Confession: I am not posting as regularly this year. I am trying to keep up with my pledge to review two books a month, but not doing much in between. This gap is because I am winding down a job I have been in for eight years and getting started with a new position. I am excited about the future, but currently have less time for reading and blogging. Please bear with me readers…come March I will have more time for Proto Libro. Though with this transition my commute, which inspired this blog, will be cut in a third…I am not sure yet how I will use that hour and half gained…watch this space to know…
In the meantime, I thought I would share a couple pieces about debuts…
- Last fall, Flavorwire published this list of the top 50 debut novels published since 1950. It is a fun list to scroll though, including some of my favs…Geek Love, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, The God of Small Things and Revolutionary Road, among others.
- I wrote last year about how Ruth Reichl had a celebrity advantage when publishing her debut novel. This month’s tending celebrity debut is David Duchovny’s, Holy Cow: A Modern Day Dairy Tale. I’m not sure I can adequately summarize this book, so I will share the following description: “The book tells the story of Elsie, a cow who undergoes an existential awakening that causes her, along with Tom, a turkey, and Shalom, a Jewish pig, to light out from the farm where they lived in search of the great, wide, presumably safe world.” Apparently Duchovny, who has an MA from Yale, finds writing difficult but has more “self-doubt” as an actor…You can read the first chapter online.
Rules of the Wild: A Novel of Africa
By Francesca Marciano
Vintage Books, 1998
Rules of the Wild is an appropriate book to review in the wake of Valentines Day. Francesca Marciano deftly writes about love and attraction. Set in an expat community in Nairobi, Rules of the Wild captures the life of a young Italian woman, Esme, who is in love with two men. Adam, her boyfriend, is a white African who leads safaris for rich Americans and Europeans, and is a man of the bush and his hands. Hunter, her lover, is a white English war reporter who seeks out danger and lives in his head.
The book begins after Esme’s affair with Hunter ends and his new girlfriend, Claire, comes to live with him in Nairobi. However, Hunter is reporting a story when Claire arrives, so Esme picks Claire up at the airport. The story then flashes back to Esme’s arrival in Kenya, and how she met both Adam and Hunter, while telling the present-day story of Esme and Claire crossing paths in Nairobi. The book chronicles the stories of multiple expat characters, while delving into Esme’s love for both men. I found this book to be engrossing and engaging. I flew right through it.
Marciano, an Italian, published her fourth book in 2014, a story collection called The Other Language. She lives in Rome, but has lived in Kenya and the US, and also spends time in India. I only discovered her last year, when I read a review of her latest book. I look forward to exploring more of her work.
The Last Breath
By Kimberly Belle
Harlequin Mira, 2014
Gia Andrews takes a leave of absence from her career as an international aid worker to return to Rogersville, TN, her hometown, to take care of her father, who has been imprisoned for 16 years for killing her stepmother. He was released from prison because he is dying from cancer and arranged to receive hospice and die at home. Gia, who has not spent time in her hometown since her stepmother’s murder, has to come to terms with her father’s crime, her siblings’ (who live locally) lack of interest in their father, and her uncle, who is also her father’s lawyer. Gia’s time in Rogersville takes an interesting twist when she meets Jake, a sexy restaurant owner who runs a local place, the Roadkill Bar and Grill, and who falls for her. The book alternates between Gia’s time at home and the last days of her fahter’s life, and the period leading up to the death of her stepmother, Ella Mae.
Published by Harlequin, this book has its share of steamy sex scenes, both between Gia and Jake, and her stepmom Ella Mae, and the men in her life. I enjoyed the book the most for its portrait of small town America, where everyone knows everything about each other and the impact that had on Gia and her siblings after their father committed a terrible crime. This is also a story about home, and how Gia grew to feel more at home working in a crisis or war situation, than in the town she grew up in, because of the shame she felt about her father. And the book also explores whether or not Ray Andrews killed his wife, and who else might have done it. Described as suspenseful women’s fiction, The Last Breath is a good read, with believable characters, a poignant story and some fun sex scenes.
Belle lives in Atlanta and has spent time living overseas, mainly in Holland.