Monday, April 30, 2012


Coal Camp Girl, Lois Lenski, J B Lippincott, 1959, 173 pp


Tina of the West Virginia hills is possibly the original Coal Miner's Daughter in literature. She is growing up as part of an entire extended family of coal miners in a time when conditions are dire. Mines are closing, machinery is taking jobs, and coal mining families are hungry during hard winters. 

Lois Lenski brings all this to life. Tina's dad has no work for an entire winter. Her uncle suffers an accident in the mine and her brother gets lost in an abandoned mine with some friends.

The men are committed to being miners and their sons grow up wanting to be miners themselves. The story shows the fun and the dangers for the kids and the changes a family goes through as they must adapt to changing times. Coal Camp Girl, the fifteenth in Lenski's American Regional Series, moved onto my list of Lois Lenski favorites.

(Coal Camp Girl is out of print but can be found in libraries and from used book sellers.)

Friday, April 27, 2012


Zazie in the Metro, Raymond Queneau, Librairie Gallimard, Paris, 1959; Penguin Classics translated by Barbara Wright, 1960, 157 pp

It's hard to remember a time when I couldn't just go to Google and look up anything I wanted to know. But back in 2007, I was planning a trip to Paris and though I am sure I was using Google as a search engine by then, my searching skills were not up to creating a reading list of contemporary novels set in Paris. I had recently begun reading The Millions, a literary blog I still check daily. They have a feature called "Ask A Book Question," so I did!

The first recommendation I got in the answer was Zazie in the Metro. As it turned out, I only read one book set in Paris before I went (Black Girl in Paris by Shay Youngblood), but one day during my stay I braved the Metro by myself and made it to the famous Shakespeare and Company bookstore where I found and bought Zazie in the Metro. I got the store's rubber stamp logo on the front page and a cool bookmark that I use to this day.

But I did not read the book. It was originally published in France in 1959, so got slotted into My Big Fat Reading Project lists. Currently I am two-thirds of the way through my 1959 reading list and finally have read Zazie

It's all good because had I read it five years ago, I doubt that I'd have known what I was reading. Now I have learned about Raymond Queneau, since he was an executive at Gallimard, the leading French publisher, and a friend to Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. Queneau was also the founder of OULIPO (a group of experimental writers) about which I know only a tiny bit, but at least I have some idea of what they do.

So in the wondrous way that reading takes me through ideas and characters and places, I arrived on the first page of Zazie in the Metro to read the first word: "Howcanaystinksotho." The book is a tongue-in-cheek, play-on-words romp through Paris and the French slang of the 1950s, intrepidly translated into English by Barbara Wright. Thus those of us whose French is slight can enjoy the fun.

Zazie's single mom has dropped her off for a weekend. Mom spends the time with a boyfriend while Zazie falls in with her female-impersonator of an uncle. She never gets to ride the Metro though it is her heart's desire, because the transportation workers are on strike. Being on the cusp of her teenage years, having zero manners and even less fear of anything, she does manage to score a pair of jeans while hanging around with all sorts of quirky and somewhat unsavory characters.

Even so, it took me a good half of the book to get my bearings. By the end I was laughing at the humor, getting some of the word play, and had sorted out the characters, one of whom is a hilarious parrot.

Queneau was a serious intellectual who had already written twelve novels, but like Nabokov and his prepubescent heroine Lolita, Zazie brought him to mainstream readers. The novel was even made as a movie in 1960.

Spoof and satire are not my usual reading preference but I was entertained. I saw Paris from yet another perspective. Now I must figure out my next trip to Paris.

(Zazie in the Metro is available in paperback by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore. Find it at your nearest indie bookstore by clicking on the link beneath the cover image.)

Monday, April 23, 2012


As Though She Were Sleeping, Elias Khoury, Archipelago Books, 2012, 372 pp

In 2006, I read Elias Khoury's The Gate of the Sun and was spirited away to the "other side" of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. Of all the books I read that year, it stood out as a beacon to understanding the Other and worked on me like a journey through another culture.

As Though She Were Sleeping is a journey of an entirely different order. Milia has just been married to Mansour when the story opens. She and her new husband are traveling by car from her Lebanese home town toward their honeymoon hotel in the mountains. Surrounded by fog and cold snow, Milia huddles in the backseat as Mansour walks ahead with a candle trying to light the way for the driver. Already Milia is sleeping and dreaming. She cries out to the Mother of God and the fog lifts.

