Monday, March 29, 2010

Too Much Money by Dominick Dunne

Entertaining book about high NYC society. The late Dunne (he passed away just after finishing this book) really captures the insiders view of society life perfectly, mostly because he was ONE OF THEM. So, the world he is writing about was really his own world. Silly in parts and the ending was too vague for me, mostly I enjoyed this romp through the lives of people I will never be allowed (or, for that matter, want to) socialize with.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Noah's Compass by Anne Tyler

Another methodical, character-driven book by the Queen of Family-in-Crisis Novels, Anne Tyler. When I say that Tyler is the Queen of these types of books, it’s a compliment, not an insult. Just because she writes mostly about issues with families doesn’t mean she’s not one of the strongest writers still writing today in America. And this novel proves she is as good as ever! Her main character here, Liam, is a recently laid-off (AKA early retirement) school teacher who, according to him, is too young to retire but too old to be hired by another school. After losing his job, he gives up his larger home for a smaller apartment, and on his first night in the new place, he is attacked by an intruder. Sadly, after he wakes up in the hospital the next morning, he has NO memory of the attack. The last thing he remembers is going to bed. From that moment on, Tyler weaves Liam into a complex, yet simple, man who is trying to get his life, and memory, in order. A slow-moving, yet fascinating story unfolds…Liam’s story. And, Tyler, as usual, tells it with thoughtfulness and care.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova

Three stories set in the present, the recent past and the late 1870’s intertwine in this novel by Elizabeth Kostova which captures the conflict between life and art. Obsession and its consequences form its core.

Robert Oliver, an artist, is sent to a mental health facility after attacking a painting in the National Gallery with a knife. Robert remains silent, spends hours pouring over old letters in French and draws sketch after sketch of a dark-haired women dressed in 19th centruy clothes. Andrew Marlow, his psychiatrist and a painter himself, becomes very involved, interviews both the former wife and lover of the painter, and travels to Paris, North Carolina and New York to solve the puzzle of his patient.

This is a long novel but I did not tire of the characters and long descriptive passages. The sections on painting techniques and the artists in France during the Impressionistic movement were fascinating. There are several tender love stories to capture the reader’s interest and move the novel to a satisfying conclusion.