Before Dirty Harry, Clint Eastwood and director Don Siegel teamed up to make the tense, gothic melodrama The Beguiled. Set near the end of the Civil War, The Beguiled tells the story of a Union soldier wounded in Southern territory, who finds refuge in a girls’ school.
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Enticed by a friend’s recommendation, I discovered the operatic group Il Divo. Wow! What powerful voices and what a full orchestral sound supports this talented quartet of male singers. If you like dramatic, deep music like Andrea Bocelli, but also enjoy pop music, try Il Divo, their first, self-titled album.
Researchers have long acknowledged black influence and culture within popular music…but not until recently has anyone studied black presence in country music. Hidden in the Mix: The African American Presence in Country Music is an erudite, heavily footnoted essay collection that demonstrates how country music is not only “the white man’s blues.”
Anne of Research Services recommends On Heaven and Earth: Pope Francis on Faith, Family, and the Church in the 21st Century by Jorge Mario Bergoglio and Abraham Skorka:
When Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected as pope in March 2013, he was a mystery to most of the world. In Argentina, however, he was a significant figure who believed in interreligious dialogue. His discussions with the Rabbi Abraham Skorka in Buenos Aires were published in Argentina in 2010. On Heaven and Earth is an English translation of this work. It offers a glimpse into the hearts and minds of these learned, thoughtful, sincere men who share their views without reservation. Skorka and Pope Francis discuss 29 challenging world issues with respect and frankness. These conversations allow the reader to develop their own views on these important topics. On Heaven and Earth is a thoughtful book for those with or without belief.
My favorite film of 2010 was Debra Granik’s haunting Winter’s Bone. This unflinching reworking of Daniel Woodrell’s novel, with astonishing performances from Jennifer Lawrence as a 17-year-old struggling to save her family and John Hawkes as her meth-addicted uncle, deserves the many accolades heaped upon it.
Karl Pilkington is a British TV and radio personality. He works with Ricky Gervais. I love everything Pilkington does, like An Idiot Abroad, where he travels to the Seven Wonders of the World with twists orchestrated by Gervais. Also, try The Ricky Gervais Show for more hysterical, dry wit.
Anne Tyler has taken the sting from death in The Beginner’s Goodbye. Aaron’s wife begins appearing to him a year after she dies. As Aaron looks back on his marriage and moves forward in his life, he’s challenged to recognize his deceased wife for her truest self and offer one final romantic date.
Iphiginia Bright is a witty, impertinent woman ready to break free of her role as a staid schoolmistress, but is she equipped to handle her newest role…as the Earl of Masters’ mistress? Amanda Quick’s historical romance Mistress will have you laughing and turning pages to see what happens next.
Denise of Fiction/AV/Teen Services recommends Friendship Bread by Darien Gee:
Friendship Bread is a heartwarming, extremely touching novel on loss, the healing power of friendship, and the tremendous gifts of sharing and forgiveness. The story centers around an Amish friendship bread that makes its way throughout the town of Avalon, Illinois. It changes the lives of five women in various stages of life, all dealing with different issues. You will feel their sorrows, revel in their successes, and love how they come together over tea and friendship bread. This novel is sweet and sentimental with a lovely ending. When you read it, you’ll want to share it with a friend, and don’t forget to add a starter packet of friendship bread!
NW by Zadie Smith highlights the paradoxes in human existence. It follows the lives of four London friends who grew up in the same impoverished area of northwest London. Ideas of class and ethnicity are major players in this character-driven, passionate story that keeps you guessing on what comes next.