It seems like the winter has been dragging on forever and ever so I was delighted when April 8 finally rolled around and we boarded our aircraft headed to St. Maarten for Spring break. Our travel group has been shrinking as we get older since the two college kids now have a break at a different (EARLIER) time and no longer can join us. Last year we enjoyed our time alone with our youngest daughter. This year she brought a friend along which was really fun for all of us.
St. Maarten is special for us because it is the first place we ever vacationed together back when we first started dating. We love the island and this trip marked our 4th trip there. As a beach lover I brought and finished three books, all three of which I enjoyed and would recommend.
The first book I read was “Commonwealth” by Ann Patchett. I was very excited to finally get this one from the library (drawback of the library – long wait time) because I have really liked some of her former works, especially “Bel Canto.” This book was a character driven family drama that centered around 2 families that were brought together when the mother of the Keating family met and fell in love with the father of the Cousin family. It tells the story from the perspective of the 6 children from each of their first marriages and the trials and tribulations of being part of a forced second family. To be critical, it’s non linear format was difficult to follow, but that was minimized for me by Ann’s ability to create lovable characters and to tell everyday contemporary family stories with clear descriptions and amazing insight. I read it quickly and enjoyed it very much.
Next, I read “My Brilliant Friend” by Elena Ferrante which is the first of 4 books and is soon to be an HBO series. It tells the fictional story of 2 friends, Lila and Elena growing up in Naples in a poor neighborhood in the 1950’s. This first book tells the story of these two young and fiesty girls as they go through childhood and middle school and of their complex friendship that ranges at times from intimate to competitive. The complexity and character development of these girls is unlike anything I have ever read, however, it took me a while to understand the flow and style of her writing and frankly I had to re-read the beginning parts because I missed so much. But after I settled into her style, I began to really love this story and I can see why she is Italy’s most beloved and acclaimed writer and I plan to read the next books in the series.
I finished the week up with a book given to me by my friend Loralee called “Behold the Dreamers” by Imbolo Mbue. This novel tells the tale of a lovable young man, Jende, from Cameroon who just landed a huge job working as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards who is a Wall Street executive. These two families become intertwined when Jende’s wife, Neni begins to nanny for the Edwards family children. And triumph turns to tragedy when Wall Street crashes and both families have to make sacrifices. It goes without saying that the main point of the book is that the sacrifices made by Jende’s family are much more impactful than those of the Edwards family. The author who is a native of Cameroon tells this story with a positive slant and a clear eye for the good and not so good aspects of the American dream.
It was a great week with some of my favorite people at a lovely place. And I also got lucky when I picked 3 very good books. CHA – CHING! What more could you possibly want?