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The year that we were in the US, I got onto a publisher’s list and got sent some free books to review. Which was awesome! However, I discovered that I am not really all that good at reviewing books on my blog. It’s mostly an expat blog, and I worry that my “audience” does not want to read book reviews. Tell me how you feel about book reviews. Also, I feel a flashback to my years as a student. Writing book reviews reminds me of the interminable essays I wrote about how Jane Eyre was not a typical Victorian heroine or how Christine de Pizan informed Simone de Beauvoir’s writings. Ya-awn.

But then a couple of months ago, a publisher sent me a list and said I could choose copies to review. Usually I don’t respond since, you know, international shipping, but this time I thought, “Why not?” So I chose two and put my Moroccan address and expected to hear nothing more of it. I was pleasantly surprised when the two books showed up in the mail.
They were both good books, both worth reading. I read them a couple of weeks ago and packed them, so my reviews might be slightly spotty, but I do recommend them.

The first was The Lost Girls, written by 3 women, all 28, who decide to take a year off from their successful New York-based careers to travel the world, and you can see why it would appeal to me. Their kind of travel is very different to mine, though. For a start, they aren’t dragging children with them and worrying about schools and pediatricians (or lack thereof) and housing; they simply heft enormous backpacks onto their shoulders and set off. They stay at hostels and go out at night to party; another thing families don’t tend to do. They also are just passing through. I’ll admit that sometimes I rolled my eyes a bit—their take on some cultural things seemed so shallow. Also, sometimes I wanted them to write more about what they were seeing, rather than their worries about never getting married or that they were commiting career suicide. Um, whatever. However, I understand they had a blog so maybe they did more of the sights-seeing end of things there.

I did appreciate their month volunteering in Kenya, and their insights into the lives of girls there. I liked their “voices” and enjoyed some vicarious travel of a different kind than I’ve done. It’s worth reading, especially if you enjoy travel memoir.


Stiltsville is a novel that spans a marriage. It starts when a boy and girl meet, and it ends when the marriage ends and I’m not giving you any details because it’s better not to know ahead of time, but enjoy the unfolding of events as they happen. It’s a lovely, quiet book, full of domestic details, capturing nuances of adult friendships and aging and events both big and small in ordinary lives. It’s written from a single point of view, and is told as memories are told, rather than following slavishly year after year. The title refers to a small group of houses built out on stilts in a bay near Miami, used as weekend and summer homes. The houses unexpectedly survive things like hurricanes, and yet are ultimately felled by an event no one could survive, and yes, that is symbolic. I’m pretty sure I could write a two-page essay on that quite easily.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Both are great summer reads.

Sigh…I have got to figure out how to reactivate my amazon account so that if anyone clicks on one of my links and actually buys something, I receive a tiny fraction of commission. Well I suppose it really doesn’t matter.

July 2010

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