Torontoc's books Read in 2022

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Torontoc's books Read in 2022

1torontoc
des. 21, 2021, 9:38am

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

2hemlokgang
Editat: des. 22, 2021, 6:55pm

Welcome, torontoc!

3jfetting
des. 29, 2021, 8:26pm

Here's to a better 2022!

4Eyejaybee
des. 31, 2021, 11:02am

Best wishes for a great year of reading to come.

5pamelad
des. 31, 2021, 6:06pm

Wishing you a hundred unputdownable books in 2022!

6torontoc
gen. 2, 8:51am

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

7jfetting
gen. 2, 2:33pm

>6 torontoc: The Gilded Page sounds wonderful!

8Tess_W
gen. 3, 2:21am

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

9torontoc
gen. 9, 11:26pm

>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.

10Tess_W
gen. 11, 12:58pm

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

11torontoc
gen. 12, 7:26pm

>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.)

12torontoc
Editat: gen. 19, 11:55am

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.

13torontoc
gen. 19, 8:05am

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.

14torontoc
gen. 21, 12:33pm

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.

15torontoc
gen. 25, 11:30am

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.

16torontoc
gen. 30, 7:28pm

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.

17torontoc
feb. 5, 11:12pm

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.

18jfetting
feb. 8, 7:43pm

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

19torontoc
feb. 13, 9:12am

>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.

20torontoc
feb. 18, 9:46am

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.

21torontoc
feb. 20, 3:32pm

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.

22torontoc
feb. 25, 1:38pm

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.

23torontoc
feb. 28, 8:38am

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.

24torontoc
març 5, 7:12pm

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.

25torontoc
març 8, 7:30am

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!

26torontoc
març 10, 1:49pm

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.

27torontoc
març 11, 7:01pm

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

28torontoc
març 13, 6:23pm

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!

29torontoc
març 14, 9:44am

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.

30torontoc
març 16, 10:55am

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)

31torontoc
març 17, 12:54pm

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.

32torontoc
març 24, 2:26pm

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".

33torontoc
març 26, 2:38pm

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.

34torontoc
març 27, 4:46pm

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.

35jbegab
Editat: març 27, 6:21pm

>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.

36torontoc
abr. 9, 2:08pm

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!

37torontoc
Editat: abr. 19, 11:19am

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!

38torontoc
abr. 20, 8:00am

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.

39torontoc
abr. 24, 7:19am

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.

40torontoc
Editat: maig 14, 12:34pm

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.

41torontoc
maig 18, 12:10pm


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.

42torontoc
maig 22, 9:40am

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.

43torontoc
juny 1, 10:49pm

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.

44torontoc
juny 12, 8:13pm

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.

45torontoc
juny 16, 8:53am

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.

46torontoc
juny 19, 7:10pm

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.

47torontoc
juny 27, 12:08pm

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!

48torontoc
Editat: jul. 3, 1:46pm

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.

49torontoc
jul. 3, 2:03pm

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.

50torontoc
jul. 7, 7:30am

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.

51torontoc
jul. 16, 7:46am

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.

52torontoc
jul. 19, 2:00pm

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.

53john257hopper
jul. 20, 6:55am

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

54torontoc
jul. 20, 8:08am

55torontoc
jul. 22, 2:25pm

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.

56torontoc
jul. 29, 7:53am

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.

57torontoc
ag. 6, 12:11pm

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!