Torontoc's books Read in 2022

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Torontoc's books Read in 2022

des. 21, 2021, 9:38 am

I didn't reach 100 books in 2021- I think that it might be a pandemic thing. But I'll try again in 2022

Editat: des. 22, 2021, 6:55 pm

Welcome, torontoc!

des. 29, 2021, 8:26 pm

Here's to a better 2022!

des. 31, 2021, 11:02 am

Best wishes for a great year of reading to come.

des. 31, 2021, 6:06 pm

Wishing you a hundred unputdownable books in 2022!

gen. 2, 2022, 8:51 am

Thank you all! The following books were started before Jan but I finished them both last night.

1. The Gilded Page: The Secret Lives of Medieval Manuscripts by Mary Wellesley This history of manuscripts was so well done. The author looked at a selected number of manuscripts and discussed the patrons, the artists, the scribes and the role of women. She discussed how the original text was probably changed by successive scribes who functioned as more than copyists. The issue of lost work was also covered. I found the material on forgotten women authors was new to me. I found this book because I was at a webinar given by a wonderful local book store owner( Ben McNally Books) and his staff- they produce an event called " 45 Books in 45 minutes". and indeed they give mini reviews on 45 books and a downloadable list.

2. The Black Rose by Thomas B. Costain Reading this book is a tribute to my late father. He used to reread this book every few years. I ,too, have reread this book a few times. It was published in 1945. Walter of Gurnie was the illegitimate son of a baron in England at the time of Edward the First. After studying at Oxford and getting into some trouble over the actions of his half brother, he leaves England with a friend and resolves to travel to China or Cathay. He goes to Antioch and joins a caravan journeying to Cathay. His adventures begin when he rescues a young woman , Maryam, who was being sent to Cathay as a present for the emperor. Walter encounters a number of real life people-scientist monk Roger Bacon, military leader Bayan of the Hundred Eyes and Edward I. This is a love story and the plot lines are very romantic. I enjoyed this book although if the author was publishing in our time, certain characterizations would have been altered

gen. 2, 2022, 2:33 pm

>6 torontoc: The Gilded Page sounds wonderful!

gen. 3, 2022, 2:21 am

Good luck with your 2022 reading. I'm taking a BB for The Black Rose.

gen. 9, 2022, 11:26 pm

>7 jfetting: It is!
>8 Tess_W: It is very romantic and old fashioned but it was published in 1945!

I saw a really good documentary on Hot Docs website about the newly discovered Leonardo Da Vinci painting.It was discovered in New Orleans and the investors had a noted restorer work on the painting. Before curators had a chance to really examine it , the painting was sold a number of times and the price went up and up- shady dealer, Russian oligarch, and finally to the crown prince of Saudi Arabia. He wouldn't let the painting be exhibited unless it was in the same room as the Mona Lisa!
3. Flower Diary In Which Mary Hiester Reid Paints, Travels, Marries & Opens A Door by Molly Peacock This was one of those books that you can savour- beautiful book design and excellent colour plates of the paintings and great prose. The author is a poet and she took the material about Mary Reid and her husband George and has written a most intriguing biography. In between the chapters on Mary Reid's life are interludes about Peacock's life. This biography was written with what I call a "21st" century sensibility. Peacock looks at how a nineteenth century woman managed to work on her own art while she had the responsibility of domestic duties. Mary and George Reid traveled to Europe to study and were part of artists' colony called Onteora in New York State. The two were part of the Arts and Craft movement in Onteora and Toronto. I read this book slowly- I had to think about the many ideas and opinions that the author presented.

gen. 11, 2022, 12:58 pm

>9 torontoc: Have to stop "stopping by." Taking too many BB's!

gen. 12, 2022, 7:26 pm

>10 Tess_W: Ha! There are never too many BB's!

4. Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout This novel made it so easy for me to get into the mind of the narrator, Lucy Barton.I liked the author's writing style. The plot is really about human nature and our own awareness of what we do and how it affects others. Lucy is very aware of her own faults and how much she has changed during the course of her life so far. There are some mysteries related to her own background. Lucy does a favour for her ex-husband, William, and goes with him to Maine in order to research his family and perhaps meet a half sister. There are parts of their own relationship that they clash over and there are some surprises during this visit. I liked the story and have to go back read more of Strout's novels. ( I did read the two Olive Kitteridge books.)

Editat: gen. 19, 2022, 11:55 am

5. The Splendid and the Vile A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz by Erik Larson This is a second reading for me of this very engaging history of the first two years of World War Two in England. The author used the papers of not only Churchill but also of his daughter Mary,, and aide John Colville. The research is very thorough with material from American, English and German sources. The development of the relationship between Churchill and the American President Roosevelt is a key factor in the plan to ultimately defeat Germany. The reader learns of the devastation of the bombing of English cities, the maneuvering to build more airplanes and the relationships of the Churchill family and others close to them.This is a very good history of the times but then I really like the approaches used by the author in his work.

gen. 19, 2022, 8:05 am

6. The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott I found this book really intriguing. There are issues for me about the various narratives but for the most part I liked the story. The author focuses on the publishing of Dr. Zhivago by Boris Pasternak and the fallout for him and his muse, Olga Ivinskaya. However there is also a contrasting story about women who worked for the CIA during the 1950's. I liked the chapters that tell the story of Pasternak and Ivinskaya and trace their involvement as they try to find a publisher for the book in Russia. Dr. Zhivago is first published outside the Soviet Union. There is fallout as Pasternak is forced to reject the Noble Prize and Ivinskaya is sent to the Gulag twice for her involvement with the publishing of the book. The contrasting story of CIA involvement is confusing. There are different narrators for these chapters and I found it took some time to figure out who was speaking. Irina is a Russian- American who gets a job in the typing pool for the CIA agency. She is trained as a courier for later activities. Sally is an experienced spy and is asked to help train Irina. There are issue of the treatment of bright women in the CIA during the 1950's, ( not good) and the persecution of lesbians. Apparently the CIA did have a programme for sending copies of Dr. Zhivago into the Soviet Union. I found the Russian part of the story to be very moving. The American CIA story dealt with too many issues but was interesting. This is a good book to look at some of the stories from the 1950's.

gen. 21, 2022, 12:33 pm

7. Piranesi by Susanna Clarke What a great read ! It is hard to put this novel into a specific genre. At first the the story seems to be more science fiction or occult? Piranesi is only one of two people in his world- a big house structure with many halls and massive statues, stairs, lots of water, and birds and fish. Piranesi seems to collect data for his only contact, a man that he calls The Other. As the story progresses, Piranesi finds clues to his existence, meets another being and slowly learns why he is in this house. The story becomes one of revelation and a rescue. I really enjoyed this work.

