Here’s a round-up of what I’ve read this month:
The Woman Upstairs – Claire Messud
Meet Nora, a “good girl” of a woman grappling with the truth that “…what consigned me to mediocrity, is me, just me.” She didn’t grow up to be a great artist, a mother or a wife. And, at 42, she’s a single elementary school teacher obsessed and infatuated with the family of one of her students.
Ok, Messud piqued my interest with the plot concept, but Nora’s “obsession”, self-absorption and bitterness grew tiring and monotonous. And for all her anger, resentment and envy, Nora could have been a relatable or at least a sympathetic character, but Messud doesn’t allow for this. You’ll be ready for this story to end. And it does with a nice little element of revenge.
The Husband’s Secret – Liane Moriarty
Psst, The Husband’s Secret isn’t much of a secret. You’ll be in on it long before Moriarty officially reveals it. I spent the first half of the book trying to keep track of who was who as Moriarty toggled between three different story lines. There’s nice character development with the notable exception being the “husband” from the title.
Similar to Moriarty’s other book What Alice Forgot, this one, too, is a fun Chick-Lit read with insight on the complexity of modern relationships sprinkled here and there. At times, though, one gets the feeling that Moriarty aspires to more serious fare with attempts at symbolism and analogy. With this one, it was the “Berlin Wall” and Tupperware. Yes, you read that right: Tupperware.
The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing and Life – Marion Roach Smith
Just because something happens doesn’t make it interesting. This is Marion Roach Smith’s mantra. And it’s a mantra that could be applied to blog posts, personal essays, and basically any type of storytelling. So it’s a useful book even if you don’t get around to writing your memoirs!
I highlighted this book like crazy as Smith lays out the nuts and bolts of good writing. It turns out that your personal story isn’t very interesting to others (unless you’re Kim Kardashian, a President, or other famous person.) What’s interesting is what’s universal. So the trick is to tease out the universal theme in your story and then use your personal story as the illustration of that theme.
And what I really loved about this book – no silly writing exercises or prompts – just good tips and pointers!
And by the way
Looking for more book reviews: head over here.
Looking for a good read: here are some of my favorite books from last year.
And check out the short & casual book reviews over at Modern Mrs. Darcy’s monthly twitterature link up!
Read in good books lately?