104 in 52 …continued
30. When Tito Loved Clara – Jon Michaud. An insight into the world of Dominicans who have immigrated to New York for the money and opportunities but want to hold on to their traditions and lifestyle. I know nothing about the Dominican community in New York and this was an easy way in to another culture. Some of the early scenes were very graphic and heart-wrenching but as we knew Clara had made it through her childhood and found a way out of the Dominican neighbourhood where she grew up it softened the blow a little. Tito ended up seeming not only sad but a bit creepy in the end, and I was not sure if there was a possibility he was a murderer as well.
31. A Tale for the Time Being – Ruth Ozeki. Ruth finds a diary washed ashore on Canada’s West Coast. It is written by Naoko, a Japanese teenager, who may or may not have committed suicide or been killed in the 2011 Tsunami. A Tale for the Time Being alternates between Naoko’s story and Ruth’s discovery and consequential uncovering of information about Naoko’s family. Ruth is of Japanese descent and can read and translate the Japanese Kanji script used occasionally and the Japanese phrases used in the diary. She also becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to Naoko and hoping she can help her. I kept thinking I had had enough of this book but then found myself going back to it again as I wondered what happened to the characters. Although not gripping this book had enough interest to keep me going to the end. I was shocked at the extent of the bullying described in the Japanese school and hope this was not based on fact – unfortunately I suspect it was. (Oh dear – just googled that and see that they were based on real cases.)
32. The Tournament – Matthew Reilly. I am not normally a Matthew Reilly fan but a customer raved about this book so I tried it as an audio book for my daily commute. In 1546 Queen Elizabeth I visits Constantinople with her tutor to watch a chess tournament and the two end up embroiled in a murder mystery. There has obviously been plenty of research made in to the era and it was great to have a story where many of the major rulers and personalities from the decade/century make an appearance.
33.The Dalai Lama’s Cat – David Michie. As a kitten HHC (His Holiness’s Cat) is rescued from certain death by the Dalai Lama and taken to his home to be cared for by his staff. As he tells his story each chapter is a lesson in Buddhist philosophy as learned by the cat from his experiences in the Dalai Lama’s household. A novel and amusing way to get a basic understanding of Buddhist teachings and a lovely little story as well.
34. Lost Lake – Sarah Addison Allen. The book opens with the enchanting love story of Eby and George and their idyllic honeymoon in Europe which continued for many months as the couple avoided returning to their manipulating families. Then we meet Kate who is recovering from the death of her husband and has been in a fog of grief for 12 months. In this time her mother-in-law has taken charge of her life and the life of her daughter Devin. As she emerges into the world again Kate and Devin find a 20 year-old postcard from Eby, Kate’s great aunt, showing her holiday camp at Lost Lake and inviting her to return. On a whim, Kate and Devin drive the 4 hours to the lake. Aunt Eby is about to sell Lost Lake as her husband George has passed away and she wants to go back to Europe and re-live their honeymoon. Lost Lake has attracted many loners and misfits over the years and these regulars return for what may turn out to be the last summer by the lake. There are many mystical references and incidences in this story but not so many as to make it unbelievable to a pragmatist such as myself. An enjoyable story to get lost in.
35. Wonder Women : sex, power and the quest for perfection – Debora Spar. Debora Spar looks at the feminist movement and where we are now in regard to power and equality. Despite the many gains women have made in the workplace and society in general there have also been some disturbing set-backs. Women as a group are still spending far more time doing household chores and child rearing than men. Along with the increased working hours from their full-time careers, usually doing the bulk of the work in the home and child-rearing areas, women have now been conned (my word not Debora’s) into undertaking far more grooming and beauty therapy as they also try to deny the effect of age on their appearances, and the existence of hair on their bodies! Women’s expectations on themselves,(or is it society’s?)is undermining all the work feminism has done to improve our position in society. Thought provoking.