gen. 25, 2022, 11:30 am

8. When I Grow Up: The Lost Autobiographies of Six Yiddish Teenagers by Ken Krimstein This is an amazing graphic novel that uses the newly discovered autobiographies of young people who entered a contest in the late 1930's in Eastern Europe. The story of the saving of these works is quite important and the story told in the introduction of this book. A number of Yiddish scholars who worked at YIVO (an institution based in Vilna that gathered information and research on Jewish culture- it is now based in New York City) decided to fund an autobiography contest. Young people between the ages of 13 and 21 could enter with a written piece that documented any topic that they wanted to write about. No topic was off-limits- family, war years, school, girlfriends, boyfriends, political organizations.
In fact the entries were to be anonymous- there was a code that could identify the winner with out revealing the name. YIVO has over 700 entries. However , the prize was to be awarded in 1939-the beginning of the war. When the Nazis conquered Vilna, they took a number of the YIVO documents to their own institution. The rest of the material was to be destroyed. The efforts of those charged with this task-the Jewish Librarians-managed to smuggle out documents and hide them in the Vilna Ghetto. When the Soviets freed Vilna from the Nazis, the YIVO material was gathered in a Jewish Museum. In 1949 Stalin ordered all this material destroyed. Jewish and Non-Jewish Lithuanians hide as much as they could. 180, 000 documents were hidden in a " decommissioned" church in Vilna. The material was discovered in 2017 .The author of this graphic depiction of six of the autobiographies was able to see them in Vilna. The work is so well done with evocative drawings and graphic images. Some are painterly in style and some are down in a " comic " book format. The author actually talked to the son of one of the writers- Beba Epstein was the only writer who was know to have survived-she broke all the rules of the contest. She signed her real name and she was younger that the rules stipulated.
I would recommend this book to both teenagers and adults.

gen. 30, 2022, 7:28 pm

9. The Netanyahus An Account of a Minor and Ultimately even Negligible Episode in the History of a Very Famous Family by Joshua Cohen. There is so much to say about this novel. The author did hear an anecdote from Harold Bloom who had to organize a visit on campus (perhaps Cornell ) by the historian Ben-Zion Netanyahu. Netanyahu showed up on campus with his wife and three children and in the words of the author " proceeded to make a mess". Well, in this retelling or fictional account there was certainly a big mess. The narrator is Ruben Blum, a professor at a small college in Upstate New York- Corbin College. Ruben, his wife Edith and daughter, Judy are the resident Jews. Ruben plays Santa every year for the faculty as he is told that since he and his family don't celebrate, the people who believe in Christmas have a chance to enjoy themselves. The Rubens are never invited to join the country club. When the college is interviewing Ben-Zion Netanyahu for a position, Ruben is pressured to entertain the man even though he is not in the same department. The reader learns about Ruben's background, the difference between his parents and his wife's, the problems with their daughter Judy, and the correspondence regarding Ben-Zion's application. The entrance of the Netanyahus on the fateful date and the ruckus that they collectively cause is really funny and maybe tragic. The style of the account led me to think about other Jewish authors who published during the 1950's. Was I thinking about Phillip Roth? Or maybe Bernard Melamud? I did get the sense that the "tell -all" style of the writing was reminiscent of the biographical detail in past Jewish American fiction. The story is outrageous. Was it true? Well, no one is suing for libel. I enjoyed this book.

feb. 5, 2022, 11:12 pm

10. Noble Ambitions The Fall and Rise of The English country House After World War II by Adrian Tinniswood. This history of the fate and dilemmas facing the owners of English country houses is quite interesting in the beginning chapters. The reader learns about the problems of maintaining the houses and estates of the nobility in England, Wales and Ireland. Some of the stories illustrate the eccentric personalities of the owners. However the latter half of the book is more about the lifestyle of country house owners ( think Downton Abbey). I know know who slept with who, court cases on morality and colourful divorces , the hunt, debutants, and the problems in keeping domestic help. I did like the first half of the book.

feb. 8, 2022, 7:43 pm

>17 torontoc: Oh, this one sounds like it is RIGHT up my alley (thanks for the warning about the second half though)

feb. 13, 2022, 9:12 am

>18 jfetting: It was a fun read!

11. Jews and Shoes edited by Edna Nahshon. This book has a great cover that is a little misleading. The book is a collection of scholarly essays on the theme of shoes in Jewish history. The choice of chapters is eclectic. I enjoyed the chapters that focused more on the cultural and theatre history. There was one memoir by artist Mayer Kirshenblatt and his daughter Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett that was very interesting. Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett is a distinguished scholar who has had a key role in the development of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw.

feb. 18, 2022, 9:46 am

12. Matrix by Lauren Groff This is one of those novels where I think-such a good story! Marie is an illegitimate daughter who is related to Queen Eleanor. After her mother dies she goes to the court of the Queen. Marie is tall, powerful in body and mind, and not the kind of girl who can be married off. She is sent from France in 1158 to a convent in England. The novel shows how Maire makes the best of a bad situation. Over the years she turns the convent into a successful operation for farming, manuscript production and a sanctuary for women. The story follows the life of Marie and her ambitious plans. She overcomes her enemies and rivals. the writing is beautiful as the reader learns about Marie's visions and plans. I enjoyed this book immensely.

feb. 20, 2022, 3:32 pm

13. A Town Called Solace by Mary Lawson. This was an interesting book to read. There are a number of narrators. Liam has been left a house in the town of Solace in Northern Ontario. He travels from Toronto to look at the property and make plans to sell it. Elizabeth Orchard is in a hospital at the end of her life. She is recalling her life and relationship with 4 year old Liam and how she and her husband helped him during a difficult time with his family. And Clara is a seven year old who is upset about the disappearance of her older sister Rose. Her family lives beside Mrs. Orchard's house. Clara has promised to take care of Mrs. Orchard's cat while she is in hospital. The story unfolds as Liam is trying to put his life together after separating from his wife and leaving his job. Liam seems to be a damaged soul and the reader learns why. I found the story and characters somewhat detached. I thought that Clara was more fully realized as a precocious young girl who makes decisions that a young person would undertake.

feb. 25, 2022, 1:38 pm

14. The Art of the Jewish Family A History of Women in Early New York in Five Objects by Laura Arnold Leibman I really liked the premise of this history. The author researched five objects held in a number of museums and archives. Laura Leibman used the objects to tell the stories of the women who owned them. In all cases there was little or no information on the owner. The author researched the lives of these women as best as she could. She stated that most histories were written about men and the women and their roles were neglected. This history shows how Jewish women of the time lived and how their lives did change. Leibman places those who were poor and usually don't figure in history in the narration. A letter from Hannah Louzada in 1761 asks the synagogue in New York for financial aide. A set of silver beakers created by Myer Myers in 1770-90 is owned by Reyna Moses. Sarah Brandan Moses sits for a miniature ivory portrait in 1815-16. Sarah Ann Hayes Mordecai creates and keeps a " commonplace" book 1823-94. And Jane Isaacs and her family pose for a silhouette portrait in 1845. Each artifact is examined and place in the social history of Jewish people in the United States. There are connections with Jews owning and freeing slaves in the Caribbean and England, the plight of widows and inheritance, marriage as a contract between merchant families and later for love, and the enhanced role of women in synagogue organizations. I found that the author covered so many facets of the Jewish community and the relationships of women's roles. She traced so much information about the ideas and influences in early American society. This was a great book to read for me.

