Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Library books of January

Just made a trip to the library. Always a fun thing to do.

What did I come home with?

Alice Walker's The Color Purple

Celie is a poor black woman whose letters tell the story of 20 years of her life, beginning at age 14 when she is being abused and raped by her father and attempting to protect her sister from the same fate, and continuing over the course of her marriage to "Mister," a brutal man who terrorizes her. Celie eventually learns that her abusive husband has been keeping her sister's letters from her and the rage she feels, combined with an example of love and independence provided by her close friend Shug, pushes her finally toward an awakening of her creative and loving self. 

Karin Fossum's Black Seconds
 Ida Joner gets on her brand-new bike and sets off toward town. A good-natured, happy girl, she is looking forward to her tenth birthday. Thirty-five minutes after Ida should have come home, her mother starts to worry. She phones store owners, Ida’s friends, anyone who could have seen her. But no one has. 

Truman Capote's In Cold Blood
  On November 15, 1959, in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas, four members of the Clutter family were savagely murdered by blasts from a shotgun held a few inches from their faces. There was no apparent motive for the crime, and there were almost no clues.

As Truman Capote reconstructs the murder and the investigation that led to the capture, trial, and execution of the killers, he generates both mesmerizing suspense and astonishing empathy. In Cold Blood is a work that transcends its moment, yielding poignant insights into the nature of American violence.

Sarah Waters' Affinity
Twenty-something Margaret Prior comes from one of London's finer families, but that doesn't protect her from suffering a very common malady: a broken heart. She attempts suicide by overdosing on laudanum and as part of her therapy following this attempt, she volunteers to visit inmates on the women's ward at nearby Millbank prison. Here she finds herself mingling with a wide array of women whose social backgrounds range from street beggars to London's upper crust. Their stories are as equally diverse and intriguing as they are suspect, from the petty thieves who stole food to assuage their hunger to cold-blooded murderers who killed for little more than revenge.

Although the plights of these sad women help take Margaret's mind off her broken heart, she can't completely put her lover out of her mind. Complicating that problem are two things. The first is that Margaret can talk to no one about her affair and is forced to keep her battered emotions bottled up inside to avoid a heinous scandal. The second is the stress of proximity, for her lover is another woman, one who is about to marry Margaret's brother. Desperate to get past her pain, Margaret throws herself into the prison environment and soon becomes curiously drawn to one young woman who, like most of the others, declares her innocence. But this woman, Selina Dawes, is intriguingly different.

For one thing, Selina claims to be a spiritualist and blames the crime for which she is being punished -- fraud and battery -- on a ghost. At first Margaret thinks this is just another story -- albeit a more inventive one than most -- designed to cover up true guilt. But before long, Margaret has reason to rethink things. First she delves into Selina's background and discovers several things that lend credence to Selina's claims. Then mysterious things start to happen that seem to support the existence of a spiritual world. Selina demonstrates her intimate knowledge of happenings in Margaret's life -- things she has no way of knowing. Plus, certain items appear -- a bloody collar and a braided hank of hair -- and disappear -- Margaret's favorite, treasured locket. Convinced that Selina is indeed innocent, and growing more captivated by this enigmatic woman with each passing day, Margaret thinks up a plan for escape from Millbank, one that will allow her and Selina to be together. But her plans go horribly awry and set both women on a devastating course of hope and betrayal that will leave one of them forever changed.

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale
It is the world of the near future, and Offred is a Handmaid in the home of the Commander and his wife. She is allowed out once a day to the food market, she is not permitted to read, and she is hoping the Commander makes her pregnant, because she is only valued if her ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she was an independent woman, had a job of her own, a husband and child. But all of that is gone now...everything has changed. 

1 comment:

  1. I've always wanted to read In Cold Blood and The Color Purple. And even though I've never heard of The Handmaid's Tale, the description really intrigues me!
    Great list!