Looking for a book recommendation? Look no further! Here are a few good books I've enjoyed recently.
Book Review: A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline
Andrew Wyeth, a realist painter, was one of the most famous American artists of the mid-twentieth century. Christina Olson was a woman of limited education and means, with a debilitating disability, who lived her entire life in the same remote farmhouse in Maine. Christina also served as muse for many of Wyeth’s paintings, including his most famous, Christina’s World. This is her story.
Christina Olson was born into a farming and fishing family in Maine. From a young age, she began to suffer from a loss of muscle control in her limbs. By the time she was in her thirties, she had lost the ability to walk. Forsaking the use of a wheelchair, she instead used her arms to drag herself around the farm where she lived with her brother Al, who dedicated himself to the farm and her care, while she attended to as many household tasks as she could. Though her image has been made famous through Wyeth’s works, little is known about her thoughts, feelings, hopes, and dreams.
In A Piece of the World Kline uses a first-person point of view to explore a fictional account of who Christina was and the events that shaped her life. Kline imagines the elusive Christina as someone with great dignity and perseverance, but who could also be quite stubborn and selfish. A somber, melancholy mood permeates the book, and, appropriately, seems to embody the same mood and feel as Wyeth’s works.
Book Review: Strangers Tend to Tell Me Things: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Coming Home by Amy Dickinson
Amy Dickinson is more commonly known as “Dear Amy,” the author of the nationally syndicated advice column read by millions of Americans in their daily newspapers. Strangers Tend to Tell Me things is her second memoir, and picks up where the first left off. (Don’t worry if you haven’t read the first one; it’s not necessary to understand the second.) After living in London, D.C., and Chicago, with her daughter headed off the college, Amy returns to her hometown in upstate New York, a tiny village of 500, where she embarks on courting an old childhood acquaintance, blending two families when their courtship ends in marriage, and caring for her aging parents. With incredible heart and humor, Amy takes her readers along with her on a journey through the challenges and triumphs of an ordinary life.
Book Review: The Women in the Castle: A Novel by Jessica Shattuck
In Germany in 1938, Marianne von Lingenfels is an educated, no-nonsense woman, wife to her idealistic husband, and mother of three small children. While hosting the annual harvest festival at the medieval castle owned by her husband’s family, she enters her husband’s study where she finds her husband and several other men discussing a plot to assassinate Hitler. When Marianne voices her support, one of the men appoints her “commander of women and children,” tasked with the job of protecting them from the consequences of their husbands’ and fathers’ actions.
Fast forward to 1945 – the plot to assassinate Hitler has failed, the men involved have all been executed, and the war is finally over. Taking her responsibility seriously, Marianne sets out in search of the wives and children of the executed men. She manages to find two of the wives, and brings them and their children back to the castle, where she does her best to care and provide for the women and children. Over the next several years, and for decades to come, the lives of these families will be continually intertwined, their actions affecting not only themselves, but each other in ways they never could have dreamt.
The Women in the Castle is immediately engrossing, and an excellent exploration of the effects of Hitler’s regime on ordinary Germans.
Long before becoming a librarian, Emily was an avid library patron. She enjoys reading fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction, biographies, and classic children’s literature. Her favorite book is Anne of Green Gables
by L.M. Montgomery.