feb. 28, 2022, 8:38 am

15. Last Train to Istanbul by Ayse Kulin and translated by John W. Baker. I have mixed feelings about this novel. It tells the story of how Turkey was able to rescue Turkish Jews from France during the Nazi occupation, and put them on trains to Istanbul. The history was very interesting as the author also related how Turkey negotiated neutrality during talks with the British and German authorities. The characters in this story were very annoying and not quite believable. I do hate when an author develops characters who are very foolish-that is what I felt about the relationships in this book.

març 5, 2022, 7:12 pm

16. Not a Novel A Memoir in Pieces by Jenny Erpenbeck I thought that this series of essays and scripts for speeches that the author gave when she accepted awards to be very intense. The reader learns a little about Erpenbeck's background living in former East Germany. She dissects the sources for some of her books and connects her experience as an opera director with ideas she used in her novels. The reader learns about Erpenbeck's thoughts on the role of silence and the influences of various writers on her work. This is a good book to read after reading the author's novels.

març 8, 2022, 7:30 am

17. Still Life by Sarah Winman I really enjoyed reading this novel. In our troubled times, I found this story to be one of hope and joy. I'll try to describe the book without giving away the plot lines.Ulysses Temper is a British soldier who is in Florence, Italy at the end of the Second World War. Two important events actually change the course of his life. He saves a man from committing suicide and he meets art historian Evelyn Skinner. At the end of the war Ulysses goes back to London where he lives in a pub owned and frequented by his eccentric group of friends and ex-wife. ( and a parrot) How this group fares during the 1950's, 1960's and 70's form the main part of this story. Ulysses takes on some important charges as he moves to Florence where he lives a life of big responsibilities. His friends,( and the parrot) new and old, become the centre of his world. This is a story of love in all forms with lovers, friends and family learning how to live a good life. This is a novel that I will return to- I am sure!

març 10, 2022, 1:49 pm

18. The Book of V. by Anna Solomon. Just in time for the holiday of Purim, this novel is very timely. There are three stories about women at different time periods. Esther is the heroine of the bible story about saving her people. This version is darker with a surprising conclusion. Vivian is a senator's wife in the early 1970's. When her husband asks her to do something humiliating, her reaction sets of a number of life changing events. Lily is a troubled young mother in contemporary times. She is faced with a life that she doesn't quite seem to manage. How the stories come together is very interesting. One theme that is very much of our times is the refusal of Vashti-the queen in Esther's story. Today her actions are seen are not treasonable but very correct. And this novel reconciles how Vashti might have changed history within the telling of the traditional story.

març 11, 2022, 7:01 pm

19. Taste of Persia A Cook's Travels Through Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, and Kurdistan by Naomi Duguid. I have a number of cookbooks that describe more than the food. Some books have histories or anecdotes about the people and customs. This book introduces the cuisine of these countries. I believe that the author started travelling to research this book a number of years ago. I found the recipes really interesting. Tart fruit is used as a spice. I loved the descriptions of making rice( very long hours) and breads. The photos taken by the author show not only the food but also the countries and the people. I will look at making some of these dishes soon

març 13, 2022, 6:23 pm

20. All the Queen's Men by SJ Bennett ( the touchstone gives the British title) This is the second in a series of mysteries that involve the present Queen Elizabeth as a solver of crimes. Purloined paintings, dead staff and missing items lead the Queen to ask her assistant, Rozie to help her investigate crimes. This is a fun book to read and it has interesting details about life in the palace!

març 14, 2022, 9:44 am

21. The Veiled Sun From Auschwitz to New Beginnings by Paul Schaffer and translated by Vivian Felsen. This memoir describes the life of a Holocaust survivor. Paul Schaffer was born in Austria and lived a very comfortable life with his family in Vienna. The whole family did leave and flee to Belgium and then to a small town in France. They were picked up and shipped to Auschwitz. ( The father stayed in a hospital in France where he died.) Schaffer describe his life as a worker slave and finally his escape when he was on a death march at the end of the war. He learned that his sister and mother were killed in Auschwitz. He settled in France and led a good life. This memoir was written to let people know what happened to him and as a warning. It was interesting as he did talk about his life after the war and why some survivors didn't say anything about their experiences for a long time. The book includes letters by students that were written to Schaffer after he made presentations in schools.

març 16, 2022, 10:55 am

22. Crazy Water and Pickled Lemons Enchanting Dishes from the Middle East, Mediterranean and North Africa by Diana Henry. I have decided to read through some of my cookbooks. I may have bought some because of the subject matter, briefly looked at recipes and then put the book back on my cookbook shelves. This book is really interesting in that the author has organized the chapters by spices and herbs. The chapter begins by describing the history and geography of the spices, herbs and fruits. Then there are a few recipes that use the featured ingredients. I learned a lot and have some ideas on incorporating the featured herbs/spices/fruits into my own cooking. ( I am not going to bake the breads- I'll buy them)

març 17, 2022, 12:54 pm

23. Sharpe's Assassin by Bernard Cornwell. I haven't read this series of books that centre on the Peninsular Wars for a while. This is the latest. So why read a book about soldiers, ambushes, and lots of killing and wounding during the pandemic? This is good escapist reading and I really like the author's style. This time Sharpe is given the task of finding members of a secret society who want to assassinate leaders of the countries that defeated Napoleon at Waterloo. So Sharpe is in Paris for this adventure.

març 24, 2022, 2:26 pm

24. Bachelor Brothers Bed & Breakfast Pillow Book by Bill Richardson. I felt the need to read something funny last week( Pandemic anxiety hit) so I reread this very funny novel. A variety of characters narrate chapters in this account of a small island off the coast of British Columbia and an unusual bed and breakfast. Horace and Virgil are twins who run this establishment along with their parrot Mrs. Rochester and cat Waffle. The reader learns about Horace 's girlfriend Altona, the lost poetry of Solomon Solomon and his giant aluminum foil ball that killed him, lists of books for children and the bathroom, and letters that are sent to the B&B. This is one of those books that is on my list for "reread often".

març 26, 2022, 2:38 pm

25. Klara and the Sun by Kazuo IshiguroThis is a reread for my RL book club. I am so glad that I reread it. I think that I appreciated the little hints of things different in this society that Ishiguro created. Klara is a remarkable Artificial Intelligence robot. Her interpretation of events and visuals that she sees and her solutions for problems are truly unique. I think what I appreciated was Klara's heightened sense of empathy. The end is sad but Klara believes that she contributed to the success of her charge- Josie- as she grew up.

