A PIECE OF THE WORLD ” CHRISTINA’S WORLD ” A MUST READ NOVEL

Christina Baker Kline, author of Orphan Train, has eclipsed that acclaimed novel with her latest, A Piece of the World.   This marvelous work of historical fiction is a priority read adding illuminating context to the story behind America’s most famous painting , Andrew Wyeth’s  Christina’s World.

I have been to the Olsen House  in Cushing on that spit of land on the Maine Coast. However, now that I have read  A Piece of the World, I will eagerly travel there again with a new perspective having met through this wonderful novel, Christina, the woman who Andrew Wyeth immortalized in his painting Christina’s World.

Once you read A Piece of the World you will be drawn into Wyeth’s painting as never before.  When  you visit the farmhouse in Maine the humanity that was once there will become very much among the living.

Also, visit the Wyeth family collection at the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland.

 

 

 

TOM CLANCY/FULL FAITH AND ALLEGIANCE

Prescient is my favorite description of Mark Greaney, Jack Ryan/ Tom Clancy novels.

TRUE FAITH AND ALLEGIANCE , although written in 2016 , speaks to 2017  cyber theft, the ISIS crisis, Saudi hidden agendas and terrorism inside the United States.  The book can only be described as another Greaney, Clancy page by page gripping thriller.

The entire Hendley Associates and White House cast is present and even if you have not read the majority of this series, TRUE FAITH AND ALLEGIANCE can work as a stand alone.

It is not summer yet but put this one on your reading list.  It will not disappoint.

You can find overviews of  the majority of  the Tom Clancy series here at gordonsgoodreads.com.

THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD/COLSON WHITEHEAD

The dust cover  description of Colson Whitehead’s  The UNDERGROUND RAILROAD is clear:  The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors  of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation of the history we all share.

Written as a narrative, The UNDERGROUND RAILROAD spares little in its descriptions and depiction of the physical and mental horrors of slavery.  Despite the dystopia, Whitehead  delivers glimmers of hope amidst the despair of each turning page.  Written as a narrative and the recipient of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, The UNDERGROUND RAILROAD spares little in its descriptions and depiction of the physical and mental horrors of slavery.  Despite the dystopia, Whitehead  delivers glimmers of hope amidst the despair of each turning page.

The book adds to the  contemporary narrative of Twelve Years a Slave and  more recently Y’a’a Gyasi’s novel Homecoming.  See my overviews of the aforementioned here at gordonsgoodreads.com.

 

 

SURRENDER, NEW YORK/ CALEB CARR

I have two favorite mystery/ crime thriller authors, C.J. Sansom and Caleb Carr.  I had not caught up with Carr since reading  The Alienist and The Angel of Darkness. I just finished his latest, Surrender, New York.  While Sansom, a Brit, sets his novels of the Shardlake Series in England during the period of Henry VIII, Caleb Carr is very much American and very much New York. The setting for Surrender, New York is upstate in, of course, a town named Surrender.

Carr’s ingredients for Surrender, New York are a potpourri : a psychological profiler, a trace evidence expert, throwaway children,  corrupt politicians, a discarded vintage airplane used as high-tech office, horrific crime scenes, Death’s Head Hollow, an 80 pound cheetah named Marciana rescued from a petting zoo, love when there was none thought possible and of course plenty of bad guys and bad girls.

I will not attempt to put together a story line for you. That would be a disservice to Carr. You will quickly be captured by the pages of Surrender, New York and if you have not already done so will rush back to his earlier novels.

Want to know more about Sansom?  Since  you are already on the site, search here at gordonsgood reads.com The entire Shardlake Series, plus Winter in Madrid is here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BARKSKINS/ANNIE PROULK

The cast in Annie Proulx’s new novel, Barkskins, is enormous. It rapidly grows as each chapter follows generations of fur traders, adventurers and would be entrepreneurs  from the old world to the new. The family tree ( no pun intended) expands and the blood line grows to encompasses Native Americans and Native Canadians.  The story landscape ranges from Europe to the Canadian Maritimes, China, New Zealand and the Pacific Northwest.

Barkskins  makes a profound environmental statement as the perceived good folks along with lots of bad guys begin their devastation of the American colonial landscape long before mechanization and 19th Century greed. It is the era of wood,  white pine,  New England ship building ,the axe, logging, spring river runs and hard men who live harder lives in the deep woods.

“A thousand men could not cut all this in a thousand years.”  But they did.  ” He hated the American clear-cut despoliation, the insane waste of sound valuable wood, the destruction of the soil, the gullying and erosion, the ruin of the forest world, with no thought for the future.”   A strong woman  inherits a modest lumber enterprise  and converts it into a family fortune by developing a mechanized deforestation machine.

The book is not just about the forests but of the devastation brought upon the native people of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Maine.  It is the sad saga so often heard of American expansion, this time telling the story of the Mi’Kmaq.

“Now when the forest were gone there had never been so few Mi’Kmaq since the beginning of time, less than fifteen hundred, the remains of a people who had numbered more than one hundred thousand in the time before the white-man came.”

A fortune created by destroying the forests and an entire Indian culture. In the end a desperate search for an heir to the ill-gotten gains, and it comes full circle. Who is the family?

You may work at this read in the beginning but you will quickly be captured. Such  brilliant writing.

Annie Proulx is famous for The Shipping News and Brokeback Mountain.

 

THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN/FAST TRACK/FAST READ

I agree with the NYT review.  Think Gone Girl when you get on board Paula Hawkins’ The Girl On The Train.  Good writing  here but a map would help sort through the fast-moving scenes. A thriller for sure. A who done it? Absolutely. Find this book in your local library’s ” New Releases, Read and Return In Seven Days,” section.

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I have not seen the movie. Some have told me it was ” OK.”

 

Homegoing/ Yaa Gyasi

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi details the beginnings of the slave trade as African  tribes  raid one another’s villages to gain riches by kidnapping  young men and women at the behest of  British slave traders. The Gold Coast of Africa became Ghana where to this day stands the Cape Coast Castle and the  “Door of No Return ” leading to the beach where the slave ships waited to sail to the Caribbean and America.

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Homegoing is a story of Africa and the havoc wrought  by British colonization.  The book tells a parallel  story of Africans chained together and cast upon the shores of America. Gyasi writes  in Homegoing of generation after generation of her people searching for identity in frightening and ever-changing worlds in Africa, the American South and the streets of present day Harlem. Listen to Gyasi’s  voice:

White men get a choice. They get to choose they job, choose they house. They get to make black babies, then disappear into thin air, like they wasn’t never there to begin with, like these black women they slept with or raped done laid on top of themselves and got pregnant. White men get to choose for black men too. Used to sell ’em; now they just send ’em to prison like they did my daddy, so they can’t be with their kids.

Homegoing is compelling, engaging, insightful and beautifully written The novel follows  generations of descendants seeking answers and understanding as to how their past became the present. Through it all, Gyasi never loses the thread, weaving back and forth taking the reader along on an emotional journey. There will be much more to come from this brilliant first time novelist.