Thursday, 30 July 2015

TBT Review: The Invention of Wings





The following review is from February 2014:

I love history and American history and from inception to the 1960s, is one of my passions. Along with factual reading I enjoy historical fiction as it presents a different form of storytelling. For me, it is a way to put yourself in the time through interesting characters...


THE INVENTION OF WINGS
Written by Sue Monk Kidd
Narrated by Jenna Lamia and Adepero Oduye
2014; 385 Pages (Audio length: 13 hours and 46 minutes)
Genre: historical fiction, american, southern fiction, african fiction

Rating: ★★★★ 

 (I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Sue Monk Kidd wrote The Invention of Wings because of her interest in the Grimke sisters and the time they lived in. In the novel we hear from Sarah Grimke and her maid, Hetty "Handful" Grimke. 


Sarah is the middle child of a wealthy lawyer with a household of house and field slaves.  We meet Sarah at a young age when her ideals and moral code is cemented.  As a child she wanted to be a jurist like her father and brother but is told that she is a woman and therefore will be a wife.  She meets a charming man with whom she thinks she can be the "wife" with.  When her heart is broken she forgoes society and her reputation as she fights for the rights for women and African-Americans with her youngest sister, Angelina.


Hetty's mother is also a slave has become Mrs. Grimke's seamstress when she  shows talent.  Hetty sits at her mother's feet learning about sewing, her family history and wanting to be free.  Sarah is uncomfortable with Hetty being a slave and tries to free her when Hetty is given to her on her birthday.  When she is told no Sarah goes against the law to teach her to read and write.  Hetty taking on her mother's word joins the cause to free herself.

I loved Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees and was pleased to see that she was writing another novel set in the South. Before I started this novel I did not know that this story was based on real historical figures.  The author does tell in the Afterwards why she wrote this story and how much is historical fact and how much is historical fiction.  I love that the novel alternates between Sarah and Hetty as it gives us the aspect of both "slaves" and "slaveholders" in the early nineteenth century.  The writing is brilliant and the subject matter is so interesting.  I found myself looking up the Grimke sisters and seeing what was written about them.  This is one novel that will leave you still thinking about it months later. 


Author's Website

The New York Times article



About the Author:

Sue Monk Kidd was raised in the small town of Sylvester, Georgia, a place that deeply influenced the writing of her first novel The Secret Life of Bees. She graduated from Texas Christian University in 1970 and later took creative writing courses at Emory University and Anderson College, as well as studying at Sewanee, Bread Loaf, and other writers conferences.

Her book When the Heart Waits, published by Harper SanFrancisco in 1990 has become a touchstone on contemplative spirituality. In 1996, Harper published The Dance of the Dissident Daughter, describing Kidd’s journey into feminist theology, a memoir that had a groundbreaking effect within religious circles.
 
In her forties, Kidd turned her attention to writing fiction, winning the South Carolina Fellowship in Literature and the 1996 Poets & Writers Exchange Program in Fiction. Her short stories appeared in TriQuarterly, Nimrod, and other literary journals and received a Katherine Anne Porter award and citations in Best American Short Stories’ 100 Distinguished Stories.
 
When her first novel, The Secret Life of Bees, was published by Viking in 2002, it became a genuine literary phenomenon, spending more than 2½ years on the New York Times bestseller list. It has been translated into 36 languages and sold more than 6 million copies in the U.S. and 8 million copies worldwide. Bees was named the Book Sense Paperback Book of the Year in 2004, long-listed for the 2002 Orange Prize in England, and won numerous awards. For over a decade, the novel has been produced on stage by The American Place Theater, and in 2008 it was adapted into a movie by Fox Searchlight, which won the People’s Choice award for best movie and the NAACP Image award for best picture. It is taught widely in middle school, high school, and college classrooms.
Kidd’s second novel, The Mermaid Chair, has sold well over a million copies since its publication by Viking in 2005, reaching #1 on the New York Times bestseller list and remaining on the hardcover and paperback lists for nine months. Winner of the 2005 Quill Award for General Fiction, the novel was longlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, translated into 24 languages, and made into a television movie by Lifetime.
 
