January 2023 Reading Wrap Up


Reading Wrap ups / Monday, July 17th, 2023

 

“An irresistible comic novel from the master storyteller Percival Everett, and an irreverent take on race, class, and identity in America

I was, in life, to be a gambler, a risk-taker, a swashbuckler, a knight. I accepted, then and there, my place in the world. I was a fighter of windmills. I was a chaser of whales. I was Not Sidney Poitier.

Not Sidney Poitier is an amiable young man in an absurd country. The sudden death of his mother orphans him at age eleven, leaving him with an unfortunate name, an uncanny resemblance to the famous actor, and, perhaps more fortunate, a staggering number of shares in the Turner Broadcasting Corporation.

Percival Everett’s hilarious new novel follows Not Sidney’s tumultuous life, as the social hierarchy scrambles to balance his skin color with his fabulous wealth. Maturing under the less-than watchful eye of his adopted foster father, Ted Turner, Not gets arrested in rural Georgia for driving while black, sparks a dinnertable explosion at the home of his manipulative girlfriend, and sleuths a murder case in Smut Eye, Alabama, all while navigating the recurrent communication problem: “What’s your name?” a kid would ask. “Not Sidney,” I would say. “Okay, then what is it?”” (Goodreads)

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“Orphaned with a substantial inheritance at the age of ten, Pauline Quenu is taken from Paris to live with her relatives, Monsieur and Madame Chanteau and their son Lazare, in the village of Bonneville on the wild Normandy coast. Her presence enlivens the household and Pauline is the only one who can ease Chanteau’s gout-ridden agony. Her love of life contrasts with the insularity and pessimism that infects the family, especially Lazare, for whom she develops a devoted passion. Gradually Madame Chanteau starts to take advantage of Pauline’s generous nature, and jealousy and resentment threaten to blight all their lives. The arrival of a pretty family friend, Louise, brings tensions to a head.

The twelfth novel in the Rougon Macquart series, The Bright Side of Life is remarkable for its depiction of intense emotions and physical and mental suffering. The precarious location of Bonneville and the changing moods of the sea mirror the turbulent relations of the characters, and as the story unfolds its title comes to seem ever more ironic.” (Goodreads)

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“A gothic masterpiece of tempestuous passions and dark secrets, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre is edited with an introduction and notes by Stevie Davis in Penguin Classics.

Charlotte Brontë tells the story of orphaned Jane Eyre, who grows up in the home of her heartless aunt, enduring loneliness and cruelty. This troubled childhood strengthens Jane’s natural independence and spirit – which prove necessary when she finds employment as a governess to the young ward of Byronic, brooding Mr Rochester. As her feelings for Rochester develop, Jane gradually uncovers Thornfield Hall’s terrible secret, forcing her to make a choice. Should she stay with Rochester and live with the consequences, or follow her convictions – even if it means leaving the man she loves? A novel of intense power and intrigue, Jane Eyre dazzled readers with its passionate depiction of a woman’s search for equality and freedom.” (Goodreads)

 

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“‘What are you?’

Tessa McWatt knows first-hand that the answer to this question, often asked of people of colour by white people, is always more complicated than it seems. Is the answer English, Scottish, British, Caribbean, Portuguese, Indian, Amerindian, French, African, Chinese, Canadian? Like most families, hers is steeped in myth and the anecdotes of grandparents and parents who recount their histories through the lens of desire, aspiration, loss, and shame.

In Shame On Me she unspools all the interwoven strands of her multicoloured inheritance, and knits them back together using additional fibres from literature and history to strengthen the weave of her refabricated tale. She dismantles her own body and examines it piece by piece to build a devastating and incisively subtle analysis of the race debate as it now stands, in this stunningly written exploration of who and what we truly are.” (Goodreads)

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