Wednesday, March 7, 2018


Ann Patchett. bel canto. Harper, 2001.

Third selection for the Hawthorne Book Club. A hostage taking in an unnamed South American country. Music is the only common language. Roxane Coss, the opera singer. Gen, the translator. Mr. Hosokawa, the Japanese businessman, whose birthday was being celebrated. Messner, the Red Cross negotiator. And the terrorists--3 generals, Carmen and Beatriz, Ishmael and Cesar. 

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Ian Rankin. SET IN DARKNESS. Orion, 2000.

I still love Rebus. This older story is set around 1999 while the new parliament building is being constructed in Edinburgh. Big Ger has just been released from prison. Rebus is still drinking too much. The Farmer is cruising to retirement. 

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Sunday, February 25, 2018


Alan Cumming. NOT MY FATHER'S SON: A MEMOIR. Harper Collins, 2014.

A wonderful memoir, partly because: he's an attractive celebrity on PBS; he's a Scot; he was inspired by being featured on the British version of Who Do You Think You Are?; he gracefully shifts between childhood and present, between painful memories of abuse and resulting adult anxiety; and he has a wicked sense of humour. 

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Tuesday, February 13, 2018


Eileen Doyle Evans. DESCANTS. sp, Chilliwack, 2010.

Lovely collection of poems by a friend, Eileen. Local settings, familiar scenes, and universal experiences of love and loss. 

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Jen Sookfong Lee. The End Of East. Knopf, 2007.

The End of East is Vancouver. This novel was a good read to complete on BC's Family Day. The story of immigrants from China, three generations of a family, coming over, living in Vancouver. Moving from Chinatown to East Van. The grandfather a barber, the son an accountant. Subtexts involving the importance of sons and the challenges of mother-daughter relationships. 

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Peggy Blair. The Beggar's Opera.

Second selection for the Hawthorne Book Club. Peggy Blair is an Ottawa-based writer, former lawyer, who writes about crime and police inspector Ramirez in Havana, Cuba. I was interested in exploring this setting and the novel does not disappoint. Although it is told from the Canadian tourist perspective, we still get a lot about Cuba, the economy, the different laws, etc. And how so much of the crime comes from outside the island. A complicated plot centering around the death of a beggar boy, pedophilia, marital discord, and secrets, the twists kept me reading for both the surprises and the resolutions. Will definitely want to read the next installments. 

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Paulo Coelho. The Zahir. 

I wanted to read another Coelho for a wider impression. Brida was not a favourite, and The Alchemist was coming-of-age. The Zahir is the story of an older man trying to find his wife who left him mysteriously after ten years. Set in Paris, and travelling to Kazakhstan, the protagonist moves from lauded writer to the street people of Paris, to the deserts of Asia, looking for wisdom and the reason people he loves choose to leave him. Obsession. Creativity. Epilepsy. An interesting combination of the things we need to learn and the people who are sent to help us do so. 

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