Rowayton Library
July/August 2012                       Reviews by Rowayton Library's Reader Advisor, Ruth Freeman

Pull up your beach chair and indulge in some good reading. Whether outside or in the air conditioning, a great book passes the time, and we have lots to recommend.


'Say Nice Things about Detroit' by Scott Lasser cleverly addresses the perennial question "Can you go home again?" This well crafted novel revolves around David Halpert's move back home to Detroit after twenty five years. It seems counter intuitive to have economically collapsing Detroit be a place of second chances but Lasser makes the city a sympathetic starting point. The plot line smoothly blends an unsolved, decades - old murder with a current love story. Highly recommended for the well developed characters and a strong sense of place.


We have a lovely memoir called 'Coquiles, Calva, & Crème, Exploring France's Culinary Heritage' by G.Y. Dryansky , with Joanne Dryansky. It is aptly subtitled "A Love Affair with French Food". The author spent his professional life writing about France and French food for various publications. He has combined their memories of amazing culinary explorations with a present day trip through France. There are mouthwatering recipes to try. This is a perfect choice for the armchair traveler and foodie who wants an authentic guide through France - you can literally taste the dishes that are being described.


'Die a Stranger' by Steve Hamilton is a taut thriller that takes place in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. This is the second in the Alex McNight series. The world of Native American reservations and casino gambling provides the backdrop. Alex McNight is a tough guy ex-cop character who is very loyal to his few friends, to the point where he will risk his life. This is an exciting read.


'The Age of Miracles' by Karen Walker explores coming of age in perilous times. It is a quirky, beautifully written novel with an original premise. Julia enters middle school just as the earth's rotation begins to slow. The environmental catastrophe that unfolds is the backdrop to the typical challenges of navigating "mean girls", crushes, parents who mean well but fumble, and academic doldrums.


'Father's Day' by Buzz Bissinger is a terrific book, an unflinching look at the challenges of being a parent to his disabled twin son Zach, who was born prematurely. Zach shows his imperfect Dad the power of integrity, honesty and perceptiveness. Bissinger, famous as the author of the book 'Friday Night Lights' has suffered from severe self doubt virtually his entire career. A cross country trip with Zach, visiting old haunts that variously engage and enrage him, opens his eyes to the possibilities of a fully lived life.

'This Bright River' by Patrick Somerville begins with a dark and twisted prologue and never lets up. Both Ben Hanson and Lauren Sheehan have arrived home to St. Helens bearing huge secrets and troubled pasts. All the must haves for a superior thriller are here - conflict, uncertainty, no shortage of bad guys and excellent writing.


Bob Spitz has written a new biography of Julia Child called 'Dearie, The Remarkable Life of Julia Child'. I was able to read a prepublication copy since we are hosting a book signing on Friday November 2 (mark your calendars!). It will be available for checkout on August 7.  


The author is a talented, well known biographer who has done prodigious research on an icon for whom he clearly feels great affection. The book is over 500 pages long but every page has at least one fascinating tidbit of information, if not more. There is a lot of detail on her family background, and her husband Paul Child. Julia Child is deservedly famous for the two volume cookbook 'Mastering the Art of French Cooking' and the wonderful TV series which introduced French cooking to American households and put public television on the map. What became clear in this book is what a forward thinker she was, sailing through uncharted waters to establish herself as a professional in a career not friendly to women, at a time when being a homemaker was what was expected of someone of her background. It also doesn't spare Julia, who could be difficult and imperious at times.  


Come check out our DVDs of her early TV shows and revel in her distinctive voice and accessible approach to creating wonderful food. It's timeless, and this terrific book makes it clear that Julia's fascinating legacy is forever.


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