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The Lost Book of Mala R.

3.76  ·  Rating Details ·  95 Ratings  ·  41 Reviews
Three very different women, each trying to reconcile her dreams with reality, are drawn together by a hypnotic voice from the past.
In a once-grand Southern California neighborhood, Linda, a New York City transplant, is panicking over the disappearance of her precocious ten-year-old stepdaughter. Christine, who has struggled to get pregnant for years, finds herself expect
Paperback, 384 pages
Published September 27th 2011 by Bantam Dell
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Janice Payton
Oct 03, 2011 Janice Payton rated it it was amazing
I picked up this book expecting an ordinary historical novel, but what I found was a fascinating look at the American Romany as told through the voice of a banished young woman named Mala. The historical section is only 1/4 of the book, while the rest takes place in 2011 California. The writing is mysterious in many parts and surprisingly funny in others, particularly when the story is told from the point of view of Audrey. The other women are dealing with difficult husbands and stepchildren and ...more
Oct 07, 2011 Susanne rated it it was amazing
I won't summarize the book since others already have, but I agree with most of the other reviews here. The lost Book of Mala R is an enjoyable and engaging read that lingers well after you finish it. I had finished Mudbound just before starting this book and was not in the mood for another dark look at humanity. I was glad that, even though The Lost Book is intense and even sad in parts, it has a feeling of hope and redemption. I don't belong to a book club but would recommend it to those that d ...more
Vickie Lewandowski
Oct 03, 2011 Vickie Lewandowski rated it really liked it
The Lost Book of Mala R is more literary fiction than a lightweight mystery about a lost book. Physick Book of Deliverance Dane it ain't. This book crosses rural American history with a story about betrayal and complex relationships in a modern-day suburban setting. I recommend this to anybody who likes engaging books that are also well-written and carefully plotted.
The Lost Book of Mala R was kindly provided to me by Netgalley for Random House
Publishing Group.

Interested in more of my reviews? Visit my blog!

So, I won’t be rating this book because I didn’t actually finish it but I have included a blurb of my thoughts from the portion that I did read and why this one just didn’t work for me.

