The last two books I've read were both for book groups I'm part of. Here at Vantage House the book for our March discussion is Alternate Side by Anna Quindlen. The March selection for the WOW Book Club is Gateway to the Moon by Mary Morris.
Two very different books!
The first is set in present day New York City and revolves around the life of Nora, museum director, wife, mother, neighbor, runner, and dog walker. They live on a deadend street in an old home and have a close relationship with their neighbors. Though some neighbors are liked by Nora others are not. Neighbor troubles bring to a head prejudices and income inequality and the fact that Nora and husband Charlie are no longer on the same trajectory in their relationship.
Quindlen's writing style does not tell a story straight from beginning to end so as the story progresses you are taken back in time, so to speak, to learn the backstories. Once you get used to it, it makes for good reading.
Mary Morris is telling lots of stories in her novel set in New Mexico in the 1990s, and Spain and Mexico of the 15th and 16th centuries. In present day there's primarily Miguel, age 15 who is enamored with the stars but in the earlier times there are a long list of characters forced to give up their Jewish heritage and religion by the Catholic Church. And even once renouncing that are still brought to Inquisitions. It was a terrible time and I'm sure that Morris' research is accurate on what was done to them.
At first you are bombarded with lots of characters and I found myself flipping back to the family trees to see who they were in the scheme of her story. It was confusing and if I had read this book slowly it would have been doubly so for all the characters. But overall it made for an interesting history lesson and uncovering of family traditions that date so far back that present day has lost touch with their origins.