Sunday, February 9, 2014

Messages From a Young Reader

When I opened up this week's book, my reading experience was, um, enhanced by these sticky notes:

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I find one.  I read a few more pages. I find another.  The handwriting seems young, possibly the same age as the book's heroine. 

As I've admitted before on this blog, there are a few books in which I could've used these kinds of  notes, telling me "laugh here.  This is funny."

The book in question is Last Life by Claire Messud, an author we've featured before on this blog.  This time around, she tells the story of the LaBasse family as they run their hotel in the south of France.   The teenaged granddaughter's social life consists of inviting her friends over to swim in the hotel pool after hours.  It's great fun until Grandfather loses his temper and fires a gun into the party. 

There's the seaside scenery.  There's the heroine's American mother, who marries into all this Frenchness, not quite knowing what she's gotten herself into.  There's racial tension, because Algeria lies just across the Mediterranean and trades people back and forth with France.  And there's the young heroine herself, for whom the worst social disaster is clothing or attitude that "screams virgin."  Young ladies in her set seek to get it over with.

This packs the book with a few cow patties, sprinkled here and there like those pink sticky notes.  But you can easily hop over them.

You may find it harder to deal with Messud's run-on sentences, which keep interrupting themselves.  It's like heading downstairs to steal some cookies, with stops to straighten the books on the piano, and tidy the remotes by the TV, and sort the fruit in the basket, and sniff the leftovers in the fridge.

I'll put up with a lot to read a novel set in the South of France.

I don't know how it ends yet.

Meanwhile, I keep my strength up with:

Fudgy Banana Muffins

You'll note a full pallet of Hershey bars disappears into these muffins.  Tonight's young dinner guest, Emma's Little Sister (as in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program), saw me opening the candy bars and had to be restrained from all that chocolate.  Practically makes her a member of the family. 

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