Be glad in the Lord and rejoice! Psalm 32:11

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

First Book of the Year 2014! The Scent of Pine by Lara Vapnyar

Kicking off the New Year - My first read of the year: The Scent of Pines by Lara Yapnyar. 

About The Book:

Though Lena is only thirty-eight, she finds herself in the grip of a midlife crisis. She feels out of place in her adoptive country, her career has stalled, and her marriage has tumbled into a spiral of apathy and distrust—it seems impossible she will ever find happiness again. But then she meets Ben, a failed artist turned reluctant academic, who is just as lost as she is. They strike up a precarious friendship and soon surprise themselves by embarking on an impulsive weekend adventure.

On the drive to Ben’s remote cabin in Maine, Lena begins to open up, for the first time in her life, about the tumultuous summer she spent as a counselor in a Soviet children’s camp twenty years earlier, when she was just discovering romance and her own sexuality. At a time when Russia itself was in turmoil, the once-placid world of the camp was growing equally unsettled, with unexplained disappearances and mysterious goings-on among the staff; Lena and her best friend are haunted by what they witnessed, or failed to witness, and by the fallout from those youthful relationships. It was a time of intense emotions, confusion, and passions, and ultimately very little turned out to be exactly as it seemed.
As Lena reveals to Ben secrets she has long kept hidden, the lovers begin to discover together not only the striking truths buried in her past, but also more immediate lessons about the urgency of this short, stolen time they have together.
A stirring, sexy, and breathtaking novel with an unforgettable twist, The Scent of Pine is both a poignant love story and a provocative tale of loneliness, longing, youthful romanticism, and the fickle nature of desire.

My Thoughts:

Secrets and mystery swirl through this captivating novel. Author Lara Yapnyar takes her readers on a journey of memories and self-discovery with this story of a woman's search for answers to her life and resolutions about her past.

"The Scent of Pine" follows Lena, an almost-middle-aged college professor on her way to a conference to present a talk on sexual education in Soviet Russia, a subject that she is very familiar with.

Lena had immigrated to the United States from Russia with her husband thirteen years earlier and at first had found her new home and life exciting and free. Recently though she finds that she is unhappy and unsatisfied with her life, but she doesn't know how to change her circumstances.

On her trip to the conference Lena is besieged by her memories of her time as a camp counselor in Russia. It was an uneasy time in Russia and the mysterious happenings that went on at the camp continue to haunt Lena to this day. Her trip to the past is magnified when she meets Ben, a fellow presenter at the conference, who express an interest in her talk, and in Lena herself. Ben is a rather unhappy fellow himself, and he is fascinated with Lena and her sense of loneliness and unrest. As Lena opens up to Ben about her experiences, they find a shared empathy for each of their unsettled lives and murky pasts, and they embark on a whirlwind affair that leads them down an alluring, but unexpected path of a risky and unknown future.

"The Scent of Pine" is a enthralling novel that is both sensual in nature and unsettling in the background story of the character's tortured past. Yapnyar's writing style is captivating and her cast of characters are very relatable. Russian-born, Yapnyar captures the mystery of Soviet Russia so realistically and her story bristles with intrigue and sensuality.  This is slender novel is to be read carefully and savored carefully, with attention paid to the nuances and subtleties that makes this book a pleasure to read. A word of caution - this is a very mature book with adult situations.

"The Scent of Pine" will be released on January 7th - I highly recommend this novel as a great start to your new year of reading!

About The Author:

Lara Vapnyar moved from Moscow to Brooklyn in 1994. Knowing very little English, she quickly picked up the language and soon began writing in it. She is the author of two story collections, There are Jews in My House and Broccoli and Other Tales of Food and Love, and a novel, Memoirs of a Muse. She lives in New York City with her family.

My thanks to Simon and Schuster for providing the review copy of this book. I was not compensated for my opinion.

I read "The Scent of Pine" as a part of the "First Book of 2014" reading meme, sponsored by Sheila at BookJourney.com (www.bookjourney.wordpress.com)  Go check out what other bloggers are reading this first day of the new year at http://bookjourney.wordpress.com/2014/01/01/happy-new-year-1st-book-of-the-year/

Here I am with my book! 

Happy New Year and Happy Reading!

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Elizabeth said...

This sounds VERY good. Thanks for sharing and for coming by my blog earlier.

I am loving these posts and love seeing the person behind the blog. :) Cute photo!!

Happy New Year!!

Stop by my blog tomorrow for an international giveaway of Jubilee's Journey.

Silver’s Reviews
My First Book of The Year

Cynthia ☮ said...

Enjoy your first read of the year. Sounds interesting!

The Things You Can Read

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

Looks like a great choice Sharon! Happy New Year!

Nise' said...

Glad you enjoyed the book.

Beth Hoffman said...

Loved reading your review, Sharon! This book sounds like a terrific read.

Sharon Galligar Chance said...

Thank you all for stopping by! I think 2014 is going to be a very good year for books!

cleopatralovesbooks said...

What a lovely sounding book to start the year with especially as it is set partly in Russia (fairly unusual) I am off to add this to my TBR now!