Thursday, April 13, 2017

Mini Reviews: Family Problems

Bridget Jones's Baby by Helen Fielding

I enjoyed Bridget Jones's Diary and the movie based on the novel. It is loosely based on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Very loosely! Bridget was fresh and fun. I read the second book in the series but missed the third installment.

When I won a copy of Bridget Jones's Baby from Read it Forward I anticipated revisiting Bridget. I'd been reading many heavy and dark books. I needed a bit of fun fluff.

I found book four to be formulaic. Bridget, Mark, and Daniel, even Jones's parents, were exactly who we've always known them to be. The stories seemed, well, thin.

But I recall my Jane Austen professor teaching about the satisfaction readers get from the known, the expected anticipation fulfilled, and the wish-fulfillment ending. This book offers readers all that. Like an old-fashioned sitcom, the characters don't change and we love it. Their stupid reactions are true to what we have always known about them, and we feel self-satisfied that we knew all along how it would be. And we do get the ending we always wanted.

Which all adds up to exactly the kind of read I needed: a few hours with old friends, nothing taxing, a few laughs shared, and when I turned out the light there were no troubling thoughts to keep me awake. Sweet dreams--Thanks, Bridget. You did it again.

I received a free book from Read it Forward.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng is an absorbing read opening with the lines "Lydia is dead. But they don't know it yet."

Centering on a Chinese American family living in a small Ohio college town in the 1970s, Ng strips away the facade and reveals that we may keep our fears and painful past to ourselves, but they play out in our acts and desires, hurting not only ourselves but our children.

Well deserved New York Times Notable Book and bestseller. Highly recommended.

The Little Paris Book Shop by Nina George was my book club pick of the month. Being a best seller, and liked by some of by Goodreads friends, I had hopes of a fun, but light, read. I did not enjoy it. I read 190 pages then skipped to the end.

Twenty years ago, bookseller Perdu was jilted by his married lover, and he's been a heartbroken, bitter man ever since--until he meets a woman who stirs the feelings that have been long dead. Instead of pursuing a relationship, he finally reads the goodbye letter from his past lover. He goes on a quest down the river to discover more.

The translation is at times quirky. I didn't buy Perdu's twenty-year grief over a woman who was never going to be all his anyway. And the ending is a little, well, uncomfortable.

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