The House on First Street

November 11th. 2012

This novel was one I picked up while walking New Orleans’ Garden District one gorgeous autumn afternoon and after having wandered charming streets and oogling stranger’s homes, and ended up in a upstairs bookstore. This is a familiar pattern to anyone who’s known me for a while. And while in such a bookstore, I always hunt through the local books. These are my favorite souvenirs. After having filled my arms with architecture books, I found a novel. I piled it on top as the back cover hinted at all my go-to story elements: old houses, food, family and romance. Turns out, of all the books I bought that day, this one is my hands down favorite. Julia Reed, a fixture in Garden and Gun magazine essays (that magazine has the best essays, articles and photos!) is one of the cleverest writers of our generation. She painted a picture of her life and times, and those of New Orleans in the pre-during-post days of Katrina, that is much like a Monet. (best viewed at various times, from various angles, and it will be determined to be first class.) Though I wouldn’t want her life, Ms. Reed did reel me in with every high and low she ┬ásurvived in the highs of buying a house to the pits of despair in renovating it. She also gave me a glimpse into a bayou lifestyle that I’ve often found decadent, and as it turns out, I was right. I read House on First Street like it was a juicy cinnamon roll and highly recommend you savor it too. Can’t wait to read more of Julia Reed’s reminisces.

 

Tumbleweeds

November 11th. 2012

Tumbleweeds, the second novel by Leila Meacham, closely follows the same format as her first novel (and one I thoroughly enjoyed!) the Roses. I guess the lesson here is if you’ve got a bang up recipe, don’t mess with it. And she doesn’t. This novel, though set in west Texas as opposed to east, is the roller coaster story of the 3 childhood friends who’s choices take them in wildly divergent directions. Mrs. Meacham certainly understands pathos and she’s created another success with this story. I do wish I’d not read it as fast as I had, because now with hindsight, I can see story elements I’d probably have enjoyed or understood if I’d not glossed over parts. But that’s a natural hazard when one is riding with one’s husband through the backroads of Louisiana and the role of navigator is forced upon one. It will be interesting to see what Mrs. Meacham creates for her third attempt, but in the meantime I highly recommend Tumbleweeds.