Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Reading Circle Group Reads

I'm finally back. I'm going to be lazy and copy some posts I wrote about the group reads we picked for the Reading Circle. I am actually proud that I've read and posted about all three of them for 2009.

January: Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

SPOILER ALERT: There are some spoilers below for this book.

I enjoyed Cold Comfort Farm. It was a bit different from what I expected, but once I got into the rhythm of the story, I settled in. Flora was a wonderful character. I don't think I know anyone quite like her. She's so contradictory, in a way: you wonder at the start if she's terribly lazy, preferring to live with strange relatives rather than work and be independent, but then she goes to work on the people at Cold Comfort Farm, making all of their lives better.

I loved the transformations, and how Flora was able to pinpoint exactly what each of them needed. Amos should go round the country in "one o' they Ford vans," preaching. Seth should be a movie star. Elfine and Dick Hawk-Monitor belonged together. Reuben needed to run the farm himself. Etc., etc.

The names made me laugh, plus the little details, like Flora suggesting to Adam a little mop for "clettering" the dishes instead of using a twig. (The made-up words had me giggling, too.) The ending, with the wedding, and Flora *almost* getting her questions answered, then being interrupted, then Flora and Charles flying off in his plane, was perfect.

I saw the movie afterwards, and it was quite well done. The actress who played Flora was so likable, and the other characters were almost all how I pictured them. I especially enjoyed Stephen Fry as poor Mr. Mybug and Ian McKellan as Amos.

Here are some great quotes from the movie.

February: The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker

This novel was also different from what I expected; for some reason, I thought it would be a bit funny, or maybe quirky is a better word. The characters are a little quirky in that they are all quite unique, but Baker doesn't take advantage of their quirkiness, and that's a great thing.

There is a sort of mystery that you learn more about as you read. Actually, there are several mysteries, but this isn't written as a mystery novel. I thought Baker did a great job with the plot, showing us glimpses of the full story, just a bit at a time. The story is told by Truly (the "Little Giant" of the title), but sometimes Baker lets us in on something Truly doesn't know yet, and she was quite skillful in working the point of view in order to do this.

I loved the themes Baker explored, and the little places where the themes showed up surprised and delighted me. Even the packaging of the book (the cover, chapter headings, and page breaks, etc.) had fun with the themes.

I thought this was a very good first novel. There was one event that I didn't quite believe, but maybe it's just that I didn't see it coming. I don't want to say much more about this, just in case anyone reading this would like to give this book a try.

March: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

SPOILER ALERT: There are some vague spoilers for this book below.

I loved this book. My IRL book group met in March, and when they asked what I was reading, I was in the middle of this. Since I raved about it, we chose it for our next book. I think it will be a great one to discuss.

I loved how many of the chapters could work as a short story: the friendship with Scarlett, the trip through the ghoul-gate (yikes, that was scary!), dancing the Macabray, etc. Gaiman is so skilled with words; he chooses them so carefully, and there's never too little or too much. And I love his sense of humor. The poet, Nehemiah Trot, especially made me laugh: "Hola, young Bod! I hear that excitement is the master of the hour, that you fling yourself through these dominions like a comet across the firmament. What's the word, good Bod?"

What fun Gaiman must have had creating this book. I watched him read the Interlude: The Convocation chapter here, and he looks to be having a blast. See the twinkle in his eye?

He was recently on The Colbert Report. He linked to it in this journal entry. Brave man! He wrote more about the experience here.


Michelle said...

I read Cold Comfort Farm maybe 3 or 4 years ago...I love it! "Something Nasty in the Woodshed" was a favorite quote of mine. Don't you just wonder what it was? I think I'll have to revisit that one.

I'm reminded from your review that I meant to check out The Little Giant of Aberdeen, as well Not so sure about the scary ne though...don't take well to scary.

Thanks for the reviews, Caryl! Fun as always.

Caryl said...

Michelle, The Graveyard Book is a little bit scary, but I think you'd be fine with it. Gaiman writes so beautifully, and there are some lovely passages.

Did you see that Olive Kitteridge won the Pulitzer?