Summer arrives, and the teacher sighs with relief. And heads for the hills. Heads for the valley actually. The Ottawa Valley, where I grew up.
Yes, they DO actually have summer in Ottawa. Here you see boats going through the Rideau Canal Lock System, beside Parliament Hill and below the Château Laurier. This was taken on one of the few warmest days. There were walks and bike rides with my family, space to think, time to read.
I loved The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. A.J. Fikry is a thirty-nine year old bookseller who has just lost his wife and his priceless copy of Poe’s Tamerlane. Suddenly bereft of both love and retirement funds, one day he finds a basket in his bookstore. The basket contains a baby, and thus begins the storied part of A.J’s life. Thanks to baby Maya, A.J.reconnects to his Island community and finds love and friendship.
If this sounds hopelessly hokey and maudlin, let me assure you, it’s not. Zevin deftly avoids most of the traps of adoption stories and romance by giving us supporting characters as flawed and loveable as the grumpy bookman himself: Amelia, the charming rubber-boot wearing editor, Lamiase, the local police chief who becomes a crime-fiction afficionado, and Maya herself, a budding writer. This a book about books and book lovers, and it is full of hope. And we all need that, whatever the season.
Another novel I whipped through was Ruth Reichl’s novel Delicious. Those of you familiar with foodie publications may remember Reichl as the author of such mouth-watering and compassionate memoirs as Comfort Me With Apples and Tender at the Bone. She was also the Editor-in-Chief of the now defunct Gourmet magazine. Her new novel Delicious puts this past to good use, as it recounts the travails of a young woman named Billie who works at Delicious Magazine just as it is going bankrupt. A cache of letters between a young girl and the great cookbook writer James Beard, a romance, a family tragedy, and scrumptious scenes in an Italian deli are but a few of the pleasures of this novel. In spite of my terrible description, this book has a big heart. I hope readers will see beyond the chick-lit-esque plot and give it a chance.
So…that’s my summer so far. Tomorrow: on Ashtanga yoga, cooking and endings.