By Sally Gracie
We continue this week with some local readers’ favorite fiction reads in 2013.
One of Jan Ford’s favorite writers is Seattle’s Ivan Doig. “His latest book, Sweet Thunder (2013), is the third one following the main character in The Whistling Season from 2007 (the second was Work Song, 2011) and I really look forward to reading this,” Jan said.
Jan says, “The other author who has had a series of books that appeal to me greatly is Donna Leon. Some 40 years ago I visited Venice regularly. I am really drawn in by Donna Leon’s descriptions of this unique city, its inhabitants, society, politics and challenges as a backdrop to her Commissario Guido Brunetti mysteries.” The latest in the series is The Golden Egg (2013).
Jan notes that a 20th anniversary edition of Two Old Women: An Alaska Legend of Betrayal, Courage and Survival by Velma Wallis has been published in 2013. The novel is one of Jan’s favorite books.
Patty Yates was “an early addict to the [Jack] Reacher books” by Lee Child. “They are like potato chips. Can’t eat just one.” Child’s 2013 book is Never Go Back: A Jack Reacher Novel.
Jennifer Laughlin picked Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (2012), a novel “about a 19-year-old soldier and his unit who’ve been brought back from Iraq to be paraded around the country as heroes.” The story takes place mostly at a Dallas Cowboys game. “The book shows the protagonist’s struggle trying to make sense of life,” Jennifer said.
Javier Marias wrote a trilogy called Your Face Tomorrow (2007-2011) that Kathy Ehrenberg mentioned as “the best spy novel ever.” After reading the Amazon summary, I’m putting the books on my list for 2014.
From 2013, my favorite novel was TheYonahlosse Riding Camp for Girls, a coming-of-age story by Anton DiSciafani set in a boarding school in the 1930s. Protagonist Thea Atwell’s sheltered life in Florida in no way prepared her for life in a cloistered school for girls in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It took her love of horses and independent spirit to change her and help her grow up.
I was fascinated by The Interestings, the six characters that Meg Wolitzer develops from their teen years in her 2013 novel. I found myself picking favorites as, through the decades, these men and women face personal, professional and spiritual crises. While their lives are interesting, they are pretty ordinary as they face the same problems we do.
Pat Conroy’s The Death of Santini (2013) is classified as a novel yet discussed by critics as a “memoir.” Maybe you can figure that out. If you love Conroy’s books, this one will send you back to all the others and to the films. Especially intriguing is Don Conroy’s part in promoting the Santini novel alongside his son. Most poignant is the reconciliation between the two men as Don grows old.
Once I caught on to the premise of Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life, I loved it. To think, I might have quit on page 30! Atkinson’s website gives readers the question to help them through those early pages: “What if you had the chance to live your life again and again, until you finally got it right?” Have this question with you as you begin to read about Ursula Todd in one of the best novels of the year.
Thanks to one of our readers for sharing the “shelfie” photo. Any others sent to me at firstname.lastname@example.org will be published on the Twisp Library Friends Facebook page.