Bernardsville Public Library staff member, Gerry Van Tassel, has written the following two reviews of books she recently read, one of which had personal resonance for her:
I just finished City of Refuge by Tom Piazza. It is a novel set in New Orleans at the time of Hurricane Katrina and the flooding that followed. It tells the stories of two families, one black, one white, and how they face the storms and struggle to rebuild lives so dramatically changed. I highly recommend this book. Told in novel format, it is easy to relate to the families while the book follows the "facts" of the disaster closely. I found it a fascinating read and very helpful, too, giving me background on the human side of the New Orleans tragedy before I volunteered there to help rebuild this past April.
A very British colonial view of the world is the backdrop for the story of Kitty Fane in W. Somerset Maugham's The Painted Veil. Kitty is shallow, lovely, vain and scornful of lesser folk as she marries - desperate for a husband at age 25 - Walter Fane, a man she considers boring and beneath her. She accompanies him to live in Hong Kong, where totally lacking a moral compass, she has an affair and as a result is compelled to accompany her husband to a remote, cholera-infested part of China with little hope of survival. This sets the stage for Kitty's opportunity to rise above her sorry state. I found Maugham's dispassionate telling of her struggle with herself fascinating. In some ways we have come far as women, but our inner struggles and society's view of what we should be continue. I found this classic a good read! ~ Gerry Van Tassel