Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Winner Is....

Bad Blood by Lorna Sage - by a whisker from the Edith Wharton.

I'm thinking we will reconvene here on the 31st May for posting and discussion, yes? Let me know if I've miscalculated, and happy reading in the meantime!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Time To Choose Again!

Family Life (Difficult Children)

I adore putting book lists together, and it’s always a treat to pick for the Slaves. I thought we might go for a theme this time, so here are some difficult relationships between children and their carers (synopses from the back covers):

A High Wind in Jamaica – Richard Hughes

Published to great acclaim in 1929, this classic and bestselling tale did away with sentimental Victorian visions of childhood and paved the way for later works such as Golding’s Lord of the Flies. Set against a tropical landscape and the ever-present sea, A High Wind in Jamaica tells the story of a family of English children who, on being sent back to England from Jamaica by their parents, fall into the hands of pirates. As this voyage of innocence continues, the events which unfold begin to take on a savagely detached and almost haunting quality.

Bad Blood – Lorna Sage

Winner of Whitbread Prize for biography. ‘In one of the most extraordinary memoirs of recent years, Lorna Sage brings alive her girlhood in post-war provincial Britain. From memories of her family and the wounds they inflict upon one another, she tells a tale of thwarted love, failed religion and the salvation she found in books.’ ‘Lorna Sage may be the proof we need that literature really can make something happen…Bad Blood tells a story about books as passports out of a childhood hell.’ Marina Warner, Independent.

The Children – Edith Wharton

On a cruise ship between Algiers and Venice, Martin Boyne, a bachelor in his forties, befriends a band of unruly, precocious children, kept together as a ‘family’ by the efforts of the eldest, Judith. The seven Wheater siblings, grown weary of being shuttled between mother and father, are eager for their parents’ latest reconciliation to last. Outraged at the plight of the ‘homeless’ and fought-over children, Boyne finds himself increasingly drawn to their enchanting, improper and liberating ways. Among the colourful cast of characters are the Wheater adults, who play out their own comedy of marital errors; the flamboyant Marchioness of Wrench; and the vivacious fifteen-year-old Judith Wheater who captures Martin’s heart. With deft humour, Wharton portrays a world of intrigues and infidelities, skewering the manners and mores of Americans abroad.

Fierce Attachments – Vivien Gornick

In this gripping memoir, Vivan Gornick tells the story of her lifelong battle with her mother for independence. Born and raised in the Bronx, the daughter of Jewish immigrants, she grows up in a household dominated by her mercurial mother. Next door lives Nellie, a beautiful red-haired Gentile, whose disturbing, sensual presence provides a powerful antidote to the sexual repression which underpins her mother’s romantic myth-making. These women with their opposing models of ‘femininity’ continue, well into adulthood, to shape Vivian Gornick’s struggle to define herself fin love and in work. Now in her middle years, she walks with her aged mother through the streets of New York, talking, arguing and remembering the past. Each is a wonderful raconteur, and as they tell and retell stories, they bring to life the dramas, characters and atmosphere of the tenement block. But what emerges from these evocations is yet another story – Vivian Gornick’s unflinchingly honest account of an attachment that remains as fiercely loving and difficult today as it has been throughout her life.

The Ten-Year Nap – Meg Wolitzer

For a group of four New York friends, the past ten years have been defined by marriage and motherhood. Educated to believe that they and their generation would conquer the world, they nonetheless left high-powered jobs to stay at home with their babies. What was intended as a temporary time-out has turned into a decade. Now at forty, with their kids growing up, Amy, Jill, Roberta and Karen wake up to a future that is not what they intended. Illicit affairs, money problems, issues with children and husbands all rear their heads, as the friends wonder if it’s time for a change. ‘Very entertaining. The tartly funny Wolitzer is a miniaturist who can nail a contemporary type, scene or artefact with deadeye accuracy.’ Scotland on Sunday.

I’ll call in the votes on Saturday 10th April!