September 01, 2003
The Virgin's Knot by Holly Payne

The Virgin’s Knot by Holly Payne: an amazing first novel set in 1950s Turkey.

Twenty-two year old Nurdane is the center of this book - indeed, she is the virgin who ties the titular knots. Crippled with polio when she was six, her father taught her to weave so that she could travel places without her legs. Normally, this would be a skill taught by women, but sadly Nurdane’s mother died in childbirth. Since she is considered less of a woman by men, Nurdane’s virgin status allows her to create prayer rugs and matrimonial dowry rugs that are believed to heal the sick and bring good fortune for any lucky enough to possess them. Most of the novel is about Nurdane’s life, but we are also introduced to John Hennessey, a physical anthropologist, and Adam, Nurdane’s doctor along with people from her village.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel until the last fifty pages or so. I found the ending to be very out of character for what I thought would have happened. After thinking about it, I can see why it was that way, but I felt that the book would have been stronger with a different ending. It altered the intricately woven narrative with a dream-like quality into almost a totally different novel. Still, the book alone is worth reading simply to experience Nurdane’s life.

August 31, 2003
The Trials of Tiffany Trott by Isabel Wolff

The Trials of Tiffany Trott by Isabel Wolff: another British chick lit book that I found to be occasionally uneven and ultimately a bit disappointing.

We first find Tiffany Trott on the even of her thirty-seventh birthday getting ready for her party. She’s in a good mood since she’s got a wonderful boyfriend and she’s convinced that he’s going to be asking her to marry him any minute now. Unfortunately for Tiffany, by the end of the party she receives the dreaded “we need to talk” call and Alex dumps her.

The rest of the novel is about Tiffany trying to find the right guy. She uses lonely hearts ads. She tries dating agencies. She even tries Eat 'N Greet single matches. She does find one eligible guy, but the fact that he’s married and looking for a part-time girlfriend, really isn’t what Tiffany is looking for.

For the most part I enjoyed the book, but I never found myself dying to get back to it and find out what was going to happen next. I definitely found the ending annoying, but I do wonder what Tiffany’s going to do about the events that unfold in the last ten pages or so.

All in all, not the worst chick lit book that I’ve ever read, but definitely not the best. It does have some good, dry British humor, though, so that’s always a plus.