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Emily Giffin’s books are as recognizable by their pastel hues as they are for covering topics you’d expect in chick-lit (I don’t mean this to be derogatory; is “women’s fiction” better?): weddings, babies, love, friendship, and now infidelity. After having read some deeper books, I was in the mood over the wintery weekend for an easy read and saw the purple spine on my bookshelf. I was ready to be lost in a world of chattering women and married suburbia… Instead, it was a love triangle with no easy way out.
Tessa is married to Dr. Nick Russo, a pediatric plastic surgeon dedicated to his work. Married for seven years with two young children, they have a seemingly happy life in a wealthy suburb of Boston. The short version is Nick gets overly attached to a patient and his single mom. Seemingly (inappropriately; unconvincingly) unsatisfied with his home life, he starts along the slippery slope of lying about working late; Halloween parties, etc. I won’t ruin the ending, but this was one of those books in which I didn’t really identify with any of the characters and found none of their actions to be totally reasonable/understandable.
“Moral” of my review: books focused on infidelity aren’t my thing. I don’t mind if it’s a plot point, but when infidelity is its own character I’m lost. I just like to think people are better than that – although my dad always says I’m too trusting. The silver lining is that it motivated me to update my blog! And y’all, this is a tenuous connection to my Southern list since the gorgeous Emily Giffin hails from Atlanta?!
Other books on infidelity that I haven’t loved include many of the Jennifer Weiner’s (I enjoyed the movie IN HER SHOES but was horrified that the sister slept with the others’ bf!), ADMISSION by Jean Hanff Korelitz (though I loved her WHITE ROSE novel), the one about the teacher and student with a green apple on the hardcover jacket (don’t remember the name of this one – anyone?)…
But I’m not a total prude: I have enjoyed many books for which infidelity takes place like Jonathan Tropper’s THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU (in fact, my literary-lovin’ pup just chewed this one up recently), Anita Shreve’s THE PILOT’S WIFE (though it was traumatizing and I will still not date a pilot… and have been disappointed by every Shreve novel since), Sue Miller’s THE SENATOR’S WIFE (infidelity was much less of a focus in this one) and I’m sure there are more, because for better or worse this seems to be a hot topic in our society.
This was a pretty boring review, sorry crew! I’m super excited for my Monday post on MAJOR PETTIGREW’S LAST STAND – please come back then.
Wiki says: A southern belle (derived from the French word belle, ‘beautiful’) is an archetype for a young woman of the AmericanOld South’s upper class.
Well maybe the definition of a Southern Belle is a little archaic and superficial, but I plan to become more intimately acquainted with those states who once made up a Confederacy.
For better or worse, Michigan has always been my home. Although I often detested and felt limited by the small town I was raised in, heading back to MI from college, Chicago, and then NYC was always a trip that I looked forward to. There’s a feeling of calm when you’re heading back to a world so recognizable – knowing every street, where the creaky floor board is, how to sneakily turn up the heat on the pool just enough that your dad won’t notice, and being able to walk to the bathroom in the dark without tripping and no fumbling for lightswitches, since hell, you’ve been in the same house you entire life (well, except for the first eight months but who’s counting).
Well as of last week, the life I knew has changed by… 692.77 miles and an 11 hour drive (Mapquest).
That’s right, folks, my parents, Northerner’s born and bred, have relocated to Tunica, Mississippi! You may be familiar with the city (no judgments here) because it is the third most popular gambling destination in the United States, behind Vegas and Atlantic City! My Dad is not a professional poker player and I doubt my mom will ever wear the costume of a cocktail waitress, but they will live a mere ten minutes from the lights of the casinos.
My mom and I road-tripped down to Tunica last week for the final move – the two of us, Skippy the dog, and a load of my mom’s favorite plants (the “greenhouse” had much more room than poor Skippy and I who had to share the front seat!). Tunica is a very cute little town overflowing with nice, friendly southerners. I got my hair done (note to self: always get hair done in South; much better pricing than NYC extravagance!) and in that two hours, was given a brief lesson in Southern etiquette and history.
