Bookclub

Mamas on Bedrest: “Gone Girl” Girl (and Guy) Gone Crazy!

January 30th, 2013

Gone Girl: A Novel  by Gillian Flynn is truly a walk on the wild side! While this story is listed as a suspense thriller, I found that it is a stroll through some seriously psychotic minds. That being said, I still would recommend that you read the book. It is truly a brain teaser and a great mental work out.

The story is about Amy and Nick Dunne, a hip thirty something couple who met in New York and got married in the mid 2000’s. Things were good until the bust in 2008 when both of them lost their writing jobs. After flopping around for a few months, Nick receives a call from his sister that his parents are failing. Unilaterally, Nick decides that he and Amy will move to his hometown in Missouri to care for his parents and to live a simpler life.

It wasn’t an easy adjustment to mid-western life for born and bred New Yorker Amy . But she embraces some of the “simpler” things in life and tries to make do. However, unbeknownst to anyone until well into the story, Amy saw Nick with his young mistress one evening, one of his students from the local community college, and this set off a series of events that give the most vivid illustration of “a woman scorned” that I have ever seen.

Amy is meticulous in her planning and execution of her revenge on Nick. She spends 12-18 months planning and getting everything just right before hatching a scheme that nearly put her husband behind bars for life for her disappearance! But even kookier, after discovering this scheme and confronting Amy with it upon her return, Nick and Amy stay together and actually have a child together. Personally, I’m scared to think of a child that is the product of these two dangerous minds, but it is the child that ultimately binds Nick and Amy together for life.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say, Amy was a freaking nut case! The lengths that she went to in order to “torture” Nick are diabolical and the woman has no scruples, using anything and anyone that will further her purpose. One could argue that Amy is a product of her parents’ fame; They had suffered some 8 pregnancy losses before conceiving and giving birth to Amy. They were so overjoyed that they started a series of children’s books called, “The Amazing Amy” for which they were well known and from which they had created a fortune and very lavish life in New York. But we learn that Amy merely felt like a prototype and wanted another, more genuine type of adoration from her parents. Amy was unable to articulate exactly what she wanted and even after she returns from being “Gone”, she still holds enormous resentment towards her parents.

Nick is an “All American, Midwestern Guy”. Handsome, witty, intelligent he meets and charms Amy at trendy writer’s party one evening in New York. He soon after pisses her off by not calling her for some 8-9 months (“I lost your number” is  his excuse!).  But once they find each other again, Nick and Amy stay together, fall in love and get married. Nick prides himself on “keeping things simple”. He likes living on a pretty even keel, neither up nor down.  What we later learn is that Nick has a deep seated fear of becoming like his father-a cold hearted, self centered man who in his demented state (Nick’s father had Alzheimer’s) is loathed by most of those around him and charged to take care of him.  Nick returns to Missouri to live a life that is simple and unencumbered, yet Amy continues to press him to be more engaging while not at all providing the encouragement he seems to need for his fragile ego. And it is this need to be seen and adored yet to have to do little to receive that adoration that leads Nick to take up with Andie, the community college co-ed.

Given that the title of the book is “Girl Gone” one can easily surmise that Amy goes missing and Nick is the prime suspect. But this is not really the main story of this story. The real story, in my opinion, is Does one over really know one’s spouse and when you know all that there is to know, can you stand the heat and live your life with this person? Both Nick and Amy confront this question surprisingly (even scarily) admit that they must stay together.

It is not clear what Ms. Flynn’s background is, but she delved deep into the minds and hearts of Nick and Amy. You want to hate them-each at differing times in the story-but in the end, I found myself asking myself, “If I were pushed in the way that these two were pushed, would I really react any differently?” And that is the brilliance of this book. I won’t say that I loved it, but it was a good read; engaging, a great plot and lots of substance. The story was a bit disturbing and I think that is what keeps me from “loving it.” However, I like the fact that Ms. Flynn really gave me a lot to think about. How far would I go to get back at someone? How far would I go if I found out that my husband had an affair behind my back? How fragile is my ego? Am I able to articulate what I need in a relationship? It’s easy to cast aspersions upon Nick and Amy, to vehemently declare “I’d never do that!” But it is as Nick says at the end of the book, you realize, sometimes, that what you want most is right in front of you. You don’t recognize it because it is cloaked in an unrecognizable or unsuspecting cover. What’s more, it may come in a form that on one level you find wholeheartedly revolting, yet it suits you to a tee. And this is the great realization that both Nick and Amy learn. And they stay together-for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health. In the end, they each got the marriage and “soul mate” partner they desired, but at an enormous, “sell your soul to Satan” price.

