Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Moonflower Vine

Have you ever read a book that was so profound that you wondered how you’ve managed to live your life without it thus far ? The Moonflower Vine turned out to be that book for me.

When this 1962 book was republished several years ago, it gathered new interest in Southern literature and a whole new group of fans (myself included). I usually like Southern literature from that era so I decided to give it try. Some of my happiest memories are me as teenager reading Carson McCullers, Truman Capote or even a Tennessee Williams play all curled up on my little twin bed.

This family saga of the Soames family takes place in Missouri (does that still qualify the story as Southern literature ?) between the 1890's and the early fifties. The story starts in the (then) present and in turn backtracks and chronicles each family member’s history up unto that point. The Moonflower Vine is a rather long, winding story sat in an idyllic, simpler world where edges were softer, words were kinder and time was marked by the blooming of flowers. At times it has a quaint Little House On The Prairie feel to it and at other times it gives off more of a steamy Cat On A Hot Tin Roof vibe. Odd, huh ? This story is also quite surprisingly sexually frank for it’s time. Callie's (the mother) sexual indiscretion with the traveling peddler in the forest toward the close of the book totally blind-sided me and made me repectfully give her a resounding: "You go, Girl !"

As I said, I loved this book...it does take some patience and perseverance to get through it though (so, just chillax) and the author does occasionally go off on a long-winded tangent with a infinitely detailed account of a tree, rock or flower. It's made abundantly clear that the author was really was into nature.

This is surely destined to become a modern(ish) classic and you should read it. Why ? I have good taste in books, that’s why.

Rating: 8.0

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Trick or Treat

I really enjoyed this charming piece of Brit Chick Lit with a paranormal twist. After Lucy Diamond sees her first ghost on the tube one morning on the way to work, she promptly falls into a funny, deeply moving journey to discover her powers as a newly-minted spiritual medium with a very funny cast of characters.

As an American, I had a bit of a problem understanding much of the British slang and pop culture references made throughout the book. But perhaps this book wasn’t meant for American, Australian or Canadian readers ? I found myself wishing that I had an English BFF that I could call up and ask to explain certain phrases to me.

And to tell you the truth, I think if this book had been “cleaned up” a bit it would have lost most of it oh-so-very British charm and wouldn’t have been the lovely, atmospheric book that it was.

Highly recommended.

Rating: 9.0