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Good, Better, Best: Geraldine Brooks


Okay, I just think GB is impressive.  I imagine her to be a bit of a global asskicker, as she was the correspondent for the Wall Street Journal in Bosnia, Somalia and the Middle East during some hairy times. (I want to say she was WSJs only female overseas correspondent at the time, but am I just making interesting crap up?) She has made the transition from journalism to fiction look easy. And thank god, she’s anything but dry. But she brings a journalistic integrity to what she writes, as everything is told with a deeply historical context and is (so it seems) incredibly well-researched. She comes off as a historian with a flair for the creative. 

So Year of Wonders = Good, but that’s only because I read it about 10 years ago and can’t really be sure how it ranks in my most recent reads. It tells of a plague ravaging a 17th century town and the moral questions about remaining under quarantine to die or to escape the town and put others at risk. I can only tell you that it made for a good book group discussion. 

And People of the Book = Better, a story of a world reknown book conservationist who is trying to restore the sacred text of the Haggadeh and in the course of doing so, reveals 3-4 different vignettes about the book’s history–through Sarajevo, London, Vienna, Venice & Seville. Like Lowboy, it has two storylines and one shines above the other. The travel through time is fantastic, and I was amazed at the ridiculous consistency which jews have been tormented over the years. But the modern story line–of our book conservationist–gets a bit tangled in the romance and some family dysfunction (well girls, don’t we all).  I did like that it reminded me slightly of the no-nonsense, very smart Elena C….who I could imagine also would have slept with the museum director, if he was hot.   ; )

But it’s March that lands the = Best position, and is rightly an award winner. A compact, page-turning 275 pages, this is one that easily draws you in. I couldn’t wait to get back to it. It’s narrator is Mr. March, the husband and father to the girls in Little Women. It follows him through passages in the Southern battles, among slave conditions and situations that are shoulder cringing but powerful. If you have a shred of empathy in you, you will find yourself struggling alongside him as he tries to define his life as a success or a failure. 

In any of the three, you just can’t go wrong. 
Great stuff for those of us who are often unable to push aside our daily distractions and want something that pulls you in.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jenny Lynn #

    Agree. March is the best. Then, I personally preferred Year of Wonders. (Maybe it was the book club I was in at the time.) I think Geraldine Brooks tried to hard with People of the Book. It ended up being my least favorite although I appreciated the topic.

    May 18, 2009
  2. david fellows #

    If I were still teaching, I would seriously consider assigning March. It is extremely well written. This is a book for lovers of writing; bask in it!

    October 5, 2009

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