Jane Austen Read All-a-long: Sense and Sensibility

Two impressions: One, I’m surprised by just how much Jane Austen can shock me through effective plotting.  I suspect that most of her fans will list her prose, her sense of humour and her characterization as the reasons why they love her, but she’s very good with plotting, too.  There was a point in the…

Red Joan by Jennie Rooney

As a reader, I’m kind of a sucker. It’s easy to take me by surprise. I didn’t see any of it coming in Gone Girl. Life of Pi  came to me from far out in left field.  And I admit it, it never even occurred to me that he would sell his precious pocket watch to buy his wife…

The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy

This was at least the third time I’ve read The Mayor of Casterbridge. Could be the fourth.  I was a big Thomas Hardy fan back in college.  For years I’ve been haunted by that final image of the dead songbird in the cage sitting on the back door steps of the newlywed’s home.  Forgotten and forsaken,…

Mr. Loverman by Bernadine Evaristo

Was it okay for Bernadine Evaristo to write this book? I ask this question in light of the ongoing controversy over cultural appropriation, specifically who has the right to write about whom. If you haven’t been following this issue lately you might want to check out Lionel Shriver’s keynote speech at the Brisbane Writers Festival…

The World Below by Sue Miller

Good intentions can change another person’s life, but this change may not always be welcome.   When the mother of two girls dies, their grandmother arrives to take them back to her rural home.  Their father refuses the offer; privately, the girls laugh at the notion of living with their backwoods relative.  But she was…