Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Historical Fiction, Multicultural Books, Memoirs

I completed the reading of Wench two days ago. It had a very good storyline; the writer's choice of words will move the reader emotionally. This was the writer's debut novel. I look forward to reading more of her writing.

I am giving books a break today to watch The Tudors on DVD. All the books on Queen Anne Boleyn and her sister, and Queen Jane Seymour that I read recently, compelled me to rent movies on Henry V111 to learn more about this period of history.

On a very different note, the Book Industry Association of Jamaica reportedly had a book festival last Saturday. Children's writer, Kellie Magnus was apparently one of the organizers These are some of the Jamaican writers who turned out to support the festival: Diana McCaulay, author of Dog Heart; Edward Seaga, author of the biography, My Life and Leadership: Volume 1 Clash of Ideologies (1930-1980); and Robert Lalah, author of the best-selling and humorous collection, Roving with Lalah - Slices of Everyday Jamaican Life.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

This Is What I Am Reading

I am reading Wench by Dolen Parkins-Valdez because I read somewhere, can't remember where exactly, that this book was like The Help . Well so far this book has little similarity to the Help. It is similar in that it is about a group of black friends who are all in a similar position. That is all to the similarity.

The four women in this story are slaves from the South. They holiday with their slave masters at Tawawa House in Ohio which is a free state. The slave masters are also the fathers of their children. There is a similar holiday resort for free blacks in Ohio. I am on page 56 and so far Mawu, the newcomer to Tawawa and the defiant one, wants to escape. She's been inside the resort for the free blacks. All her children, except one who is mentally challenged, have been sold so she does not feel like she has a strong tie to the plantation where she is enslaved. The other women have children in the south and are reluctant to leave. One of the slave women, Lizzie imagines that she is in love with her master and he loves her in return.

The Tawawa House, by the way, really existed. See what the writer says about the story behind the story.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Story Behind the Story

Here is a book I'd like to read, The Wives of Henry Oades, set in the 1860s in England, New Zealand, and California, and rated four stars by amazon readers. The writer, Johanna Moran, thought her fictional story was based on a historical legal fact. It was about a man who unwillingly ended up as a bigamist. The story from a legal text had been passed from her father to her mother and then to her. She worked some 9-10 years on this debut novel.

A descendant of the Oades family questioned the authenticity of the basic story. Now, facts seem to suggest that the basic events did not happen: no Maori raid and capturing of a wife, no court case against a bigamist Henry Oades, in fact no Oades in New Zealand until 1908.

Here is the long story of the unveiling of a hoax. It is the story behind the story.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

"The Help" Author being Sued

This sounds like a ridiculous lawsuit. Could there possibly be more to it than what is on the surface? Aibilene, a character in the bestselling novel, The Help, is portrayed positively as a leader, a wise woman, and a writer yet Ablene Cooper, maid to the writer's brother and his wife, wants to sue because she thinks the character is based on her name and likeness and says the character is portrayed negatively. Here is the writer's response to USA Today

Read more in the New York Times. This article points out that the lawsuit is two years after the book is published and just months before the movie version is scheduled to be released.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Advice, How-To Bestsellers

On my Feb 24 post, I alluded to Ayanla Vanzant's book moving up to number 1 on a bestsellers list after her appearance on Oprah's show. I have a list before me of NY Times bestsellers in the category - Hardcover, Advice, how To and Miscellaneous - and there it is, Peace from Broken Pieces is number 1. Number 2 is prospective presidential candidate Mike Huckabee's book, A Simple Government. Janet Jackson's book, True You, is number 5 and Steve Harvey's second relationship book is number 6, Straight Talk, No Chaser. Veganist is holding on to the number 10 slot. The author, Kathy Freston, has had an appearance on the Oprah show as well.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Monster of Florence

I am finally settling down to read the Monster of Florence by thriller writer, Douglas Preston, and Italian Journalist, Mario Spezi. I have to pass over the details of the gruesome murders. They are too horrifying. What injustice man metes out to man! Just watched a video of President and First Lady speaking out against bullying of young people. The murderer in Florence must have been a bully or may have experienced bullying at some point in his life. These Jack the Ripper type murders were just disgusting.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Vivaldi's Virgins

I am reading the epistolary novel and historical fiction, Vivaldi's Virgins. It is not an exciting fast paced book but it is holding my interest because I want to see how the issues are resolved in this story set in a nunnery/orphanage/music school in 18th century Venice. The protagonist is Anna Maria dal Violin, a gifted violinist, who like some of the other children in the orphanage, has no last name so she has been given the instrument she plays as her last name. Her issue is to find out who is her mother and why has she been abandoned. I noticed the character was not as concerned about her father's identity. The cruelty of some of the nuns, the hypocrisy of the catholic priests and the nobility, and the discrimination against the Jews in the area were highlighted. I want to know if Anna Maria will choose music over marriage. Apparently in this century, a woman could not choose both.