Maine, a family saga, was recommended to me for summer reading a few years ago by a publishing friend and then again this summer by Caryl. Since I was between books, reading the book that a friend places in your hands is super easy. This novel is told in the alternating voices of four characters that represent three generations of women. The matriarch is clearing out the family’s summer home in Maine where her granddaughter has retreated as she comes to terms with her unplanned pregnancy. Joining them is the matriarch’s daughter-in-law, who is building a dollhouse (a metaphor for her empty marriage) for an international competition. So far, I find all the characters despicable. Where is the love? Yet, the book is enjoyable to read, which I find is a weird juxtaposition.
In June, my family spent a week in England’s Lake District where we rented Yew Tree Farm, a farmhouse built in 1693 and owned by Beatrix Potter in the 1930s. Naturally, we saw as many BP sights as possibly, and now, in an attempt to hang onto memories, I am reading Beatrix Potter's Gardening Life, which is a delightful biography framed by Potter's love of the natural world. I love Potter's children's book illustrations and her watercolors so this book is such a treat. She was a complex and admirable woman! In addition to Potter's biography, illustrated by archival photographs and artwork, there are sections on her gardens through the seasons and a travel guide to visiting the places she habituated.
Up next: Margaret Atwood's highly anticipated new story collection, Stone Mattress. Can't wait!