul Childs. What I particularly loved about it was that she did not pick up cooking until she was 39 years old, true inspiration for someone about to turn 40! The book is filled with little stories of her taking classes at Cordon Bleu, writing her cookbooks (and the trials and tribulations of doing so), fun dinner parties and interesting people who became their close friends. I especially adored the way she described her feelings about food. I laughed out loud a few times because her descriptions were so wonderful and sassy! A beguiling book.

Priscilla Stevens, Library Trustee recommends:

The Suspicions of Mr.Whicher, by Kate Summerscale. This is an interesting account of a country murder in Victorian England and of the detective who solved it. Whicher became the basis for Wilkie Collins’s Sergeant Cuff in The Moonstone and other fictional Victorian detectives, and his methods gave rise to more sophistication in forensic science, something that was sorely needed in criminal investigation at the time. Whicher was faced with unraveling the murder in a crime scene so badly compromised that it boggles the 21st century mind. The story told here is certainly stranger than fiction.

Remarkable Creatures, by Tracy Chevalier. This is another of Tracy Chevalier’s (author of Girl With a Pearl Earring and Burning Bright) historical novels and it’s a delight. It is the story of Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot, who collected and catalogued the fossils of prehistoric animals in Lyme, England in the 1820’s. Chevalier builds a great story around their lives, while weaving in an absorbing account of their discoveries in the Lyme cliffs, of their methods of preservation and recording, and of their battles to have their finds recognized by the leading scientific organizations of their day.

The Final Confession of Mabel Stark, by Robert Hough: a fictionalized account of the life of the circus performer and tiger trainer Mabel Stark, based on her letters and other available material. This is a big ride with every possible emotion and reaction to extreme experience. Stark’s voice is very clear and strong as a narrator and carries the story flawlessly. Great fun, and a nice pairing with Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, a novel centering around some historical events in the circus, with a main character who becomes a circus veterinarian and ages in the book from 23 to 93.

Verna Gilbert, Secretary of the FOGPL Board, recommends:

The Help by Kathryn Stockett, which takes place in 1962 in racially-charged Mississippi. The three main characters are Skeeter, a 22-year-old white woman just graduated from college, Aibileen, a wise black maid raising her 17th white child, and Minny, Aibileen’s best friend who is short, fat and sassy. Stockett’s novel about these three extraordinary women explores the way women, mothers, daughters, caregivers and friends view one another with poignancy, humor and hope. A great read!

Ann Quenin, Chair of the FOGPL Board, recommends:

Dog On It and Thereby Hangs a Tail, by Spencer Quinn. Chet is a dog who flunked out of K-9 school (think cats deliberately set loose), but now is a dedicated detective, “partnered” with Bernie, owner of the Little Detective Agency. The story is told entirely from Chet’s point of view, so it’s a great book for dog lovers, but it’s also a very good mystery. Chet is anthropomorphized just enough – in most respects he remains a dog. In Dog on It, Chet and Bernie investigate the disappearance of a teenage girl whose developer dad might be a villain. The characters are extremely appealing, the pace is lively, the doggy view of the world is both consistent and delightful.

Thereby Hangs a Tail is the next installment. Sometimes the second book in a series is a letdown, but not in this case. Bernie and Chet are hired as bodyguards for a prize-winning show dog (think “Best in Show”). It’s not their fault that the little dog and her owner are kidnapped a few hours after arriving in town. The rest of the book is about their efforts to find both kidnapper and victims. Once again, Chet narrates the whole book, and his doggy point of view is both touching and hilarious. Highly recommended.


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