Book Club 2013: Double Review

*Originally published in 2014

Lauren B. Davis has been on my TBR (to be read) list since 2005 after picking up a copy The Stubborn Season on sale at a local grocery story of all places.  The cover drew me in and the depression era story line sounded intriguing.  Sadly, it took me eight years to read Davis and that has been my loss for sure.

For our November book club selection we decided to try Davis’s novel, Our Daily Bread – published in 2011.  I started this novel knowing only that it has been described as “backwoods noir”.  And, the result…

OUR DAILY BREAD Written by Lauren B. Davis

2011; 257 Pages (Harper Collins)

Genre: canadiana, fiction, suspense, noir,

Rating:  ★★★★1/2

Inspired by true events – In Davis’s haunting story we meet Albert Erskine, a smart 21 year old who sells weed to make money.  He and his family are shunned by the town of Gideon and are called the “Mountain People”.  Living among his clan, Albert has seen and been through many horrors and it has caused him to become more frustrated and angry.

Soon Albert becomes a mentor to a young boy in town names Bobby Evans. Bobby and his family also do not fit in among the religious town people. His father, Tom is well-liked but is ridiculed for his younger wife’s unfaithfulness. Ivy, his sister, is brilliant but bullied by girls in her class. Her only friend is Dorothy, the 60-something widow who owns the antique shop. Dorothy sees the righteousness attitude in her peers and tries to stay away from them.

As we get to know these characters that are considered the “others” in Gideon Davis also shows what can happen when we let some people int our life.

After dinner one night I sat down to start Our Daily Bread, hoping that I could finish the novel in the next few days, in time for my book cub meeting. The next time I came up for air was when the novel finished. The way Davis grabs you from the beginning with her characters and plot is amazing. Even if you cannot relate to the characters personally you can empathize and feel for them. These are not good or bad people but normal people with every day flaws. I found myself attached to all the characters – loving and hating them or their actions.

The story, even if it was not based on true events, still lingers in my mind and I think about it time to time. It was a book we all liked in my book club and it provided us with a great conversation. I recommend this novel to everyone who appreciates an absorbing novel and loves words.

We all loved the book so much we decided to read another one the following month…

THE EMPTY ROOM Written by Lauren B. Davis

2013, 314 Pages

Genre: canadiana, fiction, addiction

 Rating: ★★★★

Colleen wakes up hungover and only has flashes of the night before. As the day progresses her addiction to alcohol comes to the forefront. Colleen thinks back of her family and how drinking and other drugs were the ruination of many of her relative by drinking themselves to suicide, accidents, etc.  As people bring her drinking to her attention this only causes Colleen to get defensive and retreat. At the end of the day will Colleen admit her problem and seek help?

I was impressed with the way Davis was able to make Colleen’s life and alcoholism work within a day. We were able to see Colleen’s past through flashbacks and interactions with her mother, father and lovers. I like that the chapters were broken up into smaller sections so that the flashbacks were able to flow better. While Colleen is not an overly sympathetic character you still want to follow her story and want her to get sober. The secondary characters help the tension in the story and give Colleen further dimension. I am sold on Davis’s novels! The Empty Room is definitely worth a read

Lauren B. Davis’s website

Lauren was born in Montreal but lived in France for ten years from 1994-2004.  She and her husband, Ron, moved to Princeton in 2004, where they now live with their dog, Bailey, known as the Rescuepoo.

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