The spiritual essays, meditations, and inspirational stories Kidd wrote in her thirties were 
collected into a single volume, Firstlight: The Early Inspiration Writings and published by 
Guideposts Books in 2006 and Penguin in 2007.
After traveling with her daughter, Ann Kidd Taylor, to sacred sites in Greece, Turkey, and France, Kidd and Taylor co-authored a memoir, Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother-Daughter Story. Published by Viking in 2009, it appeared on numerous bestseller lists, including the New York Times list and has been published in several languages.
 
Drop Everything and Read!
The Invention of Wings, Kidd’s third novel was published January 7, 2014 by Viking to wide critical acclaim. It debuted on the New York Times bestseller list at #1 and remained on the hardcover fiction list for over six months. It has been translated into 20 languages, thus far. The novel was chosen for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0. Plans are underway to turn the book into a film.
 
Kidd serves on the Writers Council for Poets & Writers, Inc.  She lives in Southwest Florida with her husband, Sandy.
 

k (My Novelesque Life)

Book What Now?

In the world of trilogies and series many fall flat with repetitive plots, frustrating readers with love triangles or never letting the couple become a couple, and/or start to be ghostwritten/co-authored so the series can churn out 2-3 books a year (but alas, lack the original author's talent).  

James Patterson's Alex Cross and The Women's Murder Club were two of my favourite series, but by book 7 I could figure out the plot faster than the author probably had intended. As I kept reading I no longer cared how the women or Cross would finally tie up all the loose ends. I kept picking up the next book more out of routine.  I was noticing the books I enjoyed by Patterson were usually written on his own (or with Andrew Gross) and wondered why he would team up with an unknown author rather than writing on his own which worked well for him.  Unfortunately, or fortunately, I have divorced myself from the Cross series as it feels too much like a chore to even pick up the next book (Alex Cross's Trial).  I have separated but not given up The Women's Murder Club so will give book 8 a chance when I have the energy to try to reconcile.

Another series I have divorced is Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum.  I find myself shouting (way too much)..."Pick one, already! Please no more monologues on how hot and mysterious Ranger is compared to how sexy and good Morelli is." While I love Lula's sass and Grandma Mazur's comebacks and antics I just can't take the cliched plots and same secondary characters being recycled as new ones (and stopped officially at Fearless Fourteen).

I have always felt obligated in finishing a series once I start just like my OCD tendencies will only allow me to start at book one for any series.   But enough was enough.  Why was I reading a book I could just as easily put down and never think about it again when there were so many books that made me do the Snoopy dance when I just held it in my hands?  I have broken the chains of series obligations and taken my reading time back.

So you can imagine my apprehension on starting a new-to-me series with a high number of books.  An acquaintance  once talked me into reading JD Robb's (aka Nora Roberts) first book, Naked in Death.  I went in not wanting to like it as it seemed like a daunting task.  I finished the book and went, meh.   I felt good that I was off the hook in starting a new series.  Then my dear friend (who inspired me to read Stacy Green's series) convinced me to try the first book (and ultimately the series) again by just her passion for this series...and I felt left out in chats.  In March 2012, I started with book one again (liking it but not loving it) and then picked up book 2, 3, 4, 5, etc.  There was no love triangle, and the couples do not get boring or drag, each plot is different and the suspense had me staying up nights trying to finish them.  The fact that this series is set in the future with some futuristic aspect adds to the freshness.  There are few repetitive factors in this series (might contain spoilers so won't go into them) but it's comforting rather than eye-rolling.  Call it sci-fi mystery romance, romantic suspense or plain mystery...this is a series that will keep you reading.

Here I am almost three and half years later listening to book 48 (plus 10 novellas) and still loving the In Death series.  It isn't Eve's romance with Roarke that makes me download the next audio with glee, but the friendship between Eve and Peabody, the insights from Dr. Mira, the banter between her and Summerset, the fabulous secondary characters that bring the world of In Death alive and the way Eve Dallas loves her job and does it well.  There are bad books in this series but I have not rated any book less than 3 stars and would still recommend people read them (as they are still good just not great as the standout ones).  I will let you know how I feel when I get to book 50 on how it's going but I am very impressed with Ms. Roberts's writing and her ability in keeping my interest.

Agree or disagree with my thoughts on In Death, Alex Cross, The Women's Murder Club or Stephanie Plum? Let me know! Or any series I should stay away from as you have divorced yourself from it?


k (My Novelesque Life)

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Whistling While I Work...


