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Urban Leaving to Country Living

Books Read in September 2013


books read
I can’t really remember what was happening in my life last September although I do remember all the books that I read. I guess it was just an “ordinary” month of life in Nova Scotia.

The four mystery books that I read are detailed in a separate post.


1. THE MOUNTAIN AND THE VALLEY by Ernest Buckler (Literary Fiction, Vintage, Canadian author, Atlantic Canadian) 4.5 star rating

Published in 1952, this is an Atlantic Canadian classic and is set in the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia, in the years leading up to WWII.

The Mountain & the Valley photo mountainandvalley_zps503b17b8.jpgIt’s the story of three generations of the Canaan family, particularly David Canaan of the last generation, and illustrates the eternal struggle between generations and the subsequent breakdown of families.
For example, while David and his father are working together outside, David’s father thinks: “Someone of my own name will always live in my house,” while David is thinking of how he can’t wait to leave.

But David must sacrifice his dreams of being a writer to stay and work the family farm.

Read this if: you enjoy the novels of John Steinbeck. 4½ stars


2. OPEN ARMS by Marina Endicott (Fiction, Contemporary, Canadian) 4 star rating
Marina Endicott is a multi-award winning Canadian author who read her work at the 2013 Read by the Sea festival in River John, Nova Scotia. When I heard her, I realized that I’d completely missed reading her work, so I determined to begin with her first book and read on!

Open Arms photo openarms_zpsf92d5e7a.jpgOpen Arms, a finalist for the 2003 in Canada First Novel Award, centres on Bessie Smith Connolly, 17, who has been living with her grandparents in Nova Scotia, but has come to live in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan with her renegade mother Isabel. Isabel delivers newspapers in the early morning to pay the rent, and haunts the clubs at night, hoping to have a chance to “sing with the band” (any band). When Isabel goes missing, Bessie and her Nova Scotian grandmother go on a road trip to track her down. I loved Endicott’s writing and am definitely going to continue in her canon.

Read this if: you enjoy stories that explore the relationship between mothers and daughters without unnecessary sentimentality. 4 stars


3. REGENERATION by Pat Barker (Fiction, Historical, WWI) 4 star rating

I eagerly anticipated Pat Barker’s WWI trilogy that starts with this novel, a Booker Prize nominee.  photo regeneration_zpsa2bc6464.jpg But I wasn’t aware that Regeneration is based on real-life decorated British officer, poet, and pacifist Siegfried Sassoon.

It turns out that I’m not that interested in Sassoon and would rather have had a good plot than good history. Regeneration is good writing, but I was much more moved by fictional pacifist Robert Ross in Timothy Findley’s The Wars.

Read this if: you’re interested in finding out about Sassoon and the numerous soldiers, both officers and enlisted men, who questioned the morality of the Great War as it was being fought. 4 stars


4. CRAMPTON HODNET by Barbara Pym (Fiction, Vintage) 3.5 star rating

Crampton Hodnet photo cramptonhodnet_zps572e2e81.jpgOne of Pym’s favourite subjects is the behaviour of anthropologists as they study the behaviour of others. In Crampton Hodnet, she again examines this through a young anthropologist who has moved into her mother’s village home in North Oxford to complete a paper. She cannot help observing the inhabitants of the community. This, of course, serves as an outlet for Pym’s observations of human nature. This story is a little more “tied-up” than some of her others and was first published posthumously in 1987.

Read this if: you enjoy sly humour about the human condition. 3½ stars


5. LIFE ITSELF: a Memoir by Roger Ebert (Non-fiction, Memoir) 3 star rating

Roger Ebert is probably the best known film critic in the English speaking world. Until his failed surgeries following thyroid cancer that left him unable to speak, eat, or drink, he wrote for the Chicago Sun-Times (and was syndicated around the world) and appeared on television for thirty-three years critiquing the movies of our time. Life Itself photo lifeitself_zps9055525d.jpg When a full-page photo of his face without his jawbone was published after a magazine interview, he went public with what was happening in his life.

There are several chapters about his childhood and early career, three or four chapters on specific celebrities (I enjoyed the one on John Wayne), a chapter on Siskel (from which you likely will not learn much), one on (unnecessarily) justifying that he married a black woman, and then a few chapters on his illness and how things went off the rails. You might find facts to interest you, but don’t expect a great deal of deep introspection, despite the book’s title.

Read this if: you are a huge fan of Ebert. 3 stars


Do any of these appeal to you?


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6 Comments to

“Books Read in September 2013”

  1. On July 23rd, 2014 at 4:39 pm Jen @ The Well Read Fish Says:

    “The Mountain and the Valley” and “Open Arms” look great!

  2. On July 26th, 2014 at 3:08 pm Debbie Says:

    I think you’d enjoy both, Jen, but I’m especially liking Marina Endicott right now.

  3. On July 25th, 2014 at 11:14 pm Yvette Banek Says:

    I’m looking down at all the books you’ve listed and my head is spinning with anxiety. I don’t think I’ve read any of these. Though maybe as I go along? The Barbara Pym book looks like one to add to my list. Let me check out the others in the previous months…

  4. On July 26th, 2014 at 3:12 pm Debbie Says:

    Don’t fret, Yvette – there are so many books out there to choose from, I’m sometimes amazed that anyone has read even one of my monthly listed items. I hope you find something that interests you while you’re perusing the other months I’ve recorded. 🙂

  5. On August 4th, 2014 at 1:05 pm Harvee Lau Says:

    I have been meaning to read books by Barbara Pym. I do like English writers with humor!

    Have fun pinning! A good way to keep track of books you have read.

  6. On September 3rd, 2014 at 10:14 am Emma @ Words And Peace Says:

    that’s a cool idea of post, thanks for doing that

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