Friday, May 24, 2013

Stern Men and Girl Friends: Book Reviews

Liz Gilbert's book, Committed, is one of the better non fiction books I've read.  I enjoyed Eat, Pray, and Love the more popular predecessor which was made into a very good movie that, for reasons I can't quite understand, did not receive great reviews.  So, when I saw the book Stern Men, by Liz Gilbert at my local library's used book sale for the grand price of one dollar, I scooped it up considering the purchase a grand bargain with the promise of reading joy on the horizon.

The other two books I'd read were non fiction. Stern Men is a novel written before either of the others. It is her first novel though she had published a book of short stories previously. I'd not read any of her fiction before picking up Stern Men.

Stern Men is about a woman. She does live on an island and on the island are fishermen, several of home are, I guess, stern.  I would characterize them more as quirky.  There is one older affluent woman who is more mean and selfish than stern.  There is an older affluent man, more enigmatic, than stern.  Not so sure about the title.

Not so sure about the novel or story either.  (Don't read this paragraph if you want to read the book).  Young woman lives with a sad sourpus of a father on an island. She is friends with a quirky neighbor and spends time with the neighbor and the neighbor's quirkier sisters and the neighbor's large brood.  Most people on the island fish. They, the islanders, are a poor cousin to the denizens of another island.  The young woman goes to boarding school because of the largesse of an affluent relative of sorts. She comes home after boarding school, hangs out does nothing, meets a fellow who does it for her. Has one very steamy scene with this fellow.  And then zip zip resolves several issues the islanders have and she has.

I looked at the amazon reviews for the book and many were quite positive. So, what the hell do I know. And I would love to love a book by Liz Gilbert.  But this one did not do it for me and I wondered as I was reading it, if even she knew where this was going as she started with the writing.

Girl Friends by Diane Schwartz is an epistolary novel that begins in 1944 and continues into the early 1960s.  It consists of letters written between, well, girlfriends, some fellows, and one enemy.  I enjoyed reading the book. It touches on issues related to world war II, relationships of course, McCarthyism, the emergence of women's freedoms to escape traditional and restrictive norms, homophobia, and how a childhood folly can haunt one throughout life--regardless of whether it should or actually has proven to derail us on our life journey. Easy, pleasurable, read.

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