The Characters
I had a hard time liking any of the characters in this book, starting with Linda. Linda and her husband have just moved to Southern California from New York
Beverly Jones
Oct 05, 2011 Beverly Jones rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club-books
I'm notorious for putting a book down after twenty five pages if it doesn't grab me immediately. But ten pages into The Lost Book I was hooked. Who was this girl, what was going to happen to her, and how would it all connect to California in 2011? What terrible thing did the character of Linda do? The questions kept popping up, making it easy to finish the book in three vacation days. I usually don't read historical novels and I was happy to find that The Lost Book didn't overdo the historical d ...more
Oct 07, 2011 Krystyna rated it really liked it
This would be the perfect bookclub book for its historical storyline and the examination of the characters' complex relationships with men and with each other. The story begins in the Texas countryside in 1948 and switches effortlessly to California 2011 and back again three chapters later. Though there are four main characters, each of their stories are well developed. Just when I hated to see one chapter end because I didn't want to let that character go, I remembered how much I wanted to find ...more
Oct 06, 2011 Frances rated it it was amazing
A skillful examination of how little superstitions and unproven beliefs guide our lives. If you've ever thought that something happened to you because of karma, you'll find this book interesting. I also liked the theme that ran throughout the book, reflecting a line in the first chapter. "Nothing could be called a tragedy until it was all played out."
Sep 14, 2011 Shannon rated it really liked it
This is an interesting one- it focuses on the lives of six women, with three of them taking most of the focus. Might be more enjoyable for the 35+ age range, simply because the age range of the characters but don't let that stop you from reading it.
The story weaves back and forth between the characters but the author is very good about letting you know who is talking so that you don't have to flip back and forth just to get your bearings.
This is not an action packed, thrill a minute book; it
Kristin Biddulph
Dec 01, 2011 Kristin Biddulph rated it it was amazing
What an unusual and delightful book this was! At first I thought it would be historical fiction, then I thought it would be a thriller, but in the end, it was a mix of the two along with some elements of women's fiction and a little good old-fashioned romance. The past and present stories don't exactly interwine as one reviewer said, but there are parallels on a deeper level, emotional and circumstantial, that are more subtle and in my mind more interesting. I couldn't help thinking that Mala wo ...more
Oct 07, 2011 Debbie rated it really liked it
To me, this book was about what becomes of strong-willed women when they're thrown up against reality and a difficult world. it was interesting to see each of the four characters try to influence her fate and create the life she thought she wanted. In the end the lives the characters wanted is very different than they imagined. Although the book has plotlines that keep the story moving forward at a brisk pace (a murder, a missing girl, and a husband who might be responsible for both), it's reall ...more
Kathleen Naughton
Oct 03, 2011 Kathleen Naughton rated it it was amazing
I finished this book last night and liked it so much. It is heartbreaking but also hopeful, and left me wondering if one day the author would write a sequel. I know what happens to the four women in this book (I think) but somehow their stories are only starting. Even though the book was told from four points of view I never had trouble keeping track of what was happening and when. A great book for women but not what I would call "women's fiction." It's just a little different than that.
Marianne Carroll
Dec 01, 2011 Marianne Carroll rated it it was amazing
This is the December choice for my book group and it was one of the best novels I've read in a long time. We've read a lot of nonfiction lately and it was a refreshing break to dive into a different world with characters I enjoyed spending time with. It's a little historical fiction, a little mystery, a little women's fiction, a little something else unique to the author. It's an unusual story that moves along with brisk pacing and very good writing. I'm looking forward to discussing it with the ...more
Melinda Neal
Dec 04, 2011 Melinda Neal rated it it was amazing
Fabulous, thought-provoking read with characters that were flawed but likable, which can be hard to find in a book these days. I especially liked Christine, who is suspicious of her husband and knows she might have been betrayed by him, but she is also very dependent on him. Her journey from trusting wife to woman who can stand on her own was very interesting to me. The Mala story from 1948 was just connected enough to the modern stories that it didn't seem contrived or forced. A very adult book ...more
Samantha Hagy
Oct 03, 2011 Samantha Hagy rated it it was amazing
This was the kind of book I have trouble letting go of after I finish it. The characters felt very real to me and I got attached to them, especially Mala. Parts of it are like a mystery or a thriller, and some parts are like historical fiction, which I read a lot of. Good writing but with a fast pace. I flew through this book in under four days and then I wished I'd taken more time. I'm gong to mention it to the book club for December.
Sally Guillen
Sep 14, 2011 Sally Guillen rated it it was amazing
I was pretty excited when I got an email saying I won this book. When it got here I didn't pick it up right away as I was reading another book. Once I picked it up though I couldn't put it down. I really enjoyed how even though there were four different stories being told, I never once got lost. It told a great story of losing it all, but getting much more in the end. My biggest gripe is the end, I would have loved to have heard more about Zina and what happened to her.
Meredith Halovich
Oct 04, 2011 Meredith Halovich rated it it was amazing
It's the rare book that keeps me up reading but this one did. I never knew much about Romany history and even tho the book isn't only about that, you do get a glimpse of what it was like for them in this country in the middle of last century. This book was more of a thriller than I thought it would be, since each character had her own difficult mystery to solve. Definitely worth reading and I'm glad I did.
Deanna Benitez
Oct 06, 2011 Deanna Benitez rated it really liked it
This book was obviously well-researched and I always enjoy a historical story set in the United States, especially in the last century. But I liked the characterizations the most, and so did my sister who gave me this book. The characters all felt real to me and I felt I really got to know them. The writer did a good job of bringing them to life and for me that's the most important aspect of a good book
Lindsay Marsh
Oct 05, 2011 Lindsay Marsh rated it really liked it
My next door neighbor lent me this after finishing it last week, and I read it over the weekend. It's a beautiful and engrossing story about four women whose lives get turned upside down when their paths cross across the span of sixty years. I love strong female characters and the book has four of them. Recommended for book clubs and women over thirty.
Jan 06, 2012 Connie rated it really liked it
Four stars because I really enjoyed the read. I wasn't crazy about any of the characters but I did admire the characterizations, each person with both virtues and flaws. I was fascinated by the interconnections, both cause and effect, in families, neighborhoods, and time. I enjoyed seeing how each character came to self-awareness.
Oct 07, 2011 Emma rated it really liked it
I've always loved books with strong and interesting female characters and this is one of those books. All four major characters were strongly developed and felt very real to me. Each chapter and complication added another complex layer of a plot that is truly original and absorbing. I could easily see this book being made into a movie.
Sherrell Byers
Oct 07, 2011 Sherrell Byers rated it it was amazing
An insightful book about a young woman's words and the lasting effect they have when her old journal is discovered in modern-day California. I was sucked into this book immediately and I finished it in two days. This is not a light, feel-good novel. There's plenty of conflict, poverty, racism, and suspicion to go around, but the story is satisfying and the ending wonderfully bittersweet.
Elizabeth Tennesen
Oct 05, 2011 Elizabeth Tennesen rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written book featuring an American Romany girl caught between the often-harsh culture of her family and her country, with a story that ties it all to the current day. One of the better novels I've read this year.
Shayne Anderson
Oct 06, 2011 Shayne Anderson rated it it was amazing
This was a wonderful book with great character development. No stereotyped, seen 'em before characters here. The author tells a fascinating story about a poor young girl's influence on the lives of three women sixty years in the future. I look forward to reading other books by this writer!
Three women, neighbors on a pretentious California suburban street, are intrigued by a strange, ominous journal written long ago by a teen-aged Romany girl, Mala Rinehart. Although each of the women's lives are in turmoil, in one way or another, they seem to be drawn to the mystery surrounding journal, with its spells and ramblings.