març 27, 2022, 4:46 pm

26. Grand Illusion by Jacob Egit This is a memoir by the father of a friend of mine. The story is quite interesting. The author was living in lower Silesia before World War Two- he travelled to the Soviet Union and became part of the army that drove out the Nazis from Poland. Unfortunately most of his family were murdered in the concentration camps. Egit did believe that he could try to contribute to the rebirth of a vibrant Jewish community of postwar Poland in the area of Silesia. He was in charge of many initiatives to retrain Holocaust survivors. However, the ruling Polish party was not in favour of his work and Jacob Egit was imprisoned by the Polish government. Eventually he was freed and left Poland and came with his family to Canada in the 1950's. Jacob Egit became very involved in Canadian Jewish organizations that supported Holocaust remembrance, the state of Israel and pursuing Neo- Nazis in Canada. Some of the writing at the end of the memoir did list the people who helped him in his work.

Editat: març 27, 2022, 6:21 pm

>17 torontoc:
The rise and Fall of the English Country House ---- thanks for the recommendation. I have put it on hold at my library. Second in line, should get it soon.

abr. 9, 2022, 2:08 pm

27. State of Terror by Hilary Rodham Clinton and Louise Penny. This is a great thriller. I questioned who was the villain from the beginning to the end of the story. Ellen Adams is the new Secretary of State for a US President who really doesn't like her. She is sent on a mission to South Korea that is destined to fail. However, after three bombs take out Iranian scientists who were working on nuclear bombs for a rogue fugitive, Ellen travels to Iran, Pakistan and Russia as she tried to solve the question of where the next targets are located. As well, there is probably a traitor close to the White House with ulterior motives. What a great read -and there is a possibility of a sequel!

Editat: abr. 19, 2022, 11:19 am

28. The Good Lord Bird by James McBride This is a fabulous read! The narrator is a young slave named Henry who is living in the Kansas Territory in 1856. A set of circumstances leads him to be taken up into the entourage of abolitionist John Brown. Brown is described as an eccentric who has a mission to free the Blacks from slavery. Brown also thinks that Henry is a girl and nicknames him Onion. Onion describes the life of the small band of men who are wanted by the Federal army and Proslavers. The ugly skirmishes and the life of outlaws are described by Henry who makes some bad mistakes on his own as he tries to figure out what to do. Henry does witness the taking of Harpers Ferry. He is one of the few who escapes with his life. The portrait of John Brown is poignant- a man who truly believes that he can make a difference. Read this book!

abr. 20, 2022, 8:00 am

29. Becoming Duchess Goldblatt by Anonymous. I reread this book for my upcoming book club meeting. ( we are still on Zoom) It is one of those "I have read again" books that I have.
The author shows the reader how she learns to create a new life for herself after a terrible divorce. She also realizes what her family did to her when she was growing up and understands her own strength.

abr. 24, 2022, 7:19 am

30. Granta 76 Music. Every once and a while I take out a copy of Granta from my book towers. This one has the usual mix of memoirs, articles and fiction. I found some of the memoirs based on the theme of music to be ...I can't say it... boring. There was one imaginative story on the early life of Clara Schumann and an interesting piece on the the singer Kathleen Ferrier.

Editat: maig 14, 2022, 12:34 pm

31. The Mirror & The Light by Hilary Mantel I finally finished this book after many weeks. Mantle certainly draws in the reader with her prose and fast moving story.( although it is 875 pages.) This is the story of Cromwell and how he negotiates relations with Henry, the nobility who hate him, and the church bishops and archbishops who are suspicious of his moves. Cromwell tries to make sure that Henry's daughter Mary is kept out of trouble and helps her establish good relations with her father. Cromwell is ruthless as he works to keep Henry in control of the country. I knew the story but was fascinated with Mantel's use of flashbacks to show Cromwell's education and life story. I am exhausted! But I highly recommend this series of three books.

maig 18, 2022, 12:10 pm

32. People Love Dead Jews Reports From a Haunted Present by Dara Horn This is a very uncomfortable book of essays that is very good. The author expresses her opinions on a number of subjects in response to deadly antisemitic attacks on Jews. Horn is not happy about the way non-Jews seem to respond more to the victims of the Holocaust rather than the present day people. She describes how the message of Anne Frank's Diary has been distorted in her opinion. Horn talks about the myth that Jewish names are changed when families arrived on Ellis Island. ( they were not changed-Jews themselves made that decision in order to apply for jobs and rental houses and not be turned down)There is an extensive report on the Jews who built the city of Harbin and on the attitudes surrounding the work and life of Varian Fry. Her take on the play The Merchant of Venice is devastating. Some of Horn's conclusions show that there is still a barrier for Jews to live without prejudice in many settings. The one concluding essay is positive about living a very Jewish life as she studies the Talmud with many thousands online.

33. Three Rings A Tale of Exile, Narrative, and Fate by Daniel Mendelsohn Sometimes I like to read essays that stretch my reading knowledge. This slim volume is one of them. The author talks about authors from the near and distant past who used very unique ways of creating narrative. The formats can go back to Greek authors. There is much information on exiled authors who use their displacement to create masterpieces that influence many later writers. I will never read the work of Erich Auerbach but I did read all of the works of W.G. Sebald This is a nice exercise in thinking about how stories are told.

maig 22, 2022, 9:40 am

34. The Farming of Bones by Edwidge Danticat The author uses the massacre of Haitians working in the Dominican Republic in 1937 as the main focus of the story. The author writes in a very poetic way, interspersing the plot of the novel with the narrator's dreams of her past life. Amabelle works for a wealthy family who live near the Haiti-Dominca border. Her boyfriend, Sebastian, works in the cane fields. As Haitians, they are tolerated but not really welcomed by the Dominicans. Amabelle's story is about how she avoids the mass killings ordered by General Trujillo and escapes back to Haiti. Many of the people that she loved are killed. Scarred both physically and psychologically, the novel shows how Amabelle copes with her loss. A really interested work to read.

juny 1, 2022, 10:49 pm

35. A Town Called Solace by Mary Lawson This is a reread for my upcoming ( zoom) book club. The writing style has what I call a "comfort level''. The story is told by three narrators. Young eight year old Clara is worried about her older sister's disappearance, and her promise to feed her neighbour's ( Mrs. Orchard) cat. Liam Kane arrives in the North Ontario town of Solace to claim his inheritance and start a new life. And the final narrator, Mrs Orchard ties some of the plot lines together with her reminiscences of her ties to Liam and Clara. I enjoyed reading this story again.

