Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Heroic Measures by Jill Ciment

Heroic Measures
by Jill Ciment
fiction 2009
print
finished 2/3/16


What a little gem this book is. 

Heroic Measures covers a weekend in the lives of Alex and Ruth, who are in their late seventies, and their elderly dachshund, Dorothy. They have been thinking for a while that they should give up their co-op because it is a five-flight walk-up. It would be nice to have an elevator, but they feel conflicted about moving, just as anyone would who has lived in the same place for a long time. Ruth is a retired teacher, and Alex is an artist. He is currently at work on a very special project.
As monks once illuminated the Bible with gold leaf and devotion, he is illuminating the seven-hundred-and-fifty-page file that the FBI had kept on Ruth and him during the heyday of the cold war.
Another alternative would be to do as Ruth’s sister recommends and move to Florida where she is. But Ruth
tries to imagine her and Alex in Fort Myers, clad in their dark New York clothes, and Dorothy with her bad back, crossing six lanes of traffic and then miles of sun-blistering parking lots just to have a bite out or to pick up some milk and bread.
This is a very full weekend for this couple who usually lead a quiet life. The realtor shows the co-op to many people, Alex and Ruth look for new home, Dorothy is suddenly paralyzed, and there is a crisis in the city. It is just a few years since 9/11, and a truck has stopped in a tunnel. It isn’t known if the driver is a suicide bomber or not. The book is told from the points of view of Alex, Ruth, and Dorothy! It is quite enjoyable, and believable, to see the world from a dog's eyes. 

The book has humor and warmth and a great sense of place. And I'll tell you a little secret. No one dies. The book has a happy ending. Such a treat.

In the acknowledgments, Jill Ciment says
The illuminated manuscript series attributed to my character, Alex, is based on The FBI Files, a Collage Series by Arnold Mesches.
I looked him up, and discovered that the author is married to the artist. You may read more here.

17 comments:

  1. What an interesting sounding little book! You find the most intriguing stories. Where did you hear about this one?

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    1. I have been wracking my brain. I know it was a blogger, and I knew I wanted to read it as soon as I heard about it, but I just can't remember who. Usually I write down such info but didn't this time.

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  2. Sounds like a very unusual book, not like anything I have read, but definitely one to enjoy.

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    1. I hadn't read anything like it either because it seems to me whenever there is a book with someone over 70, or a book with a dog, one of them dies! This was a delight.

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  3. This will be on my reserve list at the library for sure! Nan, you give us the best books to "check out" -pun intended ;-)
    Just finished reading "Kingbird Highway" by Kenn Kaufmann and am now enjoying "Grandma Gatewood's Walk" - she was the first woman to do a thru-walk on the Appalacian Trail - at 67!
    Next up is Diane Rehm's "On My Own." Seem to be reading a lot of non-fiction this late winter. Finished the biog.of Clementine Churchhill - very good! And one of your recommendations.
    Thanks as always,
    Mary

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    1. Thank you so much for saying that! I'm going to look into all the books you mentioned. Am especially interested in the DR book.

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    2. I heard an interview with DR on NPR - very moving. You might want to check it out online. It was a book promotion. I love to hear the author's physical voice.

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    3. I will, thank you. I haven't been listening to the radio because I get too intense about the election stuff. Staying away for a while. :<)

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    4. I've been staying away from the news, TV and radio, for the same reason. It is all just too much. However, I do love to listen to the author interviews, things like that.
      It's deeply troubling, this political business. And so foolish.
      Sigh....

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  4. This one sounds great to me. I'm a retired teacher, my husband is an artist and I keep thinking we need to downsize to a smaller house. As far as I know the FBI doesn't have a file on us, but who knows.

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  5. First of all, Fort Myers! I can tell the author has been here during 'the season'. (We try to avoid the tourists spots in February, the busiest month.

    But more than that, this sounds like a great read --- it is so hard to find books about people even over 50, let alone a year or two older than we are even! And a happy ending is a big bonus. This one goes to the top of the TBR list.

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    1. I thought you might find that passage interesting! The Gladdy Gold series by Rita Lakin is set in Fort Lauderdale - have you read those books. Lots of fun. You will love Heroic Measures.

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  6. I'm watching the movie now - it stars Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton - called "Five Flights Up". I have a sample of the book downloaded on my Kindle - can't decide which to do first - watch the movie of read the book ... what do you think

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    1. Funny, I was just reading a description of the movie, and I am not going to watch it. They changed too many things. The actors are too flash and too young for the characters in the book. Not one bit like them. So, I can't really advise you! :<))

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  7. I always love recommendations for interesting books! Thank you!

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    1. I am quite, quite sure you would love this one!!

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