But I need to know more. The South truly is a different world. Not only do people have accents (which is #1 on my Southern Belle list – I hope to pick mine up over the Christmas holidays) but a different history than what I grew up with. So while I’m searching for all the light switches in our new house next time I visit (when I left after my stay, there were outdoor lights on that we had no idea how they came on, or how to turn off!), I plan to be educating myself on the life from my perch in NYC.
My Southern Book List:
- THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett (obviously I’ve already read this – who hasn’t – but it’s imperative I reread, which will be better understood in my review)
- CROOKED LETTER, CROOKED LETTER by Tom Franklin
- LOOKING FOR SALVATION AT THE DAIRY QUEEN by Susan Gregg Gilmore
- HUNK CITY and MODERN BAPTISTS by James Wilcox
- GONE WITH THE WIND by Margaret Mitchell (my FAVORITE book – and I’ve been needing a reason to reread this classic tome! I did just purchase as an ereader, because my collector’s leather bound edition (Thanks OAD & OUB!) is both heavy and delicate
- INCIDENTS IN THE LIFE OF A SLAVE GIRL by Harriet Jacobs
- SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT by Beth Hoffman (I’ve already read, enjoyed and reviewed this recently released debut novel, but feel it’s very relevant to this list as CeeCee made her way South from Ohio)
- REASONS FOR AND ADVANTAGES OF BREATHING by Lydia Peelle (thanks to Beth Fish Reads for her review of this Southern-based collection of short stories)
- PLANTING DANDELIONS: Field Notes from a Semi-Domesticated Life by Kyran Pittman (This upcoming Summer 2011 release from Riverhead Books promises to be funny and insightful from a Canadian perspective in Arkansas – I suggest following @KyranPittman on Twitter!)
I wouldn’t even know where to begin to make this a Southern Belle Challenge, but I would love to hear if anyone wanted to dive in to the deep south with me! Also, I’m sure I’m missing valuable southern literature so please y’all, feel free to make suggestions.
There is endless entertainment to be found in the incorrectly, humorously translated signs featured in the “Strange Signs from Abroad” article on the NYT:
I found myself laughing in the obvious, and for the most part harmless, confusion on display as language barriers turn toilets into fishing ponds and the occasional crude translation.
But it also makes me think to my own confusion (and I admit, occasional irritation) as I try to order take out from the delicious Thailand Cafe (for you NYC’ers, make note they open their front windows and have $5 pineapple lychee mojito specials) down Second Ave, and I look at my iPhone in confusion, wondering is my voice breaking up? It says I have full service so why are they not understanding that I want pad thai and cashew chicken with brown rice? So I speak louder, thinking if only I can enunciate enough it will be understood, and my order won’t incorrectly be beef chow-mein or spicy noodles.
Obviously, the problem isn’t my phone (though seriously, AT&T if you’re reading this, do something about my dropped calls pleasssssssssssssse) but the language barrier between my English and the order-taker’s non. I’m not ignorant though – I only speak one language (and I think to think I speak it well, but still – single language speaker here) as opposed to these people crossing oceans and coming not understanding a single word spoken and somehow picking it up… which is just incredible.
My thoughts seem to be all over the place, but really my point is to suggest that you read GIRL IN TRANSLATION, the amazing debut novel from Jean Kwok. A Riverhead title, I first read this book in manuscript form on my patio last year and was instantly hooked. I could feel the pain of protagonist Kimberly Chang as she and her mother immigrated from Hong Kong to Brooklyn and lost everything along the way. History, tradition, language… everything was gone, and replaced with poverty and sweatshops and a freezing cold apartment during NYC winters.
What really struck me about this novel is how Kwok was able to capture the confusion of languages. She explains how Chinese sounds to outsiders, and her mother’s struggle at understand the English language. And in this situation, when it really is life, it’s not funny like the signs shown above. Also incredible is how Kimberly measures cost by how many skirts she and her mother would have to clean at the sweat shop: “…the jackets cost at least 20,000 skirts each.” – it gives a whole new value to the dollar.
So my point to you (and a reminder to myself) is to have tolerance and patience. My intention is not to make this book sound like a downer – it’s a lovely summer read and definitely one you can share with your mom, sister, and any YA reader in you life. In fact, I suggest you do share it with them; it will give you lots of discussion and things for which to be thankful!