>> Tuesday, September 29, 2009
TITLE: The Jane Austen Book Club
AUTHOR: Karen Joy Fowler
A group of six people get together in a book club to discuss Jane Austen's novels. The book covers six months, over which each hosts a discussion on one of them. "Each of us has a private Austen", the book starts, and the action progresses, we learn more about each of the characters, gaining even more insight through the way they relate to Austen's novels and what they see as her intentions in writing them.
It's a simple conceit, but I quite liked what the author did with it. The characters are all interesting (though some more than others), and so are the issues they face. The book is not a page-turner, but it's a comfortable, pleasant read, and that was just what I was looking for.
MY GRADE: A B.
TITLE: Bad Science
AUTHOR: Ben Goldacre
Goldacre has a column in the Guardian (also called Bad Science), where he exposes the way science is misused to support very doubtful claims and misreported by the media, and the book continues this theme. He covers in detail the way people working in areas such as as homeopathy, nutritionism and the sale of expensive face creams trick us by using very dodgy scientific methodology, and the way the press (not just the tabloids, but supposedly serious papers as well) does us a disservice by refusing to use any judgement whatsoever when reporting on this. Along the way, we learn a lot about how good scientific studies should be conducted, allowing us to spot these scammers more easily. It's a brilliant book, and terribly funny with it.
Note: there's also a blog, if you want to get a flavour of what the book is like.
MY GRADE: An A-.
TITLE: The Italian's Baby
AUTHOR: Lucy Gordon
After reading the brilliant Italian's Wife By Sunset, I raided my library for any Lucy Gordon books they might have. This was the one of the only two they had. And it was pretty good, actually. A bit run-of-the-mill in terms of plot in comparison to TIWBS, but I liked the characters.
Luca and Becky were about to be married many years earlier, but she believed he was cheating on him and left him. Now he's back, and when he tells Becky the truth about what happened back then, she forgives him. Her feelings for him haven't faded at all, so they get back together. And then she finds out the only reason he came back is because he wants a baby. Nothing new here, but the characters felt quite real and were likeable.
MY GRADE: A B-.