The Week in Books #102

8/14 ✅

The week in books. Two weeks, actually. I’ve made it through a few books since my last post and also have a pretty nice book haul from the Rotary Club book sale to share. Let’s get to it!

1. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett. This book is about a boy named Danny and his older sister Maeve. This was a bit funny to me because my daughter’s name is Mavis (Mave) and her little brother is Danzig. So it felt like I was reading about my children haha. Overall I thought this book was pretty boring. They are kicked out of their mansion by their stepmother following the sudden death of their father and discover they have been left with nothing. I couldn’t really tell you what else happens, because nothing really does? Danny goes to medical school to drain an education trust he has access to, and meets a girl and gets married. Wifey is seriously underdeveloped as a character. Maeve is a bit of a loner throughout the book. The ending didn’t really do it for me either. Dunno, I just didn’t connect with this one.

At the end of the Second World War, Cyril Conroy combines luck and a single canny investment to begin an enormous real estate empire, propelling his family from poverty to enormous wealth. His first order of business is to buy the Dutch House, a lavish estate in the suburbs outside of Philadelphia. Meant as a surprise for his wife, the house sets in motion the undoing of everyone he loves.

The story is told by Cyril’s son Danny, as he and his older sister, the brilliantly acerbic and self-assured Maeve, are exiled from the house where they grew up by their stepmother. The two wealthy siblings are thrown back into the poverty their parents had escaped from and find that all they have to count on is one another. It is this unshakeable bond between them that both saves their lives and thwarts their futures.

Set over the course of five decades, The Dutch House is a dark fairy tale about two smart people who cannot overcome their past. Despite every outward sign of success, Danny and Maeve are only truly comfortable when they’re together. Throughout their lives they return to the well-worn story of what they’ve lost with humor and rage. But when at last they’re forced to confront the people who left them behind, the relationship between an indulged brother and his ever-protective sister is finally tested.

Harper Collins

2. The Inheritance of Orquidea Divina. I got this book from Justin for Christmas and have been excited to dig into it. It’s a wonderful story filled with magical realism and some very interesting characters. It took me a bit of time to get into it but when I finally did I really, really liked it. I loved the magic, the mystery, the humour (mostly from Rey), and also the uniqueness of the flowers growing from their skin and the human star. Very cool!

The Montoyas are used to a life without explanations. They know better than to ask why the pantry never seems to run low, or why their matriarch won’t ever leave their home in Four Rivers—not for graduations, weddings, or baptisms. But when Orquídea Divina invites them to her funeral and to collect their inheritance, they hope to learn the secrets that she has held onto so tightly their whole lives. Instead, Orquídea is transformed into a ceiba tree, leaving them with more questions than answers.

Seven years later, her gifts have manifested in different ways for Marimar, Rey, and Rhiannon, granting them unexpected blessings and powers. But soon, a hidden figure begins to tear through their family tree, picking them off one by one as it seeks to destroy Orquídea’s line. Determined to save what’s left of their family and uncover the truth behind their inheritance, her descendants travel to Ecuador—to the place where Orquídea buried her secrets and broken promises and never looked back.

Alternating between Orquídea’s past and her descendants’ present, The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina is a “spellbinding tale, both timeless and fresh, that will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page. Prepare to fall in love” (Kim Liggett, New York Times bestselling author).

Simon and Schuster

3. Untamed by Glennon Doyle. Ok so I wasn’t really interested in reading this, despite the fact that it was advertised SO MUCH over 2020, but I found a second hand copy and thought why not. I don’t think Indigo sent a single email that didn’t mention this book as their top seller of the year, and the mark of Reese’s book club is appealing as I have read a few from her club and liked them. But now that I’ve read it I can say I really don’t know what the hype was all about. It was preachy and pretentious. Parts of it were good, but many other parts had me rolling my eyes. I get the sense that Glennon loves to hear herself talk. Confidence is great and everything, that’s the point of the book essentially, but it’s taken to an extreme that I found annoying. She would write about so-and-so that came to her for advice and would recount “so I said why don’t you say something like this…” and would then go on for about 5 paragraphs of wordy dialogue and when she was done dropping this hot wisdom on said individual she would note that their response was simply “Wow.” This type of conversation happened more than once haha. It’s too much! I appreciate her message but did not care for the arrogant delivery.

There is a voice of longing inside each woman. We strive so mightily to be good: good partners, daughters, mothers, employees, and friends. We hope all this striving will make us feel alive. Instead, it leaves us feeling weary, stuck, overwhelmed, and underwhelmed. We look at our lives and wonder: Wasn’t it all supposed to be more beautiful than this? We quickly silence that question, telling ourselves to be grateful, hiding our discontent—even from ourselves.

For many years, Glennon Doyle denied her own discontent. Then, while speaking at a conference, she looked at a woman across the room and fell instantly in love. Three words flooded her mind: There She Is. At first, Glennon assumed these words came to her from on high. But she soon realized they had come to her from within. This was her own voice—the one she had buried beneath decades of numbing addictions, cultural conditioning, and institutional allegiances. This was the voice of the girl she had been before the world told her who to be. Glennon decided to quit abandoning herself and to instead abandon the world’s expectations of her. She quit being good so she could be free. She quit pleasing and started living.

Soulful and uproarious, forceful and tender, Untamed is both an intimate memoir and a galvanizing wake-up call. It is the story of how one woman learned that a responsible mother is not one who slowly dies for her children, but one who shows them how to fully live. It is the story of navigating divorce, forming a new blended family, and discovering that the brokenness or wholeness of a family depends not on its structure but on each member’s ability to bring her full self to the table. And it is the story of how each of us can begin to trust ourselves enough to set boundaries, make peace with our bodies, honor our anger and heartbreak, and unleash our truest, wildest instincts so that we become women who can finally look at ourselves and say: There She Is.

Penguin Randomhouse

4. Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel. This book has been referenced by soooo many other books I have read, and I’m finally giving it a go. Very informative and filled with lots of examples from her many years of couples counselling, this is a great reference for long-term relationships.

One of the world’s most respected voices on erotic intelligence, Esther Perel offers a bold, provocative new take on intimacy and sex. Mating in Captivity invites us to explore the paradoxical union of domesticity and sexual desire, and explains what it takes to bring lust home.

Drawing on more than twenty years of experience as a couples therapist, Perel examines the complexities of sustaining desire. Through case studies and lively discussion, Perel demonstrates how more exciting, playful, and even poetic sex is possible in long-term relationships. Wise, witty, and as revelatory as it is straightforward, Mating in Captivity is a sensational book that will transform the way you live and love.

Harper Collins
Book haul: Went to the Nanaimo Rotary Club Book Sale yesterday and exercised great restraint… pretty pleased with this stack!

It’s time for the big book sale in Nanaimo again, and I made a trip there on Saturday where I managed to scan through ALL of the trade size fiction selections (no small feat) and pick out a small pile of books to bring home. I really don’t need more books (I’ve run out of shelf space to be honest) so I was very selective this time around! I’m really pleased with the titles I found, including a few off my wish list like When No One is Watching, Fruit of the Drunken Tree, and Evening is the Whole Day. Scores!

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