For The Morning Star
It is not difficult to find several terrific books to read on the beach or just lying in a hammock in the shade. In fact, it is more difficult to choose the book you may want to read.
Little Sister (2017) by Barbara Gowdy is a captivating and intelligent tale that explores the experience of being in someone else’s body. Each time a thunderstorm breaks overhead, Rose temporarily loses consciousness and awakens to discover she is living another woman’s life.
At first startling, Rose finds these encounters with Harriet Smith, a young woman, liberate her from her own existence — running the family’s repertory cinema, caring for her senile elderly mother and enduring sputtering relationship. The encounters also provide a respite from a past haunted by the death of her younger sister, Ava.
Rose can hear, see, smell, and touch what Harriet senses. And she soon finds herself striving to solve the problems Harriet faces in her troubled life, in an effort to make up for not saving her dead sister.
G-Man (2017) by Stephen Hunter, the 10th in the Bob Lee Swagger series, is one of the most compelling novels in the entire series. The tale begins when developers tear down his family’s old homestead in Arkansas and discover a steel case hidden in the foundation. The case contains some 1934 memorabilia, a corroded FBI badge, a .45 automatic preserved in cosmoline, a gun clip and a cryptic map, all belonging to his grandfather Charles Swagger, a man Bob Lee’s own father never spoke about..
The discovery fascinates Bob Lee, now 71 and living in Idaho, and he begins to unravel the mystery to find his grandfather played a brief but major role in the Justice Department’s 1934 manhunt for bank robbers John Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd and, most importantly, the brutally violent Les Gillis, better known as Baby Face Nelson.
As Bob Lee delves further, with the help of a hidden memoir, he becomes aware that someone is on his trail and obsessed with finding out what Charles Swagger left behind.
A Geography of Blood (2012) by Candace Savage is a beautifully written, meticulously researched book that offers a staggering new version of plains history and an unforgettable portrait of the windswept Cypress Hills. It is a surprising page-turner that begins when the author and her partner bought a house in Eastend, a small town in southwestern Saskatchewan.
At first the author enjoys exploring the area around their new home, including the boyhood haunts of celebrated American writer Wallace Stegner, the back roads of the Cypress Hills, the dinosaur skeletons at the T. Rex Discovery Centre and the fossils to be found in the dusty dry hills. But as Savage reads Stegener’s famous 1962 memoir of the last plains frontier, Wolf Willow, she ponders the “epic saga of Western settlement” and discovers just how illusory it is.
The darker reality of the settlement of the great plains began with the disappearance of the buffalo ecosystem, the “foundation of agricultural settlement laid in wholesale carnage” in the name of profit and progress, followed by a long history of conflicts between settlers, government and indigenous nations on both sides of the border.
These three titles are all available through your Okanagan Regional Library www.orl.bc.ca.