|By Rachel Simon|
Rated 4 Stars
Format: Hard Cover
The bestselling and highly acclaimed author of Riding the Bus with My Sister returns with an illuminating and tenderhearted memoir about the unexpected ways a home renovation can change a life.
Rachel Simon's historic home on a charming tree- lined street was hardly ideal. It was too small, too dark, and there was a gaping hole in the dining room ceiling. So when the house is burglarized, Rachel and her husband, Hal, agree it's time to sell. But in a difficult housing market, and with Hal being an architect, they soon realize: Why leave when they can renovate?
Rachel prepares herself for the disagreements and disasters that can accompany a major home renovation. But what she isn't prepared for is the emotional journey that will blow open the seal around everything she thinks she knows about herself, about family, and about the misunderstandings and resilience of love. From Hal's first design sketch to the last stroke of paint, memories of a difficult childhood, friendships left behind, challenges with siblings, and an improbable path to marriage come bursting out. Once the dust settles, Rachel is astonished by the many gems revealed along the wayÂ—and comes to discover profound insights about the construction, demolition, and renovation of personal connections.
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Rated 4.5 Stars
The year is 1799, the place Dejima in Nagasaki Harbor, the “high-walled, fan-shaped artificial island” that is the Japanese Empire’s single port and sole window onto the world, designed to keep the West at bay; the farthest outpost of the war-ravaged Dutch East Indies Company; and a de facto prison for the dozen foreigners permitted to live and work there. To this place of devious merchants, deceitful interpreters, costly courtesans, earthquakes, and typhoons comes Jacob de Zoet, a devout and resourceful young clerk who has five years in the East to earn a fortune of sufficient size to win the hand of his wealthy fiancée back in Holland.
But Jacob’s original intentions are eclipsed after a chance encounter with Orito Aibagawa, the disfigured daughter of a samurai doctor and midwife to the city’s powerful magistrate. The borders between propriety, profit, and pleasure blur, until Jacob finds his vision clouded, one rash promise made and then fatefully broken. The consequences will extend beyond Jacob’s worst imaginings. As one cynical colleague asks, “Who ain’t a gambler in the glorious Orient, with his very life?”