This week we have a First Lady, Camelot, a scandal, an island wedding, some hobnobbing, quiet, a little history, a few First Mothers, and some feral young sisters who have no mother.
Let us begin!
Ann is working her way through What Would Michelle Do? A Modern Day Guide to Living to Living with Substance and Style by Allison Samuels. “I was intrigued by the cover of this book which features Michelle Obama and wanted to see what Michelle would do. It is a clever little advice book covering friends, fashion, exercise, marriage, children and basic rules to live one's life. Michelle, through the author, offers some insights that I feel would be good for young people, especially women, entering college or the work force. This book is a quick fun read and gave me a smile when she mentioned the importance of thank you notes. “
Pat S. as always, gives us her honest opinion on After Camelot: A Personal Historyof the Kennedy Family from 1968 to the Present by J. Randy Taraborrelli. The tome that is After Camelot provides a broad stroke history of the lives and newsworthy (?) times of the Kennedy clan since 1968. While I am not a follower of all things Kennedy, I don't imagine that I learned anything more than might have been found in a USA Today article. Essentially, it is a recitation of the natural and untimely deaths that have occurred in the family in the last forty plus years. Honestly, by the end, I felt as if I had just gotten a reprieve from a death march. I would only recommend to a diehard fan of the family."
Jeanne is plowing through two reads. “This week I read two books set in the Bay State - one in the mostly Irish towns near Boston and the other on the shores of what appear to be Cape Cod. In the first, Faith by Jennifer Haigh the author portrays the tragic upheaval of families, especially Catholic, when the Archdiocese of Boston begins to make public the accusations that their priests may be guilty of abuse. Whether the truth is found or not, it is a terrible time when the church's faithful and Boston's devout families are rocked to their cores. The McGann family is forced to make choices as the scandal spreads and Sheila, the estranged daughter, seeks to discover the truth about her previously respected brother, Father Art. In the second, Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead, the very New England Van Meter family is preparing an island wedding for one of their two daughters. They went to all the right schools, drive the right cars and belong to the right clubs. Mostly. What could appear to be a charmed life has its bumps and tears. Both daughters have unplanned pregnancies, membership into the exclusive Pequod Club maddeningly eludes Winn Van Meter and he questions his happiness. With the flurry of wedding preparations, boozy parties and hook-ups, Shipstead offers a clever look at family ties, greed and misguided desires.”
Pat T. is excited! “I know I am in for a treat because I just picked up Douglas Kennedy's latest book Temptation. I have enjoyed every one of Kennedy's books because they have character driven plots with a historical fiction component. This story might be loosely autobiographical, since the character Dave is a writer who had the good fortune to get his book published and made into a TV series and now he is hobnobbing with the rich and famous and prone to all the downfalls of this social set. It's a good summer read!”
Abby is trying something old. “I wanted to explore some books and authors I have been meaning to read for a long time and Graham Greene came up on my list. The Quiet American was my choice to start. Like the title, Greene's writing is quiet yet beautifully powerful. An anti-war novel, it was written following Greene's time as a correspondent in Viet Nam prior to US involvement. It follows the story of Fowler, a world weary British correspondent introducing the privileged young American envoy Alden Pyle into the culture of war.”
The Citizen Asha has been reading something surprisingly normal. “I just finished reading: If Walls Could Talk: An Intimate History of the Home by Lucy Worsley: I saw this on the cart and figured I would give it a whirl. Worsley describes the four main areas of the house: the bedroom, the bathroom, the living room and the kitchen, from medieval times to the present day. I was fascinated! Learning what people ate, the hygiene practices, fashion style (epic!), sex (very surprising), and etiquette was amazing. This book would be excellent for those who enjoy The Tudors and Downton Abbey.”
Marianne fell under the spell of Bonnie Angelo's First Mothers. “The author provides a fascinating glimpse into the early years and close mother-son relationships of eleven different presidents ranging from Franklin Delano Roosevelt to Bill Clinton. I was reading this book to prepare for a presentation at Atria, but I became so engrossed in it that I read it cover to cover. Whether well-off or dirt poor, these mothers managed to raise their sons with an incredible degree of self confidence and sense of their own ability to accomplish great things. Often the father-son relationships were problematic, but the bonds between mother and son were extraordinarily deep.”
I am really enjoying The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin. When an orchard owner named Talmadge allows two young feral and very pregnant women in to his life at the turn of the last century he has no idea what he is in for. This first novel spans the beginning of the last century and feels as vast and open as the Pacific Northwest it is set in. This one comes out in September.