August 23, 2010

Recent Readings

Bridge of Sighs, by Richard Russo, was one of those books that I couldn't put down.  The novel isn't a suspenseful tale of mystery or murder, it's simply a story of three children who grow up together in the small town of Thomaston, New York, and the familial ties, friendships, and unforgettable events that have shaped their lives.  It's a melancholy story (aren't all stories about love, loss, and growing up at one point or another?), but Russo creates enough tension to engage you in the nostalgia of small-town life without boring you or bogging you down with too many details.  The writing is impeccable and the characters feel like friends.  Not to mention, I enjoyed reading about the actual Bridge of Sighs in Venice, Italy.

I recently read How to Be Lost, by Amanda Eyre Ward.  My overall impression of this book was... meh.  Ward spins the tale of a family whose destruction stems from the sudden disappearance of the youngest daughter, Ellie.  Madeline and Caroline, the oldest and middle daughter, drift apart from one another, unable to strengthen and barely able maintain their sisterly bond without closure to Ellie's disappearance; their mother Isabelle is obsessed with finding Ellie's whereabouts, and their father drinks himself to an early death.  Caroline eventually leaves on a quest to find a girl in a photograph, a photograph her mother has found in a magazine and believes to be Ellie.  Each of the characters in the novel are lost in his/her own grief, but each are also one-dimensional, and I didn't actually like any of them.  The story was also full of gaping holes and miraculous coincidences; one or the other I may possibly have overlooked, but not both.  The book has some positive reviews on Amazon, but I was unimpressed.

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