Thursday, January 27, 2011

Recommending a book I adore

Knowing how personal reading tastes are--and how quirky they can be (because my own definitely are), I hardly ever recommend a book. But today, I break that silent code of mine because the novel I currently finish reading is out of this world. And for an author to say that, an author who is a very picky reader, an author who reads what strikes her, not what she feels she must, that is saying quite a bit.
This book involves me for so very many reasons. The voices of the 3 women who are the heroines is so clear, so crisp, so very much of their period I am in awe of the author's talent and recognize the immense amount of work this book involved. (Or think I do!)
The novel requires the author to imagine herself in another period. Never easy to recreate another time and place, I know from writing Regencies and Victorian pieces as well as medieval period set fiction. And this book is a period piece, 1962-3-4 set in Mississippi. Ah, yes, the Old South. Old problems which nonetheless bear witness to current challenges in the US in many ways, big and small.
The plot seems at first too simple. But quickly, it moves to spread like an octopus, and later, like a disease, throughout every aspect of the characters' lives. Just as similar acts must have precipitated similar challenges in others' real lives and, I'm sure, still do.
Not all of life is tragedy. Not all of this book is frightening. So much of it is, like real life, poignant and filled with laughter. Love. Respect and despair.
As much as one reader can recommend a novel to another, I do recommend you read this. As much as one author can recommend to her colleagues that they read a book so well crafted you hate to put it down, I recommend this one. For the joy of seeing great voice, good plotting and superb rendering of characters who live.


Regina Carlysle said...

This sounds just wonderful. Must pick up. mentioned the Cleopatra book? Funniest thing, my daughter came for a visit recently telling me about this bio of Cleopatra she was dying to get! LOL. Meant to tell you earlier. Kind of funny in a woo woo way.

Delicious Romance From Cerise DeLand said...

Both books are so well done and for different reasons.
The bio of Cleopatra is a feast of excellent writing, historical research and considered conclusions done with scant resources. Plus an intriguing look at what historians, Shakespeare, et al and myth have done to her character.
But THE HELP has 3 distinct voices, so accurate to the time and place. Poignant and that one elusive quality of good fiction--creating a marvelous sense of time and place.