If you love to travel, and are an admitted bookworm and history buff like me, you pack as many books as extra pairs of socks.These books are must haves when traveling through California’s Gold Country.
The land makes demands of the people who claim it. Those of us who live in cities surrounded by concrete and florescent light, sometimes forget this.But in the 19th century, whenthe majority of the US population was still living off the land and subject to the weather’s fickle temper, the knowledge was instinctual.When land was contested the very life of a community was at risk.
In Renee Thompson’s debut, The Bridge at Valentine, cattle and sheep ranchers feud over contested Idaho grazing lands.July, free spirited daughter of a Mormon shepherd, falls for Rory, the son of a cattleman.This may be ripe territory for yet another tale of star-crossed lovers, but after allowing a brief romance, Thompson discards Shakespeare’s template in favor of a twist more suited to the romantic optimism of the American West.Thompson’s July is no repressed Juliet.She is a frontier woman, a child of the land, fierce, strong-willed, self-reliant, and willing to sacrifice family and community for a chance to live on her own terms.
Thompson places the reader breathlessly within a difficult landscape.We feel the heat and cold, smell the rot of carcasses and cured leather.She excels at relaying the hardships of everyday frontier life and I was impressed and satisfied by the pacing and the meticulous attention to clear, balanced detail.The Bridge at Valentine is a promising debut from an author to watch.
I’ve just discovered Penelope Fitzgerald.What I mean to say is that I discovered A.S. Byatt's The Children's Book, then her essays On Histories and Stories, which led me to Penelope Fitzgerald’s novel The Blue Flower. And now I am in love.
Is book love, too, inspired by chemical receptors in our brains?Do these receptors react to words and stories as hormones react to the scent of a potential lover passing on the street?Maybe it is something like pheromones that seep from the pages of our current reads and turn our heads toward the next passionate fling.