That Woman: The life of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor by Anne Sebba - What is the fascination after all these years? Anne Sebba is a sympathetic author and describes Wallis as a woman who enjoyed the fling for a time but never wanted to marry Edward and tried to persuade him not to abdicate. She loved her second husband Ernest but unfortunately played her hand badly. This story comes across not as the great romance of the century but two selfish, not too smart, self absorbed individuals who out smarted themselves. It is still a fascinating read!
Heft by Liz Moore - The two main characters in the novel , Arthur Opp at 550 pounds and Kel Keller, are given such wonderful voices that I was rooting for them all they way in this sometimes heartbreaking story. Arthur has given up his job as professor and after gaining so much weight, never leaves his house anymore. He hires an unlikely cleaning person who arrives on his door and opens up the world to him once again. Kel Keller's story runs parallel. He is high school student whose mother once was a student and friend of Arthur. She dies leaving Kel on his own and the reader wondering if Arthur is the father. How and when will their lives intersect?
More Room in a Broken Heart: The True Adventures of Carley Simon by Stephen Simon - From her parents backgrounds right up through Carley's present day this biography certainly is full of details. Who knew Carley's kindergarten music teacher was Pete Seeger? Not a bad way to begin your music career. Did you know that the Simon family had a wonderful summer estate on Newfield Avenue? Carley wrote so many of the wonderful songs we can all sing by heart and in the book the author gives background on how they came about, sometimes too much. Through all her ups and downs, anxiety attacks and marriages all one can say is, what a life. Try reading Girls Like Us by Sheila Weiller too.
Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil by Tom Muller - You will never look at that bottle of olive oil in cabinet the same way ever again. You may even throw it out! This author became an expert in all things EVOO. From the history in medicine, as a beauty aid, and in religion. It covers fraud, deception, globalization and crime in the food industry. Did you know most bottles on our grocery shelves marked Extra Virgin and not? Marked made in Italy, maybe not. You can even get a degree in olive oil tasting. Darien now has it very own olive oil store called the Olivette on the Post Road. After reading this book I believe I'll be visiting it soon.
Pat S.'s Picks:
Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy by E. L. James. Well, well, well. . . After all the hype, I finally succumbed and took on this trilogy. Essentially, it is a love story with a bit of a twist-the twist being BDSM. It is not particularly well written so stretching out this thin story into three volumes is the real story here.
Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch by Sally Bedall Smith.This is a well written, and expertly researched biography. For all that, it is painfully dull. Turns out that Queen Elizabeth leads a rather dull and scripted life. If nothing else, you do come away with a clearer view of English history in the twentieth century. Much more interesting, is the current biography of Prince Philip by Philip Eade. Talk about turbulent! His birth family was alternately unbalanced, philandering, and profligate and provided a childhood which was only just short of Dickensian in scope. The fact that he survived it, in fact rose above it, is remarkable. In reading this I came to understand the strong attraction he would have found in Queen Elizabeth's sense of family. Fascinating reading.
The Darlings by Christine Alger. Another story based on the Medoff ponzi scheme-but an excellent one. This is thinly based on the Noel family of the Fairfield Greenwich Group which was in fact the largest feeder fund involved with Medoff. However, this is not an fullscale indictment of people with money but rather a sensitive exploration of how good people can be led astray. Compelling.