Pond

pondClaire-Louise Bennett
2016
FICTION B471p

Immediately upon its publication in Ireland, Claire-Louise Bennett’s debut began to attract attention well beyond the expectations of the tiny Irish press that published it. A deceptively slender volume, it captures with utterly mesmerizing virtuosity the interior reality of its unnamed protagonist, a young woman living a singular and mostly solitary existence on the outskirts of a small coastal village. Sidestepping the usual conventions of narrative, it focuses on the details of her daily experience—from the best way to eat porridge or bananas to an encounter with cows—rendered sometimes in story-length, story-like stretches of narrative, sometimes in fragments no longer than a page, but always suffused with the hypersaturated, almost synesthetic intensity of the physical world that we remember from childhood. The effect is of character refracted and ventriloquized by environment, catching as it bounces her longings, frustrations, and disappointments—the ending of an affair, or the ambivalent beginning with a new lover. As the narrator’s persona emerges in all its eccentricity, sometimes painfully and often hilariously, we cannot help but see mirrored there our own fraught desires and limitations, and our own fugitive desire, despite everything, to be known.

Shimmering and unusual, Pond demands to be devoured in a single sitting that will linger long after the last page.

The Man Without a Shadow

man_shadowJoyce Carol Oates
2016
FICTION O11m

In this taut and fascinating novel, the bestselling, New York Times bestselling and National Book Award-winning author of The Sacrifice, The Accursed, and Lovely, Dark, Deep examines the mysteries of memory, personality, and identity and pierces the enigmatic force that drives human lives—love.

In 1965, neuroscientist Margot Sharpe meets the attractive, charismatic Elihu Hoopes—the “man without a shadow”—whose devastated memory, unable to store new experiences or to retrieve the old, will make him the most famous and most studied amnesiac in history. Over the course of the next thirty years, Margot herself becomes famous for her experiments with E. H.—and inadvertently falls in love with him, despite the ethical ambiguity of their affair, and though he remains forever elusive and mysterious to her, haunted by mysteries of the past.

We Need to Talk About Kevin

need_talk_kevinLionel Shriver
2003
FICTION S561w

In a series of brutally introspective missives to her husband, Franklin, from whom she is separated, Eva tries to come to grips with the fact that their 17-year-old son, Kevin , has killed seven students and two adults with his crossbow. Guiltily she recalls how, as a successful writer, she was terrified of having a child. Was it for revenge, then, that from the moment of his birth Kevin was the archetypal difficult child, screaming for hours, refusing to nurse, driving away countless nannies, and intuitively learning to « divide and conquer » his parents?
Le livre qui m’a le plus atteinte, à vie!

The Sense of an Ending

sense_endingJulian Barnes
2011
FICTION B261s

I loved this book! A middle-aged divorced man named Tony reminisces about his first girl-friend Veronica and his old school friend Adrian, whom he worships. He takes us on a journey back to his old self and his failed relationship with Veronica that stiil stings him after all these years. However, when he gets a letter from a solicitor his perception of what he remembers shifts and he is confronted with the reality of his actions, and has to reassess the person he was and the one he has become, as well as his feelings towards his past friends. The author expertly explores how memories fail us , how what we remember is often shaded by our warped perception and self-preservation, and how we interpret and imagine the lives of others. Writing from the first person, we are caught up in his thoughts and his viewpoint and awaken as he does to reality.
2011 Booker Prize Winner.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

guernsey_potato_pieMary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
2008
FICTION S525g

What a charming book! Composed solely of letters and telegrams, this is the story of writer Juliet Ashton, who after the Second World War in England starts a correspondence with the members of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. She grows attached to them and learns about what happened on this Channel Island when it was occupied by the Germans. The book is replete with unforgettable characters, like Dawsey, a charming but quiet villager, Mark a dashing American millionaire, Isola, the kind local witch, and Elizabeth, a brave nurse.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

all_completely_beside_ourselvesKaren Joy Fowler
2013
FICTION F786w

Rosemary Cooke is a little odd. But you would be too if you grew up in a family like hers. She comes from a loving family, but at the age of 5 her life is turned upside down. She tries to make sense of it, but what she remembers as an adult and what really happened sometimes does not coincide. While at College, she uncovers some of the truth when her estranged brother visits her. He is an animal rights activist and the FBI is after him. While they both share a traumatic past experience, he deals with it with action and she very passively, until she forgives herself and takes control.
This was a great read. There is a lot of humour and the author’s writing style is vivid and witty. The themes are family, relationships, animal rights, perception and memory, and the lasting impact of trauma on our lives.

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt

scrapbook_frankie_prattCaroline Preston
2011
FICTION P937s

Charming and whimsical coming of age story, set in the 1920’s, entirely illustrated with vintage photographs, ads, letters, and other memorabilia.
The book is divided in 6 chapters, each one depicting a period in Frank Pratt’s young adult life: her graduation from High School in a small New Hampshire town; going to Vassar; living in Greenwich Village, New York City, and finding her first writing job; moving to Paris and meeting famous ex-pats, such as Hemmingway and James Joyce; and then coming back home and marrying.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold FryRachel Joyce
2012
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An absolutely stunning and charming book about redemption, forgiveness, and the frailty of relationtionships, long-listed for the Booker prize 2012.
Harold Fry has lived with his wife Maureen for 45 years. One day, he receives a letter: it is in a pink envelope and from a woman he once worked with twenty years ago and who now has cancer. Harold writes back and goes out to post the letter but when he starts walking, his thoughts about his life take possession of him and what started out as a mere outing becomes a pilgrimage to save his friend. He ends up on a trek that will challenge his body, his spirit, and his life forever.

The Art of Racing in the Rain

art_racing_rainGarth Stein
2008
FICTION S819a

Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul (and an obsession with opposable thumbs), he has educated himself by watching television and by listening closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver. On the night before his death, Enzo takes stock of his life, recalling all that he and his family have been through, hoping, in his next life, to return as a human. [NoveList]