Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Looking for a Good Book?



Recently I read two excellent books and I wanted to share them with you.
The first one, Olive Kitteridge, I read this summer. I chose it for my book club pick this month and enjoyed reading it a second time, which is rare for me. It is a Pulitzer Prize winning book by Elizabeth Strout. Olive is a character in a book of 13 linked stories, or a "novel in stories". Sometimes she is the main character in the story and sometimes she is on the periphery or only mentioned. The setting is a small town in Maine and we come to know many of the residents through Olive. She is a woman that you may love or hate, or both at times. She can be abrasive and bossy, but also capable and helpful in a crisis. To me, Olive is someone we have all known and had to deal with. I also love the portrait of her long marriage to kind-hearted Henry and the poignant moments of loss and growing older.

The second book is The Help by Kathryn Stockett. The setting for this book is 1962 Mississippi at the cusp of the civil rights movement. The main character, Skeeter, is a woman ahead of her time. Her education gives her the desire to be more than a member of the women's Junior League, as all her friends are. She graduates from college after a childhood of only knowing black women as "the help", in her home and all the homes of privilege around her.When the black woman who raised her is wrongly accused of stealing and coldly fired, she rebels. As her eyes are opened to the reality of these women's lives, she is appalled and begins to write a book about them. She interviews them secretly at a high risk for all involved since their jobs as maids are the only ones available to them in that era. The book introduces you to a wonderful cast of female characters and amazes you when you realize this way of life was only one generation ago.

8 comments:

Jan said...

I love "The Help" and have loaned it out to more than six people since reading it last summer. It's a wonderful book. Thanks for the recommendations.

Amy said...

Loved Olive and looking forward to The Help. Have heard only good things!!

Lena said...

The Help sounds like something I would enjoy! Thanks for sharing.

Alanna Klapp said...

Hi Diane! I listened to an interview on Writers on Writing with Elizabeth Strout. I loved listening to her read from Olive Kitteredge. I haven't read it yet, but I keep hearing about this book so I'm going to put it on my list. If you or anyone else is interesting in downloading the interview, go to http://www.barbarademarcobarrett.com/writersonwriting/audio/Elizabeth-Strout.mp3, and scroll down to January 28th, 2009.

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