Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Book Recommendation: Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier and Broken for You by Stephanie Kallos

In an earlier post, I listed some characteristics that draw me to certain books and both of the books I'm recommending today provide what I look for when I'm looking for that next "best book" for my own list.  They are both character driven, which sometimes means that I develop an almost personal relationship with the protagonist(s) and feel a sense of loss when I must leave the book to do something else, or when the book is over.  Both are about friendships between women, which immediately drew me to them.  I enjoy books about friendship, and have read countless stories about old friends who have known each other for years, or who are of the same age and experiencing the same issues and challenges.  Remarkable Creatures and Broken for You are about friendships between young and older women.  Both are wonderful stories about how common interests can bring two very different people together and how long-lasting relationships can be forged.  Friendships are precious, and I am reminded, through reading these two books, that the extra effort to look for friends who are not "just like me" is well worth it.

Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier is the story of Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot, both of whom lived during the first half of the 19th century, and their unusual friendship, based upon a common interest in fossils. Mary was a member of a poverty-stricken family who brought in money by using her gift of finding (and taking) fossils on the seashore. Elizabeth was of a more privileged class, but was dependent upon her brother, who inherited their father's estate when he died. She and her younger sister found themselves living at the same seaside town as Mary, and Elizabeth struck up a relationship with Mary, which eventually developed into a real friendship. Society didn't give much credence to Mary's ability and her status as a woman discounted even more her getting credit for her fossil finds. Her friendship with Elizabeth opened doors for her, and she finally gained some recognition for dinosaur remains that she uncovered. The friendship ultimately suffered because of Elizabeth's understanding of societal contraints, and Mary's refusal to accept her advice. This is a compelling story that brought me to a greater understanding of the value of friendships between women (especially women of different ages), and the progress we've made on our own behalf.

Broken for You by Stephanie Kallos is a beautiful story of  friendship between two women, one young and one older, both who are "broken" in different ways. Margaret Hughes, in her seventies, lives alone in a mansion filled with antiques, both inherited from her father. Wanda Schultz, in her twenties has come live with Margaret while she searches for her lost love. Both women hide painful pasts which have inflicted damage to their lives but events lead to redemption for Margaret and a new life for Wanda as a mosiac artist.  I was led to this book by Kallos by reading and enjoying her second novel, Sing Them Home.

You can find the titles mentioned above at your local library, as well as through Amazon, linked below.

Happy reading!
Annie Joy


peggy said...

I'm catching up on reading blogs and I see that we like some of the same books. So I'll check back with you to see what you are reading. I don't know which book I liked best, Broken for You or Sing them Home but I'm watching for her next book. I hope your April has been good, I can't believe it's almost May already. See you again.

Annie Joy said...

Hi, Peggy! Thanks for visiting my blog -- I have already put yours on my list of favorites. I look forward to sharing books again! Annie


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