While behind in my blogging here at Southern Spines, I’m surpassing my goal of finishing at least one book a week for my Goodreads 2014 Reading Challenge. I like the site because it’s a way to track what I’ve been reading, bookmark what I’d like to read and discover new information about books from other users. Do you use Goodreads? If so, let’s be friends.
In March, I enjoyed two new releases dealing with the complex relationship between sisters. The Moon Sisters is the second novel from Therese Walsh, co-founder of one of my favorite websites about writing, Writer Unboxed.
The Moon Sisters are Jazz and Olivia, who take turns narrating the book. Each has unanswered questions about the sudden death of their mother and takes a different approach to grieving her loss. Jazz, the quintessential older sister, resents always having to care for her family and plans her escape from home by taking a new job. Olivia has a rare neurological condition called synesthesia, which causes more than one sense to be stimulated at the same time; she smells sights or tastes words. For example, Olivia associates the smell of sunshine with her mother and eventually blinds herself after staring into the sun for too long in a vain attempt to reconnect.
Readers learn more about the mother’s life through a series of her unsent letters, which are interspersed among the book’s chapters. Beth Moon shared details of her life with the father who disowned her for getting pregnant with Jazz at an early age. Beth also spent most of her life writing a fairy tale about the bogs and ghost lights of the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia, but she never completed the book nor saw the ghost lights. Olivia sets out to finish her mother’s story at Monongahela, obliging Jazz to “be led around by the nose through the forest over bat-crazy bullshittery.” Walsh’s bittersweet and honest depiction of sisterhood will stay with you long after the ghost lights flicker and fade. Learn more about Therese Walsh at her website: theresewalsh.com.
Sisterhood has a few different definitions in Anne Fortier’s The Lost Sisterhood. At the heart of the story is one woman’s quest to prove that the Amazons of ancient folklore really existed and that their sisterhood survives to this day. Diana Morgan, a philologist (written records and language expert), became obsessed with the Amazons as a child when her grandmother claimed to be one. Before disappearing, Diana’s grandmother left behind clues to the Amazons’ existence, including a notebook containing their language. When the letters appear in an excavated temple in North Africa, Diana sees an opportunity to prove her theories by deciphering the inscription. A scholarly excursion quickly turns into a multinational expedition and womanhunt, as Diana becomes entangled with wealthy and powerful entities that are equally invested in exposing or hiding the Amazons.
The contemporary adventure alternates with the ancient backstory of Myrina, the first queen of the Amazons. Myrina crosses the Mediterranean to rescue her biological sister Lilli and their Amazonian sisters, who were captured by Greek marauders. Along the way, Myrina meets the heir to the Trojan throne and her mission intersects with the long-simmering feud between Greece and Troy. Fortier does an excellent job of weaving Myrina’s story into the ancient legend of the Trojan War. If you enjoy international adventure narratives, mysteries replete with myriad historical details and strong female characters, you’ll appreciate this repurposing of the Amazon myth. Anne Fortier’s author website is annefortier.com.