June 16, 2013
Three women grew up together spending summers on the Jersey Shore and went their separate ways upon adulthood. Kate moved to Philadelphia and became a very serious lawyer, Dani moved to San Francisco and is still thinking someday she will write a novel, but in the meantime she can’t seem to hold a job, and Vanessa is a very active stay-at-home mother in New York City. When they decide to come together at the beach for a stay that will bring the secrets of the past out into the open, challenging their friendships and perceptions of their own lives, and forcing them to decide whether they will move forward or hold onto the events of the past, letting it weigh them down.
All the Summer Girls, by Meg Donohue, is a good beach read and a good example of chicklit. There is some sadness and heartbreak, but the ending is satisfying. Meg Donohue also wrote How to Eat a Cupcake, which a was another great chicklit pick.
June 15, 2013
Cora Carlisle, by all appearances, is a married, church-going mother of two grown boys during the Prohibition. She believes in temperance, she believes in moderation, and she believes that a woman’s skirt should extend below the knees at all times. But Cora has her own secrets, and when she gets the chance to travel to New York with an aspiring dancer, the very beautiful fifteen year old Louise Brooks, the two of them will both walk away from the experience with very changed lives.
Louise is impulsive, shamelessly flirtatious and very self-centered and bold. Cora is virtuous and reserved. The two women make quite the pair, especially when they leave Kansas and step into the bustling streets of New York city. Louise is desperate to find a way to stay out of Wichita, Kansas forever, and Cora wants to find out where she came from before she arrived in Kansas on an orphan train as a school-aged child. Temptation finds them both, much to Cora’s surprise, and she must make some very serious decisions about her virtues, her values, and her entire future when the trip ends.
The Chaperone, by Laura Moriarty, sneaks up on you, at first you expect a story about two mismatched women staying together in the big city, and you aren’t sure how it could possibly be interesting…Then the depth of the characters, the traumas of their lives, the truths are revealed slowly and by the end of the novel, you can’t stop reading to find out how they will fare before the story ends. Definitely women’s fiction at it’s finest.
June 7, 2013
A newly divorced art dealer has been commissioned to write a book about renowned artist Charles Aubrey, and he decides to travel to the town where the artist spent summers with his exotic mistress and two daughters, to see if he can find information that will set his book apart from all others. He finds Mitzy Hatcher, who claims to have been in a relationship with Charles Aubrey one summer before tragedy struck and he went off to fight in the war.
The quaint little fishing village seems to be full of secrets, however, and the locals are less than welcoming towards outsiders, especially outsiders who ask a lot of very personal questions about long-standing residents.
Traveling between the present and the past, lacing together the generations, A Half Forgotten Song, by Katherine Webb, is full of mystery and suspense, and just enough historical fiction to be perfection. If you loved The Unseen, by the same author, or you adore pretty much any of Kate Morton’s novels (The Distant Hours, The Forgotten Garden, The House at Riverton, The Secret Keeper), you will NOT want to miss this author or her works.
June 1, 2013
What would have happened if Anne Boleyn’s baby had survived and been a healthy son? How would history have changed, and what would remain the same? What would Great Britain be like today? Would Mary or Elizabeth have ever found the throne?
The Boleyn King, by Laura Anderson, is a novel about a fictional King, William, the son of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. William has good intentions as a ruler, but has a streak of stubbornness not unlike his father. Elizabeth supports and loves her brother and king, and Mary, while resentful still about her mother being cast aside, seems to only be a moderate threat to his reign thanks to her religious ideals. Minuette and Dominic are two childhood friends of the rulers who have been constant companions to them, and find relationships begin to change as the power structure is laid out before them with time.
These siblings are all at marriageable ages, and things are starting to get interesting. Will they marry for politics or will they find love? Will a secret rebellion knock William from the throne? Can a ruler ever truly be a friend to someone else? Philippa Gregory readers will love The Boleyn King, by Laura Anderson, so be sure to check it out for yourself if you love historical fiction and historical romance.
June 1, 2013
Decades ago, terrible things happened in Sadie’s hometown. Two little girls, both at separate times, disappeared, rumored to have wandered into the woods and never returned. These disappearances weighed over the town, ever-present in the parts of the mind where fear resides. The mysteries were never solved. But Sadie may know more about one girl’s disappearance than she lets on.
A mother of two who recently miscarried, Sadie is looking for distraction and struggling with her own demons. Fighting her entire life not to become her mother, she is beginning to find herself walking down that very inescapable path. But she wants more for her children and for herself than the rollercoaster of her own childhood. When a neighborhood boy she once knew comes back to her neighborhood upon his father’s death to clear out the house of its mess, and quite possibly, its secrets, Sadie must face the truth about what happened in her quiet little town all those years ago-with her mother, with the disappearances, with her own dark, hidden secrets.
Will the secrets finally be brought into the open for once and for all? Will Sadie win the battle and gain control over her life? Will she take responsibility for what she did all those years ago?
The Longings of Wayward Girls, by Karen Brown, has melancholy moments, but it is an interesting mystery and emotional journey for anyone who enjoys that sort of literature.
May 28, 2013
Henry VIII was a temperamental and hot-headed ruler, and his series of wives is only one aspect of the tumultuous times portrayed in Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel. The public has gone mad for the HBO series The Tudors, and the Philippa Gregory novels written about Henry’s many wives and his very famous daughters (The Constant Princess, The Other Boleyn Girl, The Boleyn Inheritance, The Queen’s Fool, The Virgin’s Lover, The Other Queen), and much more in television and literature devoted to The Tudors’ story.
Unlike HBO’s version and even Philippa Gregory’s stories, this series, the Thomas Cromwell Trilogy, delves deeply into the politics of the time and what it would have been like to survive with a tempestuous king and his tempestuous mistress (soon to be wife) Anne Boleyn, keep your nose clean while juggling your own religious views to satisfy the crown, and be a high-profile person in changing times that took as many lives as it spared. Wolf Hall is not a “sexy” novel by any means, so don’t expect intrigue and romance in this novel. This is a very serious account, dealing with martyrdom and the deaths of many people who may not have deserved their fates. Be warned.
May 28, 2013
The Duke of Halford has a problem. His mother has decided that she has waited long enough for grand babies, and he absolutely must marry as soon as possible or else. But the Duke has no desire to burden himself with the fairer sex, and certainly no interest in chasing debutantes around London. His mother’s counter-offer? He doesn’t have to marry a wealthy heiress or a female with a dowry, he can marry anyone he wants, just so long as he finally marries and puts his family line in motion. The Duke agrees to this plan, but with his own agenda. He will find the most wildly inappropriate female for the job, and he will pay that female to be a complete disaster for his mother’s designs. With any luck, it will go so badly that his mother will stop pushing the issue for a while and he can have some temporary peace. But his plan is flawed. His working-class belle is very rough around the edges, and has just enough spirit and courage to make the Duke question his own methods of operation… Can he follow through with the plan without falling in love with Pauline?
Anyone who loves historical romance novels (bodice-rippers) will want to pick up Any Duchess Will Do, by Tessa Dare. The dialogue is laugh-out-loud hilarious and the romance is sweet and genuine. This novel is like a cross between Pygmalion (My Fair Lady) and Pride and Prejudice, with some sexy and slightly naughty sprinkled on top.