Cherry Odelberg, 2015. Photo by Kevin Decker
Cherry Odelberg, 2015. Photo by Kevin Decker

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

Well-written book with a satisfying ending. Seamless interweaving of details from the first chapters with closure in the finals. As Zevin’s characters argue on page 202,

Lambiase: You don’t always have to know who stole the violin.

Fikry: In my experience, it is more satisfying to readers if you do.

It was a mystery and I didn’t even notice until every last detail was solved conclusively. This is a book for rereading, for thinking, “oh my goodness, really? The author introduced that hint way back here and I didn’t notice?” Gabrielle Zevin is master of backstory. Loved, loved, loved the characters. Zevin knows her characters and she knows herself. Give me friends like that any day and send me to Alice Island to live, I’m in. This is a book I will urge upon acquaintances again and again and they will thank me for it.

The Signature of All Things, Elizabeth Gilbert 2013

Great people discuss ideas, mediocre people talk about events and small people talk about people. This is not your usual Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love; but it very well may be the best book I read all year. Deftly written and raw, the reader gets just enough of a character sketch to perfectly understand the players. Tagging on to the Enlightened era with authentic Victorian word choice, social customs, ideals and intellectual thought, Gilbert takes an epic anthropological safari through Darwinism and Abolitionism and nods forward to what Freud will eventually conclude. All this truth, history, science and philosophy in a work of fiction!

Two bumps in the road for this sensitive reader. Entirely TMI and Freudian redemption. Religion gone fanatic. I hated – though I was drawn to – the nature of closure and the charisma of the redeemer. The great tragedy here is the complete working out of “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” The great comfort? Final acknowledgement, acceptance and triumph – a hero at peace.

Putting One Foot in Front of the Other, Hiking for Life!