what I read in February 2019

A Bird on Every Tree by Carol Bruneau
After Many Years: Twenty-One Long Lost Stories by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Becoming by Michelle Obama
The Big Three Knitting Techniques by Ann-Mari Nilsson
Bird Migration: The Incredible Journeys of North American Birds by Stan Tekiela
Carry On, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse
I Was Told There’d Be Cake by Sloane Crosley
Mr Wilkinson’s Vegetables by Matt Wilkinson
Set for the Holidays by Anna Olson
Shrewed by Elizabeth Renzetti
Skeletons in My Closet: Life Lessons from a Homicide Detective by Dave Sweet and Sarah Graham
You Are a Badass Every Day by Jen Sincero

what I read in January 2019

The Accidental Farmer: The Story of Ross Farm by Joan Watson
The Art of the Wasted Day by Patricia Hampl
Call to Order: A Miscellany of Useful Hierarchies, Systems and Classifications by Jackie Strachan and Jane Moseley
Catalan Food by Daniel Olivella
Cræft: An Inquiry into the Origins and True Meaning of Traditional Crafts by Alexander Langlands
Homebody by Joanna Gaines
Reading People by Anne Bogel
Thornyhold by Mary Stewart
Transcription by Kate Atkinson
We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby
You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap) by Tammy Strobel

what I read in December 2018

The A-Z Guide of Wildlife Watching by Lonely Planet
Bertie Wooster Sees It Through by P.G. Wodehouse
The Best Mexican Recipes by America’s Test Kitchen
Calypso by David Sedaris
Cook Like a Pro by Ina Garten
Gross Anatomy by Mara Altman
How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind by Dana K White
Mothers of Sparta by Dawn Davies
Where the Ghosts Are by Steve Vernon

what I read in November 2018

The Destiny Thief by Richard Russo
Fear by Bob Woodward
Half Spent Was the Night by Ami McKay
Landwhale by Jes Baker
Less by Andrew Sean Greer
Libertarians on the Prairie by Christine Woodside
Medical Medium: Life-Changing Food by Anthony William
Textile Nature by Anne Kelly
This Is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor by Adam Kay
Wild Fire by Ann Cleeves

what I read in October 2018

Bag of Hammers by Edward Riche
Cravings: Hungry for More by Chrissy Teigen
Decluttering at the Speed of Life by Dana White
French Exit by Patrick deWitt
Love Real Food by Kathryne Taylor
Origins of a Story by Jake Grogan
Something for Everyone by Lisa Moore
Unhinged by Omarosa Manigault Newman
Wellmania by Brigid Delaney
Whiskey in a Teacup by Reese Witherspoon
Women and Power: A Manifesto by Mary Beard

French Exit by Patrick deWitt

From the back cover:

“Frances Price—tart widow, possessive mother, and Upper East Side force of nature—is in dire straits, beset by scandal and impending bankruptcy. Her adult son, Malcolm, is no help, mired in a permanent state of arrested development. And then there’s the Prices’ aging cat, Small Frank, who Frances believes houses the spirit of her late husband, an infamously immoral litigator and world-class cad whose gruesome tabloid death rendered Frances and Malcolm social outcasts.”

The first thing I need to say about this book is that I liked it a lot. It’s funny and sad and strange and unsettling and everything I like in a novel. Take another look at the clues in that teaser: tart widow, dire straits, beset by scandal, arrested development, immoral litigator, world-class cad, gruesome death, social outcasts. Come on! All that in the hands of Patrick deWitt = A+.

The second thing I need to say is that, in thinking about what to write about it, I have struggled. For more than a week. I haven’t been struggling with trying to come up with good things to say about it (see point #1), but struggling with the idea of heaping more praise upon a book that is already on the Giller short list and upon an author who is a genuine CanLit superstar.

Where does this come from, this reluctance to further celebrate the highly successful? Is it the Canadian in me? (No one should ever be too big a deal – it’s unseemly.) Or is it the mother in me? (Stop hogging all the attention, Patrick, and let everyone else have a turn, too.) Or is it the woman in me? (Please please please do not someday reveal yourself to be a sexist jackass and make me regret having touted your work.) Who knows?

All I can say for sure is that when I was reading French Exit, I had to keep telling myself to slow down and savour it. And that when I wasn’t reading it, I wished I was. And that I’d happily read it again.