juny 12, 2022, 8:13 pm

36. Birdsongby Sebastian Faulks. This book has been sitting on my bookshelf for a long time! The writing about the lives of soldiers on the front in France and Belgium during World War One is very detailed. The reader is aware of the tremendous loss of lives and the conditions in the trenches. The story is told through the life of one man-Stephen Wraysford. A relative completes the story with chapters set in 1978. Stephen has an affair before the war with a Frenchwoman. During the war the reader sees how the war has affected him personally. The descriptions are grim but very believable. The 1978 interactions don't seem as authentic as the depictions of life during the war.

juny 16, 2022, 8:53 am

37. Granta 87 Jubilee! The 25th Anniversary Issue. I have a big backlog of Granta magazines. I think that reading them helps me over reading slumps. The articles are a mix of memoirs, history, and fiction. There was a interesting photo essay that trace a river in England that is called Granta -it gave the magazine its name.

juny 19, 2022, 7:10 pm

38. The Women of Troy by Pat Barker This novel is a followup to the author's last book The Silence of the Girls. Both novels deal with the lives of the women of Troy during and after the defeat of the Trojans by the Greeks. This book describes the life of Briseis- formerly a Queen , then a slave of Achilles and now the wife of Alcimus. Briseis is able to move through the Greek encampment freely as she tries to help the women who are living in huts outside the destroyed city of Troy. The Greeks are waiting for the weather to change so that they can get on their ships and go home. It has been rumoured that the bad weather is due to the displeasure of the Gods. Priam, the last king of Troy was savagely killed by Pyrrhus and left unburied. Briseis visits Hecuba, the deposed Queen of Troy, her daughter Cassandra, Helen and the widow of Hector, Andromache. Each women is described as they await their leaving along with the Greek who has claimed them as slaves. The reader follows Briseis as she tries to alleviate the hardships that the women suffer. We also learn about the personality of Pyrrhus who dishonourably killed Priam and has issues with his actions that are not well thought of by the other Greek rulers. Like The Silence of the Girls, this novel tells the story of the fall of Troy from the women's point of view. I really enjoyed this work.

juny 27, 2022, 12:08 pm

39. Return of the Trickster by Eden Robinson This is the final book in the three part series that follows Jared Martin. Jared is a nice teenager who wants a normal life. This is a problem as his mother is an Indigenous witch and his biological father is a Trickster. Through the series the reader is introduced to Jared's immediate family- who have various powers that allow them to defend Jared from his ogress aunt. This final story deals more with the supernatural than the other books as Jared fights to save himself and family. A great series!

Editat: jul. 3, 2022, 1:46 pm

40. The Son of the House by Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia This novel was shortlisted for the 2021 Giller Prize and I did like it. This is the story of two women in Nigeria and how their lives intersected. Julie and Nwabulu tell the stories of their lives in alternate chapters. The reader learns about the dilemmas facing young women. Nwabulu is a housemaid and is treated very badly as she makes one major mistake that changes her life. Julie is wealthy and must decide how to honour the wishes of her parents. The role of a woman in both the city and village depends on her ability to have male children. How both women are treated and how they respond is written in a very sensitive manner. This is a very interesting novel.

41. What The Ermine Saw The Extraordinary Journey of Leonardo Da Vinci's Most Mysterious Portrait by Eden Collinsworth. I enjoyed reading about the circumstances and travels of one of Leonardo Da Vinci's portraits. The author has researched the stories ( and histories) of all of the known owners of this painting as well as the origins of the commission by Leonardo to paint Cecilia Gallerani, the mistress of the Duke of Milan , Ludovico Sforza. The portrait's owners for about two hundred and fifty years were unknown.. The history of the Polish nobles who eventually owned the painting and their history lead to the Nazi occupation of Poland during World War Two. Coveted by three Nazis, the portrait was in Hans Frank's office until he fled to Bavaria. Rescued by the US Army, Leonardo's painting was eventually placed in the National Museum in Krakow. The stories in this history are really interesting as the people who owned this work had very colourful lives and influenced Italian,Russian and Polish history.

jul. 3, 2022, 2:03 pm

42. The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections by Eva Jurczyk I liked this mystery because it is set in a Special Collections department of a University library and .. it is set in my hometown, Toronto. What comes through in the writing is a love and respect for the collections of a rare books library. The politics of donors to keep universities solvent and the decisions that sometimes dominate in pursuit of money are very clear. I know that the author is a librarian and she must have known of the issues that the staff face in real life. The plot concerns the disappearance of valuable books and a staff member of the library. That part is not as clear as I would have liked. I did enjoy the book.

jul. 7, 2022, 7:30 am

43. The Promise by Damon Galgut What a well crafted novel!. Galgut follows the fortunes of the Swart family. Each chapter begins with the death of one member of the family and the reader learns about the state of life in South Africa over forty years. One key theme is the promise not kept about giving the family maid the deed to her house. Each character is not perfect and their lives are marked with failures. The writing is wonderful and I enjoyed reading this story.

jul. 16, 2022, 7:46 am

44. Pandora's Jar Women in the Greek Myths by Natalie Haynes This history of literature that deal with the stories of selected women in Greek myths was a great read. Haynes takes a very modern look at what was written about some of the most notable women in the myths. She looks at the different meanings of descriptive words and the way Greek and Roman authors depicted the stories. Unfortunately many of the written works were lost and there are some fragments of the poems and plays left for scholars to interpret. Haynes also looks at contemporary plays and novels that use the women of Greek myths as their source. This is really good book to read if you are interested in the stories of women in ancient Greek literature and Haynes very contemporary interpretation.

jul. 19, 2022, 2:00 pm

45. Michelangelo & the Pope's Ceiling by Ross King. I always enjoy reading books on art history by Ross King. In this history, King outlines the story of Michelangelo and his work on the frescoes in the Sistine Chapel. Not only does the reader learn about the process of fresco and the way Michelangelo adapted this media, we also learn about the Pope Julius II who commissioned this work. The politics of the time, the rivalries between Italian city states and the competing fresco done by the artist Raphael complete this study. I enjoyed learning about the times as well as the meaning of the Sistine Chapel ceiling frescoes.

jul. 20, 2022, 6:55 am

>52 torontoc: I read that years ago, a great read, exciting and informative.

jul. 20, 2022, 8:08 am

jul. 22, 2022, 2:25 pm

46. The Maid by Nita Prose. This was a really charming book to read. During most of the story's development, the reader views the main character- Molly Gray- as a very naive young woman who get taken in by some dodgy characters. The mystery of who killed Mr. Black and who framed Molly seems easy to solve. However the author does reveal some very interesting surprises that show Molly's resolve and loyalty to truth. This is about friends and how help can be on the way for the innocent.

jul. 29, 2022, 7:53 am

47. Portrait of an Unknown Woman by Daniel Silva. Every summer I read the latest spy novel written by Daniel Silva. ( I heard him speak in Toronto a number of years ago- he has a contract to produce one book a year that is published in the summer.) This book has the main character, Gabriel Allon, moving with his family to Venice. And the subject of the novel is the world of art forgery. I found that part of the plot very interesting especially the role of big firms using important paintings as leverage for investing. So the story is less about politics and more about paintings and fraud.

