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Monday, May 23, 2011

Review: 'The Girl in the Green Raincoat'

By Laura Lippman
Mystery (Tess Monaghan)
January 2011
William Morrow

Tess Monaghan has been confined to bedrest during her unexpected pregnancy. She turns into Jimmy Stewart's character in Rear Window, watching the world pass by. The daily appearance of a young woman in a green raincoat and accompanying greyhound catches her attention. When they fail to appear one day, Tess gets involved.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Review: 'Drawing Conclusions'

By Donna Leon
April 2011
Crime fiction
Atlantic Monthly Press
ISBN: 978-0802119797

Commissario Guido Brunetti has seen many kinds of crimes in his long career, giving him a deep knowledge of human behavior which he can use to ascertain guilt or innocence. But in Drawing Conclusions, the 20th Brunetti novel by Donna Leon, the Venetian copper will be surprised by the people he meets and impressed by his colleagues.

The story begins with translator Anna Maria Giusti arriving home early from a weekend with her boyfriend and his closed family. She discovers the body of a neighbor. Signora Altavilla, a quiet, dignified older woman, died of a heart attack. But there is a bit of blood and a radiator nearby. Did she hit her head on the radiator? Or was she pushed into it? Are those bruises on her? What at first looked straightforward may be more complicated.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Review: 'A Widow's Story'

By Joyce Carol Oates
February 2011
ISBN: 978-0062015532

For 48 years and 25 days, Joyce Carol Oates thought of herself not as the author Joyce Carol Oates, but as Joyce Smith, wife of Raymond Smith, professor and editor of The Ontario Review. That thinking, that life, is abruptly shattered in the middle of a February night in 2008 when she receives a call from the hospital where she had taken her pneumonia-stricken husband a few days earlier, summoning her to get there quicky because her husband was still alive.

When she got there, he wasn't.

The guilt, the grief, the bewilderment, the anger and the depression of those first few hours, days and weeks are chronicled in A Widow's Story. The anguish is unrelenting and the chronicling deal with both the minutiae and large-scale ramifications to daily living and to one's sense of self and value of living.

Reaction to the memoir has centered on comparing this work to Joan Didion's brilliant memoir when she lost both her husband and daughter, and to Oates's remarrying soon after her first husband's death.