Winter by Christopher Nicholson Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Winter by Christopher Nicholson; Europa Editions, 2015. 269 pages; $17.00 (paperback); reading level: adult. Novels about famous writers are in vogue just now. This one, narrowly focused on the last four years of the life of British novelist/poet Thomas Hardy (1840-1928), rises to the top of the stack. When a stage version of Hardy’s novel,… [Read More]

Christine Falls by Benjamin Black Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Christine Falls by Benjamin Black; Picador/Henry Holt and Company, 2006.  340 pages; 16.00 (paperback); reading level: adult. Can a Man Booker Prize-winning novelist write a good mystery without letting his literary skills overwhelm the basic demands of a who-done-it?  In his first installment of the “Quirke” series (which, as of 2015, includes seven volumes), John… [Read More]

The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu by Joshua Hammer Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu; and Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts by Joshua Hammer; Simon & Schuster, 2016.  279 pages (hardcover); reading level: adult. Hammer has to lay a lot of groundwork before he gets to the “bad-ass” rescue promised in the title.  He puts events a relatively well-informed reader might… [Read More]

They May Not Mean To, But They Do by Cathleen Schine Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

They May Not Mean To, But They Do by Cathleen Schine. Sarah Crichton Books/Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016. 290 pages; $26.00 (hardcover); reading level: adult. Only a seasoned writer could have pulled this one off: As I read Schine’s clear-eyed novel, I laughed and cried at the same time. I cried with the protagonist, eighty-six-year-old… [Read More]

Bellevue by David Oshinsky Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Bellevue; Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America’s Most Storied Hospital by David Oshinsky; Doubleday, 2016. 387 pages; $30.00 (hardcover); reading level: adult. As the subtitle promises, this history of New York City’s oldest public hospital is far from dry. Following Bellevue from its beginnings as an almshouse established in the early 1700s to… [Read More]

On Christmas Eve by Ann M. Martin Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

On Christmas Eve by Ann M. Martin. Scholastic, 2006. 149 pages. Reading level: grades 2-5. It’s 1958 and Tess McAllister is in third-grade. This is the year, she decides, that she really will stay awake and meet Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. She has a special wish this year: Her best friend’s father is very… [Read More]

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett.; HarperCollins, 2016. 322 pages; $27.99 (hardcover); reading level: adult. Nothing happens according to expectation here. In chapter one, we meet all the major characters at a 1964 christening during which an illicit kiss begins an affair. Then we fast-forward to 2014 to listen in on the husband/victim of the affair and… [Read More]

Edith Wharton: Traditional or Modern?

A recent Wall Street Journal article takes on a key question raised in Edith Wharton’s 1920 Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Age of Innocence. She writes it with one foot planted in the sureties of the Edwardian garden party that preceded World War I and the other perched precariously on the shifting ground of the… [Read More]

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf; Knopf, 2015. 179 pages; $24.00 (hardcover); reading level: adult. This tale begins the day Addie Moore (a 70-year-old widow) approaches Louis Waters (a 70-year-old widower) with a proposition: would he like to come to her house and sleep beside her each night, just to talk and ease the… [Read More]

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante. Europa Editions, 2012.  331 pages; $17.00 (paperback); reading level: adult. In granular detail, the narrator, Elena, chronicles her friendship with the magnetic Lila, from their meeting in first grade through their late teen years. The girls, born near the end of World War II, grow up in a dangerous,… [Read More]