Writings: November Reading List & Reviews by Beth Bowser

Novels by Annie Lyons and Carrie Callaghan November Reading & Reviews Click here for a printer friendly version of this page

The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett by Annie Lyons was the first novel I picked up this month and it was a suggested one. The novel is about Eudora, an 85 year old woman living alone except for her cat. Eudora has lived in her house in England since birth and has gone through World War 2, the only time she was apart from her home for any extended period of time. The author takes us through Eudora's early life in bits and pieces but the present time is the bulk of the story. Eudora has determined that she's done with living and, being in Europe, she has options to end her life when she wants to rather than end up in a nursing home, where she may be kept alive in misery. I can understand that feeling! I don't feel I can say too much about the novel without spoiling it. There were some moments that I didn't care for, the author appeared to just make something happen to push the plot along and some other things were too perfect for my cynical mind. Let me just say that you may get emotional (keep a tissue handy!), but the overall message is uplifting and positive!

Then, I grabbed what could possibly be considered a masterwork in relation to the novel I am working on. Salt the Snow by Carrie Callaghan. I say could be, because it's a novel about a female American journalist in Russia, for at least half of the novel. The differences, however, may be too great to make this novel a masterwork in relation to my work in progress. For one, the story is as close to a non-fiction as it can be. The author took some creative license to fill in things that may have happened, but Milly Bennett was an actual American Journalist who lived in Russia for some years. She was a decently well known war correspondent in her late 30s where my main character is in her early 20s and is just starting her career. She also earned the majority of her income in the novel by translating and my character is woefully inadept in other languages than English. This story stars before World War 2 begins, Russia's Bolshevik time and the creation of The Soviet Union where my novel is based out of late 90s or early 2000s. Milly also has lived outside the United States, following wars across the world, and my main character is more of a homebody until she gets pushed out of her comfort zone. This novel includes quite a bit of politics, warring factions between countries and idealisms, specifically how positively Milly views communism. My novel will not touch on politics as far as I have written it at least so far! I didn't care for how the novel portrays Milly as a nymphomaniac, but apparently that is a honest portrayal as she had affairs with married and unmarried men all over the world. Mainly, I finished the novel feeling pity for her. She never found someone who loved her and stuck by her, she fought constantly in what was a male dominated field and had little to show for struggles. Still an interesting read, although likely not for everyone.

Sorry again for the limited novels on this reading list, but I hope I can be excused! Next month, I should be able to read more, but my writing group is continuing the daily 90 minutes writing period and my SHEG (Super Hardcore Editing Group) is starting tomorrow on 12/2. Considering that my novel is not completed yet, I may still write more than read in December and I have no idea how much time the SHEG will take, we'll find out! Please do keep the book suggestions coming!!