Four in a row

 one after the other, four books -- four stars. I don't even remember the last time that happened



" . . . it became clear to me that the important question was not “What have I become?” but more “What am I now to do?” How was I to return to myself and paint something of worth before I grew too old to care, too weak to try?"




"If novels were sinful, I should spend many nights in prayer, for this story was a delight. I could hardly bear to put Persuasion down long enough to retire."




 "If you build your own life around the secret lives of others, if you erect your house on the corrupt foundations of theirs, you soon come to regard all useful knowledge as your due. Information becomes your entitlement. You pay handsomely for it; you use it selectively and well. If you are not exactly trusted in certain circles, you are respected, and your name carries a certain weight. You are rarely surprised, and never deceived. Yet there may come a time when your knowledge will betray you.

A time when you will find even the brightest certainties— of friendship, of family, even of faith— dimming into shadows of bewilderment. When the light fails and belief fades into nothingness, and the season of your darkest ignorance begins."




"Ellie poured two whiskey sours and grabbed an ashtray. The regulars hadn’t trickled in yet, and the frat boys were still on summer vacation. They had the place to themselves.


'How goes life in the salt mines?' Ellie must have thought it was hilarious that Iris had to sit in an office every day. She didn’t give a shit what the world thought she was supposed to do. Ellie was a sixth-year art student with no plans of graduating. Pleasing the parents or the teachers wasn’t even a thought. She was free. At least, that was the way it seemed. . . . 

. . . She [Iris] didn’t want to grow up to be like her parents, whittling away the time, eating bran cereal and watching Wheel of Fortune . She didn’t want to be her mother, reading her grocery- store romance novels, pan- frying steaks for a husband who ignored her, and muttering her opinions into the clothes dryer. She didn’t know what she wanted, but it sure as shit wasn’t that. It all seemed so damned pointless."