Thursday, February 4, 2010

Black and White

I have read some of Dani Shapiro's work and have always enjoyed it. This month Shapiro's latest, a memoir titled Devotion, is out. This is one I have added to my TBR list, all the while working on an older book of Shapiro's, Black and White. The plot in this book is similar to one I have read in a different book (don't ask me which one!) a few years ago....Clara's mother, Ruth Dunne is a famous photographer- most well known for the pictures she took of a young Clara in the nude. Clara leaves home as a teenager, never to return, and remains estranged from her mother despite the many years that have elapsed. Clara remains in touch with her sister, Robin, and learns that her mother is dying of lung cancer. At first Clara returns home without her husband or daughter, trying to make peace with her mother and the way her mother used her to advance her career. Eventually Clara flees, then returns to be with her mother, bringing her family along as she tries to reconcile her past with the person she is now.

Looking at snapshots in time - both the present and past - as we learn more about Clara and her mother and their relationship - is an effective way to tell this story. Once I started reading, I was easily able to recall the enjoyment I felt previously when reading one of Shapiro's books. This book would make a great book club book. I know I would love to discuss the ending and the decisions Clara makes concerning her future and the feelings she has about her mother's work.

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