Once Upon a River

Once Upon a RiverOnce Upon a River by Diane Setterfield
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“And now, dear reader, the story is over. It is time for you to cross the bridge once more and return to the world you came from. This river, which is and is not the Thames, must continue flowing without you. You have haunted here long enough, and besides, you surely have rivers of your own to attend to?”

“There are stories that may be told aloud, and stories that must be told in whispers, and there are stories that are never told at all.”

Wow. Just wow. A story about stories. I just added this to my list of all-time favorite books. First of all, the writing is absolutely exquisite. There is nothing like the writing of Diane Setterfield. I read The Thirteenth Tale years ago and fell in love with her beautiful prose. In this book, you will get swept away by the magic, mysticism, stories, and folklore. The characters are a quirky, colorful, and well-developed crew. Universal themes of love, bereavement, family, fertility, storytelling, and righting what is wrong draw you in and keep you there. You will wander the fine line between reality and myth over and over. The plot is slow and sweet, you will want to savor every last word. Most importantly, it is just a beautiful story. This book is going to stay with me for a long time.

Women Rowing North

Women Rowing North: Navigating Life’s Currents and Flourishing As We AgeWomen Rowing North: Navigating Life’s Currents and Flourishing As We Age by Mary Pipher
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“Great personal suffering can sometimes deepen our souls to the point they crack open and let in great beauty.” – Mary Pipher

I rarely read nonfiction. I was asked to lead a book group at the local senior center and this is what they picked. I wasn’t exactly thrilled to read it. The book is targeted for women between the ages of 60-79, what Pipher calls “young old age”. I’m not quite there yet, but I figured it would be an insightful read as these years are fast approaching.

Although the book is beautifully written, the content is mediocre at best. I did not gain any new deep understanding or perspectives on what to expect as I age. In fact, the first part of the book was actually a huge downer. In a nutshell, we will lose our beauty and sexuality. All of our loved ones will die or become invalids, so you have to become strong and deal with it. Well, alrighty then. The second half of the book was much better. It spoke of the relationships you will have as you age. Things like becoming a grandparent and the types of friendships you will develop as you get older.

A bit disappointing if you are really looking to deepen your perspectives on aging, but worth a read if you are interested in hearing one perspective from someone who is already there.