Three books and a movie

Three books I recommend are, ?A Gentleman in Moscow? by Amor Towles, ?The Wonder? by Emma Donoghue, and ?Snow Falling on Cedars? by David Guterson. All three are love stories of sorts, and I?ll give all three a rating of an Empty Nest eight.

?A Gentleman in Moscow? is an intriguing and well written novel that takes place in early twentieth century Russia at the end of the Stalin (Soso) regime and beginning of modern day USSR. It is the story of a Count who loses his freedom because he is a poet and dares to criticize the government. He is placed under house arrest and lives out his life in one of Moscow?s finest hotels where he finds himself the guardian of a young girl. Throughout the ordeal, he is a gentleman of the highest order and conducts himself with impeccable manners, dignity and honor. It is a story of the price we pay for freedom, independence and gallantry of the mind. Good reading.

You may remember Emma Donoghue for her best selling book ?Room.? Well, she has written another book, ?The Wonder? that, in my estimation is far superior. I?ve tried to read ?Room? twice and given up both times. It?s just too boring for me, the worldview of a little boy locked in a room with his mother. The captivating prose I look for is just not there. However, with ?The Wonder? the beautiful prose is there to compliment the story. ?The Wonder? takes place in the time period just after the infamous potato famine in Ireland. It is about a young Irish girl who has reportedly survived without food for months. A Florence-Nightingale nurse has been hired to verify whether the girl is indeed surviving without food and living on ?manna from heaven? as she claims. The story has a lot of similarities with the concept of virgin birth. As you may or may not know, there have been several instances throughout history of virgin birth. Themes of modern medicine versus spirituality, feminism versus male dominance, and love versus tradition are explored in ?The Wonder.? Another good read.

Having run out of reading material this winter, I rummaged through Ginnie?s library and found ?Snow Falling on Cedars.? Evidently I had started reading this book way back when, but had forgotten. I think I may have read about half of this book before giving up, for whatever reason. I find that aging takes its toll on memory, as if our brains have become saturated with minutiae and can no longer recall precise events. This is troubling for me, but may be something I have to accept.

?Snow Falling on Cedars? is delightfully apropos for winter reading, and I found it exceptionally well written; so much so, that I immediately looked up other books written by its author, David Guterson. I believe I am now set for plenty of reading material for the remainder of the winter. Ahh, what a relief!

If you haven?t seen ?Manchester by the Sea? make it a priority. Casey Affleck, Ben Affleck?s brother, is a brilliant actor, as are all the actors in ?Manchester.? Ginnie and I are going back to see it a second time, it?s that good, not to mention intricate. Note: don?t let your mind wander, like I am wont to do, while viewing, or some important scenes will fly by, which is why I want to see it a second time. I?ll give ?Manchester by the Sea? the coveted Empty Nest 10.


Have a good story? Call or text Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at, or find him on Facebook. Swarm?s stories are also read at 106.3 FM in Farmington.