Staff Recommends

 

 This Month's Staff Recommends

 

 

Book Talk: We Recommend
Recommended by Laraine Worby, Reference Librarian

These two novels, Nora Webster by Colm Toibin and We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas, feature Irish working class women, one in 1960ís Ireland and one in mid-20th century New York. Their lives are somewhat parallel, with each finding their way as an independent woman and both making questionable choices in her journey.

Nora Webster by Colm Toibin
Nora Websterís journey is one of mourning, healing and a slow awakening. As a young widow, she is living a lonely life, wanting only to protect and be surrounded by her children as she grieves and attempts to ignore the society around her. We realize that her whole life has been lived through her beloved husband, with opportunities unexplored and rejected, never having had a chance to form her own self or create her own life.

As she comes to terms with her new situation, she is slowly and cautiously drawn back into a world filled with outside relationships and interests. Through the re- discovery of her love of music she begins to find her own voice.

We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas
We Are Not Ourselves is both a tale of the changing landscape and values of middle class America in the late 20th century, and one of enduring familial love.

Eileen Leary, the main character at the heart of the novel, longs to leave behind the harsh, working class world in which she was raised. She marries a man, Ed, who she believes will facilitate that escape, and is disillusioned when she realizes that he is not interested in the upward climb that she desires.

A strong woman, Eileen embarks on the path to rising mobility anyway, with determination and fierceness. They have a son, Connell, who they both adore. Eileen is constantly pushing Connell academically while Ed is more affectionate.

Along the way, Ed begins to exhibit uncharacteristic, strange behavior and the family dynamic is altered dramatically. His decline occupies the final two-thirds of the novel, as Eileen and Connell struggle for normalcy, but the consequences of his disease are inevitable. Eileen soon learns that plans and dreams have no power over reality as she attempts to maintain his dignity and her control.

 Reviewed in 2015

Book Talk: We Recommend
Recommended by Jennifer T., Information and Research Services

The Return of the Soldier (1918) by Rebecca West
A short but powerful read, this World War I novel tells the story of a shell-shocked soldier named Chris Baldry whose injury during the war leaves him with partial amnesia. After a concussion, Chris wakes up in a hospital bed and cannot remember anything from the past fifteen years of his life. His cousin Jenny and wife Kitty are strangers to him, but who he does remember is his first love, a woman from his past named Margaret Allington. More cheerful than ever, Chris eagerly telegrams the now Mrs. Margaret Grey to arrange for a meeting, despite not having spoken to her in over a decade. Shocked, Kitty and Jenny watch helplessly as he falls in love with Margaret all over again, as they are left wondering whether he was ever happy living with them in the first place, or if his amnesia unmasked the inner feelings he had been harboring all along.
Read Online: Project Gutenberg EBook

Book Talk: We Recommend
Recommended by Helen Lui, Borrower Services

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Inspiration comes from the least likely of characters in this story about a quadriplegic and his caretaker. What starts out as a menial job for Lou becomes an eye opening experience and the opportunity to discover a life beyond her small English town. The relationship between the two main characters is acerbic in the beginning but develops into one of mutual gratitude.

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You'll find more ideas on the Reader Services Page, the Fiction Booklist Section and among our previous Staff Recommendations.

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Updated on 12/24/2014 11:26 AM
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