Yay, audio books!
There comes a time in life when we must leave our comforts and pleasures for the drudgery of...housework.  Well, for me, having learned from my mom and Bibi (Punjabi for grandmother), I actually find a great sense of accomplishment when I have cleaned and organized my living space.  As a kid it definitely earned me brownie points and more time to "read".  I wasn't that into going to school but loved the getting ready for the school year routine.  I would organize my closet to fit my new first day outfit and a few other new classic pieces (jeans and shirts), and clean my room so that that year I would definitely study more.  To help that "study more" vibe I would set up my desk with new and old school supplies (I am a little...um, crazy over office supplies) along with my backpack. 

Lastly, and my favourite, was organizing my bookshelf.  Last year it was sorted by country of author so this year would be publisher...no wait, format.  While anyone else would see this housework as a major task in itself and feel content with just finishing it, my type-A personality scoffs at this meager challenge. To make that little voice, not just hush, but be impressed I do all of that while reading a book.  Okay, I made that sound a little more impressive than it is, but hey it is my blog.  To prep for this annual event I would get my dad to take me to the library and checkout The Pistachio Prescription by Paula Danzinger, Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret and It's Not the End of the World by Judy Blume on audio.  

Throughout the years I have listened to audiobooks while making the very long commute from my home to University and later work (at the same University but by transit this time) and have really enjoyed it.  The past five years though I have tried to incorporate more "reading" time by listening to more audiobooks.  Now that I don't have to carry around a bunch of cassettes (ack, I have just dated myself) or CD discs (or the dread flip the cassette or add next CD) I find listening to books a lot more practical. 


I clip on my iPod while I wash dishes, cook meals, do housework, while on the computer, in the car, before bed and at my old job I was able to listen to a book in a day or two while going about my usual work (no mistakes on any that work, either).  And, it's not just simply listening to a book being read to me but finding a narrator that can suck you into the writing and make it come to life.  Being a fan of theater and old time radio programs this is very important to me and I can be a bit picky.  If a narrator can't engage me I will move on to another audiobook (and read the book at another time).

Long story still long, I will be doing some posts and reviews on audiobooks in the coming months.  There will be no set time as listening to audio varies for me.  I will try and give you some notice for when I will be posting about an audiobook (I usually get these audiobooks from my library's eLibrary).

Audiobooks...yay or nay?

k (My Novelesque Life)

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

BOOK CLUB: July 2015




This evening at our book club meeting we discussed Toni Morrison's novel, Home. This short book gave us a lot to talk about - the book, the author and the previous writings of Ms. Morrison.  I have read two other novels by this author, The Bluest Eye and Beloved - one I loved and the other left me confused and uninterested.  I was excited when I chose this from our members' tbr (to be read) list. I have had this need to like Toni Morrison's writing.

I read her novel The Bluest Eye because of Oprah's book club.  Whoever chooses Oprah's book selections and comes up with her talking points is someone I would invite to my fantasy book club meeting (more on this another time).   It is a hard novel to read and has the rawness of Alice Walker's The Color Purple and style of Dorothy Allison's The Bastard Out of Carolina, but one that holds your attention from the first word to the last.  Beloved was on my reading list for a Women's Studies course and I was excited to see I was going to read another  Morrison novel.  While it was well written I found the subject matter a bit difficult to read and the characters did not reach out to me.  It was the subject matter that brought the book down a bit for me but I finished it so that was a positive.

Home

Written by Toni Morrison
2102; 147 Pages
Genre: historical fiction, literary

Rating: ★★1/2 

I was interested in Home as it was set around a Korean War veteran, Frank - a war we never hear much about nor about the effects on veterans - returning home after watching his friends and comrades die leaves him angry, confused and anxious.  As we follow him making his journey home we meet his sister, who gains a job with a doctor that leaves her on death's door, and having Frank come to her rescue.  Morrison explores many themes -racism, violence, post-traumatic stress disorder and eugenics, to name a few -which I was totally interested in but I felt shafted a bit as she did not delve into details.  There was so much I wanted to know and only caught glimpses.  Her writing felt a bit like excerpts from a novel than a short novel.  Unlike Alice Monroe, I found Morrison was not able to pack a lot into a sentence or two.  And, also unlike Hemingway her quick-straight-to-the-point style fell flat.  While I would not read this book again, nor recommend it (and will probably not keep my copy of the ebook) I cannot say, "I wish I never read this piece."  Toni Morrison captured my curiosity and interest in looking up some of the historical points in this book and craving to read more about some of the themes she gave an unsatisfying explanation of in Home. It also has me wondering about her back list of books - Sula, Mercy, Tar Baby and Song of Solomon - and makes me want to like majority of her writing.

