Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Trying to keep my spirits up...

It's going to be a long couple of weeks at work until I can get this large instruction class behind me. But after next week, things should ease a bit. In the mean time, the energy in my office is pretty frantic, but I'm feeling a tad better than yesterday. Yesterday, had someone even bumped into me accidentally, I may have burst right into tears. I was super tense and on edge. Today I've been crossing things off my to-do list (and adding others, sigh) but I'm making slow and steady progress. And, my obsessive online tracking has paid off: I now know that my LL Bean Storm Chasers are waiting for me on my doorstep when I go home, where I can scoop them up, stroke them lovingly, and wear them around the house for the whole night. And then wear them on the commute to work tomorrow - so excited!

At any rate, I thought I'd take a moment to blog about the book I read for the library book club this month, Carol Goodman's The Night Villa. I had never read this author's work before, but by reading the back I immediately ascertained that she is known for writing stories with evocative geographic imagery. This book was mostly set in Italy, and the Italian countryside descriptions really appealed to me. The story centers around a Classics professor who flees a tragedy in her native Texas to participate in an archaeological dig of the ancient town of Herculaneum, buried by the ash of Mt. Vesuvius in AD 79. There's a bit of romance, and lots of intrigue and mystery. Overall, I really liked the book, and would like to read more of the author's titles as a result. This is what I hoped to get out of a book club, so score.

I also picked up on a bit of a Catholic angle - most people reading the book probably wouldn't, but then again, I'm a bit more eccentric than most people. Religion is a large part of the book, mostly in the form of a local cult that worships Pythagoras. From the beginning of the book, the main character, Sophie, mentions a few times that she discarded her childhood Catholic faith. She doesn't go into detail, but we learn this early on. It ties somehow into losing her mother as a child and the strict upbringing she received at the hands of her devout Catholic aunt. Another character in the book, one of Sophie's students, is a Baptist, and mentions several times her unfamiliarity and discomfort with Catholic traditions and believers. A few of the statements that the characters made annoyed me a bit, but they weren't a large part of the story, so I pressed on. In the end, I actually liked how the author presented Sophie finding some comfort by lighting candles in a Catholic church near her hotel in Italy. She softened Sophie's view of the Catholic church a bit. It was no full conversion experience or anything, but I thought it was well done. There's also a twist in the story involving Christianity that I really liked. I enjoyed this book and definitely recommend it as a good, engrossing read.

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