Monday, August 8, 2016

What I'm reading this week (8/8/16)

Last week I gave up on:

I was prepared to love Florence Foster Jenkins, but I had to admit after 50 pages that I just didn't. No doubt I'll love the movie--I love pretty much everything Meryl Streep is in, and Hugh Grant is wonderful, too. But the book? It was just too boring. It was a straight-forward biography with odd British bits (though she was not British), and I was expecting more charm, though I suppose no amount of charm will measure up to that cover!

I moved on to (and finished):

After setting Florence Foster Jenkins aside, I picked up The Bridge Ladies. I don't know what to say about this one. On the one hand, it's well done, good writing, good plotting. But on the other hand, there's just way too much Betsy Lerner and not enough something else. Lerner is one of those writers who suffers from her introspection. She's a hippie, entirely self-absorbed, and unable or unwilling to grow up all the way. Let's just say there's a reason she's in therapy. I didn't care for Betsy at all. And as far as the Bridge Ladies go, I didn't feel like I got to know them. Sure, I was given their life details, but not only could I not distinguish between them, there didn't seem to be much that distinguished them from each other. Also, I expected this to be a book about long friendship and shared stories, but although the ladies were friends for 50 years, they weren't at all close. They seemed hostile and guarded around each other. It was weird, but I wasn't sure how much of that was them and being a product of their times and how much was the author casting an artificial light. All in all, it had sort of a depressed feel about it. Plus, Bridge sounds more complicated than chess. My rating: 3 stars.

Last week I began:

Bring on the presidential trivia!

Last week I began All the Presidents' Gardens, which is much more exhaustive than I imagined, and frankly, ya'll, I'm bored. I think I'll finish it, but it's not what I expected. The author takes us painstakingly through each presidential administration from Washington (who never lived in the White House) on through. I anticipate it becoming more interesting in a hundred years or so (I'm in the early-mid 1800s), but for now it's sort of drudgery. I know many readers are more interested in the early years of presidential horticulture, but I'm more interested in the later years--you know, Jackie's rose garden and the like.

But Ken Burns' Grover Cleveland, Again! is a real treasure. He too, goes through each president one by one, but he does an exceptional job of hitting on the key points in the biography and including a couple interesting tidbits that interest children and adults alike. He explains things I remember learning but have long forgotten like the Monroe Doctrine and the Missouri Compromise. It really is a remarkably well-done book so far.

This week I'll finish:

I'll be kind of glad to be done with Pemberley. I think P.D. James missed the mark with this fan fiction attempt.

Next up:

Having set aside Florence Foster Jenkins, I had to pick up a replacement, and I chose Kick, the biography of Kennedy sister, Kathleen. I hope I have better luck with this biography.

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