Mamas on Bedrest: “The Lost Wife” Our Mamas Bookclub Read for November

October 21st, 2012

Hello Mamas!

Our Mamas Bookclub read for November is The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman. I am posting the bookclub selection a bit early because we’ll have our discussion one week earlier in November because of Thanksgiving.  Discussion will be, as always, on our Facebook Page the week of November 11, 2012.

I received this title along with a list of other titles in my inbox recently. I am not sure if news got out that we are holding a bookclub or exactly why the list of titles was sent, but I found it providential that a list of seemingly great titles was e-mailed to me right when I was about to begin searching for our next title.

We’re moving into full fledged novels now. Enough with the non-fiction commentary. I’d say that we are one and one; I think we did well with Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott, but I feel that we struck out with You Don’t Sweat Much for a Fat Girl by Celia Rivenbark. You can still comment on those titles on their respective blog pages. But I am ready for something meaty, something that will fully engross me, something that I won’t be able to put down. Quite frankly, all of  the books on the list that I received fit that bill, but The Lost Wife captivated me, so it’s first up. Below is the Amazon.com description,

“In pre-war Prague, the dreams of two young lovers are shattered when they are separated by the Nazi invasion. Then, decades later, thousands of miles away in New York, there’s an inescapable glance of recognition between two strangers. Providence is giving Lenka and Josef one more chance. From the glamorous ease of life in Prague before the Occupation, to the horrors of Nazi Europe, The Lost Wife explores the power of first love, the resilience of the human spirit- and the strength of memory.”

My understanding from the reviews is that there are some fairly graphic descriptions of life in the concentration camps in Czechoslovakia and Auschwitz. While the scenes are not described as gory, they are described as vivid and provocative of mental/visual images and I realize that this may make many mamas uncomfortable-especially those with family ties to the Holocaust atrocities. My apologies in advance if anyone is offended or has strong reactions to the book. My hope is that we will all have a chance to read a really good story about love and loss that although fictitious, occurred in our recent history.

As always, you can get the book from your local library, book consignment stores or online. The book is available digitally for immediate download to the Kindle or Nook. If you do decide to order from Amazon.com, Here is our link. Please help us out by purchasing via our Amazon aStore.  We do receive a small “referral” fee that helps us with web-hosting for this website full of free content for mamas.

So enjoy reading The Lost Wife and I look forward to hearing your comments and any suggestions you may have for future reads!

Mamas on Bedrest: “You Don’t Sweat Much for A Fat Girl” Our Mamas BookClub Review

October 17th, 2012

This month’s Mamas Bookclub read was You Don’t Sweat Much for a Fat Girl by Celia Rivenbark. Unfortunately, I can’t say that I liked it.

This is our second book for Mamas Bookclub and admittedly, we are feeling our way. I find it hard to choose books because we all have such different tastes and books (to me anyway) are such personal forms of entertainment. Finding something with mass appeal is a challenge at best; finding something that will amuse, entertain and please Mamas on Bedrest raises the challenge to another level.

Putting the word out on Twitter and Facebook for suggestions, one I received was, “Anything by Celia Rivenbark”. After looking over her work on Amazon.com, I chose this book. While I was initially a bit offended by the title, the book got good reviews, the clips seemed funny and I thought, “Let’s keep it light for Mamas on Bedrest, given all that they are going through.”

Well, I have to say, I didn’t like the book. Not only didn’t I like the book, I was unable to finish it. While I understand that Rivenbark is a humorist, I find that humor, like book selection, is very individual. I chose this book because after reading the reviews and clips on Amazon.com, I thought we’d get a humorous look at pop culture. While Rivenbark does in fact make many comments and really valid observations about pop culture, I found the southern inflection annoying, overused and distracting. After a while, I couldn’t even see the humor because of the heavy use of southern reference. I realize that this is Ms. Rivenbark’s style and has become her trademark. But as a “damned Yankee” as I have been called, the repeated reference to her southern roots really distracted and took away from her points. After a while, I found myself kind of tuning out her words when she lapsed into a southern reference. Eventually I put the book down altogether. I did thumb through to the end to capture what pop culture topics she covered, but did not find enough interest to overcome the writer’s style.

While I am sure that many people are amused and entertained by this style of writing, I cannot include myself amongst that cohort. I did like the topics that Rivenbark addressed, but would have appreciated the commentary more without the southern reference. This is just my opinion and would really like to hear other people’s opinions of the book and, in particular, this “regional” writing style.