Throwback Thursday Review 12.7.17
Why does Throwback Thursday have to be reserved for embarrassing childhood pictures? What about all the great books we've all read months or years ago? So I wanted to start Throwback Thursday Mini-Review posts for a couple of books I read before I started A Novel Look. Earlier in 2017, I read Longbourn by Jo Baker, When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, and The Mothers by Brit Bennett, just to name a few.
Back in January, I finally picked up Longbourn by Jo Baker. A friend of mine recommended it to me. It is the story of Sarah, a housemaid who works at Longbourn for the Bennetts (of Pride & Prejudice fame). It’s sort of like Downtown Abbey meets Jane Austen. Sarah has worked at Longbourn for years, so it is a surprise when a new footman shows up and she finds herself interested. James intrigues Sarah, but she senses he is not telling the whole truth about his background. But they spend more time together and soon are falling in love. But Lizzie wants Sarah to come with her when she moves to Pemberley. Will Sarah and James find a way to stay together? Since it has been almost a year since I read Longbourn, I was a little fuzzy on remembering exact details. I just remember rooting for James and Sarah just as hard as I rooted for Lizzie and Darcy to get together. I enjoy Austen retellings, but this is one of the only ones I have read that is still set in the Pride and Prejudice timeline; I prefer modern Austen retellings (looking at you, Eligible). I enjoyed the premise of the novel; it was interesting to read about someone other than the wealthy. If you enjoy Jane Austen, I definitely recommend Jo Baker’s Longbourn.
I read When Breath Becomes Air earlier this year. I remember sobbing on the couch as I finished the book. To be fair, I tend to get emotional while reading, but When Breath Becomes Air is the only one I can remember having such a visceral reaction. Paul Kalanithi was in his thirties, finishing up his training as a neurosurgeon. He kept feeling poorly and finally went to see his own doctor. He was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. So instead of living his life with his wife, he was now dying. When Breath Becomes Air is his own account of his story with a terminal cancer and how he combines science with his faith. He and his wife Lucy want to have children, but struggle with how to do that with Paul’s cancer. When Breath Becomes Air is one of the best books I’ve read in the last few years. It is one of those books that you just can’t stop thinking about even months later.
I read Brit Bennett’s The Mothers in March. It is the story of Nadia and how one decision she made in high school changed the entire community. In high school, Nadia started dating the pastor’s son, Luke. When Nadia gets pregnant and they decide to get an abortion, it is the end of their relationship. Nadia goes off to college, but the whole community is forever changed by Nadia and Luke’s secret. I loved the idea that "the Mothers", the older women in the church, are the eyes and ears of the community. Bennett is only in her twenties, and for a debut novel, The Mothers is incredibly written. This is my "A Book by an #ownvoices or #diversebooks author" pick for the Modern Mrs. Darcy 2017 Reading Challenge.
Even after almost a year, these are just a few of the books that have stood out this year. When Breath Becomes Air and The Mothers were extremely popular books in 2016 and early 2017, so I am sure you have heard lots about them. So this is my little plug for Longbourn. Also, word on the street is that Kerry Washington bought the film rights to The Mothers, so that will be interesting. So much of the book is internalized thought, so I’ll be interested to see how that plays out on screen.
Let me know if you read any of these and what you thought about them.