Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Book Club: These Granite Islands - Sarah Stonich

These Granite Islands: A Novel
From her hospital bed, 99-year-old Isobel Howard recalls her unexpected friendship with Cathryn, a childless, Chicago-born heiress who shunned her family, attended art school and married an Irishman with no pedigree.  During the summer of 1936, the women find themselves alone in Cypress, MN, a mining town on the edge of a glacier-fed lake.  Isobel is the wife of a tailor, mother of three young children and a milliner by training.  Her husband, Victor has taken their two boys away to an island he has purchased--an extravagance that has become a sore point in their marriage.  Left behind with her quiet daughter, Louisa, Isobel revives her interest in hat-making   During their shared days, Cathryn introduces Isobel to literature, art and more cosmopolitan view of life, ultimately making Isobel and accomplice to the affair she is having with a local forest ranger.  But there is a darker side to this idyll, and as the elderly Isobel reflects on the ensuing events, it is clear that this summer has exacted a heavy price.  Sticklers for logic may question some turns of the story, and Stonich's prose has an eye for exquisite detail, opening up into atmospherically rendered, carefully observed scenes.  Stonich unfurls a complex, many-layered and suspenseful story; and, like Susan Minot and Anita Shreve, she handles flashbacks and contemporary details with equal precision.

I really enjoyed this book although at times I was confused as to when things were happening.  As Isobel has had a stroke I felt as confused as she did at times.  She is a very likeable old lady who is not afraid to tell people what's what.  I liked the story that took place in 1936 and the characters in that time.  Also I like how Isabel learned to face her fears in order to help her friend out.  I wish however at the end more could have been revealed as to what happened to some of the characters.

Our next book:  One Day - David Nicholls

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