It is 1946 when Milia settles with Mansour in Nazareth where she conceives her first child. She spends much of her time sleeping and dreaming while Mansour recites poetry to her. He makes love to her while she sleeps. The story of this couple's first year of marriage is the real time of the novel, but the dream time encompasses the history of Syria, the history of both families, and a biblical history of Arabic Christianity. Dream stories and poetry swirl like the fog in the opening scenes, creating an effect both cinematic and phantasmagoric.

I am trying to put into words the experience of reading Elias Khoury's novel. He is a magician with words; his translator is privy to the magic; I cannot do him justice. How did he take the erotic awakening of a young woman, the Christian faith in all it Eastern Orthodox alchemy of history and myth, as well as the complex trauma of extended families and weave it into such a fine and exotic tapestry? How does he know so intimately the heart and body of a young pregnant woman?

Milia dreams her past, her present, and her future, diffusing and recombining the political and economic tensions of the outside world. It takes half the book for the labor of delivering her baby to pass and truly, for a woman labor seems endless and outside of time. Milia labors just as diligently in her dreams to bring her past into focus and to divine the future of her child. 

When I awoke at the end from the dream of the book, I was in a sort of saint-like ecstasy. I only wanted to return to the dream and stay with Milia, Mansour, and their people.

(As Though She Were Sleeping is available in hardcover by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore. To find it in your nearest indie bookstore, click on the cover image above.)

Saturday, April 21, 2012


Until I Find You, John Irving, Random House Inc, 2005, 820 pp

 John Irving has a new novel coming out in May, 2012: In One Person. Since I had fallen behind on his releases, I took the plunge on this long novel. The general consensus, according to readers' stars and critics, seems to be that Irving's last two novels were not up to snuff. I disagree.

Granted, it would be hard to top Cider House Rules or A Prayer From Owen Meany. Somehow, ever since I read The World According to Garp about 18 years ago, I have felt a kindred spirit in John Irving. I'm not confident I could even articulate it, but I always get what he is creating in his novels. In some ways he is as oriented to contemporary issues as Jodi Picoult (of whom I am NOT a fan), but no matter the issue, I feel John there in his novels. He is no mere spectator of modern life. He loves the odd misfit people as much as do Anne Tyler or Ann Patchett, while he writes like a modern Charles Dickens.

Jack Burns is a fatherless child. According to Alice, his mother, William Burns abandoned Alice and Jack; therefore he must never be forgiven. Amidst tattoo parlours and a long list of older sexually abusive women, Jack grows up deciding that no one can be forgiven. Although he becomes a famous actor, the guiding beacon for his existence is that missing father.

I agree with some that the story bogs down at times, though if it weren't for all the detail about tattoo artists, Scandinavia, whores, organists and Hollywood, I would have continued through life blissfully ignorant in those areas.

Basically I don't care about the flaws. This is an almost unbelievable story about lots of unbelievable stuff that does go on in the world. It is also a cautionary tale to parents as we commit unbelievably damaging sins against our children. John Irving has shown that the adult me is an unreliable narrator about my early life, that learning the truth about one's parents is painful but essential, and that forgiveness is the healing for unquiet hearts. I have learned these things in other ways, but being the fiction lover that I am, learning them again in Until I Find You was the best. The tears I shed at the end were as freeing as anything else I have tried.

(Until I Find You is available in several formats by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore. To find it in your nearest indie story click on the cover image above.)

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Shop Indie Bookstores

Murder at the Cubbyhole, Alice Zogg, Aventine Press, 2012, 199 pp

My friend Alice Zogg has a new mystery, set in the world of amateur theater. A promising young actress is killed when a bomb goes off in her dressing room at the Cubbyhole Theater. Though clearly murder has been done, the police are getting no where with the case, so the young woman's parents call in PI R A Huber and her assistant.

I happen to know that Alice took an acting class last year, so her theater setting is accurate. In fact, this is an author who does her research carefully.

I enjoyed the Pasadena, CA location; South Pasadena to be exact, with its upscale shops and restaurants. Even more exotic was the introduction of white collar crime. I wonder how she researched that? As part of the investigation, Huber and her husband travel to Portland, OR, where they pay a visit to Powell's Bookstore.

