Brief Thoughts on Four Books

 Facing the Light by Adele Geras
A family is gathering at their large country house to celebrate the 75th birthday of their mother, Leonora. Also at the house is a crew doing interviews for a film about Leonora's father, a famous - now deceased - painter. This sets the stage for all kinds of drama, but add to that the relationship conflicts that arise in any family being honest about it, and you've got a story that keeps you turning the pages. A pretty good read.   

Say Goodnight, Gracie!  by Cheryl Blythe and Susan Sackett 
Reading this brought back some great memories. George Burns, Gracie Allen, Jack Benny, and others - these are names I heard a lot growing up. I remember their tv shows in the late 50s and 60s, and Burns appeared in movies and on tv over the next 3 decades. Before they took their show to television, it was popular on radio, and before that, as early as the 20s, they were vaudeville stars. This book covers the years of The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show on tv from 1952-1958. Full of great stories from their work and personal lives it's a lot of fun to read, an interesting look at the production of a show in television's early days, and a most agreeable walk down memory lane.

Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy
Marilla has always been one of my favourite characters in the Anne of Green Gables series, so while I was skeptical about any author other than L.M.M. telling a Green Gables story, I did look forward to knowing Marilla better. Her story is fairly well told, not as subtley as I would have liked but it fills in some gaps. I still think of it as one possible back story for Marilla; I'm not yet convinced it's the definitive one. I did enjoy stepping back into that world, experiencing the familiar places and hearing the familiar names, but there was more drama than I thought necessary toward the end. Even though some of it was a stretch, I'm glad I read it; it was a pleasant return to a place I love. 

The Rain Watcher by Tatiana DeRosnay
Another story about a family gathering to celebrate a birthday, this time it's in Paris and it's the father's 70th. The son and daughter are not close to their parents but they all love each other, from a distance. I didn't find the characters very relateable or even likable. Truth is, I bought this book because I loved the cover, and I love Paris, and I love rain.  I didn't think I could go too far wrong with Tatiana DeRosnay - I've read Sarah's Key and it's stayed with me for years - but this was frustrating. We get too much of the story from their thoughts and not enough from dialogue. The ending was confusing. I agree with another blogger who said the real characters in this novel are Paris and the storm. Those characters saved a not-so-great book for me.