ag. 6, 2022, 12:11 pm

48. Last Call at The Hotel Imperial The Reporters Who Took On a World At War by Deborah Cohen. This is a very detailed accounting of the lives of four reporters and authors( and their wives) who changed the way reporters looked at the current political events. John Gunther, and his wife Frances Gunther,H.R. Knickerbocker, Vincent Sheean and Dorothy Thompson travelled widely between the two world wars and wrote for newspapers as well as writing books. They used the media to express their own views on the events that they witnessed. Their lives were messy with affairs, travel to dangerous places and physical issues. I enjoyed every word as these reporters travelled to Spain, China, the Soviet Union and Germany during times of change. This is a great history and biography!

ag. 16, 2022, 8:45 am

49. Dictator by Robert Harris. I picked up this book at a Little Free Library when I dropped off some contributions. I do like the way the author writes.Years ago, I had given my youngest brother the whole three book series about Cicero. I found that I could pick the story in this, the last of the series, quite easily. Cicero had been banned from Rome at the beginning of this novel. The reader sees how he slowly regains power, tries to influence the politics of the time, and makes friends of enemies. The violence of the time demonstrates that the kind of Roman democracy was anything but fair and in the end Cicero suffered and was killed. This was a very interesting read!

ag. 16, 2022, 9:24 am

>58 torontoc: This trilogy is one of my very favourite historical fiction series. I also watched a play adaptation of it in 2018.

ag. 18, 2022, 9:25 pm

>59 john257hopper: a play would have been interesting to see!
50. The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker This is a reread for my RL book club. My second reading was more intense as if I could feel the pain of the women who were taken by the Greeks as they moved to conquer Troy. The story is told from the point of view of Breseis. She is a former queen who is now the slave of Achilles. The author retells the story of the fall of Troy concentrating on the women. The traditional story focuses on the bravery of the warriors. The story of the women show the weakness of character of the Greeks. I found that both books that I have read on the classical world (both fiction)show the savagery of battle and loss of life. I think that recent world events seem to mirror some of this behaviour.

ag. 19, 2022, 8:33 am

>60 torontoc: I read a pair of novels by Cherry Gregory written from the point of view of Briseis a few years ago, The Girl from Ithaca and The Walls of Troy.

ag. 19, 2022, 1:39 pm

ag. 19, 2022, 2:49 pm

I have that and the Pat Barker book as well but have not got round to reading them. It demonstrates how these myths are still relevant and interesting nearly three millennia after they were first recorded.

ag. 21, 2022, 4:57 pm

51. A Line to Kill by Anthony Horowitz. This was a fun mystery to read. It is the summer and sometimes I need something entertaining and what is better than a " whodunnit"? This book is the third in a series where the fictional writer - Anthony Horowitz- teams up with a retired investigator from the police force-Daniel Hawthorne. Both men go the the island of Alderney to take part in a literary festival. They meet the other authors who had been invited as well as the people on the island ( near Guernsey) who organized the festival. There are a number of character who might have committed the murder(s) and Hawthorne finds the killer and learns the reasons why the deed was planned and carried out. There are a number of clues that will lead to the next book in the series. A pleasant read!

set. 1, 2022, 10:56 am

52. When We Lost Our Heads by Heather O'Neill I usually look forward to reading the latest book from Heather O'Neill. However, although the writing is superb, I was disappointed in the story. I understand the themes of the terrible treatment of women and the initiatives to change the awful situations. I just didn't know what to make of this story. Marie is very wealthy in late 19th century Montreal . She is the spoiled daughter of a sugar merchant and can have anything that she wants. Her good friend is Sadie- a daughter of an aspiring politician. Sadie is the one who takes the blame after a terrible incident. Marie is the daughter of a maid and works in the sugar factory. How the three interact as they grow to maturity is the focus. There seems to be no sense of morality or remorse in the actions of all three. This was a not a great read for me.

set. 8, 2022, 7:51 pm

53. Sharon, Lois & Bram's One Elephant Went Out to Play by Sharon Hampson and Randi Hampson Illustrated by Qin Leng This children's book is a new look at one of the songs that the Canadian group -Sharon, Lois and Bram wrote for their first album One Elephant, Deux Elephants The group has disbanded- Lois died in 2015, Bram retired from singing but Sharon and her daughter, Randi continue to perform. The story is charming with great illustrations that will engage young children. I enjoyed looking at this story and art and think that it will make a great gift for the very young people that I know.

set. 16, 2022, 11:39 am

54. Fight Night by Miriam Toews I reread this novel for my upcoming book club. It occurred to me in this rereading that Toews shows the immense injury that her Mennonite upbringing had on her life and that of her family ( a sister committed suicide). There are hints of the problems with the influence of the church upbringing did to Swiv's ( the main character- a young girl) mother and grandmother. In fact, the grandmother-Elvira is a most memorable character. Swiv, her mother and Elvira have strong personalities and they all in their own way deal with issues of health and relationships. The book is funny and sometimes horrifying with the risks that Elvira takes and the responsibilities that Swiv takes on. Miriam Toews is one of my favourite writers.

set. 24, 2022, 8:57 pm

55. Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John MandelI have enjoyed all of this author's works. This story is about time travel and the interactions between people in various centuries on Earth and on colonies on the moon. The story's plot is constructed around not so chance meetings and relationships between a number of characters. The plot is so complex yet the reader understands the pattern by the end of the novel. A great read.

set. 28, 2022, 11:30 am

56. Zabar's: A Family Story, with Recipes by Lori Zabar This memoir and history relates the story of the Zabar family and their store. The author ( and sadly she died of cancer before the book was published) researched the history of the family from the of town of Ostropolia or Ostropol in Russia ( the area known as the Pale of Settlement) to their settlement in the United States in the 1920's. Many of the family members had been killed in a pogrom and the children of Scholmo Zabarka fled to the United States. Lori Zabar traces the development of the store by Louis and the participation of his sons, Saul and Stanley in the creation of the present day business. This history does come with recipes- many that were baked and cooked by Lori's grand mother, Lilly. This is an enjoyable read about the changing styles of food offered over the years at Zabar's.

oct. 18, 2022, 9:36 am

57. French Braid by Anne Tyler I like reading Anne Tyler's books. I have read about ordinary families and the dilemmas that they face. Sometimes the characters in the novel are quirky. Sometimes the plot follows the ordinary and unusual decisions that people make in order to get on with their lives. In this story, Tyler follows various members of the Garrett family. The chapters take on a different person in different times of their life. The chapters jump from time to time. In fact, the term "French Braid" shows the reader how the various twists of plot eventually give the whole story. Mercy and Robin are the parents of Alice, Lily and David. The reader follows them and their children at different times of their lives. I found this novel to be a very satisfying read.

