A long time ago I read the book The Red Tent by Anita Diamante and loved it. Just recently I read another of her books The Last Days of Dogtown (blog posting 2/21/07) and liked that one too. So, because I was having a hard time thinking of anything to look for at the library (hint, hint, I need suggestions!) I decided to head to the "D" section and find anything else by Ms. Diamante. I picked up her book Good Harbor. It's the story of two Jewish women who live in the seaside town of Gloucester, one full time and one for holidays. The women become friends and walk through life together, high and low points. The characters are sometimes lovely women, and mostly believable. The dialogue is real and nothing is too saccharine. Still, it is less rich than the other two novels, but a sweet read nonetheless. Perhaps a book to take on vacation with you? I can imagine reading this in a cabin or a beach house. Definitely by water and with a tasty beverage.
Also found while wandering through the San Jose Public Library, a series of books from Canongate Publishers (as if that means anything to anyone, except of course to the lovely folks at Canongate . . . sorry if I offended!) that are retelling of world myths by modern storytellers. One word for you friends . . . CAPTIVATING. The first two I have read are Dream Angus by Alexander McCall Smith (The #1 Ladies Detective Agency Series) and The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid's Tale). Both are amazing tales. The first is from a Celtic myth of Angus, the son of a god and a naiad, who brings dreams to mortal creatures. Wow. Smith has an amazing gift of weaving language in a way that is dreamlike and wonderful and makes you long to be sitting in front of a fireplace listening to him tell the tale of the boy who brings dreams. The second is a much darker story in which we get an account of what Penelope was doing in all the time Odysseus was away rescuing Helen from Paris of Troy, from Penelope's point of view. Atwood has a much heavier hand than Smith does, when retelling a story, but no less effective. The Penelopiad is presented as a Greek tragedy, complete with a chorus made up of Penelope's twelve maids who were hanged by Odysseus upon his return. Wonderful. I had a tough time putting either of these down.