Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I Did Some More Reading

Here are some more reviews I just wrote for work. The first, I Am Nujood, really was fantastic. Completely recommended! But the other two are optional selections.

I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced
By Nujood Ali and Delphine Minoui

In an honest and heart breaking narrative, Nujood Ali tells of her escape, at age ten, from an abusive marriage. The story she shares is clearly from her point of view and readers are never allowed to forget that they are hearing this tale from a child, still in Primary School, just learning to read and discovering the world with all its beauty and cruelty. Nujood describes her rural childhood which was cut drastically short by her marriage to a man she had never met, the horrors of being trapped without a soul willing to rescue her, and her courageous escape and battle for freedom from a life she could not bear.

It is almost impossible for me to imagine the courage needed for a little girl, completely abandoned by family, to do what Nujood did. To fight for herself and her right to a childhood in the face of such pain, is an example of inborn grace and strength that few of us can claim to possess. I believe that the humility portrayed in Nujood’s short account is what gives it the power to inspire and uplift, despite the abuse and horror it brings to light. This would be a great selection for book clubs and I can easily recommend it to almost anyone.

Secret History of the Mongol Queens: How the Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescued His Empire
By J. McIver Weatherford

Genghis Khan rose to power at the dawn of the 13th Century. He conquered a vast empire through bloody campaigns that spanned decades. Because his legacy is one of brutal conquest, you may be surprised to learn of his great respect for and dependence on women to maintain control of such an expansive territory. Not one of his sons was ever entrusted with governing any portion of his empire. Instead, he married his daughters to conquered rulers and gave them power to govern in his stead. Unfortunately, soon after his death, the empire crumbled and his daughters lost power. More amazing female leaders followed throughout the history of the Mongols and this book attempts to tell the stories of their strength and influence, which extends beyond what you may guess.

If you thought the history of the Tudors was filled with intrigue and scandal, you certainly have not read up on the history of the Mongols and the great Khans. I admit to having a difficult time remembering whose name belongs to whom, what their connections and politics were, and what their significance was, but if you get past that, this book is a wealth of fascinating stories about amazing individuals in a cold and inhospitable area of the world. I was completely swept up in the lives of these nomads and their proud history. A must read for anyone who enjoys popular history writing.

The House at Riverton
By Kate Morton

Grace Bradley began working at Riverton House as a maid before the start of World War I. She is now in her 90’s and feels a need to relive the years she spent in service to the Hartford family. As her mind visits the past she is again faced with doubts concerning secrets she has kept faithfully for decades. But now that she is the last living witness to the events leading to the suicide of a young poet in 1924, she feels compelled to share the truth before it is lost forever.

Kate Morton is the author of The Forgotten Garden, which I loved. Because of this, I decided to read Morton’s first novel. While The House at Riverton is not the worst book I’ve read this year, it certainly is not as enjoyable as her second published work. I felt like the first 450 pages slowly built to the last 25, which I admit ended the book with a surprise twist I had not anticipated. This is a decent suspense novel that does remind me of Du Maurier’s Rebecca, minus most of the suspense and an intriguing storyline.


David and Shayla said...

Okay I need to become a follower of your blog so I can keep up. I love reading these things, especially the sleepy one.

Mary Ann said...

I can't wait to read that first book!