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Kim Michele Richardson

(August, 2019)

THE BOOK WOMAN OF TROUBLESOME CREEK Friend's comment: "Wonderful book! Great historical novel about the Kentucky Pack Horse Librarians, a group of women (only a few males joined the program) that rode mules, horses, or donkeys into the back hills and hollers to bring books to people who had no chance of getting to a library. It was common for them to ride alone over 100 miles a week through all kinds of weather to bring reading material to the people. These ladies were part of President Roosevelt's WPA in the 1930s. The novel also tells of the blue-skinned people of Kentucky. These people would just have a bluish cast to their skin but if they got excited, upset, or were in pain, their skin could turn into a deep indigo blue. These "Blues" were classified as "colored" and were treated as such in the Jim Crow South. The main character in the book, Cussy "Bluit" Mary Carter, was "the last of the Blues." She and her father (also a Blue) had no other relatives. Cussy was one of the "Book Women" and loved her job. Her father, however, wanted her to get married and settle down -- but who would want to marry a Blue???"
Rita Leganski

(July, 2013)

THE SILENCE OF BONAVENTURE ARROW Recommended by 2 friends. BOOKLIST review: "Born in the aftermath of a searing family tragedy, Bonaventure Arrow 'didn't make a peep when he was born.' Never speaking a word, his silence enables him to listen to what no one else can hear. He is not only hyper-aware of the sounds of the natural world, but he is also in tune with the clamorous echoes of personal heartbreak and despair. Joining forces with Creole servant Trinidad Prefontaine, young Bonaventure undertakes a quest to unlock a series of family secrets to liberate himself, his dead father, and his inconsolable mother from the emotionally and spiritually paralyzing bonds of the past. This mystical fairy tail set in a 1950s-era Louisiana rife with religion, superstition, and tradition draws you in from the wondrous first page. Silence has never been so boundlessly eloquent."
Stephen Carter

(August, 2012)

THE IMPEACHMENT OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN "It's a combination of historical fiction and mystery novel. Lincoln has been impeached and is going on trial, charged by the radical wing of his own Republican Party with not being hard enough on the vanquished South, wanting to establish a military rule over DC and ignoring Congress's acts. A young black woman, wanting to become a lawyer, is hired as a law clerk with the firm that is defending Lincoln, and the lead lawyer defending Lincoln is found murdered next to a prostitute. She thinks his death is related to a conspiracy against LIncoln, and she refuses to stop probing into the murder despite everybody telling her to stop wasting her time. All of the main Lincoln characters -- Stanton, Seward, Sumner -- are in the novel. Story line gets confusing at times, but worth reading."
Doris Haddock

(July, 2012)

GRANNY D: WALKING ACROSS AMERICA IN MY 90th YEAR "A book that makes you feel good about yourself and America ... and while it is about corruption in government, it also gives you hope. Most of the book is about the wonder of the United States and the goodness of its people. Inspiring is the word I come up with for both the book and the author. From the foreword by Bill Moyers: 'Doris Haddock set out to walk across America to protest the betrayal of democracy by money in politics.... But ... there are so many interwoven stories and anecdotes about life, love, and friendship, you almost forget that this is a tale of a ninety-year-old woman who walked ten miles every day for a cause she believed in.'."
David Ebershoff

(June, 2012)

THE 19th WIFE "There are several different things going on in the book. The majority of the book is the story of a group of 'Firsts"'(Mormons who still follow polygamy.) This main story is told by Jordan, the son of one of the many wives of a Mormon living in a First community in Utah. Jordan was removed from his family and dumped on a highway outside of the community when he was 14 because he is gay. Now, six years later, he finds out his mother is in jail for killing his father. He goes back to Utah to find out what happened. Interspersed in Jordan's tale are 'historical documents' including sections on the history of the Mormons, segments from the original book 19th wife which was written by Brigham Young's 19th wife, Ann Eliza Young after she escaped from the Mormon community....A good book."
Anne Tyler

(March, 2012)

DIGGING TO AMERICA "Two families: one American, one American but originally Iranian, adopt baby girls from Korea. The girls come in on the same plane so the families meet. They become friends and celebrate the girls "Arrival Day" together each year. The American family keeps the Korean name and introduces Korean customs into the family. The Iranian family Americanizes the name of their daughter and try to assimilate except on certain Iranian holidays. Cultural differences and simply individual differences as well as generational differences play out in their friendships. A good read!!"
Dorthea Benton Frank

(September 2010)

LOWCOUNTRY SUMMER "A wonderful southern belle/matriarch copes with being 47, single, and the senior woman of a southern plantation family. Caroline copes with modern life and southern tradition as she tries to civilize her brother's four daughters who come to live with him after their mother is shipped of to dry out at a California clinic. Caroline also has to cope with her own lovelife, the death of her brother's wonderful mistress of 10 years, and assorted other challenges. A fun read with some serious situations thrown in for balance. ****"
Larry McMurtry

