“Telling Sonny”: A Review

When nineteen-year-old Faby attends the annual Vaudeville Show in her small town, she is hoping to escape to the drudgery of day-to-day life in the Gauthier household, where chores are watched over by the critical eye of Maman and Maman Aurore. The year is 1924, the setting small town Vermont, USA, and even though she’s been attending these fanfares since she was seven, Faby has no idea that this particular show is about to change her life.

“Telling Sonny” is the first published book of author Elizabeth Gauffreau. I’ve had the honour of meeting and communicating with Elizabeth through her blog, so was excited to read her work.

“Telling Sonny” reads like an historical memoir, the descriptive details effectively capture the ambiance of the era. As a reader, I felt myself swept up in the emotions of the story: fearing for Faby, wishing she’d assert more on her own behalf, frustrated by the helplessness of her situation.

Gauffreau’s gift is the ability to create an animated portrait of a bygone era and pair it with a timeless issue, culminating in a suspenseful and satisfying read.

I’d recommend “Telling Sonny” as a book club selection.

Well done, Liz!

“Prince of Tides” Timeless

th-3I picked up the audio version for free; downloaded it ages ago, thinking one day I’d give it a listen, but was hesitant.   I knew a movie had been made of Pat Conroy’s novel, but I hadn’t seen that either.

Then I visited South Carolina, and it’s peculiar landscape intrigued me, and when a friend mentioned that this was the setting for The Prince of Tides, I became interested, and remembered that book that had been sitting in my collection, yet the 22 + hours of listening time seemed daunting to me.

I can’t explain any of it, except to suggest that maybe books find us when we are ready – like teachers that have been waiting in the wings and emerge just at the right moment.

The Prince of Tides is an epic tale of family dysfunction:  the struggle to survive violence, madness, and an oppressive social standing.  I saw my own father in Henry Wingo, a shrimper and dreamer, whose failure to connect with his children creates long lasting chasms.  I shared Tom’s anger for a mother who insisted they pretend nothing happened, just as my own mother tried to cover up our family’s secrets.  And my heart wept for a sister driven to madness by the insanity of it all, just as my sister had been.

Conroy writing is lyrical – he is an artist, whose words, like intricate brush strokes, paint a masterpiece depicting the wonder of a South Carolinian landscape and the angst of the family who knew it as home.

Conroy himself attributes the novel’s success to Frank Muller’s narration, who reads the piece convincingly, as if he is the voice of Tom Wingo.

Prince of Tides is timeless, and merits a read, or even better, a listen.  You might just find an echo of yourself, as I did.

Morton’s “The Lake House” Masterful

th-3Kate Morton has mastered the art of writing a timeless novel:  a compelling setting,  well-developed characters, the weaving together of unforgettable storylines, and flawless description.  The Lake House is a delicious read, the kind of book you don’t want to put down.

The Lake House centers around a beautiful estate abandoned under tragic circumstances:  a mystery never resolved.  D.C. Sparrow is the young detective who stumbles across the property while on an imposed leave.  Unable to walk away from an unsolved puzzle, Sparrow delves into the estate’s past and encounters many answers to what has been haunting the old house and her own life.

Caroline Lee reads the audio version of this novel, her voice lending an authenticity to the tale.

The Lake House is a mystery, and a study of human nature, comparable to the classics.

Inspired by Goldfish

Occasionally, I come across a book that I deem worthy of sharing (well, worthy in my humble estimation).  Please understand that as most of my day is spent in the horizontal position, I typically have three to five books on the go at any time.  Most of what I read does not merit attention here, but Fishbowl by Bradley Somer, definitely deserves a mention.  fishbowl-us-cover

In a twist of perspective, Ian, the goldfish, is outside the bowl and plummeting from his perch on the top floor of an apartment building.  As he falls, he catches a glimpse of the lives that occupy this multi-storied box, and those stories become the focus of the novel.

Somer has created a cast of characters –  sometimes comical, sometimes poignant – who reflect a common struggle to live a meaningful life despite personal challenges.    When lives intersect, in unexpected ways, transformation occurs.

I purchased the audio version of this book from audible.com and found the narration by Peter Berkrot to be quite effective, although sleep inducing, at times.   In print form, I suspect I would have been compelled to finish the novel sooner.th2

What drew me to the story in the first place was a poem I had written some time ago, also featuring a goldfish’s point of view.  Intrigued to see that someone else had the same quirky inspiration – enough to turn it into a full length novel – I couldn’t resist a look.  I was not disappointed.

A copy of the poem, Goldfish Reflections, can be found here.

Tale of Kidnapping Inspirational

Amanda Lindhout, along with Sara Corbett, has written a riveting tale of her kidnapping and captivity during a trip to Somalia.

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I first became interested in Lindhout’s story when I caught a glimpse of an interview on a television program.  How, I wondered, does someone survive such a horrendous experience?

A House in the Sky, is both haunting in its candidness and incredibly inspirational.  It displays the depravity of human nature and the indefatigable strength of spirit.

The description in the book, along with Amanda’s willingness to self-reflect, makes for a very engaging read, and more than that, I have found a modern-day heroine from whom I have drawn strength for my own life’s struggles.

Amanda Lindhout’s organization is Global Enrichment Foundation.