Murder at the Cubbyhole is a quick, enjoyable read. Though it is not hard to figure out who the culprits are, watching Huber figure out exactly who committed the murder and how it was done keeps the story moving along. If you enjoy Agatha Christie and early P D James, you could give Alice Zogg's eighth whodunit a try.

(Murder at the Cubbyhole is available in hardcover and paperback by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore. To find it in your nearest indie bookstore, click on the cover image above.)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Shop Indie Bookstores

Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks, Random House Inc, 1993, 402 pp

Sebastian Faulks is a famous novelist in his native land, Great Britain. I had heard of him but it took the suggestion of the British member of one of my reading groups to get me reading him.

Birdsong is the second of his trilogy of historical novels set in France. The Girl at the Lion D'Or came first and he completed the trilogy with Charlotte Gray. I have seen the movie made from Charlotte Gray and it was great.

Having read The Invisible Bridge just two weeks earlier, I was saturated with war, but Birdsong provided an enlightening comparison. It is set during WWI with extensive scenes of trench warfare. The writing is on a much higher level of skill than that in The Invisible Bridge. Though possibly not as smoothly readable, Faulks creates characters whose flaws are deeply exacerbated by the war experience. I found his characters more believable and more interesting. His ability to put the reader into the times and places of the war is impressive.

Best of all for a confirmed anti-war person such as myself, he makes clear the insanity of war, the senseless sacrifices required of soldiers and civilians, and the disruption of life, society, families and individuals that results. Actually the gruesomeness level in this novel is high.

Birdsong has been made into a two-part television film which premieres in the United States on PBS this month.

(Birdsong is available in paperback by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore. To find it in your nearest indie bookstore, click on the cover image above.)

Saturday, April 14, 2012


Shop Indie Bookstores

The Patagonian Hare, Claude Lanzmann, Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2012, 528 pp

(A slightly altered version of this review can be found at BookBrowse)

When I was offered the opportunity to review Claude Lanzmann's memoir for BookBrowse, I jumped at the chance though I had never before heard his name. Just the fact that he was one of Simone de Beauvoir's lovers compelled my interest. Before reading The Patagonian Hare I added to my reading on Beauvoir by devouring Tete A Tete by Hazel Rowley, as well as the second volume of Beauvoir's memoirs, The Prime of Life. As readers of this blog know, I am a complete Beauvoir geek. As I write this I am still feverishly reading the third Beauvoir memoir, The Force of Circumstance. As it turns out, the story of Lanzmann in her life is covered in this third volume. Now I have read about the only man she actually lived with.

Still I was somehow innocently unaware of the formidable impact Lanzmann's memoir would have on me. Jean-Paul Sartre, some say the best-known philosopher of the 20th century, has also been called the father of Existentialism. I am not qualified to explain the tenants of Sartre, but he, Beauvoir and Claude Lanzmann took this philosophy to the page, to the bedroom, to the streets, and ultimately to the world, each in their own unique ways. Reading about the life of Claude Lanzmann in his own words was a 528-page lesson in how to be an existentialist. In fact, it was more like an infusion than a lesson.

Besides having been a brave soldier, a tireless traveler and mountain climber, a lover to many women, and a person who has lived his beliefs, he is a consummate writer. His energy and passions literally leap from the page. Never is this memoir about overcoming anything, though he suffered many sorrows and hardships. It is at once a joyous, sobering, relentless testament to Sartre's statement in Being and Nothingness: "Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does."

In approximately chronological order, Lanzmann accounts for his life, though most chapters range far into the future with the further results and outcomes of a certain adventure. This pattern was disconcerting at times though he always brought me back to where he started. Truthfully there is probably no better way to make sense of such a full and complex life. The first chapter is meant to give the raison d'etre for Lanzmann's obsessions though I did not understand how or why until the very last chapter.

Nevertheless, like any great novel, the arc of his life story plays out, from his involvement with the French Resistance during WWII while still a teenager, to finishing his degree in philosophy and finally meeting Sartre and Beauvoir, to becoming a journalist and traveling to Israel in 1952, to China and North Korea in 1958, and to Algeria in 1959 during that country's long war for independence.

