Reading History                                                 D - E - F
listed by Elizabeth Brunner
Other Book List Pages:     ABC - DEF - GHI - JKL - MNO - PQRSTU - VWXYZ
Danticat, Edwidge. The Farming of Bones, 1998. Tragic by lyrical winner of the American Book Award. About a young womans search for her boyfriend after the massacre of Haitian laborers in the Dominican Republic in the 1930s.
Davis-Goff, Annabel. This Cold Country, 2002. During World War II, a young woman marries into an upper-class family and moves to their decaying estate in Ireland. She encounters family tension, treason, and murder. 
Deaver, Jeffery. The Stone Monkey, 2002. The paralyzed criminologist of this mystery series was played by Denzel Washington in the movie The Bone Collector. In this novel, the FBI and the INS join forces to protect Chinese illegal immigrants from a brutal smugger in a hunt through New York City's Chinatown. Complex plot with the detective's whiteboard notes reproduced after each chapter to help the reader analyze the crime. The Empty Chair, 2000, involves a hunt in North Carolina swamps for an insect-obsessed teenager who has kidnapped two women. The plot twists are endless, the detectives make mistakes as time runs out, and environmental issues are addressed. The Coffin Dancer, 1998, An assassin and bomb expert stalks the owners of small airline company, while the quadriplegic detective uses forensic evidence to pursue the villain. A Maiden's Grave, 1996, does not involve the same characters unfortunately, but provides a fascinating and technical look at hostage release negotiations after a group of teachers and deaf students are kidnapped by a threesome of escaped convicts. Plot twists caught me by complete surprise. In Speaking in Tongues, 2000, a divorced couple unite hunt for their kidnapped daughter and find the disturbed psychologist who has targeted their family. In Praying for Sleep, 1994, bounty hunters, policemen, a psychiatrist, and amateurs hunt for the schizophrenic patient who escaped from a mental hospital for the criminally insane during a storm. Family secrets are disclosed and the plot twists are true surprises. The Vanished Man, 2003. This time the killer is a master illusionist who uses magic-themed performances to seek revenge. 
DeLillo, Don. The Body Artist, 2001. Slow-paced tale of a performance artist who is consumed by a mentally disabled man after the death of her husband. Evocative language but not much happens. 
Diamant, Anita. The Red Tent, 1997. Fictional exploration of the life of Dinah, a Biblical character from the book of Genesis whose life was overshadowed by her father Jacob and brother Joseph. Grounding in historical reality, the book shows the private lives of women who withdrew together into a red tent for the rites of puberty, their monthly cycles, and childbirth. 
Dickey, James. Deliverance, 1970. Well-written adventure tale of suburban men on a  wilderness river trip who face unexpected dangers. 
Joan Didion, The Last Thing He Wanted, 1996. Narrative contortions make the political plot difficult to follow. 
DiSabato-Aust, Tracy. The Well-Tended Perennial Garden: Planting and Pruning Techniques, 1998. Excellent for serious gardeners, detailed, technical, and well-researched. The Well-Designed Mixed Garden, 2003, focuses on how various plants can be combined. 
Donofrio, Beverly. Riding in Cars with Boys: Confessions of a Bad Girl Who Makes Good, 1987. Memoir of a teenage mom who conquers life in a housing project and ends up at an elite university. 
Dorris, Michael and Emilie Buchwald. The Most Wonderful Books: Writers on Discovering the Pleasures of Reading, 1997. Fascinating reflections by 57 contemporary authors on favorite books from childhood. 
Doty, Mark (editor). Open House: Writers Redefine Home. 2003. An anthology of essays about home, place, and identity. Topics range from a teenager confined to a body cast to slaughter in Rwanda. 
Dubus III, Andre. House of Sand and Fog, 1999. Beautiful study of complex personalities. An Oprah selection and a finalist for the National Book Award. A former addict loses her bungalow due to a bureaucratic error. Meanwhile a Persian immigrant buys the house at auction as the last chance at economic stability for his family. Their battle over the property ends in tragedy, but each flawed character is viewed with compassion.
Du Maurier, Daphne. My Cousin Rachel. Gothic tale of two naive brothers and the mysterious woman who captivates them. In Myself When Young: The Shaping of a Writer, 1977, the novelist at age seventy reflects on diaries that she kept in her youth.
