Whoever knows me, knows I love reading along with friends, reading books friends are reading,and plotting and figuring out ways to make my friends read what I read.
Recently I read The Awakening of Miss Prim along with my good friend Kim. I told you I’d review the book after discussing it with her, and my verdict coincides with Kim’s: “this is not one of the best books I’ve ever read”, but we both thought it was interesting. We noticed that the reviews are polarized. There’s lovers and haters of the book and it makes sense. It’s a good “beginners” book, if there’s such a thing. Lots of good food, spiced up conversations, some romantic mystery, book references, some Latin quotes… it’s a good cocktail, pleasant, I’m sure, to many. However, we feel it doesn’t deliver as much as it promises at the beginning, or as much as it could. We find incongruities in the plot and characters, lack of mastery, something missing. I call it an uneven or irregular book. It has paragraphs or dialogues that shine, and the author offers us a heaping serving of cake and cliches.
I don’t regret to have read it, and what I like best, it’s to have been able to discuss it with Kim. She took notes of the drinks and food mentioned in the book (and she had a full page of those). She likes to check if they are true teas and foods.
As we met to discuss this book and more, we thought it’d be great to read together other titles. Kim worked on her list, and I always have a dozen of books that I want to read along with others. She emailed me several titles she found of interest, and some coincided with mine too. As we simmered the titles down to a few, I noticed they could be placed in pairs. Incidentally, we came up with this duet plan that also features C.S. Lewis’s books too.
Drum-roll for our matched books, please:
1. THE GREAT DIVORCE, and A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN
These two books I’m sure will talk to each other. The Great Divorce being an allegory of a bus ride from hell to heaven. An extraordinary meditation upon good and evil, grace and judgment,according to Amazon’s excerpt. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a book both of us have been wanting to read, it’s a coming of age story. It’s been recommended to me by many good friends.
2. THE PILGRIMS REGRESS and THE ODYSSEY
Both of these titles are journeys. The Pilgrim’s Regress is inspired by Pilgrim’s Progress, which I have among my favorite titles. I started reading this book some time ago but never finished it, and not because I did not like it, -I love it, I just got distracted. I know reading it along with The Odyssey will spark connections and ideas. I’ve already read The Odyssey in the Butler’s translation which it’s my favorite (poetic prose).
3. Wurthering Heigths – Princess Bride
I suggested Wuthering Heights because I saw that, a favorite author, Ana Maria Matute, writer and translator of George MacDonald’s Princess and the Goblins (La princesa y los trasgos), listed Wuthering Heigths fourth in her 10 favorite books list
. (Don Quijote is her number one!) Neither Kim nor I have read The Princess Bride nor watched the movie based on the book. Both book and movie were written by William Goldman, and there’s also a Broadway production of it. Wuthering Heights has been taken to the big screen as well. We both know the book is good. I’m intrigued to see how these two love stories, one dark one light, relate to each other.
4. Night – The Problem of Pain
Last duet, The Problem of Pain and Night. This was to me an obvious match. C.S. Lewis’ title poses the question, “If God is good and all-powerful, why does he allow his creatures to suffer pain?”, while Night is is Elie Wiesel’s autobiographical account of his survival as a teenager in the Nazi death camps.
We are attempting to read the first couple of books by the end of August. Hopefully, you’ll be hearing from us and our experience with the plan.