As for other members of book club - S. enjoyed the short piece and felt satisfy with what Morrison had written though she can understand the points others' made.  K. who has read a few of Morrison's novels was disappointed with this book as it didn't hold up to her usual standards (and had similar views as mine).  H. felt like something was missing and some parts were not explained well.  Overall, we would all give Morrison another shot.  When asked K. and I recommended The Bluest Eye if you wanted to give Morrison a try.

Have you read Home?  What were your thoughts?
k (My Novelesque Life)

Monday, 27 July 2015

Review: A.D. Scott's The Highland Gazette


As I wrote my blog post on Friday afternoon my laptop's adapter burnt out so after work today (Sunday) I went to pick a new one up so I could keep my promise.  I really wanted to post this today...it showcases two of my new ideas in one...Mystery Monday and Flashback Friday.  Every Monday we will have a "Mystery" themed post (author profiles, book reviews, fun facts, etc) and on Fridays I will share a review from the past (a review I wrote before this year, or a book I read before this year, or a review of a reread, etc).  

And, for Tuesday's post I will be discussing Home by Toni Morrison.  I  belong to a (meet in person) book club that tries to meet once a month to discuss books and any other topics that come up.  (More on the book club on Tuesday).  The day after our meeting I will be posting my review of the book along with a playback of what others thought.

Stay tuned this week for more information on what's coming up! By September we should have a clear schedule.  Please do NOT hesitate to suggest or comment on any posts, ideas or reviews.  I love any feedback :)

Now on with the show...

(The following posts were published in Fall 2014)

FALL INTO READING (I)

It is finally my favourite season of the year - Autumn.  It is perfect for reading.  There are still some warmish afternoons to enjoy some reading on the deck with a nice cold drink. Or when it does get a bit chilly, or a rainy day, there is a warm blanket waiting with a steamy tea or coffee.  Let the reading begin.


Lovely cover.
My recent goal has been catching up on or completing series I have already begun.  I start so many book one of a series but instead of moving forward I seem to start another book. I have been doing pretty good for the past few months.  I have even reread some books to aid in plan. I was looking at my local library's website and browsed through the "on order" list and noticed the following cover.

I totally judged this book by it's cover and went to see if this was part of a series or a standalone novel.  Of course it is book 5 of a series.  Then began the search of whether I can buy/borrow the other books.  Things worked out as I found all four novels in paperback at my local library :) I have put a hold on The Low Road and started with the first book, A Small Death in the Great Glen.





A SMALL DEATH IN THE GREAT GLEN
(The Highland Gazette: #1)
Written by A.D. Scott

 2010; 416 pages
Genre: mystery, historical, fiction

Rating: ★★★

 

When trying to figure out if Low Road was part of a series (and if yes what number) I found that there were two names for the series.  On A.D. Scott's website she calls the series The Highland Gazette mysteries after the newspaper publication where five of the main characters work.  Most other book sites call this series Joanne Ross after one of the characters in the novel.  While we do get more details on Joanne in the first book, I am with Scott and like to refer to the series as The Highland Gazette mysteries.

Speaking of details....there are a LOT of descriptions, explanations and hearing every thought a character has in the first book, A Small Death in the Great Glen.  The novel takes place in the Highlands of Scotland in the 1950s and opens with a young boy's body being found in the canal lock.  The young boy, Jamie was friends with Joanne Ross' daughters, Annie and Wee Jean.  That is where the mystery sort of stops and the descriptions of each character in the novel begins.  While I am nosy and like the back story of characters I found it very tedious and almost got to the point where I stopped reading.  While the mystery runs through the novel it is not the focal point of the book.  The focal point is Joanne Ross - wife, mother and part-time typist at the Highland Gazette - and how she has to overcome her abusive husband, being shunned by her minister father, being a disappointment to her mother-in-law and being though of as thinking above her station by the rest of the town.  Her only real friends are Italian born immigrants, the Corelli family and the people she works with and for.  Then we meet Rob McLean, reporter and son of a barrister.  He is young, wild and ambitious.  Also on the paper is Don McLeod -the gruff editor and team leader- and then their is dependable Mrs. Smart who takes care of advertising and other tasks with Joanne.  Finally, rounding out the team is MacAllister, the boss and sort of love interest of Joanne.  Do not fear you will get every single detail of each of these characters and even some secondary and very minor players.  

