Tuesday, August 11, 2015

I've Been Reading...

Summer is for reading.  
I remember when I was in high school, I could hardly wait to lose myself in a great novel.
I haven't changed.

I still love to lose myself in a great novel.  I wish I had kept a list of all the books I've read throughout my lifetime.  I did attempt to put a list together on Goodreads.  Then, I neglected putting in the latest book I finished because it felt too much like I had to write a book report.  I hated writing book reports in school.  I guess deep down inside I felt guilty when I used to assign book reports when I was teaching.  I could feel my students' pain at times.  Book reports were a necessary evil in the high school English/Language Arts classroom.  It was an expectation that students read and then write about what they read.  

I have a few friends whom I can always count on to ask, "What are you reading?"  I love to discuss the books I read.  And I love hearing what other people are reading.  Only reading itself is better than having a good book talk.    I guess one of the things I miss the most about not being in the classroom either as a student or as a teacher is "book talks."  Even though I might really dislike writing about a book, there is also a bit of an empty feeling that I get if I can't talk about a book I just finished.  So, here is a bit about what I've been reading.  

I've been hooked on Susan Howatch lately.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
How did I miss reading Susan Howatch until now?  I've just finished reading three of her novels.  Now, I am hooked on reading her books.

As another reviewier has said, "reading The Rich Are Different made me remember why I love reading." This was true for me also.  I love reading when I've found a great story that allows me to become immersed in the book. I find it hard to put the book down.  I think about the story lines.  I think about the characters as if I know them personally.

Early in this story Howatch introduces the reader to Paul Van Zale, a millionaire investment banker from New York who during the 1920's has gone to England on bank business.  He is a flawed, but powerful character, whose worst fear is being known for the weakness he must hide from the world. He is a man interested in the classics.  Powerful, ruthless, rich, he constantly worries about appearances.  He longs for intimacy, but sees relationships as transactional only.  He is a banker after all.

While he is in England, he is introduced to Dinah Slade,  a much younger damsel in distress.  By a wily scheme she is presented to him in the most creative and fantastical way.  She is smart, ambitious, and also interested in the classics.  Paul Van Zale has met his match in Dinah.  Cunning and intelligent, she is destined to become a rich and powerful woman in her own right.  She just needs to find someone to fund her ventures and save her ancestral  home. Paul is that person.  Duplicitous to the core, Paul can't be trusted, and he cannot trust.  This truth provides a foundation for a classic struggle that will be a theme  that forms one of the central plot lines in the book.   Will Paul ultimately solve Dinah's problem of saving her beloved home and heritage, or will she in the end be the only one who can save it?

Some have compared the story to a retelling of the story of Julius Caesar, Mark Anthony, and Cleopatra.  Certainly all the  themes of greed, ambition, love, and deception are found in the story.

This story is timeless.  The setting is brilliant because where can one tell a story about greed, excesses, and amoral behavior better than in the setting of the banking industry during the 1920's.  The characters are developed excellently as the narrator changes throughout the novel.  In the beginning, the story is told through Paul Van Zale.  Then, the other main characters develop the telling of the story through their voices.  I admire Howatch's character development.  She is the master at doing that.

She weaves together a story so well that even through one is sad to finish the book, one is also deeply satisfied by the reading of a good piece of writing.  Few write sagas as well as Susan Howatch.

Now, I am off to read the next book in this series.  I am hooked.


16 comments:

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

This sounds like an intriguing novel, Sally! I just finished "Devil in the White City:Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair that Changed America" by Erik Larson. It is a true story written in novelist style. I really enjoyed it snd learned so much interesting history from it.

Weekend-Windup said...

It is nice to hear about your love in books. Have a nice time!

Kay said...

Gosh! I searched for this book at the library and couldn't find it. It sounds wonderful. I'll keep looking for it. Thank you for the recommendation.

Olga Hebert said...

I have been in a reading slump and I just realized it is because I have been trying to read those books on a "should read" list. I love when I find an author and want to immediately start reading everything by her. Losing myself is what has been missing.

Arkansas Patti said...

That is a definite A+ book report. I will check my library to see if they have it.
Like you I am a huge reader and how a book draws me into it is important. I usually read in bed before sleep and I know a book is good if I find myself going to bed early to slip between the pages.

Terri Tiffany said...

I have been detouring into a new genre for awhile. James Patterson and some other types similar. I'm anxiously waiting for Stephen King's latest book to arrive too!

Lin Floyd said...

my reading lately has had to do with my cruise to alaska-gold rush history and all about totems...l love non fiction books!

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

Now you've got me hooked, Sally! I must read it!! Thanks!!!

Linda Reeder said...

I think I may have read this book a long time ago.
I have been reading JA Jance mystery novels for quite q while now. She is a Seattle and Arizona writer - JP Beaumont series set in Seattle and Joanna Brady series set in Bisbee, Arizona. It's fun to follow the cases they solve while finding familiar characters throughout the different stories.

Rick Watson said...

I just finished The Writing Life by Anne Dillard. As the name implies, it's about writing and writers. It's a short read, but I really enjoyed it.
R

DJan said...

I just went to the library website and put a hold on "Glittering Images" which is the first of a series. I'm looking forward to having found a new author. Thanks, Sally! :-)

Jeanie said...

Summer is a good reading time, isn't it? Sit outside or on the porch and dig into a good book. I keep thinking I should be outside or busy in the summer, read in the winter, but it seems to go the other way around! Always fun to hear what people are reading and what they love!

Unknown said...

Writing about a good read may not be your favorite thing, but you do it so ell. Now i am ready to follow that link to savor more of your book talks.

troutbirder said...

So many books. S0 little time....Thanks Sally.

Maggie May said...

Not read any of her books but am making a mental note for future reference.

At the moment I'm reading *The Dinner* Herman Koch.... seemed to be an innocent sort of chatty book at first but now it's revealing a darker side!

Like you, I always seem to need a book to be reading and I like one that I have difficulty putting down and like to lose myself in the story and characters. Sometimes I feel bereft when a good book is finished.

You write about the books extremely well.
Maggie x

Rose said...

I used to look forward to summer vacations and Christmas break so that I would finally have time to read a good novel. Now I'm reading one or two a week! I started to keep track of all that I had read this year on Goodreads, too, but I forgot to enter a few and then gave up. I wish I could remember all the books I'd read this year. I read this novel by Susan Howatch many years ago; in fact, I think I read the whole series. It's always fun to find an author you enjoy.