An Unsuitable Attachment by Barbara Pym
I love Barbara Pym. Her books are always so funny and charming, filled with great characters. This particular book is about a group of people who all live in the same not-so-fashionable parish in London, who all wind up on a trip to Rome together.
Sea of Glory: America’s Voyage of Discovery, The U.S. Exploring Expedition, 1838-1842
by Nathaniel Philbrick
This is the story of an amazing, incredible voyage of discovery that lasted for over three years, including science, exploration, hardships, lost men and ships, from the Antarctic to the cannibal islands of the South Pacific, to the treacherous mouth of Oregon’s Columbia River. The book, though, as well as the expedition itself, is marred by bickering and feuding amongst the crew and the leader of the expedition. The leader, crew, and scientists never got the recognition they deserved, because of the backbiting and counterclaims that accompanied the voyage. Philbrick tried to weave the stories of resentment into the book along with the astonishing accounts of discovery; perhaps it is a good reflection on the expedition in that the acrimony affects the achievement of a great story.
Points North by Howard Frank Mosher
Like many of Mosher’s earlier works, these short stories are set in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont—remote, rustic, and beautiful. Mosher tenderly examines the lives of individuals—some living in isolation, some in small communities—as they struggle to connect with each other and with the natural world. If you love the fiction of Wallace Stegner and Wendell Berry, as I do, you will love the work of Howard Frank Mosher.
The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore
Radium girls is about the girls (mostly teenagers) who worked in the radium dial painting factories unaware of the danger of this new magical material. The girls literally glowed when they left the factories in the evening due to the radium dust that settled over them. Unfortunately, years of exposure caused unexplained illness down the road and many of these girls died in their early 20s. In addition to their story, this is a tale about corporate greed and corruption as the factory first ignored the reports of these illnesses and then worked to cover up the cause. Ultimately the resulting lawsuit led to changes in worker’s rights and compensation. Radium Girls draws the reader into the victims suffering as they desperately seek relief from their symptoms and try to understand why they are ill.