Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Modern, Vivid, Generational Drama
Maine is a modern story that follows a Grandmother, a daughter, a daughter-in-law and a Granddaughter. An incredibly well-written women’s saga with rich and vivid text, Maine would be a good pick for your next book club.
Grandmother Alice was once beautiful and had the world at her doorstep. Alice feels responsible for her sister’s death which occurred over sixty years ago. Alice was always the beautiful one; the only reason she married her husband was because she felt guilty about her sister’s death. Alice felt that she needed to live her sister’s life—to marry and to have children, despite the fact that she didn’t want either. Alice wanted to be an artist. Now in her eighties, still beautiful and defiant, the grumpy Alice decides to leave the family’s multi-million dollar beach house to the local church.
For me Mary Anne is the character one most has empathy with as she is a loving and kind woman, a good mother who has married into the family. Mary Anne feels that Alice is like a mother, and treats her as such, she feels that she treats Alice better than Alice’s own children do. Mary Anne cannot believe how Alice’s own children ignore her and spend no time with her. Having helped Alice improve the beach house and after paying for years of upkeep, Mary Anne fully expects that her family will inherit the beach house.
Kathleen hates her sister in law Mary Anne and since her father’s death has not returned home or spoken to her mother. Kathleen adored her father, who doted on her-- once he was gone, there was no reason for her to go home again. Stubborn Kathleen has dealt with alcoholism and divorce, she also married a man that she didn’t love. She loves her crazy life now, living with her boyfriend, owning a worm farm…an unconventional life far away from her crazy mother.
Maggie is a modern working woman who desperately wants her boyfriend to commit already. And, lucky her, he is going to kick his loser roommate out and let her move in. Maggie and Gabe laugh, they fight, they have fun, they fight. As charming as boyfriend is, how will he react when he learns of her unplanned pregnancy?
Have you read The Three Weismann’s of Westport? Maine very much reminded me of that story only with less empathetic characters. I’ll ask you to read both and decide which book you preferred.
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Monday, June 18, 2012
I have been reading quite a bit lately and many popular books right now are Historical Fiction—you cannot escape it! Even author Stephen King has gotten into Historical Fiction bandwagon with his bestseller 11/23/63 about the JFK Assassination. My Book Club’s Historical Fiction Reads include: The Irresistible Henry House, The Glass Room, Loving Frank, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.
Book Club Recommendations:
The Irresistible Henry House
In the 1950’s there were college home economic programs that utilized “practice babies”. These were real babies, who had been given up for adoption and then taken to the school so that college women could learn to “mother” by changing diapers, feeding and caring for a baby. The author supposes what would happen, what could have happened to such a baby as he grew up. With such an interesting premise, this book will make for a most interesting book club discussion.
A well-researched novel told from the perspective of Frank Lloyd Wright’s mistress, Mamah Borthwick. The author researched the novel for 7 years and even found copies of letters that Mamah wrote, which the author used to create a more authentic voice for Mamah.
The Paris Wife
This story follows Hadley Richardson as she meets and then quickly marries Ernest Hemingway. Soon the newlyweds embark for Paris, meeting and partying with Gertrude Stein and Ella and F Scott Fitzgerald in the Jazz Age Paris. As of today, this popular book ranks #4 for Book Club selections and is near the top of my “to Read” shelf.
Lastly, World War II Historical Fiction is UBER HOT right now (stories set in WWII, not necessarily focusing on the war). Here are some top Historical Fiction choices set in the time period of WWII:
Sarah’s Key, The Postmistress, The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Society, The Glass Room, The Piano Teacher, The Zookeeper’s Wife, The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, The Book Thief
*My focus in this article was 20th Century Historical Fiction
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
I have eagerly awaited Sarah Addison Allen’s latest novel, The Peach Keeper, as Addison Allen typically writes lighter novels that feature female protagonists, friendship and a little magic—a perfect summer book blend.
The premise of The Peach Keeper is that everyone has a past, most likely one they want to forget. And yet that past follows you and is with you as you attempt to move forward in life. Can you ever really go home again?
Willa’s great great grandfather built the Blue Ridge Madam, a long neglected historical house with an ancient peach tree in the front yard. Willa has never been in the house, but Willa’s Grandmother lived in the house as a young lady. In present times, during the manor’s elaborate restorations, the peach tree is removed and a body is unearthed. No one knows who the dead person is, but Willa suspects that her Grandmother Georgie may have once known the answer, sadly Georgie now has dementia.
At age 30, the fiercely independent Willa has moved back to her small hometown and decided to settle into a quiet life as a respectable shopkeeper. Willa is still trying to live down her high school reputation where she was known as a troublemaker. Meanwhile, Paxton is the Southern Momma’s Girl, looking picture perfect and making all the right choices while inwardly cringing in that she is single and still lives at home under her Mother’s thumb. Willa and Paxton would never have associated in high school; however, they must work together now to learn the story behind the body found under the peach tree.
Love, friendship and a sprinkle of mystery hold the easy pace of The Peach Keeper and will keep the reader intrigued to the very end.
JUST FOR FUN: Author Sarah Addison Allen has a lovely interactive website and there she has a great coffee personality guide--be sure to check your coffee persona by selecting the following link and then select the Not Just Fiction link.