How does time fly when a person barely leaves home? I don’t know, but it does! There’s no shortage of to-do’s at Casa Crosiar – the start of a new semester (safely online), enjoying bright blooms, putting food by (the garden produced peppers and tomatoes in abundance!), laboring to understand how to promote a new novel release while writing (some) on the next. and then there’s playing around with polymer clay, cooking, cooking, cooking… And of course, yoga, water aerobics, and reading!
Whoops, I buried the lead in the last paragraph, didn’t I? YES, Home Place will be released SOON, SOON, SOON! But there’s too much to say and way too much emotion to do justice to that here. This is a book that’s close to my heart. I know. I’ve said that before. But this one is special, deeply connected to my own roots. And I keep learning about those roots via newly-found cousins on Ancestry.com. Stay tuned for a blog post all about this new story!
Meanwhile, I have been reading. A lot! Here’s my September-October round-up.
If you’re hoping for Hallmark, you might want to pick up something other than Jennifer Close. But if you like your relationship fiction to reflect how real women might look at the wedding-tsunami that often happens in one’s twenties and thirties, you’ll find it in Girls in White Dresses. The bridesmaid’s dresses, the shower gifts, the toasts, the endless round of it all… Close’s collection of characters get more and more cynical – and less hopeful – until it was finally their turn – or it wasn’t.
I count on some authors to give me a full-out romp. Mary Kay Andrews usually delivers just that. But not so much this time. I’d have liked this better with more focus on the quirky relationships that Andrews is known for and less on what I saw as a convoluted crime-solving story. The message I got was to stick with what you know, and my sense is that Andrews knows more quirky people than she does crime.
I thought this book was masterful! The premise alone – a sole survivor of a plane crash in which his parents and older brother were killed – can’t fail to grab your attention. Add to that, Napolitano deftly drew stories of the diverse collection of people who might share any plane ride. She made me care about most of those random travelers and especially about young Edward as I followed his anything-but-straight path toward healing.
A friend and fellow writer recently described Hilderbrand’s stories as ‘rich people on Nantucket who have just as many problems as anybody else.’ I’ve not read her a lot, but that’s an apt description of this story. Maybe it was because they were so obviously rich and their experience of 1969 was so different from mine, I didn’t get deeply invested with this family’s stories. Maybe because they seemed to believe the shouldn’t have to deal with problems at all…
Here was another story I found it hard to relate to. It would have helped if I were immersed in Instagram and understood Insta-speak or how some ‘influencers’ manage to make money on that platform. As a glimpse into a world I don’t understand, it held some of the same appeal as science fiction.
From Insta-world to early twentieth century Brooklyn, books can give you vastly different views of reality. I expected gritty from the author of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and my assumption wasn’t off the mark – at least for women. Men seemed to skate easily enough, but what Maggie-Now gave up for men was stunning – and deeply disappointing. I kept hoping she’d tell them where to get off, but though she tried, I didn’t get the sense they got the message.
And now to Shakespearean England during the bubonic plague! What a story this is – focused on Anne Hathaway and son Hamnet who died at the tender age of 11. O’Farrell took the little that’s known of Shakespeare’s life and family and created a stunning fiction that opens doors of imagination – the people, the times, the impetus for Shakespeare’s best known work, Hamlet – another version of the name Hamnet. We’ll never know the real story of course, but I’m willing to swallow this fictional version of truth whole.
I like a story that starts light but grows into something deeper. This one did that. Two damaged people push through the messy process of healing – she from guilt and the emotionally abusive husband the whole town thought walked on water, he from a sudden and unexplained case of the ‘yips’ that interrupted his career as a ballplayer. A predictable romance? Sure. But there are deeper life lessons too, with likable characters.
I believe I’ve said in an earlier post that Kinsella never disappoints. Well… No, I won’t take it back. But I will say that this one wasn’t quite the romp I hoped for. You will have gathered that I don’t mind a little predictability in a story – particularly a romance. But…predictable is different from a foregone conclusion, right? Pick up Can You Keep a Secret instead. Then you’ll be as eager to read any Kinsella story as I am.
I’ve got some juicy titles lined up on my TBR list. Stay tuned to read about them…when I get around to sharing next time.
In the meantime, head over to Goodreads.com where you’ll find a chance to enter a Giveaway to get an early autographed copy of my latest novel.
Goodreads Book Giveaway
Giveaway ends November 16, 2020.