Thursday, June 18, 2009

Quick, Touching Summer Read

Just in time for summer comes The Lace Makers of Glenmara (available next Tuesday). I'm a sucker for books set in Ireland (note the entire Maeve Binchy library over there in my GoodReads widget), and this one hits all the notes: lousy weather, rugged terrain, mysterious travellers, witty elders.

Kate is fleeing a failed relationship, a failed career move and her mother's death. She takes the trip to Ireland that she'd been planning to take with her mother, and ends up stranded in the tiny hamlet of Glenmara. She happens into a circle of lace makers, each with their own sorrows and challenges. The characters are typically Irish in their reticence to both air dirty laundry and show emotion, but the new project of designing lacy lingerie in the hopes of stimulating the economy in the impovershed village forces the women to face themselves and their challenges head on. It also provides Kate with a distraction from her past, and a way to gain confidence in her future.

Although at times the Irish stereotypes are a bit trite, Heather Barbieri shows glimpses of brilliance in her descriptions of the ruggedness of both land and people. The narrative from each woman's point of view shows us (and Kate) that every woman has her trials, almost everything can be survived, and the beauty that exists in every relationship lasts beyond death.

It's a fairly quick read, perfect for summer trips or lounging on the porch swing. And you'll probably never look at lace the same way again.

(reviewed for Mother-Talk)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

An Historic Time

Both boys were pretty interested in the presidential campaign last year. Although they thought our president's name was "Rock of Bama" for a while, they eventually figured it out and I'm proud to say that Benjamin was the only 3-year-old in his preschool class who knew that the other candidate was John McCain.

I've been looking for a book on Obama, especially for A. to read, but all the ones I've found are really thin and there's just not a lot of information. That's why this one is a keeper:

I actually got it for A., but his father keeps taking it. Filled with photos and interesting tidbits (he collects Spiderman comics), it's a quality hardcover book with lots of interesting information about Obama and his family. It's easy enough for A. to read, but interesting enough for grownups, and it's a great keepsake of this historic election. The boys have to wrestle us to get their hands on it. It's available through Amazon and the New York Times store.