Linda and Peter, newly married, have welcomed Peter's young daughter, Paige into their household for the summer. At 10, the girl is brash, snippy, and unloved at hom
Sep 07, 2011 Carissa rated it liked it
This is not a book I would have been likely to buy, with its emphasis on the struggles and secrets of middle-aged suburban women, but I'm glad that I got it through First Reads. Having once started, I read it in the space of two days, and I was pleasantly surprised to find themes within it that genuinely interested me--the connections and contrasts made between past and present were more subtle and complex than one often sees in novels where characters' lives parallel each others' across time.

Sep 07, 2011 P rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I won this on Goodreads a while back and am finally catching up. This was a different kind of story and I did like it. That being said, I must disagree with the blurb which says that Mala's tale "intertwines" with those of three modern women who find her journal at a yard sale. I must've missed that "intertwining," because I really read this as almost two separate plots: Mala's nomadic, gypsy youth, recorded in her notebook in the 1940s, and the troubles of Audrey, Christine and Linda, contempor ...more
Nov 22, 2011 Becky rated it liked it
Four lives intertwine in THE LOST BOOK OF MALA R. When Linda finds an old journal at a neighbor's yard sale, her curiosity gets the better of her. She takes the book home and discovers it's filled with strange spells and musings. After a silly attempt to follow one, Linda passes the book onto her friend Audrey. Audrey and Christine take a stab at another of the spells and then Audrey begins a search that will hopefully lead to the author: Mala Rinehart. Each of the three women's tales is told th ...more
Dec 31, 2011 Mary rated it really liked it
Interesting mix of alternating stories of three 21st "desperate housewives" living in a rich California suburb who find and read a magical diary of Mala, a Texan gypsy, written in the late 1940's. Who knew there were gypsies in the US ( thought they lived mainly in Europe)? I found the story of Mala much more compelling than those of the modern day women (one is a nervous nelly, always looking for something bad to happen, one is a disinterested step mother to her husband's children, and the last ...more
Sandy Neal
Sep 07, 2011 Sandy Neal rated it liked it
An interesting story about how we view life. Do spells have any impact on what happens next, what is our outlook on life and how does our family history impact that viewpoint?

There are three neighbors and a woman from the past as main characters in this book. The elements this author incorporates are gypsies, economic downturns, friendship, curiosity, a murder, a missing child and relationship issues. Lots of action. Well-written.

Received through the giveaway program on 9/13/11.
Diane Cox
Oct 09, 2011 Diane Cox rated it really liked it
I'm not a particularly good reviewer but this book engaged me on a visceral level. It is a social commentary in addition to all the attributes cited, and as an unpublished writer, I was encouraged that the author's agent was able to find a publisher for a book that fits various genres and is therefore more difficult to shelf
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