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Reading in 2013: A Recipe for Bees, The Virgin Cure, I Remember Nothing

Folks, I'm falling behind on my book recaps, and I bet you're all desperately sad. (note: sarcasm) Here are a bunch of recent reads:

I picked up A Recipe for Bees by Gail Anderson-Dargatz because of how much I had enjoyed The Cure for Death by Lightning.

Of the two, I prefer Death by Lightning, but the Recipe for Bees is not without merit. It is, in some ways, Stone Angel-esque. The protagonist, Augusta, reflects back on her life as she ponders the meaning of a vision that seems to indicate her death is approaching. She remembers other moments of "second sight" and walks through the difficult years of her marriage. She is sharp and honest, demanding and insecure - like all of us.

I imagine that I will face my own aging and mortality, failures and insecurities much like Augusta does. What I'm not sure is whether I like her for it, and by extension, whether I will like myself. At the end of the day, it's a decent read, and my heart is soft toward Augusta, and maybe I will read it again in another decade.

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The Virgin Cure by Ami McKay was similarly chosen because I quite liked The Birth House, her earlier novel. And again, I preferred the first.

In The Virgin Cure, we are taken to the slums of New York in the late 1800's, and one 12 year-old girl named Moth. While I don't doubt that her story (sold by her mother to be a servant, abused and escaped to discover her mother gone, taken in by a local brothel) is believable to the historical realities, and I did like her character, I found the plot itself a bit too contrived. The supporting heroine, a female doctor based on the author's great-grandmother was a much more fascinating and unexpected character to me.

It was an easy read, no profound takeaways, but no regrets either.

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I don't think I knew who Nora Ephron was before she died. I mean, I've seen When Harry Met Sally and many of her other hits, but I didn't know she was the writer behind them. When she passed away, I read a piece written by her son, and found I was quite drawn in by her personality and legacy. So when I saw a memoir/collection of essays she'd written in 2010, I picked it up.

I Remember Nothing is humourous and honest and witty and true. There are references to many famous people, some I recognized and some I imagine many others would; it didn't strike me as trying too hard, but more that this is the sphere she inhabits and there is no shame in that. Such an eclectic range of topics, from a trip to the movies to family legends about her mother to Teflon and eggs and things she dislikes about email. I didn't know what to expect with each piece, but I enjoyed the surprise.

The only thing that unsettled me is how strange it feels to read an author's words on aging and approaching death when you know that she will die shortly, but she doesn't know it. If she had known she would die less than 2 years after this book's publication, would she have changed any of her thoughts?

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