Monday, July 4, 2016

Please Look After Mom - Kyung-Sook Shin

A touching story told from four different individual perspectives of a Mother who is lost in a subway station and her family's efforts to find her.

We're first introduced to the oldest daughter and third child.  She's single, a successful author, and often frustrated by her mother's demands and worries.  Then there's the eldest son, doted on from birth, who realizes how much his mother's love has supported him.  There's the husband who is lost suddenly without the wife who did everything for him and the children to where they came to accept it as the norm.  Finally, there is the voice of the mother, comforting them in their loss.

For a young author, this story has an older, mature voice.  Her characters are not terrible people; they've just never before not had their mother's presence as a given in their lives.  They each go through grieving her absence - anger at each other, guilt, sadness, each coming to realize how much they really didn't know about Mom.  It describes the self-sacrificing that can be exhibited by mothers, in particularly Korean mothers.

The martyrdom of Mom gets a bit unreal and the ending doesn't have the longed for resolution, but it works.  I enjoyed the story and was pulled through the book to the end. Good read.

Published: 2009  Read: July 2016  Genre: Fiction

ISBN: 978-0-307-59391-7

Mrs Dalloway – Virginia Woolf

I finally found a used copy of this book in Anchorage.  I havea copy of The Hours at home, its a recent book and movie that's based on this one and wanted to read Woolf’s book first.  

Written in 1925 after the first World War, the book was groundbreaking in its style, a ever-flowing internal conversation of the characters as they go about one day in June in London. 

Mrs. Dalloway is a fiftyish matron who is hosting a party for her social class in the evening.  She and her guests' musings are woven throughout the day, punctuated by the chiming of Big Ben and other city clocks.  Their intertwined pasts unfold from different perspectives revealing how they came to be the persons they are in the present. It is a commentary on the upper class at that time, internal relfection, and the loneliness created by societal expectations that still resonates with truth for today as well. 

Published: 1925  Read: June 2016  Genre: Fiction, classic

ISBN: 978-0-15-662870-9

Tapestry of Fortunes – Elizabeth Berg

I have always enjoyed this author’s books.  She writes the way women speak to and about each other, capturing the sisterhood of shared experiences. 

This book is the story of Cecilia, a single, professional motivational speaker whose best friend recently died.  She is grieving and regretting not having done the trips and adventures they had spoken of over the years because she enjoyed working and didn’t take the time.  She decides to make the big change that is long overdue.  

She sells her home, takes leave from her job and moves into a shared house with three other women; Lise, a divorced physician with an estranged 20 something daughter; Riley, a gay, rebellious, newspaper advice columnist and Joni, a professional chef with a belligerent boss.   She fulfills a commitment to her friend and volunteers at a hospice.  

When she receives a postcard from her first love, she embarks on a road trip with her roommates to discover if the flame is still bright.  Each of them is exploring a way to heal or move on from relationships.  Their camaraderie feels genuine and familiar.  While the knots are tied up a little too neatly in the end, it was a satisfying read that reminded me of the power of friendships.

Published: 2013  Read: June 2016  Genre: Fiction

ISBN: 978-8129-9314-1