oct. 19, 2022, 9:44 am

58. Above the Dreamless Dead World War 1 in Poetry and Comics edited by Chris Duffy. This is a very unusual book. The author selected a number of poets who wrote about World War 1
( and in fact many of them died fighting in this conflict) and paired the poetry with graphic novel and comic book artists. The result is a very dark complication of poetry and dramatic illustrations. There is no colour in this work. Some of the resulting compositions have a very painterly feel to them. There is a very emotional feeling created for the reader as the tragedy is certainly heightened by the art created.

oct. 23, 2022, 8:41 am

59. Ghostlight is a young adult book but it certainly captured my interest.( older adult) Kenneth Oppel has written a fast paced adventure that showcases some of the history of early Toronto. Rebecca Strand and her father were murdered in 1839. Keeper Strand was in charge of the Gilbralter Point Light House on the Toronto Island.He was also a member of a secret order that used the light to protect the city against ghosts. A vicious ghost named Viker has killed the Strands. Fast forward to present day Toronto in the summer and a teenager named Gabe was leading a ghost tour of the island. He meets the ghost of Rebecca who is determined to stop Viker and free her father who was eaten by him The reader meets Gabe's friends Yuri and Callie who help him look for the amber light that can help destroy Viker. On this journey of discovery allies who help find and eventually destroy Viker and his army of ghosts are the ghosts of George Brown and Indigenous people who used to live in Toronto. As well, some of the characters are those who contributed to the history of Toronto. The story is very exciting as the climax takes place on the top of the CN Tower. Gabe has his own emotional meeting with the ghost of his departed father and he is able to reconcile with him. This is a very good telling of story that uses the geography, landmarks and history of Toronto to create an excellent adventure.

oct. 26, 2022, 11:21 am

60. Granta 112 Pakistan edited by John Freeman This volume of short stories, memoirs and non-fiction was published in 2010. Some of the works are dated as they talk about the politics of the time. Some have relevance for today. Most of the work is grim as the condition of this country still has rivalries that involve outside forces and competing religions. It is a worthwhile read to remember that many countries have so many unresolved issues of religion, politics and customs.

oct. 26, 2022, 10:42 pm

61. Painters Eleven The Wild Ones of Canadian Art by Iris Nowell The author describes the work and life of eleven Canadians who painted and worked in an abstract expressionist style. These painters were really pioneers in the 1950's Canadian Art Scene. In addition to the biographies and descriptions of the painters' change in style, the book has the most wonderful photographs of the paintings. It is interesting that most of these artists worked as commercial artists in order to make a living wage. There were two women artists in this group. They were equal partners in this movement of artists. I enjoyed the descriptions , biographies and really the magnificent reproductions of the work.

oct. 28, 2022, 8:07 pm

62. Hot Breakfast for Sparrows My Life with Harold Town by Iris Nowell After reading the last book on Painters Eleven, I decided to go back and reread the memoir by the same author on her life with Harold Town. ( a member of Painters Eleven) Iris Nowell was Town's girlfriend for over twenty years. He was married but had a steady involvement with Nowell. Eventually Iris Nowell became a respected author on the Canadian painters who were part of the Modern Abstraction movement in Canada. Today the reader would wonder why anyone would accept the life of the hidden girlfriend. However this work really describes the art scene in Toronto and Canada in the 1950's to the 1980's. Nowell did leave Town and sued him and later his estate for money and art that would acknowledge her work in helping Town with his shows and written work.( She won)

nov. 5, 2022, 12:40 pm

63. The Family Mashber by Der Nister. The history of this writer and this novel are as interesting as the book. Der Nister or "The Hidden One" is the pseudonym of the Russian Jewish writer Pinhas Kahanovitch. He was a journalist and writer associated with the avant-garde Yiddish literary movements in Kiev in the late 1900's. His early work was considered more symbolist in nature. In the 1920's and 1930's he did move from Kiev to Moscow, Kovno, Berlin and Hamburg before settling with his family in Kharkov. The first volume of this book was published in 1939 In Moscow. Volume two was published in sections of Soviet Journals and then in the US in 1948. Leonard Wolf translated the two volumes in 1987. There is a third part that disappeared when Der Nister was arrested in the late 1940's as a result of Stalin's purges and killings of Russian Yiddish writers. Der Nister died in a prison hospital in 1950. I read the 672 pages of this work in stages. The story takes place in a small town not named but thought by researchers to be Berdichev. The story of the Mashber family is a tragedy. The reader learns about Moshe Mashber a very wealthy money lender, his brother Alter who has serious mental health issues and his brother Luzi, an adherent of the Bratslaver Hasidic sect and the late Rabbi Nakhman of Bratslav. Der Nister introduces many characters and paints a detailed picture of the workings of a " fair" town in the mid -nineteenth century.The reader learns about the plight of the very poor, the entanglements of the rich Jewish money lenders and the gentile nobility, the rivalry of the different Hasidic groups and how they all influence the life of the population of the town. I found it hard to engage with the story at first but it did get easier as I read more. I found out most of the historical information about the author and the history of the book's publishing in the very good introduction to the novel by the translator Leonard Wolf

nov. 6, 2022, 8:15 am

64. Horse Trouble by Kristin Varner I bought this book for a young pre-teen. I had asked for a graphic novel that involved horses. This book was recommended to me. It had a great cover and I bought it. However, I decided to read the first couple of pages to make sure that it was appropriate for the pre-teen. I made a big mistake! The story covered the young girl's love of horses and an account of her riding adventures. However it also introduced a number of personal issues that the young girl faced with friends, parents and bullying. In fact there were too many issues. I thought that the intended reader would think that I had chosen this book for her to deal with some of the issues although she didn't have them. So, I will donate this book. Lesson learned- when buying a book present for a pre-teen- read before or get a gift certificate.

nov. 11, 2022, 10:46 am

65. Unstoppable Us How Humans Took Over The World Vol. 1 by Yuval Noah Harari and illustrated by Ricard Zaplana Ruiz. This book explains how the earliest humans evolved differently from the animals that they encountered. The intent of this history of early life on earth is to explain to pre-teens some of the issues in determining the true story. In many cases there is no evidence to know why Sapiens were dominant while Neanderthals became extinct. Harari does give some good explanations about the extinction of large animals and does show how humans were different from the animals. He talks about the ability to tell stories, to imagine and the role of co-operation. I think that this history explains complex issues very well to young readers.The illustrations are excellent. I would recommend this book to parents and young people who take an interest in pre-history and our beginnings.

