My absolute favorite book this month is “Zorrie” by Laird Hunt. This is a quietly stunning work profiling the life of a stalwart, humble, deeply kind woman making her life in the Indiana farm country from the Depression to the mid-20th century. This has received stunning reviews.
“The Rib King” by Ladee Hubbard is another excellent book. This should have been a selection for Black History Month. The tale of early 20th century life for Blacks who were still “serving” in the masters’ house with few options available. It becomes a tad complicated at the end but Hubbard delivers an unflinching portrayal of the callous treatment of our fellow man.
At first blush, “The Fortunate Ones” by Ed Tarkington looked to be another story about rich Southern folk who treat the less affluent with disregard. It was actually much more complex than that simple description. It reinforces the unsavory image of politics – “I will sell my soul to be elected” – but there are consequences. I enjoyed the
book and if you have any familiarity with Nashville, you will appreciate the Belle Meade setting.
“The Center of Everything” takes place in 2002 as Polly looks back over her family history trying to make sense of her memories after a traumatic head injury. It has some plot turns that are both shocking and heartwarming. The author is Jamie Harrison whose previous work “The Widow Nash” is another favorite of mine. Harrison lives in Montana and writes with admiration and respect for the Western environment.
Julia Claiborne Johnson is another repeat author for me. I was charmed by “Be Frank With Me,” a previous book, and her newest work is just as entertaining. “Better Luck Next Time” is a humorous and engaging tale set on a ranch in Reno Nevada exclusively for women waiting out their residency requirement before filing for divorce.
A fun slate of characters with a poignant ending.
“Bloodline” by Jess Lourey is a creepy thriller that borders just close enough to reality to make your skin crawl. Religious fanatics scare anyone? “Girl A” is a debut novel by Abigail Dean. A suspense story of a family of children who break out of a captive home life. But how do they have different memories of their shared circumstances? It’s those religious extremists again. A well-paced, engaging read.
“Thursday Murder Club” by Richard Osman is set in a retirement home in England and a group of four residents who use their unique skills and resources to solve crimes. The characters are exquisitely drawn and their talents are, of course, underappreciated by younger detectives. Happily, Osman is already writing another case for these sleuths.
George Singleton teaches at Wofford College and writes mostly short stories. “You Want More” is the first of his collections that I have tried. Definitely a Southern take on humor but neither silly nor slight.
The non-fiction selection this month is “The Doctors Blackwell” by Janice Nimura. I was excited to read this since I am a physician and I learned that the Blackwell family lived in Cincinnati where I lived and practiced for many years. This book gives a complete picture of the struggles of ambitious women in the 1800s but particularly of those who dared to study medicine. Though Elizabeth was the first woman to obtain an MD, she really was never interested in practicing medicine. Her younger sister Emily was the practitioner while Elizabeth focused heroic and groundbreaking efforts to medical education. This is an excellent book for high schoolers — male and female.
Learn more at Beckysbookclub.com.