I finished my last book of March while listening to the first ESPN Sunday Night Baseball game of the year so what would be more appropriate to begin my April booklist than a story featuring baseball? Nothing, that’s what.
Book #14: A Whole New Ballgame- Caryn Rose
I enjoyed this book because I could see myself in a much of it. The fledgling fan who becomes obsessed with the sport, the confused girlfriend whose boyfriend convinces her to become serious only to cheat on her the moment she decides to give it a shot, and the fan who can’t understand why a game can mean so much and how people have endured heartbreak season after season and still come back for more until it happens to her. A Whole New Ballgame was a nice diversion and perfectly timed for the start of baseball season. Let’s go O’s!
Book #15: After I’m Gone- Laura Lippman
I’ve long been a Laura Lippman fan so it was easy to pick her latest book for this list. Her books are all set in or around Baltimore (at least all that I’ve read so far) and that’s an added bonus for this Baltimorean. After I’m Gone follows the story not so much of illegal bookmaker Felix Brewer but those of the people he leaves behind when he flees federal charges and years of jail time. His wife, daughters, and girlfriend (who ends up disappearing mysteriously ten years after Felix’s flight) all are affected deeply by his actions. A bit of a twist at the end is nicely satisfying.
Book #16: Liar’s Club- Mary Karr
This is a great book. I guess I somehow missed it when it first came out and it hit the bestseller’s list, blah, blah, blah. But damn. Mary Karr writes about growing up in east Texas with alcoholic parents, add a bit of mental illness, some sexual abuse, a horrible grandmother, and bam! You’ve got a memoir that is touching, funny, familiar in a way you wish it wasn’t, and a book I could barely put down. In one scene Mary describes how she decided to picket a family’s house so no one would with play with the kids she had a beef with. She figured, reasonably enough in that hardcore, hardscrabble union town, every kid in the neighborhood knew better than to cross a picket line. That bit alone is enough reason to read this book. Mary’s family is not one of white picket fences and mothers who wear pearls. Or maybe the mother did wear pearls- she liked her furs and designer clothes when she got a chance to buy them. This family is not perfect but it is real. So much more so than any ‘50s sitcom or hazy ideals we tend to imagine existed back in “the good old days.” Mary and her sister are tough, don’t want your pity, and don’t make any excuses for their family. The guts it must have taken to write this memoir takes my breath away.
I read a glowing review about this book in the Washington Post and decided to give it a go. Suspense, murder, intrigue, sign me up! It was… okay. It was hard to feel too much empathy for the poor little rich girl Grace who is wealthy enough to own an apartment in Manhattan and send her son to a $45,000 a year private school when she got snubbed by another parent who was even wealthier. The snub consisted of a mega-rich mom telling merely rich Grace that she could get the doorman to call her a cab. Grace knows that, she lives in Manhattan too! She knows doormen call cabs for spoiled rich women! Seriously, that was such a momentous affront Grace goes back to it over and over throughout the story. She really has worse things to worry about. Other authors have written about wealthy women without making me hate them (like Mary Higgins Clark) but by the time I finished the book my annoyance with Grace had overshadowed the genuinely terrible things that happened to her. The final straw (spoilers) was when Grace and her neighbor begin a romance. Because that’s exactly what she needed two months after finding out her whole life with her husband was a lie- his numerous affairs and fathering of several children with different mistresses, his theft of money from her father, the brutal murder of his most recent mistress, and his flight while leaving her in the lurch and even suspected of helping in his crimes. But, TA DAH! She meets a new man and everything will be OKAY! Whew.
Book #18: A Man Lay Dead- Ngaio Marsh
If you’re looking for a classic English manor mystery, this one’s for you. A house in the country, a murder mystery game gone wrong when one of the players is actually murdered, a slew of suspects, infidelity, and even some mysterious foreigners thrown in for good measure make this a nice, traditional whodunit. Probably best read whilst sitting in front of the fire with a nice cocktail.