Dunant, Sarah. Mapping the Edge, 1999. A single mother fails to return after a vacation, with her daughter left behind in the care of two friends. Two parallel scenarios explore alternate versions of the mother's fate. I found the narrative experimentation very annoying, but the author is skilled with language. 
Dunmore, Helen. Talking to the Dead, 1996. A photographer comes to the aid of her sister who is suffering from post-partum depression, which raises disturbing memories from their childhood. Slow pace, skimmed the second half. 
Easterman, Daniel. Night of the Apocalypse, 1995. My favorite thriller writer is this Irish professor for his complex plots, esoteric religious knowledge, and humanization of all characters, even those on the side of terrorists. A fundamentalist Christian sect holds Middle Eastern delegates hostage in the Irish Republic. 
Edgerton, Clyde. Lunch at the Piccadilly, 2003. Meant to a whimsical look at the eccentric Southern residents of a convalescent home, but struck a false and strained note throughout. 
Emerson, Earl. Vertical Burn, 2002. Realistic and detailed arson investigation mystery, written by a Seattle firefighter. An outcast from the Fire Department spots the conspiracy but battles to find a listener and untangle the motive.
Ephron, Delia. Big City Eyes, 2000. A journalist moves from Manhattan to a small town, hoping that the new environment will help her oddball son re-enter the normal range. Funny observations on human nature, plus a murder mystery and romance with a married man.
Eugenides, Jeffrey. Middlesex. 2002. Pulitzer Prize winner. Traces three generations of a Greek-American family that settled in Detroit, including the genetic history that results in an hermaphoditic child. Brilliant, especially the narrative voice. 
Evanovich, Janet. One for the Money, 1994. Laugh-aloud funny. A New Jersey underachieving woman stumbles into a bounty hunter job. The character's impulsive response to dangerous situations and hysterical commentary on family relations compensate for a lack-luster plot.
Farmer, Nancy. The House of the Scorpion, 2002. Dense futuristic novel for teens that ranges from opium landowners to zombie slaves and cloned children. But somehow holds together as a credible alternate world with believable characters and political undertones. 
Fforde, Jasper. Lost in a Good Book, 2002. Strange futuristic fantasy about a detective who travels through the pages of literature. Received some critical phrase but I hated it and only skimmed two-thirds. 
Fielding, Helen (author of Bridget Jones' Diary). Cause Celeb, 1994. Interesting novel of a young woman who moves from heartbreak after dating a talk show host to relief work with famine victims in Africa. Includes amusing look at celebrity-driven fundraising and the behind-the-scenes antics of mission workers, but also includes horrifying images of starvation.
Fielding, Joy. Whispers and Lies. 2002. The first half is excellent as a solitary, middle-aged nurse allows a young woman to rent the cottage behind her house and blossoms through the peculiar friendship. But then the suspicion and suspense intensifies into the bad plot of a horror movie. 
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby, 1925. Re-read the classic. 
Fitzgerald, Penelope. The Bookshop, 1978. Quiet tale of a British widow who opens a bookstore in a small town despite hostility from locals. 
Foer, Jonathan Safran. Everything is Illuminated, 2002. The Ukranian narrator's self-taught version of English is amusing, but serious theme of the Holocaust could have been more effective without the fantasy and absurdist elements. 
Fox, Paula. Desperate Characters, 1970. Slow moving and dated portrait of middle class  New Yorkers trapped by the decline of their neighborhood, boredom, and a dying marriage.
Franzen, Jonathan. The Corrections, 2001. An Oprah book club selection. Too dark for my tastes, but the language is spectacular. About a family's disintegration, from the harsh father's decline through Parkinson's diseases to the younger son's job failures. How to be Alone: Essays, 2002. Essays range from a father's battle with Alzheimer's to the impact of a maximum-security prison on a small town. 
Freedman, J.F. House of Smoke, 1996. Female detective investigates Santa Barbara case involving wealthy ranching family, drug smuggling, and the oil industry. Plot is fine, but the male author has very crass and inaccurate view of female sensuality, which makes characters hard to believe. 

Other Book List Pages:    ABC - DEF - GHI - JKL - MNO - PQRSTU - VWXYZ
Updated January 17, 2006
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