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~ Kathy M.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Recent Reads: "Paradise" and "The Beach Streat Knitting Society and Yarn Club"

by Toni Morrison
c. 1997

Toni Morrison was a professor at Princeton when she wrote this book, having previously written six novels.  Ms. Morrison won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1993.  

This is a great book, but it is complicated.  I think that I will need to read it again to understand everything, but that is also how I felt when I first read her book, "Beloved".

After the civil war, the Oklahoma Territory became a place where former slaves and other black people set up their own towns.  Most of the towns were self-contained farming communities.  You can read more about that exclusive period of time in American history by "clicking here".   "Paradise" is about one such town, Ruby, Oklahoma, and the story is set in the 1970's.

Several miles outside of Ruby, there is a mansion that was built by some rich eccentric guy who lost it not long after he moved in. Somebody decided that it would be a great place for a boarding school for Indian girls, so they bought the mansion and donated it to the Catholic Church.  The nuns moved in and got to work, and the home became known as the Convent.  Eventually, the school disbanded, leaving a few of the nuns still living there.

Tensions rise within Ruby among the families who live there, and also toward those who live in the Convent.  And that is all that I am going to tell you.

The reason why this book was hard for me is that there are so many people (a whole town's worth) to get to know.  Some had nicknames, and some had names like Precious and Deek.  The women in the Convent are easier to remember, but Ms. Morrison toggles back and forth, and like it or not, I got confused.  It is an amazing piece of work though and I recommend it.  


"The Beach Street Knitting Society 
and Yarn Club"
by Gil McNeil
c. 2009

I was so happy to find this book at the Friends of the Library Book Nook for $1.00.  This is the first book in the "McNitt" series, featuring Jo Makenzie.  I have read book number four, "Knit One Pearl One" , so now I just need to read the two in the middle.  I am not finding it one bit awful to read these out of order.  They each stand alone well.

As the story begins, Jo is married to Nick and has two young sons, Jack and Archie.  After Nick tells Jo that he loves somebody else and wants a divorce, they get into an argument and Nick storms out.  Driving too fast, he hits a tree and instantly dies.  Dang!

Jo takes over her Grandmother's yarn shop in a seaside town. She and the boys move there, make new friends and settle in.  Nothing really drastic happens or goes wrong, and this book is light-hearted and very enjoyable.  Jo tells here story in the first person, and she is really funny.  I recommend this book!

Links to Gil McNeil's books in this series:

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BECKY said...

Hey Kathy! Cool books!!

Kathy A. Johnson said...

I have never read anything by Toni Morrison--I should give her a shot sometime. I already had the second book you talked about on my to-be-read list, so was happy to hear how enjoyable it was. Reading is so much fun!

tony said...

I,ve read a couple of Toni Morrison's books-but not this one.Thanks for the pointer,I will investigate!

Alan Burnett said...

It is always a pleasure to get book recommendations : I will follow these up.

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