Monthly Archives: June 2017

MICHIGAN’S IRISH HILLS

PREAMBLE
It’s not long now until the Lein family, the children and grandchildren of Jay and Josina Lein will be gathering for an annual week-end family reunion in the Irish Hills of Michigan. Jerry and others will be much missed. For a long time it was a highlight of his year. Some members of the family will be present. That’s an Option B we will celebrate. Members of the extended family are always welcomed! To those living but unable to be present all send love and hugs.

THE POSTCARDS
Recently I ran across some old postcards, perhaps from the 1930’s with scenes from the Irish Hills area near Adrian, MI. What a lovely area, not much changed over the years. The houses, the roadways around the lakes, the lake scenes all are as lovely as they have been for many years.

In past years some of us spent part of our week-end at Evans Lake antiquing. I might have purchased the postcards then, not sure. No I wasn’t there in the 1930’s!!

The dancehall at Devil’s Lake is likely gone, but the picture evokes the happy times many no doubt enjoyed there. Here’s hoping these pictures turn out large enough for blog readers to soak up the atmosphere.

If you have a history with this area of MI, do let us know. If you identify the specific year of the cars parked in front of the dancehall, comment and tell us that too.

SAINTS FOR ALL OCCASIONS: BOOK COMMENT

Saints For All Occasions
Author: J. Courtney Sullivan
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf 2017
Genre: Literary Fiction
Hardcover Edition: 335 pages
Source: Personal Copy

Interviews appearing in the New York Times Book Review Section and other places often ask readers and writers this question: What was the last book you read that made you cry? This reader shrugs her shoulders, not remembering any time a book brought tears. But now, after reading Saints for All Occasions, the question makes sense. If asked, my answer would be this book, Saints for All Occasions.

The story of the two Rafferty sisters who leave Ireland for America in 1957 at ages seventeen and twenty-one starts out a bit slow. But oh, as the story unfolds, it packs a terrific power. The reader lives with these sisters over 50 years. A sad secret hides in the center of their lives. As events unfold and lives change and grow, it is a most moving story. This author never draws attention to herself or her writing. Nothing detracts from her story and her characters.

The time transitions are expertly handled: clear, smooth and natural. There is no confusion. The part of the story told in the present take place over a few days. But the story of Nora and her sister Teresa spans decades and brings us the depths of the sisters’ personalities and those of Nora’s children. Readers are fully caught up in the tumultuous lives of the different family characters. Readers care about each one and each will live in the reader’s memory long after the last page is turned. The surprises, secrets and deceptions are worth pondering.

Theresa lives much of her life in a convent. This part of the tale is beautiful, powerful and eye-opening. Cloister life is presented here somewhat differently than is often the case. Throughout the book there is wisdom even from these fragile characters. For these reasons and more we may well see this novel on many book club lists.

It is a loving book. But the course of such family love does not run smoothly. Emotions are weighty and worn, never over-drawn. Certainly this is one of the best books of the year.

For an enjoyable read, this reader plans to pick up another book by this author. Her novel Maine has been widely praised. She is also the author of The Engagements and Commencement.

THE DRY: BOOK COMMENT

The Dry
Author: Jane Harper
Publisher: Flatiron Books 2016
Genre: Fiction/Mystery
Hardcover Edition: 326 pages
Source: Library copy

The Dry is a first novel from Jane Harper, originally from the UK, she now lives in Australia where this novel is set. It is quite simply a marvelous book, a mystery that reads like a literary novel. It’s the kind of book the reader feels like she has won the lottery of books as she reads this one. So glad I didn’t miss it.

Federal agent Aaron Falk is back in his rural small town in Australia to attend a funeral of a childhood friend. Yes, small towns hold big secrets. This is a novel of lies and secrets. The well-developed and nuanced characters make the who-done-it beside the point. Everything about this story is so real. I predict most readers will be up past bedtime breathlessly turning the pages.

Read this one. I’m quite sure you will enjoy it. And the parched Australian landscape is interesting from afar, especially if you don’t own any of those acres.