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Tomes and Tea Leaves

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Kismetology
Jaimie Admans
On Paper: The Everything of Its Two-Thousand-Year History
Nicholas A. Basbanes
Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking: A Memoir of Food and Longing
Anya Von Bremzen
The Mirror Lied: One Woman's 25-Year Struggle with Bulimia, Anorexia, Diet Pill Addiction, Laxative Abuse and Cutting.
Marc A. Zimmer, N.R. Mitgang, Ira M. Sacker
Where Snowflakes Dance and Swear: Inside the Land of Ballet
Stephen Manes
Sisterland
Curtis Sittenfeld
Flora
Gail Godwin
The Old Curiosity Shop
Charles Dickens, Norman Page
The English Eccentrics
Edith Sitwell, Richard Ingrams (Introduction)
Drowning Ruth - Christina Schwarz This novel tells the haunting story of two generations of a Wisconsin family brought together and torn apart by the lake adjacent to the family home. Focused on four women, sisters of two generations, the novel develops around the sisters' relationship with the lake, and the tragedy that ensues when it claims one of their lives. Much of the book is spent untangling the secrets which led to the drowning, and working out the complicated problems which arise from the family's attempts to keep these secrets. Scwartz's story jumps back and forth across time, from past to present and back again. This means that the story develops piece by piece, and this is what makes it something of a mystery. I found the plot development to be one of the more satisfying parts of this book, seeing the pieces of the puzzle fall into place. I enjoyed the developments leading up to Scwartz's telling of what actually happened the night of the tragedy. After that point, however, I found the plot to be something of a let-down. The conclusion seemed a bit too neat, and a bit forced. The most enjoyable part of this book to me was the way in which Scwartz set the scene- the way in which she managed to capture the sense of a time and place. The novel is set in the Wisconsin countryside in the first half of the twentieth century, with most of the action focusing on the last years of WWI, and the 1920s. Scwartz offers a convincing portrait of Wisconsin farm country in the late-1910s and early 1920s. Her descriptions are vivid, without being overstated, and her story intersects with several significant historical events, including WWI and the influenza epidemic. Scwartz gives her readers a strong sense of connection to the seasons, the land, the lake. I really did feel like I was part of the world about which she wrote. Overall, I enjoyed reading this novel. The development of the plot engaged me, and the scenery captivated me. I was a bit disappointed by the ending, but my reading was by and large time well spent.