So why did I continue to read this book? Well, there are two reasons why I had to keep trying with this dense novel.  One of the reasons was that I had read reviews on this book and many said it was dense but was worth it because the second book is amazing.  That intrigued me and once I got reading I wanted to see if that was true because it was taking me forever to get through the first one.  The second reason I pursued the novel was because of Mrs. Smart - who we don't get much about so I wanted to see what was going on there and if Joanne would smarten up and kick her husband to the curb. 

The end result was yes they do remember they have to solve the murder and with all the information given about people, places and things I will not have to do research ever on 1950s Highlands.  The next book better be amazing or I am giving up!

  

 FALL INTO READING (II)

The question on everyone's mind from my last blog is...was book two (A Double Death on the Black Isle) worth the time and effort of reading book one (A Small Death in the Great Glen)?


A DOUBLE DEATH ON THE BLACK ISLE
(The Highland Gazette: #2)
Written by A.D. Scott
2011; 359 pages
Genre: mystery, fiction, historical

Rating: ★★★1/2

Patricia, an old school friend of Joanne Ross calls her to her estate for her secret wedding to a fisherman.  Unfortunately, that is not the only drama for Black Isle.  On the same day two men from the same estate are found dead.  Accident or murder? Either way the Highland Gazette is on the case.  

I see it now!  This second book is a mystery, period.  While we still move with the characters and hear what they are think they is more "action" and suspense in this novel.  I enjoyed the hesitant banter between Joanne and MacAllister.  Don is just a great character that provides heart.  I applaud the realism of some of the shadier players in the book. The  novel moved at a quicker pace in that I was absorbed in the beginning and found it hard to not read more.   I read this one within a day or so.  I will read book three but if the series gets like book one I think I will stop with the series.   



WHO IS MRS. SMART?

I went straight into the third novel by A.D. Scott and knew this one would be the make or break book for the series.


BENEATH THE ABBEY WALL
(The Highland Gazette: #3) 
Written by A.D. Scott

2012; 352 Pages
Genre: historical, mystery, fiction

★★★1/2

In Book one and two Mrs. Smart - the newspaper's office manager - is a background character.  We do not find out much about her but she is reliable and holds the Highland Gazette team together.  The lack of detail of her life and her no nonsense attitude intrigued me and I was hoping in this book we would learn more.

It has been a few months since the last novel and in this book the Highland Gazette is thoroughly rocked.  First there is the death of Mrs. Smart (dang it! I am already attached) and then Don McLeod is charged for her murder.  The members of the Gazette are not sure how Don and Mrs. Smart are connected and why her murder has wrecked him so much.

The reading of Mrs. Smart's will bring up more questions than helping the Gazette figure out who is Mrs. Smart's killer.  As they dig deeper into the case the newspaper is falling apart.  The new Canadian stranger in town working as a subeditor has Joanne in a lovestruck tizzy and MacAllister is too distraught over Don and Mrs. Smart to notice.  Joanne also might have a way to get rid of Bill and save her new life.  Time is of the essence but secrets are hard to shake loose and more than Don has everything to lose.

I am in for book four and have book five on hold at the library. As I said I think I will continue with the series until the books get dense or dull. I am going straight into book four an am about 35% into the novel.



OH, HOW I HAVE TRIED JOANNE

Last night I caught up The Highland Gazette series and am patiently awaiting book five.


NORTH SEA REQUIEM
(The Highland Gazette: #4)
Written by A.D. Scott
 2013; 336 Pages
genre: historical, fiction, mystery

Rating: ★★★

Once I finished the fourth book in the Highland Gazette mysteries series I knew this was not a "must read as soon as published and will still read if there is a horribly boring/badly written" on my vast to be read list.  If I noticed a book was coming out or was out I would definitely borrow from the library but it is not one I would buy or scour websites to find the release date.  Unfortunately, if there was another book like book one I would probably give up on the series.  While I am now invested in the characters there is no personal tie to them...hence my lower rating for the fourth novel.


