I’m going to put three (3) of my 20 Books of Summer reviews into one post since I’m falling so behind in writing about them! I have been chugging along nicely in my reading though, but definitely straying far and wide from my original 20 Books of Summer list!
The three 20 Books of Summer recently read:
- The House at the Edge of Night by Catherine Banner
- Whiskey and Ribbons by Leesa Cross-Smith
- One Good Thing by Rebecca Hendry
The House at the Edge of Night was a pretty good book club choice for the summer. This will be the one we discuss at our 2nd annual Cottage Book Club too, so it seemed kind of perfect for that occasion! It’s also an “original” from my 20 Books of Summer list (I’m only at 2 read from this original list. Oops.)
Overall, it was not bad, but I did find this suffered from a similar fate I found in Pachinko (by Min Jin Lee) – that addition of an entire generation at the end which I found would have benefited (for both) by wrapping up the story prior to including that extra generation. In The House at the Edge of Night, had it ended with the grandchildren of Amedeo Esposito and not included his great-grandchildren, it maybe would have improved my overall rating and feeling about the book.
We start the story with Amedeo Esposito when he is a foundling from Florence. Later, he is brought to the tiny island of Castellamare to be their doctor, something they haven’t had there for many generations. Here, the inhabitants live with long held superstitions and tell mythical and magical-like stories that permeate and influence their every way of life. They are especially devoted to one particular saint – Sant’ Agata and she is one they worship and honour for generations and generations. This is where Amedeo finds himself, his wife and his purpose in life. However, it is because of these repeated influences and superstitions found in all of their story-lines where I found it to be too repetitive, therefore, perhaps removing that additional generation with the very similar seeming story-line as all of the others, might have tightened the story more for me. Maybe.
This maybe could be compared to Beautiful Ruins, but The House at the Edge of Night doesn’t hold the same strength of storytelling, and I found it to be too long so it felt like I was spending more time than usual reading. While the many generations dealt with the differing issues in their time, their stories circled around and around the same ways of life, and same ancient and mythical beliefs and stories, so it began to stall out on me and grew fairly tedious to continue reading (and enjoying). 🙁
Whiskey and Ribbons is told in three perspectives, and while I found most of their perspectives seem to repeat their narratives often, this was a very good story about love, friendship, loss and grief and moving forward. It was about the guilt and confusion of piecing life together again following a significant loss.
Eamon is a police officer killed in the line of duty. He is married to Evangeline and is the best friend, yet also brother of Dalton. Dalton was adopted by Eamon’s family following the death of his mother when he was 12. Eamon meets Evangeline, marries and when they are expecting their first baby, Eamon is killed just a few short weeks before their son Noah’s birth.
The three perspectives take us to the beginning of their lives and then through the love and marriage of Eamon and Evangeline, but also how the three of them are forever bound to one another. Dalton honours a promise he kept with Eamon about protecting and caring for Evangeline were anything to happen to him.
Overall, I felt that Dalton’s story, while very good, repeated too often about his persistent on again – off again relationship with his girlfriend Frances. While wishing for the relationship that Eamon and Evangeline have, he knows it isn’t that strong between him and Frances, and this cycle never changes and is mentioned each time we read the chapters from his perspective.
After Eamon’s death (it moves back and forth in time to before and after his death) Evangeline’s constant questioning and insecurity around Dalton’s commitment wears thin – is he sleeping with other women? Is he in love with someone else? Is he sleeping with her? This seemed very out of context to how Evangeline behaved before with Eamon. This jealousy and insecure personality was not one she wore, so it became irritating since it encompassed everything with Dalton after Eamon’s death (and a quick feeling to have so soon following that death?)
“Why would I ever have thought he was mine and only mine? No matter what he’s told me? There is someone else and there will probably always be someone else because no matter how hard I wish it or pray for it, Dalton is not mine and he never was.”
I could imagine this was a heavy load for Dalton – he’s lost his brother/best friend and is trying to hold up his part of a pact he’s shouldering a heavy burden and handling it as best as he can. It was always Eamon that was their glue holding the three of them tightly together, so it was a lovely story about the how Evi and Dalton must move forward without him, but always keeping him there in at their centre.
“I am wonderstruck at having never confused grief with love. There can be no grief without love but the love I feel for Evi is protected and untouched by grief. I love her through and through. This love is so pure and pristine and gleaming, it hurts my eyes.”
I liked the structure of this one. I liked hearing the three perspectives and how they shifted from past to present and back and forth in time in their non-linear fashion. I think I liked Eamon the best. I won this from an Instagram Giveaway and it came so beautifully wrapped in a ribbon, with bookmarks and an “album” with a playlist. It’s also a signed edition. I won it by commenting on what my favourite 80/90s power ballad was. My answer? Is This Love by Whitesnake. 🙂 Throughout the book she ties in music/songs that are bound to memories and for sure Is This Love holds strong memories of my time in high school, first love and heartbreak too.
One Good Thing was sent as a surprise from Touchwood Editions in a package with two other books. It had been unbearably hot and humid for weeks, and I thought perhaps a book about Yellowknife in the 70s might bring about cool thoughts with its northern life and setting. Certainly that groovy cover was cool! It was a very enjoyable coming of age story for sure, and one that ran from May to February in the late 1970s, so a whole weather gamut experienced.
“A novel set in Yellowknife’s historic Old Town in the 70s that explores both abandonment and belonging in the life of one young woman.”
This was a good one to include in my 20 Books of Summer reading list. Delilah was a great character and her will to set down roots and come of age in a way she wants, not in the way her, “flighty” (as she’s described) mother wants. It’s a shame to see her mother Annie described as flighty, as clearly she is suffering from bipolar disorder. It’s something that even Delilah can see, although perhaps not medically name. Delilah lives in a constant state of watchfulness and in dread when her mother starts to show she’s about to lapse into one of her “episodes”. These episodes always mean uprooting and moving on a whim wherever and whenever her mother wants. When they arrive in Yellowknife, as a surprise to Delilah’s father, Delilah finds herself happy and settled for the first time in her life.
So when her mother shows the warning signs that she’s going to take flight again, Delilah does everything she can to stay put, to convince her dad that it is the best for everyone that they stay where they are at, and chasing after her mother will not bring happiness for any one of them. A great show of maturity and growth for Delilah!
I seem to have listed in order of 3rd place to 1st. 🙂 One Good Thing would be my favourite out of these three.
How are you doing with your 20 Books of Summer reading? It’s hard to believe it’s almost at an end! Zoom zoom goes the summer.
I’ve been trying to read cool books too. The idea of it helps, although in reality there is just as such sweating going on. Multi-generational stories appeal to me. And multi-perspective stories too. But I can see where both might be challenging as hot-weather reads. Isn’t it a shame that there aren’t more books about the North North, as opposed to the near-North (which I also love to read about). I’m going to have a look for One Good Thing!
One Good Thing was an enjoyable read for sure! I’m reading Elizabeth Hay’s Late Nights on Air and as you know – she makes the place as much a character as the people, so the Yellowknife setting in it is perfectly described!