by Julie HaleMarch 2003
Paperback picks for reading groups
THE POWER OF A MEMORY
This national bestseller and Booker Prize nominee opens in 1935 in England, where the members of the well-to-do Tallis family theatrical, 13-year-old Briony; Cecilia, her older, Cambridge-educated sister, and their sensitive, migraine-wracked mother are preparing for the homecoming of son Leon, a successful bank clerk. When Briony observes a flirtation between Cecilia and Cambridge student Robbie Turner, who also happens to be the son of the family's cleaning lady, her writer's imagination gets the best of her, and she later accuses Robbie of a terrible crime a charge that changes his life forever. Shifting perspectives and spanning decades, the novel reminiscent, at times, of the work of Virginia Woolf is a classic portrait of war-torn Europe that examines the writing process, the power of memory and the human capacity to forgive.
CLASSIC STORIES FROM RICHARD FORD
A master of contemporary fiction returns with a first-rate collection of short stories. This is classic Richard Ford, in miniature. In narratives that reflect on our own lives, he explores the complexities of the human heart and the meaning of marriage. Infidelity is a central theme here, and stories like "Reunion" and "Abyss" reveal the disillusionment that can occur once the excitement of an affair begins to fade. "Dominion," a penetrating look at a woman on the verge of divorce, disturbs even as it illuminates. The author's style here is subtle, his insights remarkable. Melancholy, richly detailed and true, this expert selection of stories is sure to satisfy Ford fans until his next novel.
STIRRING, INVENTIVE SEQUEL FROM DUFRESNE
Dufresne's second novel is a quirky, fun-filled romp through the bayous of Louisiana. It's also a revved-up, modernized version of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Grisham Loudermilk is set to marry Ariane Thevenot, yet neither is quite ready to submit to the bonds of matrimony. He's drawn to the independent Miranda Ferry, while she finds herself attracted to Grisham's cousin, Adlai. And that's only part of the plot. Ariane's mother is pursued by a priest. Adlai's mother dies, and a pair of Siamese twins named Tous-les-Deux have set their sights on Boudou, the 11-year-old boy who stands at the center of the novel. Blending old-fashioned romance with contemporary humor, this sequel to Louisiana Power and Light is a wonderfully innovative narrative.