January 2016 Bar Bulletin
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January 2016 Bar Bulletin

Three Books Times Three

By Bridget Schuster


What can I say, I’m an obsessive reader. Last time I wrote for the KCBA Bar Bulletin, it was about book marketing; the idea that books provide common ground and can help you network with other attorneys (including in-house counsel who may be able to send business your way). This time, there’s pretty much no law-related tie-in; I’m just writing about some great (and some critically acclaimed, but maybe not-so-great) books. Enjoy!

Three Fat Books I Loved

First, let’s start with the good. These books are all intimidatingly fat, particularly for the busy attorney, but I encourage you to give them a try. By the way, this section of the article is plucked from my blog, appealme
, where I summarize appellate decisions and pepper these with an occasional book review (or maybe the other way around).

All The Light We Cannot See

by Anthony Doerr

This beautiful book (531 pages) tells the story of Marie-Laure, a blind French girl who lives with her father in Paris during World War II. Her father is a master of locks at the Museum of Natural History, and when the Nazis occupy the city, he is one of three individuals tasked with hiding a legendary jewel.

The book alternately tells the story of Werner, a German boy who is raised in an orphanage, but escapes the coal mines with his knack for fixing radios. He becomes a Nazi soldier, but remains a sympathetic character throughout.

Doerr moves back and forth through time with Marie-Laure and Werner’s stories, which is effective here because it provides a view into how the two might eventually cross paths someday. All the Light We Cannot See won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2015.

The Paying Guests

by Sarah Waters

As I started reading this book (576 pages), it reminded me of books such as A Passage to India and A Room With a View ... so, E.M. Forrester. Very beautiful writing, very British, very proper.

Waters intricately details the daily chores of Frances Wray as she works to maintain the home she shares with her mother. With her father and brothers dead, and her father’s estate a shambles, Frances takes over the servants’ duties. When this is not enough, she and her mother decide to take in two boarders.

At this point, the story becomes something different, as the prim and proper style of the writing begins to contrast with an illicit affair, a murder and a sensational trial. Great read, though a bit slow to start. Hold out for the good stuff about halfway in; it is worth it.

The Luminaries

by Eleanor Cattan

I think this book (848 pages, gulp) was my favorite of the three. It reminded me a lot of the TV show “Deadwood,” in that it details the lives of several characters living in a gold rush town and the clash between newcomers from more “civilized” lands with those who’ve become accustomed to the lawlessness and lack of creature comforts in the outpost.

The Luminaries is set in a New Zealand gold-mining town, so the newcomers come from different towns and lives than those you would encounter in an American story. Plus, just as with The Paying Guests, this book involves a murder mystery of the classic who-dunnit style.

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