Sunday, August 3, 2014

Books of July

Beautiful Ruins--a beautiful book.  A beautiful movie star appears in a small Italian village and sets a young man's heart pounding.  She's stays at his shabby hotel and this thrills him, too.  But she has a secret.  The book shifts from their meeting 50 years ago, just after WW2, to today's Hollywood, where a young man pitches a movie idea to a has-been producer.  And yes, these two parts are related and as the book proceeds you learn how.  I highly recommend this book.

If you enjoy inspiring sports sagas, you'll enjoy this book about the American crew and their unlikely appearance in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.  And you don't have to know anything about rowing (I didn't) to find this book fascinating.  Most of the story centers on Joe Rantz and his dream of being part of the University of Washington varsity crew.  You'll marvel at his courage in overcoming a gruesome home life and cheer him and his crewmates on.  Brown intersperses bits about the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl and Hitler's Germany.

A book club selection that I really didn't want to read because all I knew about it was that Joan Crawford, my least favorite actress, played the title role in the movie, which came out in the 1940's.  Mildred was a tough broad, ahead of her times.  She's forced into making a living for herself and her daughters and she becomes a success and then fails but you feel at the end that she'll make it again.  And oh yes, she has to deal with her spoiled, nasty daughter.  I give it a B-.



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