Hit a nice vein of gold with two novels written by women in the 1930s: The Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen, and David Golder, The Ball, Snow in Autumn, and The Coriloff Affair, by Irene Nemirovsky, author of Suite Francaise, one of the best books I’ve read in years. Bowen is a step along the spectrum from Henry James and Edith Wharton, with the fine, acute portrait of a girl’s loss of innocence. The tension is devastating, the language composed, the portraits drawn like a painting we saw the other day at the National Gallery: Hide and Seek by James Jacques Joseph Tissot.
The four novels by Irene Nemirovsky are about sad, angry, complex people. She doesn’t do heroes, everyone is flawed. She was a little girl in Russia when Tolstoy was writing his last novels, and then of course, she died in Auschwitz despite pleas from the European literary community to save her. In a way, these novels are an epilogue to War and Peace, the stories of Russian emigres to France, both Jewish and White Russian, and the destruction of Tsarist Russia.
Th1rteen R3asons Why, by Jay Asher, is a young-adult novel about a girl who commits suicide but before she does, she makes 13 explanatory, accusatory tapes and sends them to the 13 people who let her down, or pushed her, to her doom. It’s a great idea, well-executed by an author I kind of cyber-know from Verla Kay’s Blue Board. Jay is one of my heroes because of this post. Now Th1rteen R3asons Why is a NYT bestseller.
15. The Death of the Heart, Elizabeth Bowen
14. David Golder, The Ball, Snow in Autumn, The Coriloff Affair, Irene Nemirovsky
13. Th1rteen R3asons Why, Jay Asher
12. Five Go to Smuggletop, Enid Blyton
11. And Then We Came to the End, Fabulous, just like my experiences at a Nashville PR firm, Joshua Ferris
10. The Tenderness of Wolves, Cold, but no Cold Mountain, Stef Penney
9. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, Paul Torday
8. Dragonhaven, Robin McKinley
7. The Tale of Despereaux, Kate DiCamillo
6. The Asolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Alexie Herman
5. The Monsters of Templeton, Lauren Groff
4. Heart-Shaped Box, Joe Hill
3. Inkspell, Cornelia Funke
2. Riding Lessons, Sara Gruen
1. Summer People, Brian Groh
13-15. LOTR, for the millionth time. Actually I’m just starting Return of the King.
5-12 Island, Castle, Valley, Sea, Mountain, Circus and Castle of ADventure, Enid Blyton
4. Ozoplaning with the Wizard of Oz, Ruth Plumly Thompson
3. The Silver Princess in Oz, Ruth Plumly Thompson
2. Captain Salt in Oz, Ruth Plumly Thompson
1. Earth Abides, George R. Stewart