Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Back-to-Back Gems

I usually don't rate books until early January when I recap the year just finished.  However, if I were to rate The Leisure Seeker now, I would give it a 3.5 (out of 4).  Guess what?  Rayme Waters' The Angels' Share is a 4!  It is really outstanding.  Although it is way different than 11/22/63 (King) or Winter of the World (Follett), it gets the same 4 that they are getting.  I don't care if this is Rayme's first book or if she is not well-known nationally, it is excellent.  Let me give you a rundown.

The book begins with Cinnamon Monday, who is in her early 20's, beaten senseless by her drug-addled boyfriend.  She somehow stumbles/walks/crawls to a neighboring vineyard farmhouse.  At the end of the first chapter, as she is passing out, she hears a man's voice and feels his hands on her wrist and neck.  I'm telling you, this book grabs you from the first paragraph and never lets up.

The 2nd paragraph talks about Cinnamon as a young girl, growing up in Northern California (in fact, the whole book takes place in Northern California).  Each chapter rotates between childhood and young adulthood.  I love that in a book, especially when it's done well.  And it's done remarkably well here.

As you might imagine, Cinnamon does not have an easy life.  Her childhood reminds me a lot of Jeanette Walls' The Glass Castle.  Of course, that was non-fiction (and made it into Volume I of Fiction for the Non-Fiction Reader), but there are some similarities between Jeanette and Cinnamon.  The other book it reminds me of, although this one hasn't made any of the 4 volumes of FFTNFR, is Ann Patchett's The Patron Saint of Liars.  I think we can all agree that Ann Patchett is well-known for her writing.  Bel Canto is generally considered her best work, but her other 5 have also been highly touted.  Well, I've got news for you - Rayme's book, in my humble (but accurate) opinion, is comparable to Patchett's books.  Both Rayme and Patchett write really well and have truly fascinating heroines.  As an example of Rayme's writing, here is one small passage:  "He kissed me again, the two of us in sync like divers sharing a respirator far below the surface."  It doesn't get much more visual than that.

I'm sure you're all wondering if I got emotionally involved in The Angels' Share.  Heck yes.  I was caught up in Cinammon's life from the beginning.  But about 2/3 of the way through, she makes a connection that had me tearing up every couple of pages.  Are you shocked?  Of course not.  But I still cried more often than usual - even for me.

Do I think this book is for everybody?  The answer to that question is that it is already on my list of books for Volume V of FFTNFR.  I'm not sure when I will post that new list, but you can count on The Angels' Share being on it.

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