Here’s a last couple of adult books before things shift over to a steady diet of middle grade speculative fiction.
The Book of Life. All Souls Trilogy Book 3 by Deborah Harkness. Viking, 2014
This is the last book in the trilogy that began with A Discovery of Witches. I won’t attempt to explain the plot, seeing as how it’s somewhat complicated and builds a lot on the previous two books. This one is framed around the zodiac entries from Diana’s Elizabethan commonplace book. I have really enjoyed these books so much for their combination of fantasy, plot and characters. It’s about the ages-old conflict between vampires, witches and demons, but also about our main characters’ personal growth, and Diana and Matthew’s struggle to learn how to navigate their marriage, parenthood and careers. And how often do history professors get to be the stars of the book? Harkness, a scholar herself, has a deep respect for scholars and librarians that I very much appreciate. This a fine conclusion to a series highly recommended for people who like their fantasy with depth.
Landline by Rainbow Rowell. St. Martin’s Press, 2014
I read Landline because I’d enjoyed both Fangirl and Eleanor and Park so much. Georgie McCool is a TV comedy writer. She and her partner have been working off of work time for years on episodes for their very own show – and now it looks like someone is interested in buying it. The hitch is that putting the proposal together as requested means skipping her husband Neal’s family Christmas in Iowa, missing the holiday with her husband and young children. She stays behind, but tries to call – only her husband won’t answer his cell. When she plugs in an old corded phone in her childhood bedroom, she makes contact with a Neal from years before, right before he proposed to her.
There were parts of me that had no sympathy for Georgie – what kind of parent skips out on Christmas with their kids, especially when it obviously means so much to the partner as well? And part of me had trouble with Neal, too, who wasn’t willing to verbalize his objections and didn’t answer his phone when Georgie called. And then, looking at past and present, I did understand Georgie at least (not Neal, but we see so much less of Neal), and this rings so very true to the difficulty of marriage, the way you can be both completely familiar and strangers at the same time, wanting to know everything and still keeping secrets. It all happens in the context of Georgie’s quirky family – her mother, married to the former pool guy Georgie’s age, and Georgie’s much younger sister, who orders pizza every day because she’s too shy to ask the delivery person out. So, yeah: funny, a tiny bit irritating, and some thoughts on relationships that resonated pretty deeply with me.