Category Archives: book

The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin

13642950  Melanie Benjamin is one of my favorite author’s and one I love to recommend others to discover. Her newest, The Aviator’s Wife is even a step up from her previous work. In this work of fiction she imagines the inner (and public) life of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, the daughter of an ambassador who is swept off her feet by the dashing young aviator, Charles Lindbergh, who is at the beginning of his career. Her marriage to the difficult Lindbergh, the tragedy of their baby’s kidnapping, and her care of him at the end of his life are all chronicled in a thoughtful and poignant way. I felt as if I finally ‘knew’ Anne, and had to keep reminding myself that this is a work of fiction. Ms. Benjamin was respectful of the Lindbergh families’ privacy and due respect, while engaging us thoroughly in the inner life of an amazing woman in her own right. I thoroughly recommend this novel.

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The Black Count

BLACK-COUNT-COVER     Author Tom Reiss has introduced to the world the story of an amazing man, Alex Dumas, father of famed novelist Alexandre Dumas (Count of Monte Cristo, The Three Musketeers). This man, born to a black slave mother and a fugitive French nobleman in present-day Haiti, was briefly sold into bondage and ended up as a leading general in the French Republic post-Revolution. He was a giant of a man, famous for his amazing strength, integrity, and genteel manners. After serving under Napoleon he was captured and thrown in a dungeon, nearly forgotten by his country, inspiring his son to write The Count of Monte Cristo. I learned so much from this brilliantly written biography, did you know that our reference to ‘left’ and ‘right’ when referring to political ‘sides’ came from the Post-Revolution governmental structure of France? I sure didn’t! I could list many things that were revelations gleaned from this book, but urge all to read it and discover them for themselves!

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“The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry” by Rachel Joyce

This is a poignant tale of an older retired Englishman who embarks on a 600 mile walk across England after receiving a letter from Queenie Hennessy, a long ago co-worker, telling him she is dying. His marriage has become lifeless, his wife carps on him regarding how he butters his toast every morning. So after writing Queenie a letter, he goes out to post it and simply keeps walking, in the belief that as long as he does, Queenie will hang on till he gets there. Beautifully written, this novel prompts the reader to examine their own life and the choices we make.

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“The Art of Fielding” A Modern Classic?

Just finished reading “The Art of Fielding” by Chad Harbach and I believe quite strongly that this is a new American classic, in line with “The Great Gatsby” , “A Seperate Peace” and “Catcher in the Rye”. I am curious as to how many people agree with me. This is a debut novel from this author and I am anxious to see what he comes up with next! This novel’s publication was the result of some rejection at first, then an intense bidding war, as facinatingly portrayed in “Vanity Fair” magazine last spring. It is now out in paperback and I’m hoping to see a lot of copues being read on the beach this summer, I couldn’t put it down! The general gist of the novel is the story of a young man, Henry Skrimshander,  with amazing shortstop skills, plucked from obscurity and given a berth on the perennial losing baseball team of small Westish College, on the shores of Lake Michigan.  His unofficial ‘coach’ is Mike Schwartz, the young classmate at Westish, who saw him play and was the first to recognize his incredible talent.

The president of the college is Guert Affenlight, who has fallen unexpectedly in love with an inappropriate person, his daughter, who dropped out of Yale and  ran off to California to get married to an older professor has now run from the husband and back to Westish to figure out what to do next,  then there’s Owen Dunne, a member of the baseball tema and friend to all, who is accepted into the fold, despite his being openly gay.  These characters (and others) interact with each other and therefore change the course of each of their lives. It’s a coming of age story that reflects the seemingly small incidents that can put us on a path that we are surprised to find ourselves on.

Highly recommended!!!

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Tigers in Red Weather-July 2012

This is a remarkable first novel by Liza Klaussmann, the great-great-great granddaughter of Herman Melville (writing must be in the genes!). She also is a noted writer for the New York Times.

The novel takes place mainly around the family estate on Martha’s Vineyard  known as Tiger House. Nick and her cousin Helena have grown up here, through many summers, and in the years following World War II their lives have taken divergent paths. Helena heads off to Hollywood to a husband Nick is wary of. Nick reunites with her husband who is attempting to adjust to life after military duty. The cousins reunite at Tiger House as their lives are brought together and torn apart by family secrets and a local murder.

Wonderfully written, you can smell the salt air drifting over blue hydrangea and the sound of pounding surf. Dramatic and engrossing!

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“The Formula For Murder” by Carol McCleary

Another rollicking mystery following the fictional sleuthing of girl reporter Nellie Bly. This time Nellie teams up with HG Wells and Arthur Conan Doyle for a dangerous adventure that takes her from London, Bath and finally the murky moors of Dartmoor (the setting for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic “The Hound of the Baskervilles”) Fans of Ms. McCleary’s two previous Nellie Bly. mysteries will not be disappointed!

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“Beautiful Ruins”

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Pub date June 2012
This novel is a brilliant story of love told in two time periods, Italy 1960’s and “Recently” in Hollywood and elsewhere. Most of the Italian portion takes place in a tiny village on the coast where young Pasquale dreams of turning his late father’s small hotel “The Hotel Adequate View” into a tourist draw that will finally put their tiny village on the map. One day a beautiful American actress arrives, she has gotten ill during the filming of “Cleopatra” (Richard Burton plays a key role in this novel, realistically portrayed)

What happens to these diverse characters as they collide and converge over the course of their lives will keep you reading long into the night. The once famous film producer, who as a young man was sent to ‘rescue’ the disastrous Burton/Taylor mess that was “Cleopatra”, and who bears a striking resemblance to Robert Evans (extreme plastic surgery) and ended up the puppetmaster behind the scenes of Richard Burton’s philandering. Dee, the beautiful actress who leaves the Italian coast,  and Pasquale, forever changed, and many other characters who are all searching for love and meaning in their lives and grow into people who can accept the mistakes of the past because they created a present they can live with. Imagine if you could make amends (or attempt to) for something in your past left undone?

A brilliantly written novel that is as entertaining as it is unexpectedly literary.

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