The World War II years were undoubtedly the worst time in the history of the world to be Jewish, not that it has ever been easy, but Lanzmann was not raised as a practicing Jew. His passion was for freedom and for life, his abhorrence for anything that resembled oppression. It was in Israel that he found his life's true work and became a film maker, culminating in the nine and a half hour documentary Shoah, an approach to the Holocaust which explores "death itself, death rather than survival."

As part of my homework, I watched Shoah, now available on DVD. Its somber power builds, hour by hour, and is like nothing else I have read or watched about the attempted annihilation of the Jews by Hitler. The extremities connected with making the film and the controversy it unleashed take up the final chapters of Lanzmann's life story. To understand how a passion for life became an obsession with the deaths of millions of Jews but how neither passion nor obsession have ever slowed the man, you will have to take his journey with him. He is not a humble person; he apologizes for nothing. By the last page I was fine with that.

(The Patagonian Hare is available by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore. To find it at your nearest indie bookstore, click on the cover image above.)

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Shop Indie Bookstores

Einstein's Dreams, Alan Lightman, Pantheon Books, 1993, 179 pp

What an unusual little book. It is called a novel but it has no story. Albert Einstein works as a patent clerk in Switzerland. All we are told is that he is a young man about to mail a copy of his new theory of time to a German journal of physics, that he is married but neglects his wife, and that he is near the Aare River.

From that point on each short chapter is an example of what life would be like under different theories of what time is and how it works. These vignettes are like dreams. The title suggests they are Einstein's dreams.

I don't know much about Einstein except that he invented the Theory of Relativity. I don't know as much as I would like to about Time, except that it has always bothered me to live life ruled by clocks and schedules. I once tried to read A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking but did not get very far.

I don't think I have a scientific mind. My husband is sure I don't but that he does. My father tried to help me learn science and I am still learning. Sometimes I am suspicious that science is a trick men use to make women feel weak and small.

I liked Alan Lightman's dreams. He may have called them Einstein's; it may be that theories are dreams. All I know is that an hour or two of reading these dreams about time chilled me out more than anything I have read recently.

(Einstein's Dreams is available in paperback and eBook by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore. To find it at your nearest indie bookstore, click on the cover image above.)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Shop Indie Bookstores

The Singer's Gun, Emily St John Mandel, Unbridled Books, 2010, 287 pp

I just love this author! I wish she wrote more novels though of course I don't want to rush her. She is young and hopefully will get to keep publishing books for years to come. This is her second, after Last Night in Montreal. Her third, The Lola Quartet, will be released in May and I can hardly wait.

Both books so far have been essentially mysteries but Ms Mandel puts her own signature on the genre. In The Singer's Gun, a title which indeed does name the murder weapon, Anton is the son of criminals. He has gone straight but has the oddest relationship to his parents and a nefarious cousin. He is married to a deeply neurotic cellist and his criminal past will not let him go.

In less than 300 pages, the lives of these people are revealed in a manner as engrossing as any thriller. But what I love about Mandel's writing is her characters. They are the fractured, broken people so often found in contemporary literature yet by some authorly magic she makes me love them. I desperately want to know each one's story; what made them who they are. I know going in that none will have a truly happy ending but after two novels, I now know that she will allow an occasional character to escape his or her destiny, even if only marginally.

The Singer's Gun is awash in the various vicious crimes of today. By putting a face and a personality to the criminals, Mandel makes it almost possible to forgive them because of the forces that have driven them. The late John Gardner wrote pages about the role of morality in fiction, back in the 1970s when we thought morality had a chance and before he died while driving drunk on his motorcycle. Emily St John demonstrates that any chance of relying on a moral universe is long gone and that it is fairly random as to whether any sort of morality pays off.

Just before reading The Singer's Gun, I had been contemplating how identity, in my family, amongst my friends and associates, even in myself, is hardly ever what appears on the surface. I wondered how many people have anyone to whom they can reveal their true thoughts and emotions. Mandel's characters are examples of this disconnect, the vast gulf between the outward persona and the inward despair, sorrows, and depression of human beings. She is not Dostoesvsky (yet) but she comes as close as anyone I have been reading lately.

(The Singer's Gun is available in paperback by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore. To find it at your nearest indie bookstore, click on the cover image above.)

