What led you to pick up this book? Last year I picked up Lisa Unger's book Beautiful Lies which was very enjoyable in the Harlen Coben and John Grisham style. I've been reading a lot of southern fiction so this was a good shot for a quick easy read that would break me out of the streak and move me on to something new.
Summarize the plot but don't give away the ending:
From Publishers Weekly: Annie Powers leads the perfect life in Florida with her husband, Gray, and their four-year-old daughter in this stellar character-driven stand-alone from bestseller Unger (A Sliver of Truth). Less than a decade earlier, however, Annie was Ophelia March, the teenage captive—or accomplice—of spree killer Marlowe Geary. Gray, a partner in his father's private security consultant firm, tracked Marlowe and rescued Ophelia after sending the killer's car over a cliff. Reinventing herself with Gray's help, Annie can't remember all that happened during her years with Marlowe, and she's prone to panic attacks and blackouts. When a strange man appears on her property, Annie's sure Marlowe is back. As a shady police detective digs into her past, Annie must try to recover the memories she buried if she's ever going to be free from Marlowe. Unger expertly turns what could have been a routine serial-killer story into a haunting odyssey for Annie, dropping red herrings and clues along the way until the reader feels as unsettled as Annie.
What did you like most about the book? I am terrible about trying to figure out the ending before the end of the book, but I admit that even up to the very last pages I was unsure who exactly was "the bad guy" and what his/her motives were in forcing the action of the novel. There is also a last minute plot twist that took me completely by surprise and, after I got over being angry about it, caused me to realize what a brilliant plot device it had been. Being set in Florida, I also enjoyed the familiar scenery and setting. Ms. Unger did a wonderful job capturing the feel of Florida's wildness and stark beauty.
Share a favorite scene about the book: Unfortunately my favorite scene involves the plot twist which I won't revel. The flashbacks as Annie's memories are recovered are both mysterious and clouded by Annie's own inability to understand the incomplete picture pieces she holds. There is a pivotal scene from her past in which she runs away with her boyfriend that was both a nail-biter and a brilliant uncovering of the whole truth to the reader. Unfortunately more details gives away too much of the story too early.
Recommended as a great vacation, weekend or rainy afternoon read.
In General Ms. Unger hasn't made any groundbreaking strides or stretched the boundary of the mystery/ thriller. What she has written is a true page turner that will keep you up at night and keep you guessing right up to the very last. If you want to be sucked into a psychological thriller and block out the world for awhile I highly recommend this book.
There are always books that you buy fully intending to read them right away, and then somehow they get shuffled to the bottom of the pile, put on the shelf and eventually almost forgotten in the vague shadowy half-life that bibliophiles relegate to the to-be-read pile. I don't know how long I have owned Divine Secrets, or how I managed to never see any part of the movie before now, but still completely enamored with the idea of Southern literature, I turned to Rebecca Well's novel to continue my journey. I am always fascinated by exploring how we, as individuals, deal with absorbing and living past the blows that we are dealt in this life. Divine Secrets is the in-depth exploration of just such a journey, of generational hurt and dysfunction, of friendship and love that are bigger and more powerful than the hurts that bind us, of hope and forgiveness that are waiting like "tears and diamonds" if we are brave enough to reach for them. It's a story of deep heartache and deeper passion, of hurt and anger and friends and family of growing and escaping and returning again to that which we know. It was wonderful.
"As Sidda joined Vivi staring out into the darkness where hundreds of sunflowers grew, she thought: I will never fully know my mother, anymore than I will ever know my father or Connor, or myself. I have been missing the point. The point is not knowing another person or learning to love another person. The point is simply this: how tender can we bear to be? What good manners can we show as we welcome ourselves and others into our hearts."
Wells is a Louisiana-born Seattle actress and playwright; her loopy saga of a 40-year-old player in Seattle's hot theater scene who must come to terms with her mama's past in steamy Thornton City, Louisiana, reads like a lengthy episode of Designing Women written under the influence of mint juleps and Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom!. The Ya-Yas are the wild circle of girls who swirl around the narrator Siddalee's mama, Vivi, whose vivid voice is "part Scarlett, part Katharine Hepburn, part Tallulah." The Ya-Yas broke the no-booze rule at the cotillion, skinny-dipped their way to jail in the town water tower, disrupted the Shirley Temple look-alike contest, and bonded for life because, as one says, "It's so much fun being a bad girl!"
