Hosted by Jen Dayton
Hosted by Jen Dayton

Summer made what I am hoping was its last stand this week.  I am done with hot and humid and hair that enters a room five minutes before I do.  We owe Marianne an apology. She did come through with her fudge!  Both chocolate and maple.  Marianne, we are sorry we ever doubted you.  Sweet Ann wants all to heed her words of wisdom this week which are ‘Be Positive.’  This week we have some stone walls, a monster, some insanity, guns and bars (never a good combo), hunger, a runaway train and a eulogy.

Let us begin!

Amanda snagged Beatriz Williams’ Overseas after Miss Elisabeth’s recent exuberant review.   “The novel follows a general pattern where every other chapter is set in a different time period. In one, the heroine, Kate, is in Paris in 1916. In the other chapters, Kate lives in New York City in 2008. How is she living in two places at once? The answer at 206 pages in is still unclear. The main plot of this story is about two lovers whose bond is so great that it’s love at first sight; no matter what time period they find themselves in. While I’m disappointed that it’s got the by now blah template of the handsome, ultra-rich guy being immediately smitten with the younger, less wealthy lady, I am enjoying the book. The instant true love is not being sold to me, but I’m burned out on that plot as a reader. However, this book is a page turner. There’s plenty of mystery and Kate is dealing with some real world struggles as a woman trying to make her career on Wall Street. When Kate drives up to Fairfield County, I appreciate the authenticity of the writing as I recognize those rambling stone walls which run the wooded hills of Connecticut’s forests. “

Speaking of Miss Elisabeth of the CL, she seems sad.  “Disappointingly, this week I entirely gave up on Night Film.  Investigative journalist Scott McGrath bet his entire career on the fact that cult horror direction Stanislas Cordova was a monster in the true sense of the word. Five years later, McGrath still hasn’t emerged from professional ruin when Cordova’s beautiful daughter is found dead of an apparent suicide. Drawn back into the disturbing world of the Cordova family, McGrath sets out to prove that he was right years ago. Originally I loved it and was totally sucked into it, but towards the end, I grew really annoyed with the distinct lack of sense the book was showing, and I ended up skipping ahead to read the end, which made even less sense.   However! I did thoroughly enjoy the first 7/8's of the story, and I would recommend it for people who have time to read a lot without stopping - the suspense is quite maddening!”

Steph seems to be more herself this week.  This is a relief.  “Sophie Hannah has done it again. Her new book, Kind of Cruel, is everything I’ve come to love about her unique form of domestic suspense. From the insanity of the dysfunctional detectives Charlie Zailer and Simone Waterhouse to the chilling, to the relatable thoughts of the protagonist (this time, the insomniac Amber Hewerdine), Hannah is a master at creating people and situations that are just unnerving enough for a great book. Every twist and turn is perfect, like how a good bar of chocolate is still delicious with every bite. And, just like chocolate, I went through it a lot faster than I meant to. “

Sweet Ann weighs in with The Girl You Left Behind by staff favorite Jo Jo Moyes.  “In this absorbing and interesting story, the path of a painting is followed from 1916 France to 2006 in London.   Sophie Lefevre is trying to protect her family from the German soldiers who are occupying her town.  Sophie's husband, an artist, painted a portrait of her which hangs in the family restaurant. The portrait will eventually fall in to the hands of the Germans.  In London in 2006, Liv is widowed and lives in The Glass House, a beautiful home that her late husband designed.  On their honeymoon her husband bought her the portrait of Sophie which she has treasured all these years.   When the true ownership of the painting is questioned, Liv will begin a journey where she takes a chance on love again. This is a very enjoyable book to read, the characters are well developed and the plot will keep you intrigued.”

Jeanne. Maintaining her amazing ability to do two things at once.  “When Justin St. Germain was twenty, his mom was shot dead by her fifth husband and got away with it.  Sort of. Justin wants to know why he shot her and does some of his own investigating years later, relating the story in Son of a Gun: A Memoir. His feelings and the facts are very well-told and gives us a picture of the landscape of Tombstone, AZ over a number of years; Wyatt Earp, the OK Corral, lots of guns and bars, but few neighbors or grocery stores. I highly recommend it.  In the car, I am listening to Transatlantic by Colum McCann; beautifully narrated by Geraldine Hughes in her lovely Irish lilt. Like his Let the Great World Spin, Transatlantic has a huge scope that spans centuries and continents and brings together both real and fictional characters. McCann brings his characters alive with wonderful details that surprise and alarm as they cross the great ocean, struggle against war, hunger, and inequality and make their marks on history.”

Pat T.  is in the middle of The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison.  “This is a typical love triangle but what makes this novel good is the psychological portrait of the characters! Todd is a cad who vacillates between his common law wife, Jodi, and his young manipulative girlfriend, Natasha. He doesn't take ownership of his relationships so his life is like a runaway train. Jodi, on the other hand, is stealth in her demeanor and pretends everything is normal in her life, until she confides her secret to her friend and they hatch a plan. The story is told in the alternating voices of Todd and Jodi and I must say it is a page turner for me!”

I have added another title to the Jen List of Wonderful for 2013The Death of Santini:  The Story of a Father and His Son by Pat Conroy has earned a spot.  Conroy does what Richard Russo did in last year’s Elsewhere.  He examines his life and his relationship with his parents and relates how this has shaped his fiction.  I had forgotten how much I loved Conroy’s voice and what a joy it was to dwell in his books, because frankly, his last one, South of Broad, was just awful.  So awful that I was wondering if I could ever pick up one of his books ever again.  But, happily, he’s back and he is in fine form.  His eulogy for his father should not be read in public. Because you will be alternately weeping and laughing in celebration for his father’s unapologetic, flawed fully lived life.  If you do happen to do this in public be ready for everyone slowly moving away from you.  Not that I would know this personally.   This one is due out in October.

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