Monday, April 09, 2012


The Prime of Life, Simone de Beauvoir, The World Publishing Company, 1962, 478 pp


Beauvoir's second volume of autobiography was first published in France in 1960. She begins with the opening months of her relationship with Jean Paul Sartre. The sense of freedom she enjoys as a graduated student, out of the family home, making her own living and having a lover at last, is palpable.

She describes the details of the life she and Sartre created: their vows to tell each other everything, their decision to grant each other complete freedom (including the freedom to have other lovers), and the setting of life-long goals to be writers who are engaged with the world and making a difference. All of this is as intoxicating as only life can be when you are in your early twenties and meet THE person with whom you are going to share it all.

Bouts of jealousy and insecurity follow swiftly when Sartre DOES indulge in other lovers. Due to the locations of their respective teaching jobs on the far outskirts of Paris, they are forced to be apart much of the time. Beauvoir's newly awakened sexuality takes her by surprise with its intensity.

But hardest of all for Simone are her years of learning to be a writer. She describes in detail the travails of writing and destroying two novels before she completed and sold her first, She Came to Stay.

Just as she finally found a way to sublimate her physical energies by hiking endless miles through mountains and plains as a voracious traveler with Sartre, with other lovers both male and female, and on her own, the war began to impact all of France. She covers the German invasion and occupation followed by the years of deprivation, danger and the Resistance.

During the war she completed her second novel, The Blood of Others, about a Resistance fighter and his struggles to leave behind his bourgeois background. Other than Irene Nemirovsky's Suite Francaise and Arthur Koestler's Scum of the Earth, I had not read much about what WWII was like in France. Because Beauvoir was not Jewish, she escaped that danger, but she makes clear the horror and degradation of having to live under German occupation and of watching politicians and countrymen collaborating with the enemy.

The volume closes with the liberation of Paris bringing a burst of returned freedom and new hope. I enjoyed every page.

(The Prime of Life is out of print but can be found in libraries and from used booksellers.)

Sunday, April 08, 2012


Today is Barbara Kingsolver's birthday. She was born in 1955 and is one of my top three favorite authors, along with Toni Morrison and Margaret Atwood. I have read all of her novels, in this order:

The Bean Trees: Read in 1999. I had never heard of her but picked this up on a whim. I felt like she knew my life when I read it. I became a fan for life.

The Poisonwood Bible: Read in 2000. Of course, now that I knew her name, how could I have missed this? EVERYONE was talking about it and no wonder. It is a classic, a masterpiece, and even my husband read it last month and was blown away.

Animal Dreams: Read later in 2000. I probably need to read it again because I think it went over my head. Anyway, not my favorite of hers.

Pigs in Heaven: Read in 2001. It is a sequel to The Bean Trees; she gets a bit more political as she was obviously destined to be.

Prodigal Summer: Also read in 2001. If you are female and do not enjoy this book, we might not be able to be friends.

Then came her non-fiction and I confess I skipped it. Though I did read one or two of her essays in Small Wonder which made me realize she can write about anything and be wonderful.

The Lacuna: After making me wait for nine years, I read it before it was released in 2009, because I got to review it for BookBrowse. I believe she surpassed even The Poisonwood Bible with this one.

Which ones have you read? Which is your most loved?

GOOD NEWS: She has a new novel coming out in November of this year: Flight Behavior. I cannot wait. What a great reading year 2012 is turning out to be. Toni Morrison has a new novel coming out in May: Home.



Shop Indie Bookstores

Beezus and Ramona, Beverly Cleary, William Morrow and Company, 1955, 159 pp


Beezus and Ramona have been characters in some of Cleary's earlier books about Henry Huggins. Now they get a whole book of their own.

It is a story of a nine-year-old girl whose biggest problem is her younger sister, four-year-old Ramona. I could relate to Beezus because I had a younger sister who was quite different from Ramona but who still made me crazy sometimes.

To put it mildly, Ramona has a lot of energy, a strong will and something adults call imagination. Beezus is often called upon to watch her little sister and has to take her out in the neighborhood. She has to read to Ramona and take her to the library. She has to take her along to the recreation center, where Ramona is supposed to stay on the playground while Beezus has art class. She has to babysit her while their mother does errands. None of these things seem to go well for Beezus.

But when Ramona begins to ruin Beezus' birthday, it all becomes too much. Being a good obedient girl, Beezus finds her special day spoiled by the guilty feeling that she just does not love her little sister the way she thinks she should.

