Saturday, November 25, 2006

Favorite Reads of 2006 chosen by Club Maidu book club members.

*books read by the Club Maidu book club

The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith. They give, to me, a good picture of life among the native people of Africa.

Physician - by Noah Gordon; a historical novel set in the 11th century. This is the story of a young boy in London who eventually travels to Persia to pursue the study of medicine with the Arabs. The book is rich in historical information, has a great story line, and interesting characters.

In the Company of the Courtesan - by Sara Dunant. Set in 15th century at the time of the sacking of Rome, the heroine escapes from Rome with her life and sets up residence in Venice; this is a tale of betrayal and love. It took awhile for me to warm up to the book, but once I did, I could not put it down.

A Thread of Grace - Mary Doria Russell. This moving story is set in Italy during World War II. Jews are fleeing France to escape the Nazis and the Italians are assisting them by hiding them and providing food and shelter. Russell's characters are compelling.

The Constant Princess - Philippa Gregory. The princess in this case is Katherine of Aragon who became the first wife of England's Henry VIII.
As the daughter of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain, she was brought up in the Alhambra and there are wonderful descriptions of her life there. She was betrothed at age 3 to the then Prince of Wales, Arthur, and grows up with the knowledge that she will become the Queen of England. Arthur dies unexpectedly, and Katherine must take appropriate steps to assure her place in the English monarchy, and ultimately seal her fate. Philippa Gregory makes history come alive.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel * and Arranged Marriage by Chitra B. Divakaruni *

The Known World by Edward P. Jones--Antebellum story of a former slave who becomes a slave owner. The story revolves around him and his neighbors, family and slaves. There were many moral debates and twisting stories. It is a book I will read again as I know I did not pick up on all the nuances. I believe it would make a good book group selection.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield-- gothic novel. Young writer is hired to write the biography of a famous novelist with a mysterious past. The writing is wonderful--very descriptive. I felt like I was there.

The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton -- Novel of New York society in the Gilded Age and one woman's descent due to lack of marriage. *

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