Tag Archives: Reading

The Honk and Holler Opening Soon by Billie Letts

29 Jun


Caney Paxton is man who went off to Vietnam and returned home in a wheelchair.  Feeling ashamed for his part in the war and dealing with nightmares and loneliness, he hasn’t left his Sequoyah, Oklahoma café in 12 years.  Known as The Honk and Holler Opening Soon (thanks to a sign-maker’s error) the café is filled with just the kind of characters you would expect for a restaurant of its type and location.  The book starts out around Christmastime in 1985 and for Caney and waitress Molly O, who helped raise him, the holiday looks anything but merry.  Business is slow, bills are piling up and Molly O is worried about her rebellious teenage daughter, Brenda, a country musician seeking her fortune in Nashville. 

Things change when luck brings the Honk and Holler two new employees: beautiful young Crow Indian drifter Vena Takes Horse, who arrives carrying only a severely injured dog and a backpack, who signs on as a carhop, and Vietnamese refugee Bui Khanh, a handyman running from a guilty secret of his own. Initially reluctant to trust the two outsiders, the Honk and Holler’s regulars come to value Vena and Bui, especially after an act of violence threatens Bui’s life.

Like a lot of books of this type, these characters have lived complex lives with many hurdles to overcome and you root for their success every time you turn the page.  The setting for this simple story captivates you with love, hope and humanity and leaves you with a sense of community and support.

It was a fun little book that my friend Monique gave me late one night when I called out of desperation for something to read.  As you know, I need to be reading something all the time.  I had finished our book club selection, Wildflower Hill and it was going to be at least a week before I started the new book club book and I couldn’t wait.  I’m so lucky to have a friend to who indulges me with late hour book requests.

The Third Angel, by Alice Hoffman

23 May

This was the first book I’ve read from novelist   Alice Hoffman.  Initially I came across her books on Amazon and they sounded interesting so I added them.  I have several of her books on my “books to read” list, but since this was the one my local library had, this is what I got.  To be honest, I’d never heard of her before, but that’s okay, she’s probably never heard of me either.

The Third Angel follows three women’s lives as they flow together and apart, linked by the same tragic love story and mysterious ghost ~ The Third Angel.

The story is told in reverse order, which I have to say was a little confusing for me.  In my defense, I didn’t read the book every day.  And like most books I’m reading, I’m lucky if I get a few minutes on my lunch hour to read and then a few more right before bed.  I usually have to re-read a few pages just to remember what’s going on in the story.  Such is my life and the reason I get lost in the stories sometimes.  And not that I’m calling Ms. Hoffman out, but I think some authors write as though we’re going to open the front cover and not close it again until we’ve finished every last page.  Not my case, and I doubt it’s your case either.  Having said that, I enjoyed this book.  I won’t say I loved it, but it was good.

Each woman is at a crossroad in her life.  The first, New York attorney Madeline arrives in London in 1999 after having had an affair with her sister Allie’s fiancé, Paul.  Maddy is faced with coping with the impending marriage, and with Paul’s terminal illness – which echoes the girls’ mother’s cancer during their childhood.

Part II focuses on 1966 London and to Frieda, Paul’s future mother, who falls for a drug-addicted songwriter on the rise knowing he will break her heart.

And finally, Part III takes us back to 1952 to Maddy and Allie’s future mother.  Lucy is 12-year-old well wise beyond her years.  She spends her time with her nose in a book and doing her best to tolerate her father’s new wife.  They sail from New York to London for a wedding and while there, Lucy becomes innocently involved in a love triangle that can only have a devastating end.

Each woman faces up to her challenges in her own way, proving that everyone in the end is responsible for his or her own destiny.  What Ms. Hoffman does is remind us we are all hurt and broken, stumbling through life and fumbling for love, but sometimes we can still find the way to where we want to go.

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