Book Reviews, January, 2013

When I was really, really sick back at the start of December, the thing that really helped me to hold body and soul together was this wonderful book. A gorgeous first novel by Amanda Coplin, The Orchardist tells the story of a solitary man who provides shelter to a pair of runaway teen-age girls, the the consequences of his action. The characters are beautifully created. While I could not always agree with the choices they made, I found them to be real. I have recommended this book to many people, bought a copy as a Christmas gift, and urged my husband to make it the first download for the Nook he received.

I've never met a Louise Erdrich book that I didn't like, and The Round House is no exception. It is one of those boys-of-a-certain-age books, though these boys are a little younger than usual. The storyteller himself is irresistible, and his parents are carefully portrayed. I could picture them, the whole family. The book opens with Joe's mother having been attacked, and the unfolding story shows how Joe and his father, Bazil, handle this horror. It was hard to put down.

I just started The Lifeboat but it isn't going to take me long to finish it. The book is that compelling. While it isn't the kind of fine literature that the other two books represent, it surely is a page-turner. Grace Winter, newly wed and newly widowed, is a passenger on a lifeboat built for fewer people than it holds. Some hard choices must be made, or all will lose their lives. We know that Grace survives, as the book is written as her memoir, but there is obviously much more going on since she speaks early on of lawyers helping her.