28 January 2008

6. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See was a beautiful book that every woman should read. The power of friendship is at the heart of this story about two young girls who became "old sames" or laotong and shared their lives by writing in the folds of their fan using a secret woman's language nu shu. The girls, and later women, recorded important events in their lives and passed the fan back and forth for many years. The story of the Secret Fan is told by one of the women who lived to be in her eighties. This gave her too much time to remember deeds of mistrust and betrayal. Only at the end does one learn the truth.

Additionally this historical fiction novel provides the reader with a wide range of cultural insights. The binding of the feet is described in great detail, along with the rationale. The lives of everyday 19th century Chinese women is also explored on many levels. See writes beautifully and the reader often can visualize the simple beauty of both actions and physical items.

TITLE: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
AUTHOR: Lisa See
PAGES: 253
TYPE: Fiction
RECOMMEND: Yes, absolutely. I would recommend that all women read this book.

Flusi Cat

19 January 2008

5. Shattered Dreams: My Life as a Polygamist's Wife

This was an excellent book. Additionally, I cannot think of another more surprising one. I have read many books about different religious cultures and thought I was fairly educated about the experiences of plural wives. However, the lives descirbed by Irene Spencer were often shocking and sad. At the age of sixteen, Irene was married to a young man of the LeBarron "clan". She ultimately shared her husband with eight other women with a total of 58 children. For most of her married life, Irene lived in abject poverty. While she railed against her life in Mexico, Central America, and the western United States, she was a good mother and friend. Through her detailed story, the reader learns a great deal about the Mormon fundamentalist faith as it still exists today. It is amazing that Irene was able to live through her experiences to go on and marry a non-Mormon after the death of her husband. Today her life is her large family with many her husband, grand children and great grand children.

TITLE: Shattered Dreams: My Life as a Polygamist's Wife
AUTHOR: Irene Spencer
PAGES: 383
TYPE: Non-Fiction
RECOMMEND: Yes, this was an amazing story of one woman's life in polygamy and exposed the sacrifices and challenges she, and other second wives, continue to endure.

Flusi the LibrarysCat

15 January 2008

4. Secret Ceremonies

Laake's story of her young adulthood as a Mormon is very easy to read although the content is somewhat disturbing. Her religious aspirations to be pleasing to God found their earthly home in bad marriages which assured her way into heaven and damning her when they failed. In spite of oaths that would require bodily harm if she shared any information about the secret ceremonies, Laake allows her readers to join her in the Temple ceremonies which bound her to her first husband in this life and the afterlife.

In the introduction, the author says that many times she gave up on writing this book. Finally, I think it was cathartic for her to tell her story - the years of turmoil in the Mormon religion. I was surprised that polygamy was not the main issue here. However, it was very interesting to think that, even without the dreaded polygamy, Mormon females remain in a position of inferiority and submission.

TITLE: Secret Ceremonies: A Mormon Woman's Intimate Diary of Marriage and Beyond
AUTHOR: Deborah Laake
PAGES: 240
TYPE: Non-Fiction
RECOMMEND: Yes, Although not as highly as the previous book on this subject

Flusi the LibrarysCat

11 January 2008

3. A Mormon Mother: An Autobiography

Annie Clark Tanner relates her life growing up as the oldest daughter of the second wife of a very influential Mormon during the early years of the religion. She continues her own story of life as a second wife. The details of day-to-day life on the frontier and living this new religion make this book a must-read for those interested in polygamy or Mormon religion. The author includes her own personal letters and correspondences as well as newspaper articles of the day. This work serves as the perfect background for many of the escape narratives being published today.

TITLE: A Mormon Mother: An Autobiography
AUTHOR: Annie Clark Tanner
PAGES: 294
TYPE: Non-Fiction
RECOMMEND: Yes, detailed history of polygamy in Utah

Flusi the LibrarysCat

07 January 2008

2. The Story of Forgetting

Block provides readers with an engaging story of two people searching for answers surrounding the genetically transmitted disease of early onset Alzheimer's disease. A young man is seeking answers from relatives he does not know exist to help his mother. An elderly man remembers too much and seeks his daughter. The two families find what they are seeking and the transformations which occur are sadly sweet. For a first novel, Block has done a wonderful job of providing the technical backdrop to the disease while engaging the reader with the characters. I read this book in only two days and recommend it for anyone who has questions about the disease or just wants an interesting read.

TITLE: The Story of Forgetting: A Novel
AUTHOR: Stefan Merrill Block
PAGES: 310
TYPE: Fiction
RECOMMEND: Yes, a beatiful mix of science and story

Flusi the LibrarysCat

03 January 2008

1. Tuesdays with Morrie

I could not have read this book at a better time. A few things struck me as vitally important concepts from this easily read outline of the "last class" the author, Mitch Albom, had with his beloved professor Morrie Schwartz. Morrie described the emptiness of our cultural demands - more money, more possessions, more prestige. He said that we should reject that culture and create a culture of our own that gives our life true meaning. Love and forgiveness are at the heart of the culture he describes and it brought me to tears. He provided numerous examples of the power of love - love without conditions, love without demands - pure and simple love for self and others. Something we can all aspire to in these hectic times.

TITLE: Tuesdays with Morrie: An old man, a young man and life's greatest lesson
AUTHOR: Mitch Albom
PAGES: 192
TYPE: Non-fiction
RECOMMEND: Yes, something everyone should read to learn how to live and die

Flusi the LibrarysCat

Starting over

OK - I admit the first attempt at keeping things straight here was not so good. So I am going to start over. I mean, really, who cares but me? I believe that I will aim for fifty books by the end of 2008. Keeping myself honest by not including all of the books that I read while on winter holiday - my library is closed for 2.5 weeks at Christmas time. One week of that my husband still had to work, so I spent most of that week reading - delightfully interesting books, such as: In My Brother's Image, The Thirteenth Tale, and Confessions of a Shopaholic to name a few. But I will be honest and stick to only those that I have read since New Year's Day.

Speaking of New Year's Day - wishing you a wonderful year of reading and blogging. Cheers,