– Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult –

  This is the first Jodi Picoult novel I have read. It will not be the last, for I found it interesting, informative, and totally absorbing. Jodi Picoult has been prolific, writing over twenty novels during the past twenty years. Not flimsy bodice rippers, but real novels. Leaving Time required an extensive gathering of information to give a solid background of support to the characters. The story is set in both Africa and America, often in elephant sanctuary parks. Most people — myself included — do not know much about elephants apart from the obvious things. In this novel, there is a great deal about elephants; factual information, not so much about their physical attributes, but about their psychology; their grieving for dead calves, their memories of events, and their individual characters. Long before the end of the novel, you will come to be fascinated by the life and character of elephants. The basis of the novel is not about elephants, but about a 13-year-old girl’s search for her mother who abandoned her when she was a three-year-old child. The girl, Jenna, has decided that she will track down her mother, believing her to still be alive, and believing that… Continue reading

– Born in a small town, died from success –

Peyton Place by Grace Metalious I have read a lot of lists of “best books” but so far I have not seen Peyton Place on any of them. Wait! Don’t hang up yet. There could be reasons that are not to do with the quality of the novel. Firstly, it was controversial for its day. When it was published in 1956, it sold 60,000 copies in the first ten days of its release (Wikipedia). It was the third biggest selling novel of 1956, considered a lurid shocker, dealing with incest, abortion, murder, and small-town hypocrisy. It has now sold over 12,000,000 copies. These associations meant it was not accepted by critics as serious literature, religious authorities were disgusted by the subject matter and their portrayal as hypocrites. Despite this it stayed on the best-seller lists for years, and sold millions of copies. But the novel’s unsavory reputation was far from finished. The following year it was released as a movie, not bad, quite acceptable for its time, but the story was reduced to events; the descriptive passages, the inner thoughts of the characters were not included. The movie presented itself as sexy shocker. In 1959 Grace Metalious published Return to… Continue reading

– A story of murder, with a part played by Edgar Allan Poe –

The Poet, Michael Connelly. Crime Fiction This is the story of a crime reporter Jack McEvoy, who is told his twin brother, an LA cop, has committed suicide: a bullet to the head while sitting in a parked car, the doors locked. On the inside of the foggy windscreen, written with a finger, is a quote from Edgar Allan Poe. His fellow police officers are convinced that it is suicide. His twin brother, Jack, doesn’t believe it. He begins his own investigation, and soon finds that there has been an extraordinary number of police suicides. As Jack follows up leads, acting the detective, he finds evidence that indicates a cop killer is behind the deaths. Usually there is a suicide note found with the body, the note is a quote from Edgar Allan Poe. The local police try to discourage Jack, they tell him to accept the facts, move on, since they are certain it was suicide and the case is closed. But as Jack McEvoy gathers evidence from different states, the FBI become involved when they discover there is a pattern to the suicide/ murders. Jack and the FBI are now on the trail of “The Poet” who is… Continue reading

– Blink by Malcolm Gladwell –

You know more than you think you know, as long as you are not misled by what is irrelevant. Blink, The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. You could probably sum this book up in one sentence: Have faith in your intuition, but do not be misled by irrelevant information. The tricky part is in not being misled, and that is what a lot of this book is about. The first story starts with a marble sculpture, supposedly 2,500 years old, if genuine it would be worth about ten millions dollars. But what if it was a fake? It was given over to scientists to test with all their elaborate equipment: electron microscopes, X-ray fluorescence, high-resolution stereo microscope, mass spectrometry, (I’m sure you’re familiar with these).  After fourteen months of painstaking study, the scientists proclaimed it to be the genuine article. When it was unveiled in front of art historians, with a two-second glance, they instinctively felt it was a forgery. Two seconds. The problem was they didn’t know why they thought it a forgery; it just didn’t feel right. Eventually, they were proved right. This is what BLINK is about. What the author calls “thin slices”—a brief “view” of something,… Continue reading