Tag Archives: Literary Fiction

Review: Our Country Friends

Our Country Friends

Our Country Friends
By Gary Shteyngart
Random House, 9781984855121, November 2021, 336pp.

The Short of It:

This was the perfect read for me after my surgery. It gave me “Big Chill” vibes in a totally good way.

The Rest of It:

I do not know why pandemic reading appeals to me so much during a pandemic, but it does and Our Country Friends is no exception. Yes, it takes place at the beginning of the pandemic when things began to shutdown and folks were asked to quarantine but there’s very little doom and gloom when you decide to invite your friends to an old country house to quarantine together.

There, in the country, these friends come together with their various “talents” and co-exist as the world shuts down around them. There are good meals to be had, good drink, and an energetic child to keep them all on their toes. All these friends seem very high brow and academic. Writers, and the like. An actor. An app developer. Crooked routes to romance and romantic trysts. All set within an old, country house that begins to wither before their eyes.

The story unfolds like a play on a stage. I found it to be very enjoyable with just enough of the pandemic touches to remind us that a threat does exist. I highly recommend this one. There’s humor, plenty of awkward interactions, and promise (the kind that only lifelong friendships can provide).

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: This Tender Land

This Tender Land

This Tender Land
By William Kent Krueger
Atria Books, 9781476749303, May 2020, 464pp.

The Short of It:

A lot of heartbreak, but these characters quickly pulled me in.

The Rest of It:

In the summer of 1932, on the banks of Minnesota’s Gilead River, Odie O’Banion is an orphan confined to the Lincoln Indian Training School, a pitiless place where his lively nature earns him the superintendent’s wrath. Forced to flee after committing a terrible crime, he and his brother, Albert, their best friend, Mose, and a brokenhearted little girl named Emmy steal away in a canoe, heading for the mighty Mississippi and a place to call their own. ~ Indiebound

This was the book I was reading when I got hit with all my health issues and so the details of the story are not forthcoming and I had to miss my club’s discussion so I have no idea how they felt about the book but here is my take:

I loved these characters but this book is filled with one heartache after another. These kids do not live an easy life and the people they encounter are both filled with good, and bad. It’s been compared to Huckleberry Finn and Where the Crawdad’s Sing and I can see that comparison, but honestly what it reminded me most of is The Wizard of Oz. Everyone is searching for something, mostly a place to call home. But the rhythm of heartache was hard to read over and over again and parts of the story were a tad hard to swallow. Nevertheless, I did enjoy it but felt that it got a little repetitive halfway through and could have been edited down a bit.

Have you read it? I had no idea how many books this author has written. I will absolutely read another book by him because I was really into these characters.

Source: Purchased
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.