I cannot no matter how much I try...and I have tried for three books now...to like Joanne Ross.  She is the main character and the books hinge on the readers feeling some kinship. Bad news first - I could not relate to her in anyway.  Joanne comes off abrasive and selfish in the wrong ways.  The Good news is that Don and MacAllister will have you routing for them and keep you reading.


In this novel a few months have passed and Joanne is closer to becoming a divorcee but cannot decide if she is really in love with MacAllister.  When a strange woman come to town looking for anyone who knew her deceased husband threatening anonymous letters start arriving at the Highland Gazette.  Local woman Nurse Urquart finds a boot with a severed limb and is later attacked with acid.  She too was sent threatening letters.  What does an American Jazz singer and widow have in common with a local nurse?  And who will be the next victim?


Verdict:
I will be reading book 5 - Low Road.

k (My Novelesque Life)

Friday, 24 July 2015

Happy Friday

Hi All,



Sorry, there have not been blog posts for a week but I have been trying to come up with a format that will have you guys excited!  I will be posting some new ideas and a REVIEW this Sunday :)


See you soon,

k (My Novelesque Life)

Friday, 17 July 2015

Quickie Review: Virginia Woolf


VIRGINIA WOOLF: ART, LIFE AND VISION
Written by Frances Spalding

2014; 192 pages
Genre: writer, biography, art

Rating: ★★★1/2

This book is a brief biography of Virginia Woolf's life - from how her
Two pages from the book.
parents met to the day she was found drowned on her own accord. While it gives you the highlights of a young Virginia Stephens' rise to an author and her descent into depression I found what I loved about this book was the art. In this book we have art from Vanessa Bell, Virginia's sister and photographs from a famous family friends to portraits of other people from her time. I recommend this book to anyone interested in Woolf, art and writing.

k (My Novelesque Life)


Thursday, 16 July 2015

Stamp of Approvable



"One drop of hatred in your soul will spread and discolour everything like a drop of black ink in white milk." Alice Munro, The Progress of Love



Cool drawing of Munro

I adore Alice Munro's writing because her gift of creating a world in a mere sentence leaves me in serious awe.

In junior high we had read a short story (I am at a loss for the name) by Munro, and it stayed with me all semester.  It wasn't just the characters or the  plot but the feeling you get from reading words that are so perfectly strung together it makes you wonder why no one else describes people/place/things just like this. In the following summer I went to the library and saw that there was a large hardcover of Munro's Selected Stories
I can still see snapshots of myself reading this book over those three weeks. As much as you
My first Munro collection
want to grab every work Munro has written and read it back to back; I have slowed myself down so that I never run out of reading a Munro story for the first time (I do that with Jane Austen's work too).  Recently, we selected Alice Munro's My Best Stories and there were a few I already read...and you know what I enjoyed them as much as I did the first time.  If anyone wants to read a great writer I would highly recommend Alice Munro.  She is Canadian which makes me proud that someone so brilliant in literature is from a Country I love (and that she writes about Canada in such a beautiful and realistic way).  Munro is one of the best short story writers which is a hard genre to be successful in as it is not an easy prose to write and engage readers.  


For more information on Alice Munro and her works please visit her website.


Munro collective stamp.
As I was looking through the recent book news I noticed an article from CBC about Canada Post releasing a tribute stamp of Alice Munro.  I am so excited to see, not just a Canadian icon, but a great writer receive such an honor.  The stamp is amazing with a picture of the author (taken by her daughter) and a sample of her handwriting.  It is something I am going to try and get for my own book collection. 

 "Because if she let go of her grief even for a minute it would only hit her harder when she bumped into it again." Alice Munro, Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage

 
k (My Novelesque Life)

“People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for.” - Harper Lee




"but sometimes we have to make the best of things, and the way we conduct ourselves when the chips are down—well, all I can say is, when you and Jem are grown, maybe you'll look back on this with some compassion and some feeling that I didn't let you down. "

When I was nine years old I was in a split class of Grade 5 and 6 (I was in the fifth grade).  It was the only time that I was in a split class and it was one of the most eye opening experiences in my life.  It was in this grade that I learned about injustice and that there was this concept of "the other". I am East Indian but what that meant was not clear to me - and even now I am not sure.  Religion was not big at my school and if anyone ever went to church or temple regularly it was not discussed (we did say the Lord's Prayer for the first few years of my elementary education). I knew my family's religion was of Sikh faith and we identified ourselves with Punjabi culture but it was always second to being Canadian.  

