WWW. WEDNESDAY asks three questions to prompt you to speak bookishly. To participate, and to see how other book lovers responded, click here.
1. What are you currently reading? The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney. This novel, about the dysfunctional Plumb family, turned up on a list of recommended books for Thanksgiving and I'm trying to get in the mood. So far, there's little about Turkey Day, but I'm still very into it.
"The Nest" itself is what the four adult siblings call the nest egg left to them by their wealthy dad. They each need that money, but they can't touch it until the youngest (Melody) turns 40. That day is rapidly approaching, and the tension comes from worry about the oldest brother, Leo. Charismatic and, apparently, their mother's favorite, his brother and sisters are worried that Leo will be allowed to blow their inheritance because of his huge and immediate legal issues.
The siblings and the in-laws are well drawn and I feel I'm getting to know them. I also enjoy the affectionate way New York City is depicted.
2. What did you recently finish reading? Lucille: The Life of Lucille Ball by Kathleen Brady. Lucille Ball had a full, consequential life. Unfortunately, there wasn't a lot of joy. This woman who has made generations laugh -- and will make kids not yet born laugh, too -- was often sad, and that seems so unfair.
Lucille had a difficult childhood. Her father died young, tossing his family into economic hardship that no little girl could possibly understand. She saw little of her mother, DeeDee, and it seems much of the rest of her life was spent trying to re-assemble the nuclear family she yearned for.
She had a weakness for "bad boys." First there was Johnny Devita, the man she fell for when she was just 14. Yes, I meant "man." He was 21, and involved in the family business of legal (and illegal) liquor distribution. (No one was surprised when Johnny's father was gunned down.) Then there was dark, handsome, Oscar-nominated producer Pandro S. Berman. Pan had tremendous faith in Lucille's talent. He also had a wife. When he became a father, Lucille's conscience kicked in and she broke it off. Then there was Desi. How she loved that passionate, handsome, younger man! How he broke her heart! But she was not blameless. As their marriage wound down and descended into fights, she said unforgivable things to him, things their children heard. "Why don't you just die?" was a common, cruel go-to.
This book is sweeping and well-written. I felt I was with Lucille in those early, heady days in New York when she modeled and tried unsuccessfully to get onto the Broadway stage. I was with her when she tried, and failed, to get her Hollywood film career off the ground. Her years with Desi, when they revolutionized television, were more familiar to me but no less compelling.
Just please, don't pick this up expecting a lot of laughs. In that area, unfortunately, Lucille gave more than she got.
3. What will you read next? I don't know.