May Bookshelf: Women and The Tales They Tell

Two books - one writ large, the other writ small - explore the texture and meaning of the female experience. Her home is in Concord, but writer Diane Les Becquets chose Maine's Moosehead Lake as the setting for her third novel, "Season of Ice" [Bloomsbury, $16.95]. It is on that massive and mysterious lake that 17-year-old Genesis' father goes missing in a blizzard. When the lake freezes over before his body is found, so do the lives of Genesis and her family. While they wait for the spring thaw, the family has neither closure nor insurance money. Les Becquets, who is director of Creative Writing at Southern N.H. University, expertly crafts her tale; her narrative is as crisp and invigorating as a winter's day. No wonder she's touted as a "writer to watch" by Publisher's Weekly. Awarded the prestigious PEN American Phyllis Reynolds Fellowship, the book is written for readers 14 and up, but adults will love it, too. *** "Midnight: Baby crying. Walk across our bedroom to Laura's crib. Bring her back to our bed, prop up my pillows, and start breastfeeding." Thus begins the hour-by-hour account of one day in Jeannie Hines' life in the "Water Cooler Diaries" [Da Capo Lifelong Books, $15.95]. Hines is a 35-year-old Plainfield, N.H., mother of three children - two of them four-month-old twins - and part-time physical therapist. Hines' account is one of 35 in the book (there are dozens of smaller stories as well) written on a specific day as part of a national project. Joni B. Cole and B.K. Rakhra collected the diary entries to illustrate the issues that affect women's working lives. The book shows, as we found in "A Midwife's Tale," great nuggets can be found in the minutiae of everyday life.
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