Category Archives: fiction


I thought The Winter Vault by Anne Michaels was going to be a story  about the building of the Aswan dam and the subsequent flooding of the land, but nope, not at all.  I obviously didn’t pay as close attention to the story synopsis as I thought.  The story’s pivotal event does happen in Egypt,  where the husband of the main-character-couple is working on a project to save an ancient temple from the flood.  So the book was not what I was expecting or hoping for, but I did enjoy it, nonetheless.  If enjoy is the right word.  The story is rather heart-breaking, although happily, the ending leaves us hopeful.  It is not a light read; lots of detail, lots of emotion, lots of thought-provocation.  I’m not sure exactly how to summarize the essence of the story, except to say that it’s not so much a story as it is a depiction of the human journey, as seen through the lives of a husband and wife and the good, the bad and the ugly that they encounter along the way.

P.S.  If anyone can tell me the significance of the title, I’d be much obliged.  I got so engrossed, I forget to pay attention for that detail, and how annoying that I missed it!!



Here’s a book by Harriet Doerr that I read this week, The Tiger in the Grass, Stories and other inventions, but I can’t  tell you if I liked it or not.  I’m still ruminating.  I think it’s really more about appreciating.  I did read it all  and  it was engaging.   The writing is spare but elegant, and though the settings are mostly quite ordinary,  there’s an exotic flavor running through each story and “invention” (as the title calls them), something that entices you to keep reading.   So, I think my praise is not for the stories themselves, but for the writing style and for the author’s obvious skill and craftsmanship.  (I’ll give it 31/2 bookmarks out of 5.)

More post-Christmas reading…

Here’s another good book:  La’s Orchestra Saves the World by Alexander McCall Smith.  I was already a huge fan of A.M.S. and  this novel only increases my appreciation for his body of work.  I recommend it (the book, that is, although I do also recommend his body of work!).  I’m not going to tell you what the story is about, but I am going to tell you to go to the library and check it out.  Or, if you live close to me,  I could be persuaded to lend it to you.   🙂  Enjoy!

Also read…..

This book, Always and Forever by Cathy Kelly, reminded me of the writings of  Maeve Binchy.  I enjoyed it.  It’s the first one I’ve read by Kelly, and I see she is quite prolific and I will look for more titles.


An Irish Country Doctor by Patrick Taylor also reminded me of another author I like, James Herriot, he of veterinarian fame,  except Taylor’s portrayal  is of human doctors!  I had some laugh-out-loud moments, and wished the ending would not have come so soon.


You’ll laugh, you’ll cry…..

Here’s a great story by an author I was not familiar with, Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos.  The brightly colored rubber boots caught my eye.  It’s a quick and  easy read, but it may tempt you to stay up past your bedtime!


New Book


I just finished a new book by Colleen McCullough, The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet.  I enjoyed it, but my favorites of hers are still The Ladies of Missalonghi and her first, Tim.  This new story is about Mary Bennet, sister to Elizabeth and Jane Bennet, of Pride and Prejudice fame,  twenty years later.  It’s not what I would call McCullough’s best literary effort (the characters remain mostly two-dimensional, the crises and resolutions are somewhat forced) but nonetheless, a very enjoyable way to spend a grey and overcast day (of which we’ve had several lately).


Alexandra Raife has come up trumps,  I’m definitely adding her to my favorites list!

New Author

I’m always interested to see what my favorite authors are reading when they’re not busy writing.  Rosamunde Pilcher (one of my favorite authors)  lists Alexandra Raife as one of her favorites.  I did a quick search at to see if I could locate some of  Alexandra’s books, only to find that amazon had none in stock and was not anticipating having any in stock.  Of course, there were the usual recommendations for buying used from other sources.  However, this morning as I was standing in line to pay for my dollar store items,  lo and behold, staring me in the face on a bookrack was a copy of “Promises to Keep” by Alexandra Raife.  How’s that for serendipity?!  (Thank you, Heavenly Father, for serendipity!)  I’m thrilled, it made my day.  I’m positively tingling with anticipation to find out whether I have a favorite new author.


One of my favorite fictional characters is Horace Rumpole.  Years ago, someone gave me a series of videos of the TV shows called Rumpole of the Bailey.  I enjoyed them thoroughly, and when my sister gave me a copy of a Rumpole Omnibus, I was hooked! As I got to know him better over the years,  I’ve harbored a secret wish that old Rumpole would come to life and that I could get to know him in person!  John Mortimer has done such a thorough job of developing the character of  Rumpole, it’s hard to think that he isn’t real.  Well, in my imagination, he’s real enough, I guess.  I read and reread the stories and all the characters have become like dear old friends (even the annoying ones!).