10-17-2007 03:17 PM
The Dive from Clausen's Pier
In this beautifully written, intelligent, and completely absorbing first novel, Ann Packer provides a refreshingly insightful meditation on the classic quest for identity and fulfillment. As Packer sends her main character packing -- from Wisconsin to New York City, fleeing a fiance and long-time boyfriend who was recently paralyzed in a terrible diving accident -- she shows us a woman suddenly awakening to her potential, realizing a vibrant new identity, and asking herself difficult questions about how to balance what we owe to friends and family with our responsibility to be true to ourselves.
Mendocino and Other Stories
With humor, wisdom and tenderness, Ann Packer offers ten short stories about women and men -- wives and husbands, sisters and brothers, daughters, sons, mothers, fathers, friends, and lovers -- who discover that life's greatest surprises may be found in that which is most familiar. Packer exhibits an unerring eye for the small ways in which people reveal themselves and for the moments in which lives may be transformed.
Additional Recommended Reading
The Knitting Circle
After the sudden loss of her only child, Stella, Mary Baxter joins a knitting circle in Providence, Rhode Island, as a way to fill the empty hours and lonely days, not knowing that it will change her life. Alice, Scarlet, Lulu, Beth, Harriet, and Ellen welcome Mary into their circle despite her reluctance to open her heart to them. Each woman teaches Mary a new knitting technique, and, as they do, they reveal to her their own personal stories of loss, love, and hope. Eventually Mary is finally able to tell her own story of grief, and in so doing reclaims her love for her husband, faces the hard truths about her relationship with her mother, and finds the spark of life again.
Back in high school, Tracy, Olivia, and Holly were known as The Godmothers, the girls everyone wanted to be. Unlike many friendships, their bond survived. But 20 years later, their glamorous leader, Olivia, whose wealthy Italian husband has died, suggests they reunite on her return to the United States with a luxury sailboat crossing in the Caribbean. With Tracy's college-aged daughter and an attentive two-man crew, they sail into paradise. But then, the smallest mistake triggers a series of devastating events. Suddenly in a desperate fight for survival, they battle the elements, dwindling food and water, the threat of modern-day piracy, and their own frailties. Still Summer is at once a breathtaking adventure and a story about the bonds that hold friend to friend and mothers to daughters, and how facing our own mortality tests the truth of everything we think we know.
A Wedding in December
In Anita Shreve's ensemble novel, seven former high school friends reunite for a wedding in the Berkshires, 26 years after their graduation. This Big Chill–like gathering stirs old passions and feuds, some of which have been festering since the death of a charismatic schoolmate at a high school party. As usual, Shreve puts her characters through the emotional wringer before she sets them out to dry. A Wedding in December is one of her most effective and moving works.
Lost in the Forest
When her second husband, John, is killed in a car accident, Eva's family's fragile peace is once again overtaken by loss. Emily, the eldest, must grapple with newfound independence and responsibility. Theo, the youngest, can only begin to fathom his father's death. But for Daisy, the middle child, John's absence opens up a world of bewilderment, exposing her at the onset of adolescence to the chaos and instability that hover just beyond the safety of parental love. In her sorrow, Daisy embarks on a harrowing sexual odyssey, a journey that will cast her even farther out onto the harsh promontory of adulthood and lost hope. With astonishing sensuality and immediacy, Lost in the Forest moves through the most intimate realms of domestic life, from grief and sex to adolescence and marriage. It is a stunning, kaleidoscopic evocation of a family in crisis, written with delicacy and masterful care.
10-30-2007 04:46 PM