Just Giblets

My Top Books Read in 2011 – #’s 6 & 7

6th January 2012
by Michael

My Top Books Read in 2011 – #’s 6 & 7

posted in Books, Year-end lists |

The Flight of Gemma Hardy#7 – The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey

In the tradition of Jane Eyre, Gemma Hardy is a strong-willed, determined orphan living in Scotland who endures the kinds of trials only orphans in literature can endure before growing into the young lady that we would all love to be.  Livesey explores many of the tropes of this type of tale, but includes surprising detours, including Gemma’s exploration of her heritage in Iceland, a kindly lesbian couple who show her kindness andrefuge at a particularly low moment in her life, and a development of her character that goes far beyond the genre and into a more realistic growth.  Margot Livesey writes beautifully and while her story of the orphan mistreated by her adopted parent who escapes to boarding school only to be disappointed by the harsh cruelties of growing up is familiar, she avoids the melodrama that often accompanies these tales.  Her settings are unique and fascinating, and her characters rich and fully drawn.  In a different year, this one would be near the top of this list.  This book is due out at the beginning of February.

Out of Oz#6 – Out of Oz by Gregory Maguire

Gregory Maguire wraps up his epic Oz series with a grand, complex journey centered around Rain, grand-daughter of the famous? notorious?  Elphaba, self-styled Wicked Witch of the West.  As usual, Gregory weaves Baum’s original tapestry into his work, while commenting with insight on politics, morality and human nature.  The cast of characters is large, with just about all the players from the previous three books making appearances again, but Gregory skillfully brings them in without your having to go back and reread the books from years past to remember what’s going on.  His Dorothy Gale is a strangely ridiculous and heroic character all at once.  It’s a tour de force, and it’s a very satisfying conclusion.

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This entry was posted on Friday, January 6th, 2012 at 7:51 am and is filed under Books, Year-end lists. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Comment

  • [...] Peter Cameron has crafted an exquisite book about socially awkward people living in England in the 1950′s. Reminiscent of the social examinations of the Bronte sisters, Coral Glynn reveals the solitary life of a shy, young woman working as a visiting nurse. When she suddenly finds herself married and suspected of a hideous crime, she flees to London and unwittingly finds the path to eventual happiness. Cameron’s exquisite writing captures the tone and style of another era.  Coral is a fascinating character, so anachronistic in some ways, yet perfectly drawn for this book with its timeframe firmly set in a certain era, yet with a feel that is almost timeless.  Although more stylistic, Coral Glynn is a nice match with Margot Livesey’s The Flight of Gemma Hardy, which was my #7 favorite book read in 2011. [...]

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