A first novel from British-Japanese Itami takes place in Japan and was shortlisted for the 2022 Costa Book Awards in the debut category. Mizuki is a housewife with 2 young children. From the outside looking in, she has an ideal life: house, husband, and children. Yet she feels neglected and unfulfilled. When she meets a young, attractive man, Kiyoshi, she explores a different path and wonders if life can be better making a different choice. I enjoyed the insights of Japanese daily life and culture from a native. Easily readable (I both read and listened/audio), Fault Lines is entertaining and relatable.
Isabel Allende’s latest novel is in effect a letter from Violeta to her grandson Camilo. It is a beautifully written account of her life from birth to death. Born in 1920, she lived a century, dying in 2020, and actively pursued the cause of human rights, especially for abused women. The setting is never mentioned specifically by Violeta, except to place it in South America. As the author herself grew up in Chile, moving there from Peru at age 2, it is safe to assume that the country where the story takes place is Chile. Violeta is a historical novel with moments of triumph and great loss; I enjoyed it very much.
I am enjoying this read by Kerri Maher; it is the fictional story of how Sylvia Beach established her bookstore Shakespeare and Company in Paris. Under the guise of the bookstore, Sylvia published James Joyce’s novel Ulysses; it was outlawed in the United States, due to immorality laws at that time (1920). The novel reads like a Who’s who of famous authors; besides Joyce, Beach meets Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Andre Gide, Valery Laubaud, Gertrude Stein and many more. It moves slowly, but is well worth the time and effort.
As we think about famous love poems for Valentine’s Day, a few poets come to mind. Anne Sexton’s love poems has some of my favorite lines.
In Sexton’s ‘For My Lover, Returning To His Wife,’
I recall this:
“Fireworks in the dull middle of February
and as real as a cast-iron pot.
Let’s face it, I have been momentary…. She is solid.
As for me, I am a watercolor.
I wash off.”
And another from Sexton: “I like you. Your eyes are full of language.” (from a letter she wrote in 1964). As you search for the right words to say to the ones you love, check out a book of love poems for inspiration.
Later this month, the popular Big Nate character from the Lincoln Peirce books will make his debut on television. Paramount will begin showing Big Nate episodes on February 17th. Appealing to the Wimpy Kid and Bart Simpson crowd, Big Nate is an appealing character for a wide audience. Created with a team from Nickelodeon, there will also be original music (22 songs). Check out some of the Big Nate books to get ready for the new series.