Run, don’t walk to your nearest bookstore and purchase a copy of Shirley Jackson’s posthumously published short story collection Come Along With Me. If you have read anything by Shirley Jackson before, you know this has got to be good. If you have never read anything by Shirley Jackson, what are you waiting for?
I, like most of the world, was introduced to Shirley Jackson through reading her short story, The Lottery, in high school. It wasn’t until years later when I picked up her books about raising her children that I realized what a wonderful writer she was. After reading Raising Demons and Life Among the Savages I moved on to We Have Always Lived in the Castle and fell madly in love.
Come Along with Me is the name of her incomplete novel which is about a woman who escapes from her past reinvents herself.
The rest of the book has something for everyone: Humor (Pajama Party and The Night we all had Grippe); Mystery (A Visit and The Bus); Suspense (The Little House); Drama (The Summer People and The Rock); and Non-fiction (Three Lectures: Experience and Fiction, Biography of a Story, and Notes for a Young Writer).
At some point, I must make time to read all her novels. Maybe after this Read-a-Shelf thing is over.
Statistics: Stats: 243 pages (paperback). Started October 2016, finished May 23, 2017.
Oh dear me God. I am so glad I have finally finished this book. I would have stopped, but didn’t want to give it away (like I had to with The Bronte Myth).
Like The Book of Ruth, I don’t know where the book came from, I just remember remembering that we owned it shortly after I saw the tail end of the film, Charlotte Gray, and thinking that the ending was just too romantic then looking at the ending of the book and feeling righteous in my assessment.
Where to begin? I cannot say I liked Charlotte Gray. But I didn’t hate it either. I didn’t like the author’s style of writing the first third of the book, it reeked of man-writing. (just a type of writing I can’t explain but I dislike)
The book is about a Scottish woman during World War II who joins the special services and flies to France to deliver a message. She discovers that her lover has gone missing and resolves to stick around German-occupied France to try to help him. While in France she meets French folks involved in the Resistance and joins forces with them. There are sub-plots, some heart-heartwrenching, some horrifying, others boring.
The end of the book was much more interesting and kept my attention, but come on, it took me nearly two years to read this book. I don’t think I will be reading another book by Faulks, at least not until I am done with this project.
Stats: 401 pages (paperback and Kindle version). Started June 2015. Finished March 18, 2017.
I couldn’t tell you where this book came from. I am sure it was not new when I got it — I probably picked it up from a used book store after reading and liking Jane Hamilton‘s second book, A Map of the World.
What I liked most about the extremely depressing A Map of the World was that it took place in Wisconsin. While I don’t know the area of Wisconsin in which this book took place, the fact that it was in Wisconsin made me happy, despite the subject matter.
The Book of Ruth is also depressing, but very well-written and the story is engrossing. The Book of Ruth takes place in Honey Creek a (made-up) small town in Northern Illinois on the border of Wisconsin.
Honey Creek is way up in the very north of Illinois. If you lean over the Abendroths’ back fence your torso is in Wisconsin.
I tried to plot where the town could be by clues in the story.
- Borders Wisconsin
- 40 miles from DeKalb
- Rockford is closest big city
I figured it was somewhere near Harvard, Illinois. I have probably been there. Dean was there just last week. Ruth’s Aunt Sid (from the book) lives in DeKalb — where I went to college and near where Dean’s brother lives.
The Book of Ruth centers on young Ruth, the daughter of a bitter, likely depressed, woman named May and an absent father named Elmer. Ruth has a brother, Matt, who is brilliant and who eventually escapes to MIT. Ruth marries a local man, Ruby, who may or may not be developmentally delayed. The book is about dysfunctional families living in poverty and what they do to survive.
I’ll continue reading Jane Hamilton (happily she’s written at least two more books) but will wait a while in case her other stories are as depressing as A Map of the World (social ostracization) and The Book of Ruth (poverty, depression).
Stats 298 pages. Started June 14. Finished June 26.