Friday, November 23, 2012

Strange Meeting by Susan Hill

I've read several good WWI books for my reading challenge this year (The Light Between Oceans, The Summer of Katya (WWI was a small part of each of these books), and Birdsong to name a few), but this ranks right up there near the top.

John Hilliard has been wounded and spends some time recuperating at home.  He finds that he can not bear to be at home where no one understands what it is like at the front.  When he returns to the front, he knows very few of the officers left in his unit; most have been killed or disabled in the fighting.  He must share space with a newly arrived officer, David Barton.  At first Hilliard is angry about this; he wants to be alone.  But Barton and Hilliard become very close friends, even though they are very different.  Hilliard is very proper and straight laced and has never had a close friend, while Barton is very friendly and outgoing and everyone likes him.  There are scenes of life in the trenches and of fighting and even of the boredom in between the action.  But mostly it is about the friendship between these two men.  I enjoyed the writing style very much; it was easy to read and lyrical without being overdone.  I rate it 4 out of 5.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon

I like books that start with a historical event, change something about it, and then build a story from it.  This book is based on the premise that Jewish refugees created a temporary safe haven in the Federal District of Sitka, Alaska, after the Holocaust and the collapse of Israel in 1948.  Now, 60 years later, the District will be reverting to Alaskan control.

Meyer Landsman is a homicide detective whose life is a mess. He and his partner, Berko Shemets, have quite a few unsolved cases they are trying to wrap up before Reversion.  And to make matters worse, a murder occurred in the fleabag hotel in which Landsman currently lives.  The story was interesting and enjoyable enough, but it was overwritten.  There is a review on Goodreads that puts it very succinctly:

"You know that fashion rule where, before you leave the house, you're supposed to quickly turn to a mirror and then take off the first accessory that catches your eye? Well, I feel like Chabon should have done that with his prose, which is sometimes so ridiculously overwritten and boastful that it ruined an otherwise pretty interesting story."  Edan Lepucki

Overall, I rated it 3 out of 5.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Quilting Retreat

This small pumpkin was part of the table decorations for our retreat.