I read this book in under 48 hours. I'm not sure if I was fueled by the fact that my library loan was about to end, or if I just needed a little sometI read this book in under 48 hours. I'm not sure if I was fueled by the fact that my library loan was about to end, or if I just needed a little something to get me through the many hours it seems to take to get my daughter to sleep these past few days. Many nights sitting in the rocking chair with her only halfway asleep but unable to transfer her to the crib. God bless the kindle app on the iPhone for making it so easy to be stuck in one place for a long time....
This is my third book by Sarah Addison Allen. I find them to be fun and light and tolerable chick lit and this book was no exception. It tells the story of Emily Shelby, who has returned to the town that her mother grew up in of Mullaby, North Carolina after her mother's death. The mother that she knew and remembered does not appear to be the same woman that the town, remembers. It is all linked to an incident with another prominent family in town that drove her to leave a long while ago. Emily returns and tries to understand the two different versions of her mother.
It also tells the story of Julia, who has inherited her father's restaurant and bakes cakes for the town that seem to have magical powers. She always leaves the windows open when she bakes with the hopes that the scents will reach key people in her life and bring them back to her.
Since this is magical realism, there are other things that happen including: A giant A mystery surrounding why certain townspeople can't come out at night Wallpaper that changes itself to suit the mood's of the room's inhabitants Frogs in dryers
Listen, this is not five star literature. But its great escapism if you can just take it for what it is. ...more
Well this is my second Oprah recommended book that I've read and enjoyed in as many months. I am trying not to psychoanalyze what this means about me.Well this is my second Oprah recommended book that I've read and enjoyed in as many months. I am trying not to psychoanalyze what this means about me.
This book is relayed between alternate narratives between Sarah Grimke (a historical figure who the author takes fictional license with) and a slave, Hetty/Handful, who is linked to Sarah from a young age--given to her as a present with lavender ribbons wrapped around her so that she can be Sarah's "handmaid".
The narrative moves forward for the next forty years showing the dichotomy between both of these women's lives; demonstrating the (of course) awful ways that the slaves were treated in Charleston, South Carolina and conflict within the abolitionist movement. Sarah has always had the notion that slavery is wrong, but grapples with how best to effectively make impact or inroads with this in the face of her family and the culture she lives in. ...more
I think I would give this book somewhere around 3.5 stars. I found it terribly fun to read but it was a borderline book in terms of sharing that I wasI think I would give this book somewhere around 3.5 stars. I found it terribly fun to read but it was a borderline book in terms of sharing that I was reading it with the general public.
Queen Elizabeth is a chef who is fired from her job in New York (after traveling most of the United States and not really being settled). After realizing that she has nowhere to go but home (HELLO TITLE OF BOOK) she heads down to North Star, Texas--where she grew up with her sister Merry Carole under the shadow of her mother who was fondly recounted as the "town whore". While in North Star, she addresses old prejudices and haunts about her childhood--and also gets a job as a chef at the neighboring prison where she cooks "last meals" for prisoners on death row.
Honestly, I felt like this part of the book (the one where she's a death row chef) could really have been flushed out more. I loved reading about how she interpreted the tray when it would return (would the inmate eat everything on their plate? The guilty ones always do...). Sure, I enjoy small town gossip like any other chick lit reader--but this spin on it was so unique and engaging--I just wish there had been more.
I also felt like the "romance" in the book was kind of weird. Queenie has a secret boyfriend--Everett Colburn--who's one of the elite of North Star. He is essentially told by his parents that Queenie is not a respectable girlfriend yet they secretly see each other for many many years and when Everett finally caves to family pressure, this is one of the items that spins Queenie on a cross-country cooking job hunt. There are lots of really quick resolutions where all this is concerned and I guess I got frustrated that people were just expected to to forgive and forget. I am a forgive and resent person, myself! That's just the cynic in me.
All in all, though--I thought this was a fun book and I don't regret reading it one bit. In fact, I'm glad I did. It was perfect for the short attention span that is my life right now. Sure--it took me two weeks to finish a book that *SHOULD* only take me three or less days..but we'll just attribute that to the 35 week baby gestating inside me. ...more
This book starts out (like three pages in) with a Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) agent finding a skull in a well in the 1950s. The well is in a coveThis book starts out (like three pages in) with a Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) agent finding a skull in a well in the 1950s. The well is in a cove that the TVA agent plans to flood and he's come to visit the region before its buried underwater forever.
This scene sets the stage for our story which happens 30+ years earlier during the waning days of World War I. Hank and his sister Laurel live alone in a cove in North Carolina. Laurel has a birthmark on her body that makes the superstitious people of the town they live think that she's a witch. They purposefully avoid her and when her brother goes away to fight in WWI, she is literally left alone in the Cove and has no human interaction save for one elderly neighbor who checks in on her every once in awhile.
