Arts & Culture

By:Frederic Colier

“The Land of Enchantment” by Leigh Stein Penguin Random House $22.00 212 pages

“The Land of Enchantment” by Leigh Stein
Penguin Random House
$22.00
212 pages

Set in the New Mexico, “The Land of Enchantment,” is a riveting coming-of-age memoir about young love and its impact. The story opens with the author receiving a phone call from her brother to tell that her ex-boyfriend, Jason, has been killed in road accident. Jason’s death causes our protagonist to recall the difficult life they shared together and forces her to contemplate tough questions while grieving. How is it possible to fall in love with someone who causes so much pain? Why is it so hard to walk away from this type of love? How can love be so destructive? The engaging memoir traces the psychological evolution of an abusive relationship, while raising larger issues. Why are women who step forward so often shamed and bullied?

 

“Between Two Fires” by Mark Noce Thomas Dunn Books $25.99 327 pages

“Between Two Fires”
by Mark Noce
Thomas Dunn Books
$25.99
327 pages

This book will appeal to the fans of Game of Thrones. Here the story takes place in 597 when Saxon Barbarians are about to destroy medieval Wales. So? you may say. The reason the book made this month’s list is its main character, Lady Branwen. We are miles away from giants with inflated biceps performing miraculous acts. She is a young woman in a world of fierce warriors, very much like Boudica was when she organized her uprising against the Romans, courageous and determined, which always makes for captivating hero. Lady Branwen seeks unity to push back the enemy, but the trajectory get skewed when she falls for a man she cannot have, opening a good dilemma. She sees herself forced to choose between her people and the man she loves.

 

“Leaving Blyhe River” by Catherine Ryan Hyde Lake Union $14.95 314 pages

“Leaving Blyhe River”
by Catherine Ryan Hyde
Lake Union
$14.95
314 pages

You may not remember who C. R. Hyde is, but suffices to tell you that she is the author of “Pay it Forward,” which was adapted later into a film with Kevin Spacey, for you to say “of course.” This new story takes place in the Blythe River National Wilderness, which I discovered was in California. There, a young teenager, Ethan, decides to go looking for his missing father, after he disappeared from his cabin, and rangers decided to abandon their rescue mission. Totally unprepared, Ethan ventures nonetheless into the wilderness and quickly learn the roughness of nature: the punishing sun, the swirling rapids, and the strength derived from pushing yourself past your limits . . . but the story is not an exploration of one’s courage in the face of adversity, but rather a true confrontation regarding forgiveness, as Ethan must decide whether or not his father is worth to be saved at all.

 

“Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies,” by Ross King Bloomsbury $30.00, 404 pages

“Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies,” by Ross King
Bloomsbury
$30.00, 404 pages

You may ask yourself why, as the title reveals, do we need another book, or rather a biography about Claude Monet, the painter, when there have been countless renditions. But to Ross King’s credit, his differs from the others. For a start, King’s research focuses mainly on the last 15 years of the painter’s life, just before WWI, when the artist was already in his 70s and saw no reason to keep on painting. He had lost his wife and eldest son. Crippling cataracts severely impaired his craft, and he suffered from nagging anxiety and depression, further aggravated by the arrival of new artistic painting sensibilities, cubist and Dadaist. When most of us would have tossed the brushes aside, Monet decided to start painting again but on a giant scale, producing the colossal legendary paintings from his garden of Giverny. An incredible story strewn with friendships, notably Clémenceau’s, gives this book, which reads like a detective novel, full of intrigues, a welcome denouement.

 

“An Abbreviated Life” by Ariel Leve Harper $26.99 274 pages

“An Abbreviated Life”
by Ariel Leve
Harper
$26.99
274 pages

If you think you had it rough in childhood, think again. This book is not for the faint of heart. Ariel describes here perhaps the most pervasive aspect of childhood, growing up with instable parents, in this case, a parent — her mother, who she describes as “ a poet, an artist, a self-appointed troublemaker and attention seeker.” In other words, a brutal cocktail guaranteeing to lead to instability and make the rooms spin. And instability is what Ariel confronts on a daily rollercoaster of emotional tug of war dance. The most harrowing part is when she recognizes that her own life, years after her mother’s death, is still been impacted by the relationship. Sound familiar? Ariel’s gripping tortured confessions are not. They take you to the edge of the unbearable at time. If your heart does not break here . . . nothing will. This book makes a great argument for a parenting license.

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