TITLE: Flat Water Tuesday
AUTHOR:Â Ron Irwin
FORMAT:Â Digital ARC, 320 pages
RELEASE DATE: June 4th, 2013 (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press)
As a teenager, Rob Carrey was a champion sculler and was offered the opportunity to attended Felton, an elite boarding school with a famous rowing team. Once there, Rob clashes with hisÂ privilegedÂ schoolmates andÂ reluctantlyÂ joins the elite 5 person crew known as the God Four. Now an adult andÂ on a flight home after working on a documentary in South Africa, Rob finds a letter in his mail from an old classmate and crew member talking about their year at Felton and asking Rob to come to their reunion. The letter triggers memories of thatÂ faithfulÂ year which took aÂ tragicÂ turn. Confronted with his past and realizing just how uncertain his future is, Rob is forced to deal with the trauma of his past and the current turmoil he faces in life.
I found the story to be very slow moving. It was clear that the slow placing was intentional and I felt like it made the reader forced to focus more on the characters and their relationships then the mystery of what happened at Felton all those years ago. The language and descriptions were beautiful. I really felt like I could picture Felton and the river as much as Caroline’s loft. I found that the book did a good job of moving between Rob’s storyline from the present with that in the past. I enjoyed how it matched the feelings and parelled situations that were going on at both those times in his life. I don’t know much about rowing but I felt like the book did a good job ofÂ explainingÂ it, not just technically but also the drive that leads people to row and the sacrifices they make to do this sport.
TITLE: The Bellwether Revivals
AUTHOR: Benjamin Wood
GENRE: Literature/Fiction (Adult); Mystery
FORMAT: Digital ARC via NetGalley
RELEASE DATE: May 28, 2013 (Penguin Group)
(From Goodreads) The Bellwether Revivals opens and closes with bodies. The story of whose bodies and how they come to be spread about an elegant house on the river near Cambridge is told by Oscar, a young, bright working class man who has fallen in love with an upper-class Cambridge student, Iris, and thereby become entangled with a group of close friends, led by Iris’s charismatic, brilliant, possibly dangerous brother. For Eden Bellwether believes he can heal — and perhaps more — through the power of music.
Iâm not even sure where to begin with The Bellwether Revivals, because itâs impacted me in a really wonderful but simultaneously horrible way thatâs difficult to describe. Writing is like that â youâre trying to describe feelings and you depend a lot on skill but also on luck. Some days youâre more fortunate than others, and you can describe these very complex, subtle emotions and sensations with a few words or many, but always quickly, and without too much thought â it comes naturally, like the feelings themselves. But other days you sit there and think, and think, and think, and nothing comes to you â so you have to sort of awkwardly tough it out.
Iâll cheat and quote Bukowski: âFind what you love and let it kill you.â
TITLE: The First Rule of Swimming
AUTHOR: Courtney Angela Brkic
GENRE: Literature/Fiction (Adult)
FORMAT: Digital ARC via NetGalley, 273 pages
RELEASE DATE: May 28, 2013 (Little, Brown & Company)
Anything that centers around the bond between sisters always resonates pretty deeply with me because I have a sister of my own. We’re seven years apart, but look and act more like twins now that we’re not kids anymore. (Actually, you might have seen her around here — her name is Nina and she does guest reviews for us once in a while.) The heart of this book is the relationship between sisters Magdalena and Jadranka, who have stuck together through the turbulent events of their shared childhood and, while as different as night and day, have a connection that’s never been broken. Until the day Jadranka disappears, and Magdalena finds herself assaulted by a storm of family secrets.
Aside from being about a pair of sisters, The First Rule of Swimming has an extremely nuanced writing style that brings its characters to life. Magdalena’s grandfather, grandmother, and overseas relatives were fully fleshed out. The big snag for me, though, was the pacing. As lovely as the writing can be at times, the fact remains that this isn’t a book for those who love a lot of action. Action isn’t even a big deal to me, and yet the pace still felt agonizingly slow at times. It was one of those books that were under 300 pages and yet still took me forever to get through. This story definitely calls for a patient reader.
TITLE: I’ll Be Seeing You
AUTHORS: Suzanne Hayes & Loretta Nyhan
GENRE: Historical Fiction
FORMAT: Digital ARC via NetGalley
RELEASE DATE: May 28, 2013 (Harlequin)
In January 1943, Glory Whitehall takes a deep breath and writes a letter to a woman who lives miles away. That woman is Rita Vincenzo, forty one years old and praying that her husband and son will stay safe wherever they are in the war-torn world. Despite how different they are, the two women forge a bond through pen and paper that ultimately withstands pain, tragedy, and tumultuous change. They become lifelines for one another in a time of great uncertainty. Rita sends wisdom and advice tempered by years of being a wife and mother, while Glory relates the constant learning experience of marrying young and trying to raise two small children while their father fights at the front lines in Europe. Together, far apart and yet side by side, they wait for the war to end and fight to keep faith alive.
I don’t know what it is, but I usually find myself liking books told through letters. I think it’s an especially good medium for historical fiction; it works like a charm for The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society, for example, and that’s one of my favorite reads (and re-reads) ever. There’s something about letters back and forth that makes a story so much more personal. It’s a quality that I think is becoming steadily overwhelmed in a world where snail mail isn’t anyone’s primary method of communication any more. But I’ve had pen pals my entire life, and finding a letter in the mailbox is still a lot like Christmas for me. That’s why it was easy for me to appreciate the easy warmth of the friendship between Rita and Glory, and although it lacked the magic of Guernsey, I still found it to be an enjoyable read.