Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri doesn’t really require much of a review since I have nothing but praise for this author, and especially this collection of short stories. I have been a huge fan of this author ever since I read The Namesake. Her prose is beautiful, insightful and delves into uncomfortable topics, all the while addressing the cultural shifts between traditional and westernized Indian traditions. The young v. the old, parents v, kids, old ideas v. new ideas. Although I am Armenian, there is much in the strife of the youth that I can connect with, having grown up in the US, but being raised with traditional Armenian values. Sadly, Lahiri hasn’t written anything new for quite a while, and I’ve read her other two titles, The Namesake & Interpreter of Maladies.
Melanie Benjamin is another author who requires only a short review. This is her third book, following her trend of historical fiction based on actual historical figures. The Aviator’s Wife takes a look at Anne Lindbergh, one half of the famous Lindbergh pair of the early 20th Century. Although I didn’t like this book as much as The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb, The Aviator’s Wife was still a gripping tale of one woman’s struggle to define herself, while stuck in the shadows of greatness that defined her husband and her family. I found Anne to be a genuine person, with flaws and ambition like the rest of us. At times I was frustrated with her for not standing up to her bully of a husband more, but then I realized that she wasn’t raised in a culture that embraced woman’s rights. Her struggles and achievements are an inspiration. The book is well paced, and although Benjamin does focus on the “Trial of the Century” of the kidnapping and murder of her first born, it is not the marrow of the novel. Rather, its a short snippet of the long life lived by the pair.