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Culture and Arts

Culture Watch

In this issue:

Reviewer and columnist Julia Sneden starts off a somewhat different approach to this month's books; a re-read of a loved novel; reviewers Jill Norgren and Nichola Gutgold are reading long denied treats and must-read books:

Julia Sneden writes:

Sometimes it seems to me that I missed out altogether on books published while my children were small, or later, when I went back to work fulltime. But then I realize that it’s more a matter of not remembering what I did manage to read. The rearing of three lively boys, four years apart in age, required considerable effort, as did my teaching schedule and preparations, and by the time everyone was safely abed and my daily lesson plan was reviewed/revised and I was finally able to sit down with a book, I usually fell asleep over it.

So now I find myself beginning – slowly - to catch up on books I missed or never finished during those frantic years. Some of them appear in my plans for 2010.

First among those poorly recalled (except for remembering that I liked it) was Mark Helprin’s wonderful Winter’s Tale. A visiting nephew who saw the book by my chair said: “If you liked that, I know are a couple of books you might like.” The next mail delivered John Cowley’s The Solitudes. I still haven’t gotten to it, but certainly plan to. I’d also like to reread anything of Robertson Davies’s, even if I did rip through the whole canon long ago.

I have at the moment three new books waiting to be read and reviewed, but I would dearly love to drop them to the bottom of the pile and find copies of two books mentioned by a reader who had discovered Senior Women Web and my 2004 review of Sigrid Undset’strilogy, Kristin Lavransdottir. (Undset was the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1928). My correspondent mentioned yet another book by Undset, The Master of Hestviken, whichshe felt was even better than Kristin Lavransdottir. She also suggested Margaret Kennedy’s The Feast. Neither book was in my local library, and I had put off tracking them down until a week ago. They were both available on Amazon, and I can’t wait to get to them.

I have twice started reading books by Salman Rushdie (Midnight’s Children and The Enchantress of Florence), only to abandon them when deadlines and duties asserted prior claim, but I am determined to get back to them in 2010. I wish I didn’t find him such a struggle to read, and I keep hoping that I just haven’t given him a fair chance. Stay tuned for a review sometime in the future...if I make it through them.

We occasionally re-read books that we loved many years ago, and it has occurred to us that you might enjoy seeing them reviewed. If you've never read them, the reviews may pique your interest. If you have read them already, you might consider dipping back into them as we have.

We find it an interesting process, looking back at books we read in our twenties and thirties. The books themselves haven't changed, but thanks to the varied experiences that another thirty or forty years have added to our lives, we read them from a different perspective. Herewith, this month’s review of a book that we consider 'Worth Revisiting':


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