Stern Men, by Elizabeth Gilbert. I was intrigued by her fiction, of which I haven't read any before, because her new novel is getting such rave reviews. While I'm waiting for it from the library, I figured I'd check out her first book. It's, well, a first book. The descriptions of life on a isolated New England island, and the experience of lobstering, are not bad, but I didn't like our heroine much and the story was stronger when it wasn't focusing on her.
Little Face, by Sophie Hannah. Hmmm. I found it difficult to put down, and I plan to read more by Hannah, but I don't think the hype is quite warranted. The culprit is obvious from the first couple of pages, and the Big Twist was completely revealed in the blurbs on the back cover (that's just a poor marketing choice, and not Hannah's fault, but still). Like I said, I'll be checking out more of her stuff, but this felt a bit unsatisfying after all the praise.
Hitler's Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields, by Wendy Lower. Interesting but oddly paced. Lower goes into great detail about the backgrounds of half-a-dozen women, but then truncates their behavior during the war into basically one compressed chapter. It seems to be an unwillingness to linger on the actual horrors these women perpetrated, perhaps because doing so would seem sensationalist, but that has the effect of making their teenage years seem more important to Lower than their actual roles as "Hitler's furies". The early chapters made it seem like this book was going to be a lot longer and more detailed than it was, and then it wrapped up really fast.
This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage, by Ann Patchett. Essays by Patchett about her writing life, her two marriages, her dog, and much else. I quite liked most of them, and there were times I wanted to copy out multiple paragraphs because they said EXACTLY what I think about divorce, or canine love, or something. (Although her self-justification about cheating on her first husband to force a divorce - "the house was on fire, and I got out through a window instead of the door; what matters is that I got out" - does not wash with me, I can tell you that much. I'm well aware of my own bias in that regard, and was still able to really appreciate everything else Patchett had to say about a failed marriage.) Her writing is pretty great, in my opinion, and I liked this a lot.
A Christmas Hope, by Anne Perry. My Early Reviewers book. Every year Perry writes a short novel that takes a secondary or tertiary character from one of her long-running series and involves them in a mystery taking place at Christmas-time. The Christmas motif was very faint in this one, and it had an extremely melancholy atmosphere, but it was still a cozy read.
Visitation Street, by Ivy Pochada. Hype = warranted. A wonderfully-written story of what happens to a New York neighborhood in the wake of a tragedy.
The pregnancy continues to chug merrily along; I'm only a few days away from the third trimester. I still feel good, with one exception: my back.
I'm carrying very far forward (tilted uterus, my OB says, which has no medical implications other than said carrying forward). Nothing is spreading out; all twenty-five pounds I've gained is in a protruding belly. Which is fine, other than that a) it's causing a lot of the "how can you possibly not be eight months along??" comments and b) it's killing my back. Imagine twenty-five pounds strapped to the front of your hips, and you can have some idea of what my lower back is suddenly trying to handle. Yoga and being mindful of my posture help during the day, but nights are rough, even with strategically placed pillows. Oh well.
Over the weekend, one of Darcy's front paws swelled up and we took him to the vet. Several traumatic x-rays later (he lay down on the waiting room floor and cried), there was no sign of breakage or bone degeneration, so we were sent home with antibiotics, painkillers, and the hope that it's just a twisted ankle and will resolve itself. At least the lack of bone degeneration means it's probably not cancer, which the vet said does, tragically, come to mind when she sees an older dog of unusual size with swollen joints. So sad and scary. Hopefully he will be all right.