Well we made it through a wonderful Thanksgiving gathering with family and everyone was healthy (we hope). A few COVID scares in the granddaughter's classrooms but, they have each received their first booster and remain healthy - thank goodness. For those of you who were able to be with family and friends - wasn't it special? It felt so good to be together, even the turkey seemed like one of my best (LOL). We celebrated my son's birthday which always falls around Thanksgiving.
This weeks - Reading
I finished (3) books over the past week - all worth reading IMO.
Who is Maud Dixon?; Alexandra Andrews
Little Brown & Co - 2021
(library download - 9 hours 11 min)
Maud Dixon is a pen name for an author whose first book was a success but, just who is this very private author?
Florence Darrow wants to be a novelist but, that dream seems unlikely especially after being let go from her job at a New York publishing house. Suddenly, Florence seems to get the opportunity of a lifetime. She is hired as a writing assistant to "the Maud Dixon"...A.K.A. Helen Wilcox. Florence sees this as a chance to learn from real talent and Maud/Helen is only a few years older than Florence as well.
When Florence learns that the two of them will be traveling to Morocco she goes along with the idea, after all she is single and this seems like a dream opportunity. From this point on the story that started out slow picks up speed and takes on a darker and sometimes even a comical turn. This was a wild read, both women were unlikeable characters but, I liked the unexpected twists and enjoyed the ride, even if I had to suspend belief from time to time. The audio read by Therese Plummer was excellent.
Rating - 4/5 stars
These Precious Days; Ann Patchett
Harper and Harper Audio - 11/2021
Ann Patchett is an author I automatically read. This recent release is a series of personal essays made me feel like the author was a close friend by the time I fished the final offering.
My favorite essays in the collection were: Three Fathers: this was a touching story ~ her father who wanted her to be a dental hygienist and a step father who supported her writing aspirations. I also enjoyed: How Knitting Saved My Life, Twice - A story about how this knitting helped her to kick a smoking habit as it's pretty hard to knit and smoke at the same time. (Knitting - was also key to my own daughter quitting smoking about 10 years ago). My Year of No Shopping was another essay that resonated with me because I tried this and failed miserably after a month. Don't we all have much too much stuff and don't we buy things that we already know we have but sometimes can't find? There is also an essay about moving from Montana to MA for a writing fellowship at Ratcliffe. In There Are No Children Here - we learn about her decision to remain childless. For me the most powerful essay is the title essay: These Precious Days. In this story she and her husband Karl invite Tom Hank's publicist, Sooki, into their home just pre-COVID as she was undergoing pancreatic cancer treatments in TN. This story tells so much about the type of person the author is.
I really enjoyed this collection. One or two of the essays felt slightly familiar to me like I may have read them before - perhaps in magazine. The author comes across as a caring partner and friend, the kind of individual that finds the good in all people and, don't we all know we need more people like this around? The take away for me after finishing this collection was: make sure you make good use of the time we have left as we never know what time we have left.
I had both the audio and eGalley. The audio is read by the author and although it was fine, I switched to the eGalley which, for me, was preferable.
Rating - 4.5/5 stars
The eGalley was provided to me free of charge by Harper Publishing and Edelweiss and the audio was downloaded from by public library system.
Trust; Domenico Starnone
Europa Editions - 3.5/5
I enjoyed (2) previous books by this author: Ties (2017) and Trick (2018) so I was so looking forward to the latest release. Pietro Vella and Teresa Quadraro are a couple who met when he was a teacher and she a former student. They were in one of those love/hate relationships; one day they are hot for one another, then they fight, they break up and they get together again. One day to help solidify their commitment to one another they agree to share a deep, dark secret about themselves that neither has shared with anyone else. This turns out to be a huge mistake since as soon as they do this they break up for a final time.
Each moves on in life - Pietro marries Nadia and fathers a daughter, Emma. He feels dissatisfied in his marriage and in his career as a literature teacher while Teresa becomes a success as a scientist and professor at prestigious MIT. Despite the time that has passed Pietro remains haunted by the secret he confessed years earlier but, is it really the secret that leaves him distressed? Surprisingly, Teresa holds a kind of power over Pietro despite the fact that their paths have only crossed a few times in decades.
The story is divided into three parts - Pietro's story is the most telling, we also hear from his adult daughter Emma and finally Teresa's voice. The story was expertly translated from Italian by Jhumpa Lahiri and although I enjoyed this one, I was left wanting just a bit more.
The eGalley was provided to me by Edelweiss and Europa Books at no cost in exchange for my unbiased review.
Rating - 3.5/5 stars