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Thread: March Book Thread

  1. #1

    March Book Thread

    Welcome to the mid-month edition of the tardy March Book Thread! I realize that there have been a couple recent additions to the Feb. thead - but having a dedicated one makes searching easier in the future.

    After a series of less than stellar library picks, I happened upon a gem of a first novel by an author that has published many short stories and won numerous awards. I am now on the hunt for her prior work.

    This was a wonderful, lovely, sad, uplifting story of two woman is set in a time that we today can have no concept of just how restricted life could be for a female. By the end, I wasn't sure which character I felt more sorry for as they both kept secrets that could have set them free.

    Below is the Amazon review. It's a long review - but I tried to edit a shorter one and wasn't happy with it.

    The Butterfly Cabinet by Bernie McGill

    Vivid, mysterious and unforgettable, The Butterfly Cabinet is Bernie McGill’s engrossing portrayal of the dark history that intertwines two lives. Inspired by a true story of the death of the daughter of an aristocratic Irish family at the end of the nineteenth century, McGill powerfully tells this tale of two women whose lives will become upended by a newly told secret.
    The events begin when Maddie McGlade, a former nanny now in her nineties, receives a letter from the last of her charges and realizes that the time has come to unburden herself of a secret she has kept for over seventy years: what really happened on the last day in the life of Charlotte Ormond, the four-year-old only daughter of the big house where Maddie was employed as a young woman. It is to Charlotte’s would-be niece, Anna—pregnant with her first—that Maddie will tell her story as she nears the end of her life in a lonely nursing home in Northern Ireland.
    The book unfolds in chapters that alternate between Maddie’s story and the prison diaries of Charlotte’s mother, Harriet, who had been held responsible for her daughter’s death. As Maddie confesses the truth to Anna, she unravels the Ormonds’ complex family history, and also details her own life, marked by poverty, fear, sacrifice and lies. In stark contrast to Maddie is the misunderstood, haughty and yet surprisingly lyrical voice of Harriet’s prison diaries, which Maddie has kept hidden for decades. Motherhood came no more easily to Harriet than did her role as mistress of a far-flung Irish estate. Proud and uncompromising, she is passionate about riding horses and collecting butterflies to store in her prized cabinet. When her only daughter, Charlotte, dies, allegedly as the result of Harriet’s punitive actions, the community is quick to condemn her and send her to prison for the killing. Unwilling to stoop to defend herself and too absorbed in her own world of strict rules and repressed desires, she accepts the cruel destiny that is beyond her control even as, paradoxically, it sets her free.
    The result of this unusual duet is a haunting novel full of frightening silences and sorrowful absences that build toward the unexpected, chilling truth.
    "I can read and write if that's what you mean. I'm not thick or anything just don't ask me where the commas go."
    Incendiary by Chris Cleave

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Southern New Jersey
    That sounds good but rather dark. I'm just now getting around to reading The Forgotten Garden, and am enjoying it but feeling that the author tried to squeeze an awful lot into one book. Also, as often happens with this kind of structure, I find myself having to remember that this is Nell speaking, and not Cassandra, or vice versa, because there are so many similarities in their lives and voices.

    After this I'm going to try another Georgette Heyer. I have a feeling that those need to be spaced a bit, like very rich bonbons.
    Chacun à son goût!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2001
    Las Vegas, NV, USA
    I have just finished listening to "Prisoner of Birth" by Jeffery Archer.
    I have my recorder in the kitchen and listen while I am cooking. This book was so interesting that I cleaned out my pantry and baked two batches of cookies I hadn't intended to!
    I have always liked Archer's books. I won't give away the plot but it has a new twist.

  4. #4
    I just finished Annabel by Kathleen Winter. It was so, so, so good.

    Quick synopsis:
    In 1968, into the devastating, spare atmosphere of the remote coastal town of Labrador, Canada, a child is born: a baby who appears to be neither fully boy nor fully girl, but both at once. Only three people are privy to the secret—the baby’s parents, Jacinta and Treadway, and a trusted neighbor and midwife, Thomasina. Though Treadway makes the difficult decision to raise the child as a boy named Wayne, the women continue to quietly nurture the boy’s female side. And as Wayne grows into adulthood within the hyper-masculine hunting society of his father, his shadow-self, a girl he thinks of as “Annabel,” is never entirely extinguished.

    The thing I think I loved the most about it was it was so relatable. It was, at it's heart, a tale of a kid growing up in a town a little too small and needing to find their place in the world. Of course the medical side of it complicates things, but I really felt that it was secondary to the story.

    I've just started At Home by Bill Bryson. I am such a history nerd, so it's right up my alley. He jumps around a bit from time period to time period, but so far I really like it. I'm glad too, since it was my pick for book club and I'm always terrified I'll pick something awful.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Northern VA
    Our March book club selection is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I read it in a couple of days and absolutely loved it. So peaceful and spiritual. One reviewer compared it to the style of Kahlil Gibran, which I can see. I will be reading this book again, whenever I need encouragement on whatever path I am on.

