I was a member of the audience for the premier of Big Eden at the world famous Castro Theatre in June 2000 and happily joined in the thunderous 10 minute standing ovation. Big Eden is a winsome gay romantic comedy which turns stereotypes upside down with humor and a heart-warming romance.
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Worth’s The Midwife tells the fascinating story of her life as a midwife in 1950’s London. Set in the East End, where she worked with nuns from St. Raymond Nonnatus, Worth chronicles the rigorous drama and inspiring magic of birth. It’s a captivating memoir. After reading, watch the excellent television series it inspired.
Highsmith, famous for mystery classics like Strangers on a Train, tells a story of two women in love. Trying to escape mundane 1950s lives, they’re trailed and blackmailed by a shadowy private investigator. Thought to have inspired Nabokov’s Lolita, The Price of Salt imbues a pulpy plot with unexpected hopefulness.
Larry of Fiction/AV/Teen Services recommends The Martian by Andy Weir:
Mark Watney is stranded on Mars after a mishap during a storm prevents him from escaping the planet with the rest of his crew. Alone, with a small supply of food and damaged equipment, the only thoughts on his mind are survival and the hope that a rescue party will come for him. With his optimism and engineering skills, he is determined to live, yet at every turn, there are obstacles that threaten his survival. While this is a story of attempting to overcome long odds in a harsh environment, it is also filled with just enough wit and humor to lighten the story without diminishing its seriousness. The plot takes the reader on a “what more can go wrong” roller coaster ride with a steady progression of the story leading to a climactic, edge-of-your-seat ending. The Martian is a suspenseful, fun, and rewarding read.
Charlie McCarthy is known in Ballyronan village as a simpleton or gamal. In therapy for PTSD, he tells of star-crossed lovers Sinead and James, his lifelong best friends. Throughout Ciarán Collins’ The Gamal, Charlie’s unique voice weaves haunting flashbacks, insightful commentary, witty Irish dialect, and memorable characters to present a tragic storyline at an engaging pace.
Why is the respected headmaster of a boarding school wandering naked in Central Park? More questions — and some surprises — are in store in The Headmaster’s Wife by Thomas Christopher Greene. This stunning novel is an enigmatic tale of love, loss, and regret that will keep you guessing until the very end.
Sweet Smell of Success features gorgeously stark black-and-white cinematography, a crackling Elmer Bernstein jazz score rife with jumpy energy, and muscular dialogue in a memorably hard-boiled style. Add two intensely powerful performances by Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis, and you’ve got a masterful ode to blackhearted American ambition.
Paul Harding has written another book about the Crosby family. They first appeared in Tinkers, his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. Enon tells the story of grandson Charlie, who is grieving the sudden death of his only child, Kate. Now he must learn to live without her.
Donna C. of Research Services recommends Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple:
Where would you go if you wanted to get away from it all? If a chance to truly leave it all behind opened up, would you take it? Where’d You Go, Bernadette asks a simple question, but Maria Semple’s book skillfully reveals why the answer is so hard to ascertain. Who really knows Bernadette? Her daughter? Her husband? Reading this book, you find yourself quickly wrapped up in the messy and all-too-familiar life of a suburban mom doing her best to toe the line while the vines of her creative, disjointed past threaten to strangle and uproot the present. While this book would make a great beach read, it may also satiate your own desire to escape. Semple draws a beautiful picture of the lush and high-tech city of Seattle, peeking into the lives of Microsoft employees, eccentric architects, and precocious students in the search for our missing heroine.
Lionel Shriver’s Big Brother deftly challenges ideas about food, success, and loyalty. Pandora puts a lot on the line when her older brother, an NYC jazz musician, shows up in Iowa having gained a shocking amount of weight. His large presence shakes her status quo and leads to a spur of the moment decision.