We arrived safe and sound in Suburbia around 11:00 p.m. last night. Adventure Guy’s mom and step-dad met us at the airport and brought our car. Their shuttle service saved us major parking fees, and we so appreciated their willingness to get up early for the departure and stay up late for our homecoming. This time, all the bags made it as well. As I type, their contents are swirling around in the washing machine. Or at least part of their contents. I foresee lots of laundry in my future.
But, it was not my lack of additional clean underwear that signaled the end of our vacation. Oh, no. It was instead, the lack of new reading material. I am pleased to report that I finished all four of the novels I took with me to Belize and, in fact, was forced to buy a new book at the Houston airport so that I had something to read on the final leg of the trip home.
As far as the quality of my selections goes, I started strong and ended strong. Daughter of York took me from Suburbia into Belize and kept me busy with poolside reading for the first couple of days. I even stayed up late one night to finish it. As a former history teacher, I tend to go for historical fiction, and stories of English royalty are among my favorites. That said, I think most people who like historical fiction would classify this one as worth reading. Anne Easter Smith fills in the details history has lost regarding the life of Margaret, sister of King Edward. Set during the War of the Roses, the novel follows Margaret’s life as she grows up in the English court and then is wed to the Duke of Burgundy. Though subject to the whims of her brother and husband, she uses her intelligence to shape European politics.
My next read was Body Surfingby Anita Shreve. The interesting part about this novel is that it’s setting is the beach house that appears in other Shreve novels, Sea Glass and The Pilot’s Wife. Honestly, I’m not sure why I keep reading Shreve’s books because they all tend to have a melancholy tone and a lack of clear ending. Now, I don’t always need everything wrapped up neatly in the end of a novel; I’m open to a little wondering about how things turned out and imagining the characters continuing on past the pages of the book. But this book in particular seems to end in the middle. So, a bit dissatisfied, I moved on to my next book–another one with, appropriately, a beach theme.
I’d read lots of good reviews of The Year of Fog but had resisted picking it up until I was looking for some paperbacks to take with me on the trip. The main reason I’d avoided it is that it’s about a young girl who goes missing during a trip to the beach with her soon-to-be stepmother. The whole missing children theme tends to get to me, but I decided to give this one a try since lots of people had recommended it. I don’t know why, other than that I’ll admit the mystery sucks the reader in fairly quickly. The pain, though, of the father and the narrator (the father’s fiancee) comes through so clearly. It’s heartwrenching. And, though I won’t ruin the ending for those who might like to read it, again I found the conclusion a bit dissatisfying.
Moving on again, I picked up the last of the four books I’d brought along, Water for Elephants. A number of people I know loved this book, but for some reason it hadn’t really made it to the top of my “to read” pile.
I loved this book! It’s quite different than my other recent reads–not chic lit or historical fiction, though the Depression-era setting does somewhat qualify it as the latter I suppose. The narrator is a 90 year-old former circus veterinarian, now living in a nursing home. His vivid memories of life as a part of a travelling circus, the loves and losses, the cruel reality behind the big top illusion, drew me in and made me sad when the novel ended. And, unlike the previous two books, I was not disappointed in the way the author wrapped things up.
So, that’s what I did on my Spring Break vacation; now it’s back to the laundry. But, I am going to take time to make sugar cookies for Easter with the kids, and maybe after that I’ll have a little time to finish the book I picked up at the airport before I have to face up to going back to the real world and work on Monday!