Moonglow – Michael Chabon

Moonglow - Michael ChabonChabon has written many imaginative novels: The Yiddish Policeman’s Union, Telegraph Avenue, etc. Moonglow is a fictionalized memoir, ostensibly based on his grandfather’s life. The writing is superb: his grandfather’s experiences in WWII and a lifelong interest in rocketry; a poignant story of his grandmother’s mental illness. A powerful aspect of the story telling is the consequences of keeping secrets and telling lies. This is an excellent read; thanks Renee, for this recommendation.

Into The Water – Paula Hawkins

Into The Water - Paula HawkinsThe huge success of The Girl On The Train meant high expectations for Hawkins’ next book, and Into The Water delivers, in my opinion, another well written mystery/thriller. The setting is Northern England, a town with a drowning pool where too many women have drowned over many centuries, usually under mysterious circumstances. Many standard issues are present: lies and deceit and memories that are selective. The key relationship is between two estranged sisters – how did this estrangement begin and how did it evolve? The outcome, aka big reveal, is tantalizing and completely surprising. A thoroughly enjoyable read.

The Past – Tessa Hadley

The Past Tessa HadleyThis is a perfect introspective story of family relationships in the present and past. There are secrets, things that are observed but not spoken of. The point of view of the children is most extraordinary – what they observe and what they keep secret. This is a very English story with some surprises – overall a very fine read.

A Week In December by Sebastian Faulks

A Week In December by Sebastian FaulksFaulks is a wonderful writer (Birdsong, On Green Dolphin Street) and his latest book is a worthwhile addition. The premise is simple: a diverse group of people are selected to attend a London party, so the book details the back stories. What is fascinating is the diversity: a Polish footballer playing for a new London team; a pot-head son of someone who is receiving an OBE and who needs a crash course in contemporary literature; a greedy hedge-fund manager (so lots about shady banking), and the list goes on – there is a related story of a woman Underground driver, a literate lawyer, and importantly a radicalized British-Muslim young man so a home-grown terrorist attack is planned. There is a wonderful rant about the decline of teaching in schools and so much more. Such rich story-telling – highly recommended.

The Mountains Can Wait by Sarah Leipciger

The Mountains Can Wait by Sarah LeipcigerThere are two fine elements in this book. First, it is a BC book: Prince George, tree planting, Vancouver Island. The description of the physical environment is excellent. And second, this is a guy book, with a well-described look at male relationships, especially a father-son relationship with communication issues at its core. Overall, a very good read.

His Whole Life by Elizabeth Hay

His Whole Life Elizabeth HayThis is a fabulous book, a quiet story told with perfect prose. An example: “Jim overheard and thought that he respected him enough to believe he meant what he said, and if he meant what he said, then how could he respect him?”. An insightful examination of relationships between: husband and wife, children and parents, best friends and siblings. Summers at an Ontario Lake alternate with the frenzy of NY; at its heart: this story is about the consequences of secrets and shame.