Siddalee must repair her busted relationship with Vivi by reading a half-century's worth of letters and clippings contained in the Ya-Ya Sisterhood's packet of "Divine Secrets." It's a contrived premise, but the secrets are really fun to learn.
From Lee Smith's website:
Deft and assured . . . Smith's seemingly effortless work is a considerable feat . . . She is nothing less than masterly as she starts us out with ghosts and bawdry, then finishes with wild song." --The New York Times Book Review
Oral History (1983) remains one of Lee Smith's most ambitious works. She uses multiple points of view to tell the story of the Cantrell family, a story that spans the better part of a century. The Cantrells are a mountain family who inhabit the hills and environs of Hoot Owl Holler. Jennifer, a citified descendant of the Cantrells, arrives to record an "oral history" of her family for a college course, and all the old stories unscroll. But Oral History is finally the story of Dory, a lovely enigmatic woman who the many narrators attempt--through the telling of her story--to understand. In the end, however, Dory remains a mystery.
Smith says that's because "no matter who's telling the story, it is always the teller's tale, and you never finally know exactly the way it was. I guess I see some sort of central mystery at the center of the past, of any past, that you can't, no matter what a good attempt you make at understanding how it was, you never can quite get at it." On this basis, and in reference to Oral History, a reviewer for the Village Voice wrote that "you could make comparisons to Faulkner and Carson McCullers, to The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying, and Wuthering Heights."
TEASER TUESDAYS ask you to:
Grab your current read.
Let the book fall open to a random page.
Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
Please avoid spoilers!
My Current Read:
"Maman," Said Teensy, as though the word itself was an incantation. "There is no escape from our mother's. I don't even want to escape anymore.
~~Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood pg. 248
I am so all over southern lit right now. It's like I'm inhaling it. Gooooo-oood stuff.
From Publishers Weekly
Two gifted sisters draw on their talents to belatedly forge a bond and find their ways in life in Allen's easygoing debut novel. Thirty-four-year-old Claire Waverley manifests her talent in cooking; using edible flowers, Claire creates dishes that affect the eater in curious ways. But not all Waverley women embrace their gifts; some, including Claire's mother, escape the family's eccentric reputation by running away. She abandoned Claire and her sister when they were young. Consequently, Claire has remained close to home, unwilling to open up to new people or experiences. Claire's younger sister, Sydney, however, followed in their mother's footsteps 10 years ago and left for New York, and after a string of abusive, roustabout boyfriends, returns to Bascom, N.C., with her five-year-old daughter, Bay. As Sydney reacquaints herself with old friends and rivals, she discovers her own Waverley magic. Claire, in turn, begins to open up to her sister and in the process learns how to welcome other possibilities. Though Allen's prose can lean toward the pedestrian and the romance subplots feel perfunctory, the blending of horticultural folklore, the supernatural and a big dollop of Southern flavor should find favor with a wide swath of readers. (Aug.) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Reading books is a funny thing. For the true bibliophile when we read a book and love it, we take a piece of ownership of that book. It becomes like a well-loved friend, and when someone else doesn't love it in the same way we do, we feel a need to defend it...sometimes vehemently.
However, not every book can or will be loved by every person who reads it. In fact, it is to be expected that even the most well crafted and widely read work will have its critics. Responses are as unique and individual as the personality of each the reader.
Keeping this in mind, it stands to reason that I am going to dislike some of the books that you may love, or by the same token sing the praises of a book you found to be worthless dross. My dislike of a certain work, doesn't mean I think it has no merit whatsoever, there are simply certain types of books with which my personality is not compatible. Nor should you feel there is something wrong with you if you come across a book you cannot stand and everyone around you extols its many amazing features, while you are unable to find even one.
I ask you to remember this before you comment on my opinions. I appreciate book discussion and don't mind a bit if you disagree, or if you want to talk about why you disagree. Simply keep in mind, that a difference of opinion is merely that, and it's not a matter that I am willing to argue or defend. My opinion is merely the opinion of one reader in a sea of literature seeking to share my mind in this forum. One person's small voice in the blogosphere will have no lasting ramifications on the popularity or demise of a book, and that perspective should be kept in mind before you take any of my views to the mat.