Monday, September 30, 2013

September Book Review # 3

I have always been a fan of Hollywood autobiographies and biographies especially of the older stars ie. The Golden Years.
Debbie is just on the cusp of that era having seen out the old studio system 

Unsinkable is quite an entertaining (and light) read with all the details of her three failed marriages (Eddie Fisher...the rat!) and the trauma of her gone wrong business deals with her LasVegas hotel and attempts to set up a Hollywood memorabilia museum for her extensive collection.
The last part of the book details all her movies with some amusing anecdotes and a smattering of 'dirt' on some of her co stars as well as directors.
Her children are especially important to her and she dedicates some time discussing the problems her daughter, Carrie Fisher, has with her fight with a bi polar condition.
All in all an interesting read but by far not the best of that genre.
Sam and Ben live the ideal suburban life in Canberra (Australia's capital city) when one day, by chance, Sam finds out Ben has been cheating on her.
She kicks him out and falls initially into depression before the anger surfaces.
She then heads off into the country (Eden-Monaro region south of Canberra) to confront Rachael, the other woman.

On arriving at the old sheep farm, she finds out that the husband, Tim, knows about the affair and has sent Rachael packing.
They obviously have a lot in common.
Sam decides to stay (as you would always do under the circumstances).
Both Rachael and Ben realize they may have made a mistake and want to make amends.
Will they or will they not be forgiven?
There is a lot of dialogue in this book. The author sure does have a handle on the emotional swings that a person cheated on goes through.
And the descriptions of life on a farm in rural Australia for a townie also ring true and are often quite amusing.
Grey Jack Road can be a little bit tedious in parts but is worth the perseverance.
WARNING: Lots of strong language which may border on the gratuitous for some.
Back in 1989, Peter Mayle wrote A Year in Provence. This was probably the first of a new sub genre of travel books that was concerned with people giving up their current lives and moving to a new country almost always with a new language and a completely different culture. The stories normally include renovations of a run down house while dealing with local tradesmen and the red tape associated with government building authorities, strange and eccentric characters living in the neighbouring area, mistakes with a new language and the struggle fitting into a new way of life. And, yes, also visits from friends and family who never really understand the madness that caused this sea change to happen.
One of the most famous was Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes and more recently Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.

Happier Than A Billionaire and Happier Than A Billionaire: The Sequel are two books written by Nadine Hays Pisani about a couple escaping the rigours of living in NewYork and taking up residency in Costa Rica.
Lots of the common cliches of the genre are applied here but, despite that, the story is well and humorously told with a cast of characters that continually having you chuckling out loud.
While the countryside sounds stunning, life is Costa Rica sounds a little daunting but in the end you begin to feel the positives could outweigh the negatives.

I read the sequel before the first book.
Didn’t matter.
Both are recommended.
The author also has a blog. 
The Book of the Bush Containing Many Truthful Sketches Of The Early Colonial Life Of Squatters, Whalers, Convicts, Diggers, And Others Who Left Their Native Land And Never Returned by George Dunderdale was written in the late 19th century about colonial life in Australia in the mid 1800s.
It covers convict life in Van Diemans Land (Tasmania), life on the Victorian gold fields and the exploration and settling of the Western District and Gippsland in Victoria.

I'll Try the Possum is the autobiography of a mid west American guy who grew up in the 60s in a large loving family. He covers his education through from kindergarten to college where he just scraped through with a journalism degree, his trials and tribulations with sport during that period, an eye opening student exchange trip to Thailand as well as coming to terms with his homosexuality.
For a time his post college life comprised of living off food stamps, dealing in in prescription drugs and hanging out in gay bars in Atlanta. Finally realizing he needed a purpose in  life (and probably to stay out of jail), he found work in the Hilton Hotel chain (where he met lots of celebs who were not all nice) and eventually found his niche as a flight attendant for a major airline.

This story is both funny and sad but always entertaining. Patrick never takes himself very seriously and is always a 'glass half full' person. The characters are very real. His conservative but understanding parents are a product of their time and his friends can be quite outrageous.
Never a dull moment in this book and plenty of laugh out loud plus a few cringing moments.
Highly recommended.
Cooking Up Trouble is a fast moving story set in outback Australia.
Lots of larconic characters, food, mystery, missing gemstones and a little bit of sex, drugs and rock 'n roll.

An easy read once you get the number of characters and their relationships sorted out.
It seems there is a plethora of these types of novels on the Kindle site. 
Amazon keeps sending me 'recommendations' based on my past purchases.
Reading the synopsis of each suggests a 'sameness' of plot and characterization.
Maybe it's time, now, to head back to the non fiction history category.

1 comment:

puravida said...

Thank you so much for the recommendation of my books, Happier Than A Billionaire.

It's been quite the adventure living in Costa Rica, but even with the obstacles, it's still better than a day in the office!