Monthly Archives: March 2015

The List of My Desires – Grégoire Delacourt

The List of My Desires

The List of My Desires – Grégoire Delacourt

I bought this book simply for the buttons on the cover! I’ve been learning French, so should have attempted to read it in French, but I read a translation.

Here is the blurb …

Money can buy you freedom. But what about happiness?

When Jocelyne looks at herself in the mirror, she sees a middle-aged, married woman who runs a dressmaking shop in a small provincial French town and lives a very ordinary existence. But what happened to all those dreams she had when she was 17?

Then she wins millions on the lottery and has the chance to change her life for ever. So why does she find herself reluctant to accept the money? To help her decide what to do, she begins to compile a list of her heart’s desires, never suspecting for one moment that the decision might be taken out of her hands …

This is a light, easy and fun read (with the occasional serious moment). I don’t have a lot to say about it – I enjoyed it and it was a nice read after some hard slogs.

More reviews …

http://www.myfrenchlife.org/2014/02/13/french-bestseller-list-desires-delacourt/

http://www.cornflowerbooks.co.uk/2013/06/book-of-the-day-the-list-of-my-desires.html

 

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Some Luck – Jane Smiley

Some Luck - Jane Smiley

Some Luck – Jane Smiley

This was a Christmas present – I liked A Thousand Acres, so I was keen to read this one.

Here is the blurb …

On their farm in Denby, Iowa, Rosanna and Walter Langdon abide by time-honored values that they pass on to their five wildly different yet equally remarkable children: Frank, the brilliant, stubborn first-born; Joe, whose love of animals makes him the natural heir to his family’s land; Lillian, an angelic child who enters a fairy-tale marriage with a man only she will fully know; Henry, the bookworm who’s not afraid to be different; and Claire, who earns the highest place in her father’s heart. Moving from post-World War I America through the early 1950s, Some Luck gives us an intimate look at this family’s triumphs and tragedies, zooming in on the realities of farm life, while casting-as the children grow up and scatter to New York, California, and everywhere in between-a panoramic eye on the monumental changes that marked the first half of the twentieth century. Rich with humor and wisdom, twists and surprises, Some Luck takes us through deeply emotional cycles of births and deaths, passions, and betrayals, displaying Smiley’s dazzling virtuosity, compassion, and understanding of human nature and the nature of history, never discounting the role of fate and chance. This potent conjuring of many lives across generations is a stunning tour de force.

I enjoyed this and will definitely read the next installment. I really enjoy what is probably best described as domestic fiction – the nitty-gritty of everyday lives. Although the focus of this novel is narrow – one family – what they experience and endure covers an enormous amount of early 20th century American life – the changes to farming practice, the droughts, the depression (this bit was fascinating because they had a farm and could fed themselves they really didn’t need much money), World War 2 and the Cold War. The writing is beautiful – the settings evocative and the characters all brilliantly portrayed and remarkably different.

More reviews …

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/nov/05/some-luck-jane-smiley-review-first-volume-last-hundred-years-trilogy

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/09/books/review/jane-smiley-some-luck-review.html?_r=0

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Mr Wigg – Inga Simpson

Mr Wigg - Inga Simpson

Mr Wigg – Inga Simpson

This novel was recommended to me by someone at my Victorian book group – the same person recommended Olive Kitteridge. As I really enjoyed Olive Kitteridge, I was keen to read this one.

Here is the blurb …

A novel that celebrates the small things in life by a fresh Australian voice.
It’s the summer of 1971, not far from the stone-fruit capital of New South Wales, where Mr Wigg lives on what is left of his family farm. Mrs Wigg has been gone a few years now and he thinks about her every day. He misses his daughter, too, and wonders when he’ll see her again.
He spends his time working in the orchard, cooking and preserving his produce and, when it’s on, watching the cricket. It’s a full life. Things are changing though, with Australia and England playing a one-day match, and his new neighbours planting grapes for wine. His son is on at him to move into town but Mr Wigg has his fruit trees and his chooks to look after. His grandchildren visit often: to cook, eat and hear his stories. And there’s a special project he has to finish …
It’s a lot of work for an old man with shaking hands, but he’ll give it a go, as he always has.

This is a charming novel – quirky and simple. It is an easy read – not a lot happens. Mr Wigg works in his orchard (he tells himself and his grand children a beautiful story about an orchard), he bakes with his grandchildren, helps his neighbours and works on his sculpture. Along the way you learn that things haven’t always been lovely – there was the year when everything went wrong. His son has had to move and Mr Wigg seems distant/estranged from his daughter. The reasons for this are revealed slowly and I am sure it is a tale common to many farming families. However, this novel is mostly about taking each day as it comes and taking pleasure in the simple things – fresh peaches, homemade icecream, spending time with your grandchildren and working on something creative.

Another review …

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/entertainment/arts/inga-simpson-opens-a-window-on-the-past-in-evocative-work-mr-wigg/story-fniv7r7y-1226673212160

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