October 17, 2010

Recent Readings

As mentioned in yesterday's post, my book club's last selection was Sarah's Key, by Tatiana de Rosnay.  This novel is heartbreaking, but also engaging and enlightening.  The story centers around Julia Jarmond, an American journalist who has lived in Paris for over 20 years with her stereotypically arrogant and philandering French husband, Bertrand.  Julia's personal life, namely her deteriorating marriage, plays as significant a role in the novel as does Julia's work assignment to research the little-known Vél' d'Hiv' roundup of Parisian Jews on June 16, 1942.  Although the orders for the roundup came from the German Nazis, it was the French government who actually conducted the raids and imprisoned almost 10,000 Jews in an indoor cycling arena, the Vélodrome d'Hiver, awaiting transportation to various concentration camps.  I remember spending nine weeks studying the Holocaust in the 6th grade, and I still find stories surrounding the events of World War II interesting and horrifying.  This was a memorable story, as the more we learn about Sarah, the more we see Julia learn about herself.

After flying through Sarah's Key, I began A Son of the Circus, by John Irving.  Now, I love a good John Irving novel, although he's not everyone's cup of tea.  My favorites, of course, are A Prayer for Owen Meany and The Cider House Rules, two of his more popular books.  A Son of the Circus was a bit hard for me to get into, but once I did it was classic Irving.  At times humorous, at times sad and sometimes a bit pathetic (the characters, not the writing), I enjoyed the book as an escapade into the Bombay of the late 1980s involving dwarfs, trans-gender prostitutes (this is Irving, after all), murder and mayhem.  If you're an Irving fan, go for it; if not, I would recommend that you start with The World According to Garp or A Prayer for Owen Meany before diving into this one.

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