January: Russia in Boise

It seems fitting while Boise was receiving its allotment of snow for the entire winter that I would be reading books about Russia. For example: Catherine the Great, Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie mentions a plethora of historical figures including the Austrian Frederick the Great, who was flushed out more completely in The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal. Nicholas and Alexandra, the Classic Account of the Fall of the Romanov Dynasty also by Massie, gets us in touch with our inner Rasputin – the ultimate weird Russian.

My favorite book this month, and quite possibly the year is...

The Hare With Amber Eyes, written by world famous potter Edmund de Waal. When de Waal inherited a collection of 264 netsuke (tiny Japanese wood and ivory carvings) he wanted to know how the collection had managed to survive over five generations. He spent two years researching his family history that crisscrossed Russia, Austria and Germany. His ancestors, the Ephrussis were as rich and respected as the Rothchilds, but by the end of the World War II, when the netsuke were hidden from the Nazis in Vienna, this collection was all that remained of their vast empire. Stunningly written.

Jamrach’s Menagerie by Carol Birch
You’ve got to love a maritime psychodrama set in 19th-century London. Jaffy Brown's a street urchin who gains fame by taming a tiger and ends up working for Charles Jamrach, a purveyor of exotic animals. Soon Jaffy is sent on a long journey to the South Pacific, in search of a dragon.

Oogy the Dog Only a Family Could Love by Larry Levin
Who can resist a true dog story? In 2002, when the Levin’s take their terminally ill cat to be put to sleep, they meet the ugliest dog they had ever seen. Missing an ear and half his face -- due to being used as a bait puppy for fighting dogs -- Oogy charms the Levin’s and the rest is history. Or a book deal. The story is incredible but the writing drags when Levin goes on and on about the family. You know what they say – nobody wants to hear about your kids…

The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman
Nearly 2,000 years ago, nine hundred Jews held out for months and months against armies of Romans – all the while living in a small town perched on the side of a mountain in the Judean desert. According to the ancient historian Josephus, two women and five children survived. This is a well researched historical fiction account of that story. Beautiful.

The Orchard by Teresa Weir
A city girl gets a chance at a new life on an apple farm after she falls in love with Adrian, the beloved son of a prominent family. Adrian try’s to save the proverbial farm even though the orchards seem to be cursed.

The Woman Who Heard Color by Kelly Jones
First of all this book was written by Boise resident Kelly Jones who is one heck of a writer. Her Seventh Unicorn is one of my all-time favorite books. So, ‘Kindle’ this book -- The Woman Who Heard Color is a great read!! New York City, art detective Lauren O'Farrell is on the track of some very valuable stolen artwork. She shows up at Isabella Fletcher’s apartment to talk about her mother’s involvement in Nazis Austria. She was thought to have worked closely with the Nazis during World War II as they systematically looted valuable artwork from the Jewish community. Even though the cover looks like some trashy romance book, don’t let that fool you –this is a great book.

1 comment:

Carole said...

You might like the Paullina Simons ones set in Russia. http://caroleschatter.blogspot.co.nz/2012/03/paullina-simons-novelist.html