Library Haul

The San Francisco Library allows users to request books, and when they become available, they are delivered to your closest branch library.  My local branch is a short walk away so it’s wildly convenient.  This time, when three hold items all came in at once, I was momentarily overwhelmed but pleased.

So here’s my haul:

A Man Called Ove (DVD)

Based on the book which I read and highly enjoyed, this film is in Swedish with English subtitles.

The film stayed very true to the book and the casting is wonderful.  Rolf Lassgard’s portrayal of Ove is perfection. Even the housing development was exactly how I pictured it.

This is a heartwarming movie.  Funny, sad, and loving.  I recommend you read the book first, then watch this delightful film.  Even Husband enjoyed it, despite the absence of guns and things blowing up.


The One Hundred Nights of Hero  by Isabel Greenberg

This graphic novel was named a best book of 2016 by both NPR and Publishers Weekly, and I’d read about it on several blogs.  I placed my library request for One Hundred Nights so long ago, I’d forgotten I’d done so. I opened this book, not remembering anything about it, and was soon down a rabbit hole — lost in a fairy tale.  Because that is what this is – a revisionist fairy tale– a feminist retelling of The Arabian Nights. 

Like Scheherazade saving her own life by telling tales, in a magical, yet misogynist medieval world, Hero must tell stories every night for 100 nights if she and her true love Cherry are to survive the sexual advances of Cherry’s evil husband and his equally wicked friend.

But it’s a far more intricate puzzle — a story of a story within a story about brave, complicated women and sisters protecting each other, usually from men.  It goes deep into the legacy of female bonds and the power of storytelling. 

We shall tell all the stories that are never told. Stories about bad husbands and murderous wives and mad gods and mothers and heroes and darkness and friends and sisters and lovers… Yes! And above all… Stories about brave women who don’t take s#*t from anyone.

I can’t say I loved this book — I found it charming, yet peculiar.  The feminist, lesbian agenda sometimes overwhelmed the often beautiful writing and the fairy tale-like ambiance.  And I found the graphics stark and not very fairy-tale-like (if that makes sense…).




But I will say, the physical experience of reading an oversize graphic novel, in a non-linear way through the story illustrations…brought me right back to being a little girl, lost in the world of a large picture book open on my lap — very, very relaxing.






The Likeness by Tana French

Tana French’s thrillers are anything but relaxing, they are gripping, hold-you-by-the throat-and-not-let-you-go reading.  

Set after In the Woods, the first book in the Dublin Murder Squad series, this book focuses on detective Cassie Maddox, the best friend of Rob Ryan, the narrator of the first book.  In this installment, Cassie narrates, as she is pulled into an old undercover role 

A woman is found murdered and she’d been using Cassie’s fake (and discarded) undercover identity of Lexie Madison. To complicate matters, Cassie is a dead-ringer for this this murder victim.  Her commander from undercover comes up with a plan —  leak to the media that Lexie wasn’t actually dead, but in a coma, and for Cassie to go back into undercover once again as the murdered Lexie to lure the killer to finish the job.

I know – say what?  Utterly implausible!   But when Ms. French is telling a story, you deferentially suspend disbelief as she takes you on a thoroughly gripping ride.

Cassie/Lexie assumes the persona and has to return to the house she shared with Daniel (who inherited the house), Rafe, Abby and Justin — an insular group of university students who enjoy a close and intense friendship.

As the murder squad investigates the (now revisionist) attempted murder, they confiscate the other housemates phones giving Cassie videos that she relentlessly studies in order to act, talk and “become” the murdered Lexie. Eventually Lexie returns to Whitethorn House having come out of her coma but suffering (convenient) memory loss

It took my breath away, that evening. If you’ve ever dreamed that you walked into your best-loved book or film or TV program, then maybe you’ve got some idea how it felt: things coming alive around you, strange and new and utterly familiar at the same time; the catch in your heartbeat as you move through the rooms that had such a vivid untouchable life in your mind, as your feet actually touch the carpet, as you breathe the air; the odd, secret glow of warmth as these people you’ve been watching for so long, from so far away, open their circle and sweep you into it.

The Likeness excels at its psychological insights especially for Cassie, who in her real life is lonely and shattered from her previous case.  She finds friendship — nay, family, among her new Lexie friends.  These blurred identities are made believable with the beautifully written scenes and well developed characters who live, love and murder within the walls of Whitethorn House.  The setting and moods are almost palpable and glitter  with life.  But Cassie gets lost inside her assumed identity and finds herself in a maze of murder quickly spinning out of her control. This is breath-holding stuff,

As others have said, there are many similarities to Donna Tart’s A Secret History  – both have dreamy academic types living together in a beautiful, run-down house.  

But The Likeness makes you feel for Cassie  — what she lost and can never regain.   The heartbreak of assuming a new identity, being part of a loving family, and finding a home in the world  ~~ but in the end, it’s only a likeness.





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