Books and Reviews at Greenberry House

Like most booksellers, reading is a large part of my life here at Greenberry House. I have a special old chair, so worn that it sags, where I love to curl up with a good book. Old favorites, exciting new writers, spiritual or challenging, fiction or fact; all pass through my hands and many are worthy of comment. I plan an occasional mention here of a recent book I've read, either to recommend or to warn!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Hissy Fit and Savannah Blues

Hissy Fit and Savannah Blues, by Mary Kay Andrews, Perennial, 2005 and 2003

The first time I knew anything about a Mary Kay Andrews book was when I was traveling all the time and getting Books-on-Tape out of the library. I loved the ones by Southern writers, especially women. On a long drive that usually started at four in the morning, these witty books read by a Southern voice kept me awake and alert and laughing.

Savannah Blues was one of the audio books I borrowed from the Patrick County Library, and I laughed aloud most of the way up the state of Virginia on my drive. Andrews is witty, with some hilarious and believable characters that deal with mystery, mayhem and murder with class and Southern flair. When Mom passed the books along to me, it was like meeting an old friend. The main character of Savannah Blues, Eloise Foley, is a picker, an antique dealer that cruises flea markets, yard sales and estate sales for treasures to turn into cash. She also wears vintage clothes and lives in a carriage house in Savannah. She struggles to make a living and has troubles with her ex who lives in the house she lovingly remodeled. Somehow I could seriously identify with this character!

Hissy Fit is also about an independent business woman, this time an interior decorator. Keeley Murdock throws a real Southern hissy fit when she discovers her groom-to-be in a compromising position with her best friend and maid of honor the night before the wedding. Her fit makes history in the town and angers the snobby family of her groom. They try to run her out of business but Keeley saves the day and the town, with the help of the new owner of the local bra factory and her classy aunt that knows where all the bodies are buried.

These books may not be great literature but they are entertaining and fun. I've ordered Little Bitty Lies and I'm checking out other titles by Mary Kay Andrews. Mary Kay has a new blog, The Kudzu Telegraph (what else) with an entertaining first post about her next book and cruising estate sales!

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Monday, June 11, 2007

Black Swan Green

Black Swan Green by David Mitchell, Random House, 2007

Most of the books I read about English life are either written or set in the peaceful English countryside of the past centuries. Black Swan Green is also set in the English countryside, but in a modern world that is far from peaceful.

Jason Taylor is a poet that is afraid of being bullied if his peers find out that he writes, and a regular thirteen-year-old boy facing the usual perils of adolescence. He lives in an ordinary housing development near a sleepy village, but in the thirteen months of his life explored in this book, he discovers that things are not nearly as ordinary in Black Swan Green as they seem.

Jason's journey through that year of his life is a struggle with school, a stuttering handicap and bullies, and with changes in his family and in himself. These are the usual rites of passage that might happen to any boy, but in Mitchell's novel the common moves along with the uncommon, as a ghostly playmate helps set the theme for the coming chapters. Jason wanders from the ordinary world of his affluent housing development into a stranger, older England, with strange mysteries and even stranger people. But even as Jason discovers a wider, mystical country alongside his own modern world, the common transforms the fantasy, and is transformed as well.

Ghosts often haunt David Mitchell's books, but the ghosts in Black Swan Green are more elusive than usual. The modern mind seems to shun mystery, creating an ordinary world out of the routine of daily life. Mitchell captures the glimpses of the extraordinary that exist alongside the common, with a beautifully written story of one young life in rural Worcestershire.

Buy this book from Greenberry House.

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