    Needing to read more of Coelho's philosophy, I moved next to The Pilgrimage, which is based on his journey on the pilgrimage path of San Tiago in Spain. The story describes mystical practices of a branch of Christianity and his enlightenment. I thought it was fascinating.

    Next in my Kindle archives is Daniel Pink's Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. I've read about this book in other places, so I was curious about the theories of the role of internal forces in why we do what we do.
    Positive emotion trumps negative emotion every time. - Inception

  6. #6
    Wicked Bugs by Amy Stewart

    While I read this primarily for info to help w/ some projects for my work w/ the Extension Office - it’s a pretty captivating little book for anyone to delve into. Amy is a great garden writer w/ several wonderful books out there that are all winners IMHO. Here she uncovers and writes up short descriptions of over 100 of the worst bugs on the planet. She shares how they infest, infect and create havoc for both humans and animals. I was constantly reading snippets out to DH – who is now reading the entire thing. Truly wicked reading!

    The Most Dangerous Thing by Laura Lipman

    In the 1970’s, a group of 5 kids meet, play and grow up together until an event sends them on their separate paths into adulthood. Years later, the death of one of them brings them all together where the secret they have all held is revealed. Told in alternating chapters from the viewpoints of each child and their parents, it’s discovered that not only the kids were keeping secrets.

    This was interesting in that while mostly written in the third person – it also, at times, felt as if it was also first person. Hard for me to describe, but it held my interest and was a decent read. Since I also grew up in the 70’s it was funny to remember many of the references.

    These is My Words (The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881 – 1901, Arizona Territories) by Nancy E. Turner

    This has been on my to be read list for years. Written in diary form, it is a mostly fictional novel of young Agnes and the trials and tribulations of homesteading in the Indian Territories in the late century. Lots of loss, love and lively action throughout the tale.

    The author did have an ancestor by that name who did live in that time and place. She also depicted names, places and dates according to historical records. I like reading this type of genre and found this book enjoyable.
    "I can read and write if that's what you mean. I'm not thick or anything just don't ask me where the commas go."
    Incendiary by Chris Cleave

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Dadeville, AL
    I just finished Tuesday's Child, by Dale Meyer, on my kindle. It's a romantic suspense novel about a young woman with uncontrolled psychic abilities, and the cop who falls in love with her. It sounds hokey, but it's really not. I enjoyed it a lot! (And it was free when I got it!!!)
    I'm a WYSIWYG person -- no subterfuge here!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Kennett Square, PA

    Smile Those who save us

    Just finished reading those who save us by Jenna Blum and really enjoyed it.

    Book Description
    Publication Date: May 2, 2005
    For fifty years, Anna Schlemmer has refused to talk about her life in Germany during World War II. Her daughter, Trudy, was only three when she and her mother were liberated by an American soldier and went to live with him in Minnesota. Trudy's sole evidence of the past is an old photograph: a family portrait showing Anna, Trudy, and a Nazi officer, the Obersturmfuhrer of Buchenwald.

    Driven by the guilt of her heritage, Trudy, now a professor of German history, begins investigating the past and finally unearths the dramatic and heartbreaking truth of her mother's life.

    Combining a passionate, doomed love story, a vivid evocation of life during the war, and a poignant mother/daughter drama, Those Who Save Us is a profound exploration of what we endure to survive and the legacy of shame.

    Show More

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Valley Forge, PA
    Quote Originally Posted by madpots View Post
    I have just finished listening to "Prisoner of Birth" by Jeffery Archer.
    I have my recorder in the kitchen and listen while I am cooking. This book was so interesting that I cleaned out my pantry and baked two batches of cookies I hadn't intended to!
    I have always liked Archer's books. I won't give away the plot but it has a new twist.
    I received the color Nook two Christmas's ago because family knew DH always got upset with all the paperbacks I put in suitcase to read while I traveled with him. It didn't help when I brought them back with me. (weight of luggage while flying) And have been traveling a lot the past 6 months celebrating 50th anniversary.

    I still have many downloaded books which I haven't started, but am glad to read your review of this book. Having read many of his in the past, and after reading your review, just "bought" the book.

    I have eclectic interests regarding authors and stories, (horror/vampire stuff are not my thing) but your review intrigued me. Just recently "stalled" on what I wanted to read, but Archer has always been good.

    Thanks for the reminder of this one.

    Have recently read most of the Michael Palmer novels which have medical themes and The Last of the Breed by the late Louis L'Amour has been read many times. Totally different from all his previous novels in that it is a "spy/adventure" story of modern day.

    I read for pure entertainment depending on mood. Hope you get a chance to read some of the ones I suggested.

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