Sunday, October 26, 2008

Dervishes, A Compulsive New Read!

Dervishes by Beth Helms (Picador Paperback Original, 2008, $14.00)

I have an enormous stack of inviting books, but Sue insisted I put this one at the top of my pile -- and now I know why! What a compulsive read.

Dervishes is a great title, because you can just feel everything spinning out of control in the secretive, off-balance lives of American diplomats stationed in Turkey in the 1970’s. The story is told in turn by a 12 year-old girl named Canada and her unmoored mother Grace, an original “desperate housewife.” It involves sinisterly sensuous houseboys, flirtatious riding instructors, and unreachable husbands who disappear in the middle of the night on unexplained assignments. The tension and jealousy in this novel are palpable; they feel like threatening characters lurking around each corner.

Beth Helms is an author with stunning talent. I will definitely be picking up her earlier story collection, American Wives, the winner of the Iowa Short Fiction Award. Thanks for the recomendation, Sue!

If this book sounds good, just give us a call at (630) 469-2891, and we'll put one aside for you!



  1. I am so glad Margie loved this book, too. Sometimes when I'm the first one to read and love a book, I worry that I'll be the only one, but there is no one better at articulating what was great about a book than Margie. Dervishes is written so beautifully that I didn't want it to end, and that says a lot since I read it immediately after Little Bee, possibly the best book I've ever read!

  2. Little Bee was certainly a hard act to follow! There should be a word for that feeling you get when you reach the the end of a remarkable book like that: pleasure combined with loss and sheer panic (what could you possibly read next that could even compare?) Maybe that's why we love to talk about books so much -- it extends the life of the book when you just can't seem to let it go.

  3. I heard that one of our local book clubs picked this book but disliked it so much they decided not to discuss it. I'd love to hear why. Was it the creepy-ness factor? The way the characters were so all "un-moored"? Sometimes there's even more to discuss when you don't like a book!


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