Enter a strange man who cannot talk but plays a flute. Laurel comes across him in the woods in a state of ill health due to being stung by bees. She nurses him back to health and he ends up staying for a period in the cove helping out the brother and sister. I don't really know how much else to write her without revealing a lot more about the plot of the book but know that there is a mystery behind the mute flute-playing stranger (of course there is!).
I loved the way the author paced the story--you know that something epic is going to happen--but you don't know what (except somehow there is a skull in a well in 1950). The clues start piecing together and you just can't stop reading... ...more
This is a good magical realism book based in North Carolina about two sisters--Claire who is only comfortable within certain confines in her life, andThis is a good magical realism book based in North Carolina about two sisters--Claire who is only comfortable within certain confines in her life, and Sydney--who tried to escape North Carolina, but due to an abusive relationship, ends up back living with her sister after a separation of ten years. Claire is a caterer who knows how to utilize herbs and food in a "magical" kind of way--ie; lavender in food makes you "understand" situations more clearly.
I am undecided on magical-realism books. On one hand, I think the genre can make implausible situations or relationships plausible without much of anI am undecided on magical-realism books. On one hand, I think the genre can make implausible situations or relationships plausible without much of an explanation for why. Kind of seems like a cheap shot. Say, for instance, in "The Sugar Queen". Two women, one the daughter of the deceased Italian patriarch of the town and the other the counter-girl at the courthouse sandwich shop, befriend each other over a grilled cheese sandwich. Wut? I mean, food is powerful (and the power of grilled cheese should never really be questioned)...but the immediate friendship that was forged was a little convenient for the story.
...that said, I actually ended up really liking this book once I got past my cynical nature about magical grilled cheese and peppermint oil and little debby cakes. There's multiple love story lines, a couple mysteries that unravel and all the characters are, for the most part, likeable. Josie who is a prisoner in her own home, due to her relationship with her domineering mother, but has been secretly in love with her mailman for three years; Chloe who has books magically appear that seem to be right in line with events occurring in her life--is suffering from a cheating boyfriend who she probably still loves; and Della Lee who, for inexplicable reasons other than she's "moving north" is hiding out in Josie's closet giving her advice on how to live her life.
It was a fun and light read. I may check out some of the other books of Sarah Addison Allen for the plane ride to San Diego on Sunday. ...more
A captain on a ship taking takes on the custody of Lavinia, a girl orphaned while en route from Ireland to America. She becomes an indentured servantA captain on a ship taking takes on the custody of Lavinia, a girl orphaned while en route from Ireland to America. She becomes an indentured servant on his Southern Plantation and is placed in "The Kitchen House"--which is where all the house slaves live--including Belle, who is actually the illegitimate daughter of the Captain and another slave.
This book takes on race relations in a new way--by adding among the slaves, a white girl who views them as her family. But as she ages, it becomes apparent that they are from two different social worlds and what is allowed to Lavinia will not be allowed to her slave-family.
Definitely an interesting read from that vantage point (I always imagined indentured servants as people trying to make way to the United States in Revolutionary War time? But what do I know?). Hard to read in areas where the foreman of the slaves or the Plantation Master was being spiteful and cruel--which also is probably inevitable in a book about the Old South. The book did read a little too "action-movie" esque at the end, for me---but it was still a great story. ...more
A good epic southern novel. I forgot how much fun it was to read these types of books full of family drama, unrealistic and over-the-top characters, aA good epic southern novel. I forgot how much fun it was to read these types of books full of family drama, unrealistic and over-the-top characters, and some good old romance.
I remember really enjoying Conroy's Prince of Tides when I read it back as the oldest 10th grader you'll ever know--this book has a similar feel to it. Jack McCall has fled to Rome after his wife commits suicide. He takes his daughter, Leah, with him and vows never to return to the South as there are too many painful memories there for him and his family is bona fide nutso. Throw in the fact that his now dead wife's parents are Holocaust survivors, his best friend from grade school who's now a world-famous hollywood type and just kind of pops up all over the book at random (I guess you assume he's rich enough to do that) wants to make a movie about their young life in South Carolina, another not-so-best friend is running for the S. Carolina Senate and a bunch of crazy brothers and alcoholic fathers--well, I think you have yourself a novel that I'll read. Oh yeah, I can't forget the act of terrorism at the airport, too. Oh jeeze.
Wow that was a long winded review that went nowhere. Okay I'm done. ...more
Someone recommended I read Anne Rice--particularly this book and the Witching Hour. Guess I'll give it a go. Tried reaching the Witching Hour in LondoSomeone recommended I read Anne Rice--particularly this book and the Witching Hour. Guess I'll give it a go. Tried reaching the Witching Hour in London and literally got so scared I almost peed in my pants because I didn't want to walk down the dark hallway to get to the dark bathroom. Scary dark hallway with potential witches. ...more