I never read this when I was nine, but I wish I had. It might have saved me hours of guilt.

(Beezus and Ramona is available on the children's shelves at Once Upon A Time Bookstore. To find it at your nearest indie bookstore click on the cover image above.)

Thursday, April 05, 2012


Shop Indie Bookstores

Time Out of Joint, Philip K Dick, J B Lippincott, 1959, 255 pp

When I was a reckless, drug-taking hippie, I must have been hanging out with the wrong people. How else can I explain that I never heard of Philip K Dick just when I needed him the most?

I have only recently begun to read his heady concoction of science fiction mixed with a sort of Zen spirituality. The message in this somewhat disjointed novel is that one can only life safely in the science fictional universe called "reality" if one is half asleep and gullible as hell.

Ragle Gumm is not quite in step with "reality." He is a 46-year-old man who lives with his married sister and makes his living as the long-standing champion of a newspaper puzzle contest. Did I mention that he has hallucinations?

Eventually he finds out what's really going on, all of which is made clear in the last ten pages. Also made clear is the author's true message: When Ragle Gumm took his first journey into space, "as he left Earth, he passed from that experience to another, the experience of true freedom. It answered, for him, a need that he had never been aware of. A deep restless yearning under the surface, always there in him...but not articulated. The need to travel on. To migrate."

As I lay on my bed, recovering from the flu and waiting for spring to truly arrive, I read those words and they felt like a correct diagnosis for the cause of my malaise.

(Time Out of Joint is available in paperback by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore. To find it at your nearest indie bookstore, click on the cover image above.)

Tuesday, April 03, 2012


Shop Indie Bookstores

The Good Conscience, Carlos Fuentes, Ivan Obolensky Inc, 1961 (Spanish edition 1959), 148 pp

Suppose your father is the black sheep in his Mexican bourgeois family and he marries a lower class woman, who becomes your mother. Then your father's sister, who has dutifully married a suitable but impotent man, decides to take you and raise you as her own, relegating your father to the background and your mother back to the slums. You are brought up in Catholic piety close to the bosom of your aunt who is called Mama Asuncion. As you reach puberty you begin to figure out who's who in your home.

So Jaime Ceballos, sole heir to the family's wealth, spends his teens in secret rebellion and religious confusion. The whole story of this novel is the price Jaime must pay to grow up into a young man with a "good conscience."

The tale of an idealistic youth being won back into the fold of respectable, if essentially dishonest family tradition, is not new nor is it confined to any particular culture. What stands out in Fuentes's second novel is the vivid depiction of both Jaime's inner life and the environment of a provincial Mexican city.

The dangerous brew of Spanish descendants, Catholicism, native Indians, and class warfare, produces a colorful yet cautionary example of the ways nothing ever changes but nothing stays the same.

(The Good Conscience is available in paperback by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore. To find it in your nearest indie bookstore, click on the cover image above.)

Monday, April 02, 2012


Shop Indie Bookstores

The Invisible Bridge, Julie Orringer, Alfred A Knopf, 2010, 758 pp

I would characterize Julie Orringer's tome of a novel as comfort reading for women who like historical fiction infused with romance. I used to love this type of novel. It is big, fat, and long; set in Paris and Budapest; filled with richly developed characters one can love; written in a smoothly readable style.

Now in my curmudgeonly late middle-age, I found myself alternately laughing or growling at each romantic moment. It is WWII, the Jews are getting their worst treatment in history, and everyone's lives are severely disrupted. There is hunger, death, fear, and unbelievable loss. Perhaps it is true that love could make everything less horrible but I don't completely buy it.

I have read lots of WWII fiction, Lord knows, in My Big Fat Reading Project. I had not read any so far set in Hungary so that was a new perspective. I didn't mind reading all those pages except it was for a reading group and therefore I had a deadline for finishing it. (I always finish reading group books, mostly to set a good example and also so I can speak intelligently about the book.)

The most telling thing is, I didn't make it to the meeting. I was pretty sure most of the ladies in the group would say they loved it, giving me the choices of either not saying much or being the lone dissenter.

(The Invisible Bridge is available on the shelf in paperback or by order in eBook from Once Upon A Time Bookstore. To find it in your nearest indie bookstore, click on the cover image above.)