More Oldies But Goodies

You’ll find these oldies but goodies on library shelves or in your bookstore. Dust them off and give one a try!

The Odd Sea: A Novel by Frederick Reiken, a professor at Emerson College, won the Hackney Literary Award for a first novel and was also a Barnes & Noble Discover Award finalist.

Not even the peaceful rolling countryside of Western Massachusetts, often thought to be a peaceful place to raise a family, can keep the Shumways safe from one of the most devastating events that can befall a family — the disappearance of their teenage son, Ethan. Told through the perspective of his younger brother, Phillip, this heartrending story follows the family through the years following Ethan’s disappearance. Phillip tries to make sense of his brother’s absence by observing how his siblings and parents cope with the loss of Ethan and by learning more about the people who were close to his brother. This is a powerful but sensitive story about loss, growing up and facing some of life’s unanswerable questions.

Egyptian Nobel Laureate Naguib Mahfouz wrote a highly acclaimed trilogy beginning with Palace Walk, which richly describes life in Cairo in the 1920s. Al-Sayyid Ahmad, a merchant and his family live in the British occupied city. Ahmad’s wife, Amina, is available for his every beck and call while cleaning, baking bread, running the household and raising their children. Amina and her two daughters, beautiful Aisha and spirited but unattractive Khadiiya, are forbidden from leaving the house unless accompanied by Ahmad. They must remain veiled at all times so as not to show their faces to any man outside their immediate family. Younger brother Kamal attends school while older brother Fahmy becomes involved in student demonstrations against the British. Half-brother, Yasin, follows in their father’s footsteps, spending much time and energy chasing women and drink.

This fascinating and eye opening book will appeal to anyone who wants to learn more about life in the Middle East including those who may be unaware that some of the religious and cultural traditions described in this book are still practiced today. By the end of this atmospheric story the reader will be eager to pick up Palace of Desire, the second book of the trilogy and Sugar Street, the final book, to discover the fate and destiny of this family and their country. All three books are collected in one volume called The Cairo Trilogy.

In London Holiday by Richard Peck, three middle aged women, friends since childhood, journey to London each trying to escape their insecure and generally unhappy lives. The Bed & Breakfast they stay in, filled with antiques collected by its owner, Mrs. Smith-Porter, is as interesting as she is. The descriptions of their travels throughout the city and the lush countryside give the reader a delightful window into places off the beaten path. When Mrs. Smith-Porter is injured, the three women take over the B & B while she recovers, causing them to delay their trips home and giving them time to reflect on their lives and futures. Peck does an admirable job of portraying each woman and her personality and will make the reader quickly forget that the author is a man.

An Isolated Incident by Susan R Sloan, though not as literary as Snow Falling On Cedars is a page turner, nonetheless, with a similar plot and setting. When a Jewish teacher on a Pacific coast island is accused of murdering the town’s wealthiest family’s teenage daughter, people immediately jump to conclusions. Though others should be considered suspects, the focus remains on the teacher and soon his past comes back to haunt him. Stereotyping, prejudice and mob mentality all come in to play as an innocent man is rushed to judgment. Or is he innocent after all?

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