For the Summer 2020 edition of Things I Started and Stopped, I’ve got three books. First up is Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. When this book first came out over twenty years ago, I was a post-bacc student in Seattle working at a brew pub. I read it then and I remember having liked it a lot. The narrative is chatty, the characters amusingly and richly sketched (with tragedy lurking beneath their surfaces). The story simply does not hold up; in the midst of Black Lives Matter, the stereotypical and sentimentalizing depiction of the African American servants is obviously problematic (in a way I completely overlooked in 1996). Would Not Recommend This Book. It’s destined for some Little Free Library somewhere nearby.
The second unfinished novel is The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. I would recommend this book. If you liked Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand (and I did), this one will absolutely float your boat. It’s a sweet, slow, well written story about a man who takes a torturously long walk to make up for past sins. There’s the occasional, poetic, Buddhist-ish sentence reflective of the man’s asceticism (evolving from his idealistic masochism). I wish I’d taken the time to finish it, but there always seemed to be something more pressing to read this summer.
The third left-behind book was The Children’s Home by Charles Lambert. I have no idea where I picked this book up. As I tried to get into reading it, I kept wondering why it was in my house to begin with. I think it was in Amazon’s algorithm for readers of Shirley Jackson. Anyway, the writing was ponderous. I want to finish the book to see what the big mystery was, but I just couldn’t get through it. Even now, as I consider sending it to the Little Free Library, I wonder if I could try again?