Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Kissing Frogs Before Finding the Prince!

That old saying, which I never really followed (why not just wait for the prince?) can certainly be applied to books! I've found that I often have to struggle throught five or six before I even find one worth writing about. Then I miss writing and feel like I need to show up here anyway to let you know what's happening.

First up, I reviewed a gothic romance (so not me, but a lot of fun) called The Seance for Library Journal and am currently suffering through a compilation of short stories that are so tedious I want to cry. More on those after publication of the reviews.

I just finished Maryellen's recommendation Finding Nouf, a first novel by an American woman, Zoe Ferraris, who lived in the Middle East and whose experiences there may have informed this novel. Though just a basic murder mystery, and a pretty far-fetched one at that, what holds the reader's interest here is the plight of the female medical examiner, a professional and a feminist, working in a male - only world where even eye contact between her and her boss is forbidden. Imagine trying to work in such a delicate field, ensconced in a burqua, wary of every interaction with a male client and still trying to maintain credibility as a scientist?

Katya Hijazi is a delightful heroine. Investigating the death of her fiance's sister, she enlists the aid of the wealthy family's friend Nayir, a shyly conservative Muslim. As the two grow closer to the perpetrator of the crime they also disguise burgeoning feelings for each other. It's a pleasure to watch the delicate dance between Katya and Nayir as they slowly break with Saudi traditions in an attempt to be true to their own humanity.

I haven't had to drive that far lately and apologize to Andrea for keeping her cd book overdue. Luckily we staff members can't be sent to the collection agency! At least, I haven't pushed it yet. By now everyone in the world must know that Curtis Sittenfeld's new book American Wife is supposed to be a "fictionalized" version of the life of Laura Bush. Don sent me the link to an interview with Sittenfeld on the Terry Gross show http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=95670394

Gross implies in her interview that Sittenfeld might have gone too far by depicting our fictionalized Laura, named Alice Lindgren in the novel, as having had an abortion. Sittenfeld protests that, after all, this is a work of FICTION. Well, Curtis, you can't have it both ways. I think it's a tad disingenuous to encourage publicity and talk about your book by saying it's about LB and then, when someone takes you up short and says, hey, that's not fair to imply that LB had an abortion, turn around and say, "but it's FICTION."

Personally, if I had ignored all the advertising, I probably never would have made the Alice/Laura connection (though I'm only halfway through the book). Now that I know the connection I can't enjoy Alice's growing love affair with the fictional George, Charlie Blackwell. Everytime they make love I get an awful visual that just won't go away!! Yuk, can you can imagine?

The writing, though, is quite wonderful and the coming of age time frame is my time frame as well, so I "get" Alice and enjoy watching her growth as an independent person, even under the tough pressure from Charlie and the rest of his high-powered family. I'll stick with it til the boys from Baltimore threaten to come break Andrea's knees in which case I'll have to give it up to the next cutomer on the wait list.

I've got to go begin my apple pie now before the day gets away from me. Have a wonderful holiday everyone. We have SO much to be thankful for, don't we?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you liked Finding Nouf! I couldn't out it down! Now I guess I'll have to listen to American Wife!