By Angie Georgeff
The nostalgia and retrospectives that mark the passage of each year include a plethora of “best of” lists. I asked several members of our staff to recommend the book published during 2017 that they enjoyed most. This week we’ll take a look at two of them.
My “best book of 2017,” Kathleen Rooney’s “Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk,” is perfect for this season of reflection, celebration and resolution. Lillian had been born in 1899, but 1900 sounds much more modern, so she admits to being eighty-four. On New Year’s Eve, she puts on mustard-yellow Coloralls for warmth, a green velvet dress, riding boots, a navy blue fedora and the mink coat she bought for herself in 1942. Living in New York and working at Macy’s, she had risen to become the highest-paid woman in advertising as well as a poet and personality.
Lillian has a reservation at an Italian restaurant near her own neighborhood and an invitation to a party in a dicey part of town, but her 10-mile walk around the city takes us on a tour of her life. And what a life it was! Lillian’s story is fiction, but the author took her inspiration from the life and work of Margaret Fishback, who in fact was the highest-paid female advertising copywriter in the world during the 1930’s.
Kristy chose Lisa See’s “The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane.” The Akha people of China are one of the country’s four dozen ethnic minorities. Inhabiting a remote and mountainous region, their livelihood depends on the cultivation of tea. Educated at a modern school, Li-Yan was not a typical Akha girl, and that was how she wound up pregnant and unmarried. Akha law dictated that the fatherless child must be killed, but again Li-Yan did not conform to her tribe’s expectations.
She left the baby girl on the doorstep of an orphanage with a cake of the prized Pu’er tea as the only clue to her parentage. The child, named Haley, was adopted by a white family in California, but she is curious about her birth mother in China and the tea cake that could hold the answers to her questions. If you’re curious now, we have both print and audiobook editions of this title and Lillian Boxfish, too.
The library will be closed on Monday, Jan. 1, 2018 for New Year’s Day. No items will be due on that date, but if you want to celebrate the new year by bringing a book back early, our two drop boxes are always available.
They are located at the library in Erwin and at Town Hall in Unicoi. Please do not deposit DVDs in the book returns, since they may be damaged if heavy books fall on them.
Thank you, and Happy New Year!