Did your mental hard-drive crash the day One-Minute Book Reviews posted its review of the No. 1 bestseller Water for Elephants? Or were you alphabetizing your CDs when the site revealed that a finalist for one of the world’s most prestigious literary prizes is written at an 8-year-old reading level?
Okay, you’re forgiven. Here are one-sentence summaries of novels recently reviewed here, followed by a link to the review and to a reading group guide if one also appeared. You can find one-line reviews of other books in the Books in a Sentence Category on the One-Minute Book Reviews site.
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. By Muriel Spark. A brilliant, short novel and psychological exploration of female power as wielded by a teacher in an Edinburgh girls’ school in the 1930s. www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/09/27/.
Murder in Mesopotamia: A Hercule Poirot Mystery. By Agatha Christie. The Belgian detective seeks the killer of an archaeologist’s wife, murdered on a dig at an Assyrian palace in Iraq, in what may be Christie’s most autobiographical novel. www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/09/26/.
Mister Pip. By Lloyd Jones. A black female university graduate remembers hearing a white man read Great Expectations on a Pacific island when she was 13 in a disappointing 2007 Man Booker Prize finalist written at a third-grade level, according to Flesch-Kincaid readability statistics. www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/09/24/. This review also has the reading levels of past Booker winners.
Water for Elephants. By Sara Gruen. A historical novel that gallops along with a Depression-era traveling circus, saddled with cliches. Review and reading group guide posted as separate posts on Sept. 21 www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/09/21/.
Everyday Life. By Lydie Salvayre. Translated from the French by Jane Kuntz. A secretary at a Paris advertising agency is undone by the arrival of a new co-worker in an idiosyncratic French novel that is a study in alienation and mental disintegration written with a Cartesian spareness. www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/09/12/.
How to Be Good. By Nick Hornby. The author of Fever Pitch asks a serious question — what does it mean to be a “good” person in a materialistic age? — in a comic novel about an English marriage that is tested when the husband falls under the influence of a spiritual guru. www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/09/11/.
Daddy-Long-Legs. By Jean Webster. A charming classic novel told in letters from a high-spirited and keenly intelligent student at women’s college to her male patron, which was a bestseller in its day and made into a movie with Leslie Caron. www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/09/04/.
On Chesil Beach. By Ian McEwan. An overrated flyweight novel about a young couple’s disastrous 1962 wedding night that is a finalist for the 2007 Man Booker Prize but may remind you more of Mitch Albom than Kazuo Ishiguro or Anita Brookner. www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/08/10/.
(c) 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.