I really enjoyed this book. I can't remember how I stumbled upon it, but once reading the summary, I was hooked. The book focuses on the life of the author's mother and grandmother. It is as much about life in Iran as it is about a woman's role in society, culture, food and mother and father-daughter relationships. In some ways it was a mystery as I turned the page wondering if the author would venture back to Iran and meet Sara. It was very well written and felt much more like fiction than non-fiction. The detail of life in Iran was well articulated but not tedious. I felt there were some gaps in the last quarter of the book and I'm inclined to believe that this was editing. Although the book's main point was to detail life in Iran, I was equally interested in the family's life in the US. I felt like some of the detail in the first half of the book wasn't applied to the second half of the book. But the book was a fascinating glimpse into life in Iran in the mid 20th century and an interesting look at familial relationships and culture. It was very well written and would make a good reading group book as well.
I have always been a fan of Jhumpa Lahiri having previously enjoyed both Interpreter of Maladies and The Namesake. Unaccustomed Earth didn't disappoint. I am traditionally not a fan of short stories, but I continue to enjoy Lahiri's. Her stories usually focus on Indian immigrants or the first generation here in America. Although some might not want to spend a third book reflecting on the subject (I wasn't sure I did), I found the stories in Unaccustomed Earth much more universal. Many of the stories could have been about any immigrant book. And in many of the stories, any child, couple or family could relate. I also like the final three stories which were much more of a novella with all three stories tying together. Lahiri is an excellent writer and she effectively uses the short story format to fully develop her characters and stories. I look forward to her next book.
This is the latest assignment in my reading group. Which, incidentally, just celebrated its 10th Anniversary! I have never read Steve Martin and this rotation my group is taking on two of his novellas as a compare and contrast type of thing. I liked Martin's style of writing, but will admit I didn't really develop any interest in the characters for the first 50-75 pages. If this wasn't a novella, I probably would have put it down. But I'm very glad I stayed with it until the end. In fact, I'm not sure I was really loving it until the very last paragraph. It was at that point that book came together for me. I wished Martin developed Zandy's character a bit more, but I assume that was deliberate given that it was told from the first person and that the narrator wasn't able to provide more info here. But I do enjoy books that make you learn something about yourself in addition to something about a character. Martin did just that.
I just finished Eighteen Acres which has dutifully served as my treadmill book for the past few weeks. I love chic-lit set in Washington or with a political theme and this book certainly fit the bill. I am a huge fan of Kristin Gore's books too so I was naturally drawn to this one. I liked the characters and plot lines. I liked getting involved in a story about a female president and hope to see one in my lifetime. I also found it interesting that I was rooting for people who have done things I don't necessarily agree with. I also appreciate that the author didn't make the book party-platform focused. It is clear what party the main characters are, but that doesn't get in the way of the story lines or characters. It was the perfect book to be reading at the gym and would read another by the same author. It was a good first novel. The author certainly has the credentials to write in this genre and I have no doubt the daily life that she's portrayed is based on reality. A great way to get a sneak peak into how things work. If you like these types of books, I would also highly recommend Kristen Gore.
In the interest of full disclosure, I will mention that I went to high school with the author, although we weren't friends and she was a year behind me. Former Communications Director for a president and now a novelist; not bad for a Matador!