Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
especially welcome to extensive readers

Monday, March 21, 2016

Relishing my Winter's Respite readathon prizes

I don't take part in many readathons,due to the massive amount of books that I'm usually reading at any given time, but the ones at Seasons of Reading have proven to be well worth the time. The folks are always friendly and the books discussed pretty fun, not to mention literary prizes handed out for the participants.

At the end of the latest one,A Winter's Respite, I snagged the Better World Books prize of choosing three titles from their vast collection(with each purchase benefiting a reading charity). My trio of winter time goodies arrived this St. Patrick's Day, which made for a lovely holiday surprise for this American of Irish descent.

The first book in the bunch I started reading right away, Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani. I've read many of Trigiani's novels before(even have an autographed poster of her most recent,All the Stars in the Heavens) but have not tried her best known series of stories set in the title town in the mountains of Virginia.

This first book takes place in the late 1970s and chronicles a crucial time in the life of Ave Maria Mulligan, the local pharmacist who is still not over the death of her mother who, as it turns out, was keeping a huge secret from her daughter regarding her biological father. That may sound like a real downer but trust me, there's plenty of good times to come.

Ave Maria's circle of friends and neighbors do keep her going,such as Fleeta, her never shy with words store assistant, Iva Lou, the local bookmobile driver with a passion for life and love and Pearl Grimes, a young high school girl who blossoms under Ave Maria's guidance.

While deciding what to do about finding her true father, Ave also has to consider a pair of marriage proposals,handle a financial dispute with a cranky aunt and help the town get ready for a visit from a local senator and his celebrity wife. Like most of Trigiani's writing, BSG is a heartwarming blend of humor and pathos that makes a reader feel right at home.

Once I finish Big Stone Gap, I'll check out the other books in the series as well as watch the big screen adaptation that Trigiani wrote and directed herself, even filming it in that small Virginia town to boot. If that's not a labor of love, I don't know what is:

The other two books are quite different from Big Stone Gap and yet are rather similar in subject and style to each other. For a Downton Abby fan such as myself, it is truly amiss of me not to have read Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited before but there is no time like the present to remedy that situation.

The leading man of this story is Charles Ryder, who becomes friends with Lord Sebastian Flyte during their days at college in Oxford . Lord Sebastian eventually introduces Charles to his aristocratic family, the Marchmains, and their way of life which makes some allowances for their outsider status as Roman Catholics.

The friendship between Charles, Sebastian and the rest of the Marchmains grows strained over time yet their initial connection is never completely severed. Waugh's novel has been turned into a made for TV miniseries and a feature film(along with a serialized radio drama) and while it seems as if the TV version is considered the best of the bunch, I'll probably read the book first. 

With all of the complex themes in Brideshead, the most persistent appears to be that early friendship between Charles and Sebastian, which  may or may not have romantic overtones and the best way to judge that will be by seeing it begin in print:

A Dangerous Fortune by Ken Follett is a bit more soap opera than Brideshead but it also concerns itself with the trials and tribulations of a wealthy English family. I adore having the British edition of this book(my copy of BSG is also a Brit one) with it's gorgeously glowing with amber hues cover art.

 As to the story, it's all about the Pilaster clan who have made their fortune in banking, with two cousins battling over control of their family's mutual empire, clever Hugh in love with Maisie,who is married to another man and Edward, whose past involvement in the death of a schoolmate could mar all of their futures.

Follett does know how to give us a fun historical drama and since this is one of his stand alone novels, the pleasure should be quite compact here. It may not be big time Masterpiece Theater fare but I do believe that ADF will be as engagingly addictive as any one of those productions and then some:

My thanks to Michelle Miller of Seasons of Reading for these wonderful books and I am looking forward to the next readathon which is scheduled for later this April.

That one is called Spring Into Horror, which I've taken part in before (as well as FrightFall)and have chosen Stephen King titles to revisit in the past. While I do have one in mind, there's also another fearful novel to consider for this readathon.

My Stephen King selection would be IT, which is about to be adapted as a feature film that will be divided into two parts. Unlike it's prior TV miniseries version, both movies are intended to be R rated, which could make for quite the gruesome retelling. Frankly, I was surprised back in the day that they even tried to make this one for network television, given the whole killer monster clown that eats kids set-up.

However, I'm about to receive a review copy of Scott Hawkins' The Library at Mount Char, which does have a supernatural story line that is just as suitable for this readathon. An otherworldly library run by a mysterious Father whose disappearance forces his "children" to descend into the mortal world to find him certainly sounds eerily promising to me.

Yes, I could read both for SIH but the Stephen King is a big page packed book that might make the space for TLAMC a tad tiny there. Still, there is plenty of time to decide between the two and who knows, they might make for an interesting compare and contrast.

So, will it be a visit to the frightening familiar sights of Derry,Maine or discovering a realm of fresh new terrors at Mount Char? Either way, this choice won't be as epic as most book battles are yet with everything else going on in the world right now, this is one fight I'm happy to have:

No comments: