If you grew up as I did, watching Saturday matinees like King Solomon’s Mines, The Lost World, and Journey to the Center of the Earth, then you will love David Grann’s Lost City of Z. In it he tells the story of one of the last great Victorian explorers, Col. Percy Harrison Fawcett. Sponsored by Britain’s Royal Geographical Society, Fawcett set out to locate an ancient civilization in the remote reaches of the Amazon. For more than 20 years he explored, fighting piranhas, electric eels, jaguars, vampire bats and anacondas as he searched the Amazon– an area around the size of the United States — in the hopes of discovering the ruins of a city with highly advanced art and culture. He called it the City of Z. Grann writes this factual account with skill and passion- you will get swept up in the adventure, and invested in the outcome.
Soon to be released as a movie- I cannot wait to see how it has translated onto the big screen. Saturday matinees are back!
Hello, My Name is Doris (DVD, 2016)
It’s always great fun watching Sally Field act her heart out as she does in this entertaining little film. The story focuses on an older, single woman who finds herself alone after her mother dies and subsequently struggles to find a new path for herself and claim her own personality. While the plot doesn’t hold together in places and too often lapses into wince-worthy stereotypes regarding women-of-a-certain age, Sally manages to find gold in every scene. The photography is bright and clear, co-stars are all well cast and believable (watch for Kumail Nanjiani as the quietly hilarious office colleague), and Sally’s costumes are fascinating assemblages (except for the 4-inch designer heels). Max Greenfield as the unsuspecting love interest strikes an impossibly believable note as a Manhattan nice guy. An enjoyable way to spend an hour and a half, watching an old friend do her inimitable thing.
A book of friendships, motherhood, and hope similar in style to Jodi Picoult and the best of Nora Roberts. The story focuses on single mother Alice who faces a sudden health crisis that she must come to terms with personally while racing to ensure a positive future for her teenage daughter who struggles with emotional issues. The quickly paced plot is sensitive to adolescent and mental health issues and takes a realistic look at the impacts of cancer treatment but can feel overly contrived in spots. A great vacation/beach read.
The Girl on the Train
I really enjoyed this book. Well, maybe not enjoyed. But I found it fascinating. The main character was very flawed, and in such human ways, that my heart broke for her, over and over again. The other characters were not quite so well fleshed out but they are very much peripheral and often serve as background to the titular character’s unfolding drama.
I have not seen the movie yet and am not sure I want to, but if you are looking for a confronting book full of despair and anger, look no further.