nov. 13, 2022, 5:43 pm

66. Baldwin Street by Alvin Rakoff. This novel is really a set of linked short stories that focus on different families who lived and worked on Baldwin Street in Kensington Market in Toronto. Set in the 1930's, the stories are supposed to reflect on the lives of Jewish immigrants and their children in their small stores on a street in the Jewish market. Some of the stories ring true ( I have interviewed many people who lived in that time and in that area.) I know that the stories are fictional but one does have the facts wrong-in the Christie Pits riots the Italian and Jewish immigrants worked together to defeat the pro Nazi groups. Some of the stories are very dramatic and others did reflect the problems of the first and second generation people who lived on Baldwin Street.
I just reread my review of this book in 2014- I liked it better then.

nov. 16, 2022, 1:49 pm

67. Saffron Shores Jewish Cooking of the Southern Mediterranean by Joyce Goldstein I was looking through my cookbooks for some interesting chicken recipes. This book has a very good plan. After giving a brief history of Jewish life in North Africa, the author talks about the predominant flavours and spices used. Then she give the reader an extensive list of menus that cover every Jewish holiday. And then the recipes are divided by kind-appetizers, savoury pastries soups, chicken, meat and sweets. I like all the spices used in the dishes and will have to try some soon.

nov. 23, 2022, 1:47 pm

68. Atmospheric Disturbances by Rivka Galchen This novel reads well. I do like the author's style of writing. The story... is a little unusual. Dr. Leo Liebenstein believes that his wife,Rema, has disappeared and an imposter is taking her place. He goes to the trouble of visiting Argentina where Rema lived as well as working with a patient of his, Harvey, who turns up in Patagonia on a secret mission. The mission and official in charge of the project had been made up by Leo and Rema as a way to help Harvey. There are improbable decisions made by Leo as he meets a fake Rema many times in this novel. We, the readers look at the idea that it is Leo who is the unreliable narrator. Sometimes the narration is very annoying as we see everything through Leo's eyes. Still- it is an interesting read.

nov. 27, 2022, 4:08 pm

69. The Art of Leaving by Ayelet Tsabari I reread this memoir for my book club. and again, I enjoyed this writer's style of writing. The author was deeply affected by her father's death when she was 10 years old. He encouraged her writing. Tsabari was lost for many years as she travelled constantly. She described her feelings of discrimination in the Israelis army as a Jewish woman with roots in her family's Yemeni past. Eventually she finds a life where she has a good relationship and a career in writing. This memoir is not strictly linear. There is a wonderful chapter about Yemenis food that her mother makes. Tsabari also researches her family's past and learns what really happened to her great grandmother. It is still a good book to read.

des. 5, 2022, 10:50 pm

70. Chagall and Music edited by Ambre Gauthier and Meret Meyer This book is the catalogue of an exhibit that I saw a number of years ago in Montreal. It is indicative of politics then that the exhibit was supposed to show the panels from the Theatre of Jewish Art that were from the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. At the last minute the loan was withdrawn. Fortunately, prep work for the exhibit included photos of the panels and they were enlarged and shown in Montreal. The book is a catalogue of the many drawings, paintings and murals that show Chagall's work in opera and ballet. The costumes and sets were on display and the effect was wonderful. I enjoyed the commentaries on Chagall's work. The exhibit and book also showed his contribution to Yiddish literature when he lived in Soviet Russia in the early 1920's.

des. 6, 2022, 10:50 pm

71. The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O'Farrell Like her previous novel Hamnet, this story is skillfully told. The reader is introduced to the fifth child of Cosimo de Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany and his wife Eleanora. Lucrezia lives in the nursery and is a very good artist. Due to the sudden death of her older sister, Maria, Lucrezia takes her place as the intended bride of Alfonzo, Duke of Ferrara. Ill prepared and very young for marriage, Lucrezia finds herself in a foreign court and in the centre of intrigues that she cannot understand or handle. Her husband is mercurial and capable of great cruelty. Lucrezia believes that Alfonzo is going to kill her as she has not given him the child that he wants and needs. The chapters alternate between Lucrezia's story and her present where she is isolated with her husband in a distant fortress. At the same time, her portrait is being painted by an artist and his assistants. The descriptions of sixteenth century Italy and the life in the courts of Florence and Ferrara are vivid. I enjoyed this story and the portrayal of a young teenager who seemingly was not equipped to deal with ruling Renaissance society

des. 14, 2022, 10:00 am

72. The Sad Bastard Cookbook Food You Can Make So You Don't Die by Zilla Novikov and Rachel A. Rosen This is a very funny book and it was written by one of my former students. ( One of the authors is not a real person.) It is humorous and probably meant for people who are so caught up in their work that they forget that they have to eat. The recipes are really basic but I am sure that some people will think back to their earlier lives when these suggestions for feeding oneself quickly would have been appreciated. The most basic entries are " Peanut Butter on a Spoon" and "Bag Salad". The entries on ramen, potatoes, rice all begin with two core ingredients. ( pack of ramen a.k.a. instant noodles and boiling water)There are variations included in each recipe. This is a good choice for very young people about to embark on a life away from the family home. The author has also written a book of science fiction as well.

73. These Precious Days Essays by Ann Patchett This is a reread for my online book club that meets next week. This is one of those books that you should keep and reread every once in a while. It is so good!

des. 20, 2022, 11:48 am

74. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett I have never described the style of writing in a novel as 'Luminous" but I am now. The author writes about a party to celebrate the birthday of a visiting Japanese businessman in an unnamed South American country. This event is interrupted by an invasion of guerrillas led by dissident generals. The gathering of ambassadors and prominent individuals are then held captive in the house of the country's vice -president. The demands of the generals are relayed to the government. What is unusual about this group of captives is the one woman who is not allowed to leave. A renowned soprano had been hired to sing for the party. The book shows how both the captives and the kidnapped relate to each other during the long period of captivity. The unveiling of the humanity of both groups and the relationships that develop form the story. I found the premise so interesting and so well written.

des. 24, 2022, 3:13 pm

75. The Sleeping Car Porter by Suzette Mayr This novel won the 2022 Giller Prize and I can understand why. The author describes the gruelling schedule of a sleeping car porter in Canada in 1929. Baxter is one of many Black employees who take care of the passengers on a cross country train that runs from Montreal to Vancouver. Baxter is saving his money to go to dental school. He has to put up with the many indignities that govern the job of keeping passengers happy. Any slight infraction results in demerit points. When these point add up , jobs are lost. Baxter is gay and he must hide this part of his life from everyone. The reader follows Baxter's work as he tends to the needs of the many passengers on his sleeping car. There are many mini dramas played out on this particular journey. There is the mysterious man who won't come out of his sleeping car. There is the little girl who clings to Baxter as she and her grandmother journey to Vancouver after the death of her mother. There is a medium who looks for spirits and there are more demanding people. This train journey is unusual as the train is stopped for a number of days in the mountains. I enjoyed this book although as a reader , I could also feel the exhaustion of the main character as he worked without much sleep.