For all those years before she married Dan Needham, my mother never had a real job, or pursued a higher education; and although she never lacked money—because my grandmother was generous to her—she was clever at keeping her personal expenses to a minimum. She would bring home some of the loveliest clothes, from Boston, but she would never buy them; she dressed up her dressmaker's dummy in them, and she copied them. Then she'd return the originals to the various Boston stores; she said she always told them the same thing, and they never got angry at her—instead, they felt sorry for her, and took the clothes back without an argument.A slow and intricate novel of life in the 1950s and 1960s in a small New Hampshire town, where the narrator's mother is accidentally killed by his best friend in a sporting accident and the whole story is told as a flashback from Canada in 1987. There are two brilliant comic set pieces, first where Owen Meaney takes command of the town's Christmas Nativity play, and then later where he inspires the removal of a hated teacher's car from the schoolyard to the stage of the assembly hall. It has a grim and not totally plausible ending; it goes on maybe a bit too long; but it's a nice chunky read about friendship, growing up and family secrets. I had read it years ago but had forgotten enough to enjoy it again. You can get it here.
This was the top book on my shelves that I had not already reviewed online. Next up is The Master and Margerita, by Mikhail Bulgakov.