(September 2010)

THE COLONEL AND LITTLE MISSIE "McMurtry writes the fascinating story of the Wild West.. not the real west, but the one splashed across the movie screens and in comic books: the Wild West of fable. But this is not about the Wild West, but how the Wild West came to be. As interesting as any of the novels McMurtry has written, this true tale of two giants: Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley, is told with a story-teller's gift. A great read. ****"
Muriel Barbery

(August 2010)

THE ELEGANCE OF THE HEDGEHOG (Translated from French) "The interplay of a short, overweight, dowdy building concierge and the apartment dwellers in her building goes between what is seen and expected to what really is behind the facade and believed. Although there are two main characters -- the concierge and a 12-year old tenant -- other building dwellers play important accents in the drama, especially a new Japanese resident. The concierge, who hides behind her gruff exterior, is really a well-read, intelligent, lonely woman who loves odd bits of popular culture. The 12-year old also is super intelligent and is planning her own suicide. How the masks eventually come off is the story. The author's (or perhaps translator's) use of words is extraordinary. I must say that for the first 40 or 50 pages I was ready to quit reading except that I was intrigued by the use of the language. I eventually got into the story and found it an enjoyable read. ****"
Greg Mortensen

(August 2010)

STONES INTO SCHOOLS "This sequel to THREE CUPS OF TEA is even better than the original. It explains much more of the politics and difficulties in Afghanistan as well as being the Founder and Chief Officer of the Central Asian Institute. *****"
Sue Monk Kidd

(August 2010)

THE MERMAID CHAIR "By the same author as A SECRET LIFE OF BEES. In this tale, Jessie returns home to take care of her increasingly disturbed mother. Jessie, herself, is haunted by her belief that she was the cause of her father's death some 30 years earlier. A well-written, story that I found quite disturbing. ****"
Kate Furnivall

(August 2010)

THE RUSSIAN CONCUBINE "Interesting place and time: late 1920s, Junchow, China... especially life in the International settlement and the contrasting Chinese city that supports it. Besides the "ruling" British, there is a group of White Russians who escaped during the 1917 Revolution in Russia. The main character, Lydia, is a smart, daring 16 year old girl who turns to thievery to help her and her mother survive. Her mother had been a rising concert pianist who had played for the Czar before the revolution, now she is impoverished with little hope. Lydia gets involved with Chang An Lo, a communist organizer who hates the Kuomintang. The novel weaves the threads of the Kuomintang/Communist fight, traditional Chinese values, English colonial attitudes, famine, crushing poverty, problems within a group (The old Russian elite vs. the poor refugees) and of course young love. ... and it all works. The author, Kate Furnivall, said she got the idea for the book from the stories her mother told about being a White Russian refugee in China. *****" "
Walter Cronkite

(August 2010)

A REPORTER'S LIFE "This personal memoir is entertaining and enlightening. Cronkite is a good writer and, at last, leaves his journalist impartiality and gives his views on the events of his life. Although it is somewhat chronological, (especially the early part) Cronkite at times gives background to events as well as his viewpoint on them. An interesting read. *****"
Anita Diamant

(Sept 2009)

DAY AFTER NIGHT GOODREADS: "In Day After Night, four young women flee to Palestine immediately following World War II, only to be detained at Atlit, a prison camp for refugees run by the British. The novel examines individual reactions to the trauma of war and provides a glimpse into the early Palestinian-Jewish tensions in Israel pre-statehood." Read this interview with the author (whose THE RED TENT we read in 2001).
Ann Packer

(August 2009)

THE DIVE FROM CLAUSEN'S PIER "It's sort of like a Jodi Picoult story. In this one a group of friends in their early 20s are having a picnic at the lake. Carrie is uncomfortable because she has decided to break the engagement with her boyfriend of 8 years. She has become increasingly unsatisfied with her life and knows she needs to break out of the rut she is in. She sits on the pier and realizes the water is lower than usual. Just then her fiance comes running down and dives off the pier, breaking his neck and lower back. How Carrie copes with this challenge could have become a real tear-jerker, but it doesn�t. You follow Carrie as she copes with the life fate has given her. When I finished the book, I found myself thinking about how we react to personal challenges and questioning as to what is the "right" action to take."
Kate Maloy

(May 2008)

EVERY LAST CUCKOO "Here is a family with problems, but they cope -- maybe in unconventional ways, but they cope. The main character is a 75 year-old woman who must deal with her family and family problems. It is not fraught with emotional crises, although there are problems. It is not funny, although there is humor. I read it in one day and was simply satisfied at the end."

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