Sunday, January 18, 2009

TSS Books Read This Week

This week's Sunday Salon consists of tag reviews of books read this week:

Hannah's Dream***** by Diane Hammond

I loved this book, based on a true story. Washington state, an old elephant (Hannah) and keeper, been together 41 years; old run down circus/wildlife park created by past eccentric, we get parallel stories of parks origins and eccentric's talks withthe elephant keeper over the years, but now the elephant keeper is ill and must retire; no one know's Hannah and can care for her the way keeper and his wife have. Bossy and rigid park manager, has odd ideas how to attract people to park, but brings in smart young keeper to look after elephant who realizes Hannah is sick and will not survive poor the conditions or the keeper retiring. Plan afoot to transfer her to elephant sanctuary in Tenessee (sanctuary is real, I've seen documentaires on it), boss is kept out of loop deliberately as long as possible. Boom falls, complications, tension, ultimately a happy ending. A heartwarming story, highly recommended.

The Rabbi's Cat 2**** by Joann Sfar (translated from French)

Graphic novel, hard cover, only the second one I've ever read, they are not my cup of tea. The first was The Rabbi's Cat*****, charming and funny, beautifully illustrated by France's top graphics artist, and a good story. This one is the second book. A rabbi and his daughter in Algeria, pre war, the rabbi's cat can speak, argues Torah, points out incongruities in people's behaviour. Two stories here, one about an old man and his old pet lion. Fun to read. Second about racism but I wasn't impressed, arguing got loud and physical (perhaps in attempt to prove author's point ?) despite everyone being of the same religion; author gratuitously threw in the "f" word-once, it spoiled the tone for me. Glad I wasn't reading it with a child on my lap. No faulting the artistry or original story but I am not the one to judge graphic novels.

*Marie at The Boston Bibliophile has a weekly graphic novel review and has read these books. You can find her review of both Rabbi's Cat books here.

The Whirlpool**** by Jane Urquhart (Canada)

Set in 1889 in Niagara Falls, and the story's quirky Victorian characters are each busy with their own obsessions; whether for a woman-from a distance, nature and poetry, war history, details of death-by the undertaker's widow, or Niagara Falls and the lives its whirpool claims. Robert Browning's last days in Venice are also present as brackets (first and last chapters) to the main story. Rich language, fascinating historical details. Highly recommended. I have read four others of her novels:

The Underpainter****
The Stone Carvers*****
A Map of Glass**** (my favourite)

What are you reading?


  1. I've only read a couple graphic novels and have yet to decide if they're my cup or tea or not. I did enjoy those, but maybe I just got lucky.

  2. Hi Sandra,
    Thanks for commenting on my blog. I think I will go for the elephant story, sounds like me. I'll add it to my list and one day hope to read it. Have a lovely Sunday.

  3. I have Hannah's Dream on my TBR list. So glad to see that you really enjoyed it.

  4. I have Hannah's Dreams in my pile of books too. I thought it looked good, so I'm glad to see you liked it. Hopefully, I can get to it before too long.

  5. I am currently in the midst of reading Peony, by Pearl S. Buck.

    It is an interesting read on the early Jews of China.

  6. I liked Rabbi's Cat 2; I liked the first one better but I thought #2 was very good as well. They're definitely not for kids though! :-) both books have a little sex and adult language in them, and #2 had a little violence as well as you know. Sfar is a wonderful artist & writer.

    Thanks for the shout out!
    My full review is here:

  7. I've already added A Map of Glass to my reading list for the Canadian Book Challenge, because of your recommendation. :) Thanks!

  8. JewWishes* I loved Peony, I read Buck's books when I was young but that one was special. My mother told me there were Jews in China and I was fascinated to find that book.

  9. I mentioned what I was reading in a previous comment. You are really getting some books read! Whoa!

  10. I have Rabbi's Cat 2 in my TBR pile. I really loved the first one, so I hope the second one is up to par. I must commend you, though - a lot of people will just dismiss graphic novels and I'm happy you've given them a shot even if they're not your cup of tea!

    Thanks for the comment on Mankell too. Yeah, I've noticed that the Swedish mysteries can be a little gruesome - maybe it's our viking-blood... :)

    I have The Princess of Burundi in my TBR pile for this year too and am looking forward to reading it - I'm glad you liked it.

    Also, I had no idea that Nesser had ever been translated into English, so thanks for the heads up on that. I have Människa utan hund in the TBR pile from Nesser - it's the first in his series about Detective Gunnar Barbarotti, but I don't think they're available in English yet.

    So many books to read, so little time... :)

  11. Too bad about The Rabbi's Cat 2. I might find the first one, though, just to see...

  12. the only complaint I had about "Hannah's Dream" was the character of Johnson Johnson--why was he there?

  13. Pleased to find a mention of Hannah's Dream as I've just placed it on hold at the library.

  14. Hannah's Dream has been on the TBR list a while but I think your descriptions of it really push it up to the top. I almost went to work for the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. Elephants are amazing creatures, and I think it's about time I read this one! Thanks for the review.



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