Movie Poster
"There's something in our world that makes men lose their heads—they couldn't be fair if they tried. In our courts, when it's a white man's word against a black man's, the white man always wins. They're ugly, but those are the facts of life. […]"

I grew up being in the minority but at that time I would not have known it.  My friends and I liked the same books, movies and TV shows and even giggled over the same crushes at our lunch break or after school at the mall.  I just happened to have darker skin and spoke Punjabi to my grandmother. No one treated me any different that I noticed. This was the grade I discovered Judy Blume's preteen novels (and from her Iggie's House I learned that having darker skin and a culture different from most people could define you, and could cause people to dislike you just based on that).  As a class we read That Scatterbrain Booky about the great depression and Anne Frank's Diary about World War II.  For a more positive activity we also created our own creations of Robert Munsch picture books which we sent to him in the mail.  Yet, the memory that stands out the most for me was watching To Kill A Mockingbird, starring Gregory Peck.  We watched the movie for an unit on Justice and Law.  I wasn't a fan of black and white films at that age and was just happy we were watching a movie and not doing math!  Twenty minutes in and I was hooked...I don't know if I understand everything but I did learn about injustice; and from then on I saw the world a little different.  The world wasn't saved by Superman nor were all bad guys put in prison.  

“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of
Penguin Book Edition
getting the
idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.”

Atticus Finch influenced my sense of what is right and I wanted to be a lot like him - not a lawyer, but trying to do a little good even when it's not wanted or the easy route to go.  I read the book in the sixth grade and while the large concepts were over my head I enjoyed the writing and Scout's point of view.  Even at that age Harper could explain a lot through Scout.  My dad had seen the movie when it first came out and enjoyed it so I've seen it many times over the years.  Each time I watch it I get shivers during the courtroom scenes.  I have read the book twice more since the sixth grade  (once during the summer before I started college and again on my own time while I was taking American History courses in University) and it is still inspiring.  Now when people ask what my favourite novel is To Kill a Mockingbird (TKAM) is in the top 3, in no particular order (Will write another post on my top 3 favourite books at some point).



Harper Lee
“Before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself.” 

The fact that Harper Lee never wrote another book has been a hard concept for me...how can she not write another piece...not even another TKAM novel or even another format.  How about short stories? Essays? Letters? So then of course to satiate my thirst I had to find a biography and find out more about Ms. Lee (Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee by Charles J Shields).  What the heck? She was friends with Truman Capote? Capote who wrote Breakfast at Tiffany (very different than the movie) and In Cold Blood?  Now I really wanted more! So like my wishes for chips to suddenly become a weight-loss food , or that I could build a travel machine to go back to the golden age of movies, I added I hope Harper Lee writes a second book to the list.

“Simply because we were licked a hundred years before we
started is no reason for us not to try to win.”


Flash forward to February 2015 - "Harper Lee's missing book is found and will be published this summer" felt like a hoax.  And, then began the story of Lee's sister dying which left Lee vulnerable to the new estate execs and their wishes.  Harper Lee has said she will never publish another book so this does seem suspicious.  Lee wrote Go Set a Watchman (GSAW) before TKAM, but her editor found Scout's story as a child more intriguing so Lee went on to rewrite her book to what is now TKAM.  The original manuscript was put away where it was "lost" or purposely hidden for over 50 years.  Now it seems like this novel came out of nowhere and published quickly before anything can be done.  


Harper Lee later in years.
 “The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”

So, as a fan of Harper Lee and TKAM will I be reading GSAW? Yes, I will.  I will because I have absolutely no will power when it comes to my own personal miracle coming true.  I don't want to go against Lee's wishes but why was this novel not destroyed if it was never to be published?  I am hoping that secretly Lee would want her true fans to read it.  Fine, I will take any reason as the temptation is too great for me - after all I am a book addict.  I do wonder how much money will go to Harper Lee versus those who have made the deal for this book to be published.  To sleep better at night I may just borrow the book from the library. Plus, I will give up chips for a whole month as penance... 



Anyone else going to read GSAW? Hey, I need to know there are other fans out there like me, lol.

 For preview of first chapter:
Go Set a Watchman - First Chapter




k (My Novelesque Life)

*NOTE: All quotes are from To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.