The Memorist is a literary mystery that takes place in multiple time periods and places. It has the pacing of The Davinci Code with the literary fines...moreThe Memorist is a literary mystery that takes place in multiple time periods and places. It has the pacing of The Davinci Code with the literary finesse of The Kite Runner. In The Memorist, a woman in the present day, and many of her acquaintances, search for Beethoven’s secret flute and the melody carved on it that promises to free people assaulted by past life memories. The plot is complicated and there are many characters and storylines, but it all comes together in a very satisfying conclusion. The Memorist also includes references to many classical music pieces that help to make up its “soundtrack,” and provide sensory layers to the book.(less)
From the moment Rose takes readers into an ancient Egyptian tomb with Napolean leading the way, to the present day in the catacombs under Paris, we be...moreFrom the moment Rose takes readers into an ancient Egyptian tomb with Napolean leading the way, to the present day in the catacombs under Paris, we become lost in a labyrinth of sight and scent that covers both time and place. The worlds of a perfumer in France, a skeptical television host in America, a Buddhist holy man in hiding, and countless others are linked by a fragrant ointment found in an Egyptian tomb, rumored to be a tool for experiencing past lives. Some will give their lives to protect it, other will kill for it, but along the way all who are involved learn the importance of the connections of people across time and space.
M. J. Rose is a master of the multi-period suspense novel. Her present and historical settings are unique and evocative, and her characters are vividly rendered. Always thrilling and sensuous, Rose appeals to a variety of readers from lovers of genre fiction to those of literary fiction.
The books in the series do not have to be read in order, so don't be intimidated by the three novels that come before this. If you are interested in bold, exciting, well-written suspense I highly recommend The Book of Lost Fragrances.(less)
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys was published in 1966, and is 190 pages. I remember someone, somewhere telling me this was her favorite book. It was ba...moreWide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys was published in 1966, and is 190 pages. I remember someone, somewhere telling me this was her favorite book. It was based on the “mad woman” upstairs in Jane Eyre, a fictional history of the wife who went crazy. When I learned this history included being raised on a Caribbean plantation and was set just after slavery ended, I knew I’d be interested since my first book, Receive Me Falling, is set on a Caribbean sugar plantation.
I loved the book. It had the opiate landscape of a Poe story, full of unreliable narrators, voodoo, and a dreamlike/nightmarish quality that made it both mesmerizing and impossible to put down.
The first narrator, Antoinette Cosway, tells of her upbringing on a slave plantation with her lusty father, her unstable mother, and her mute younger brother, along with a smattering of “unmentionable” half-slave relatives. The death of her father, torching of her plantation by angry freed slaves, rejection of her mother, and death of her brother make Antoinette a nervous, fearful woman whose only comforts are her island surroundings and a few, trusted slave companions.
After Antoinette’s mother remarries, her stepfather corners an Englishman (Jane Eyre’s, Mr. Rochester) and arranges an ill-fated marriage. What ensues is the disastrous mingling of two people from two very different worlds, steered to their doom by the suspicious, skittish nature of the man.
What is most interesting about the book is the way Rhys taints everything of beauty. Rochester acknowledges Antoinette is beautiful but he feels no love for her. He tells of the lush, tropical surroundings, but feels as if they’ll swallow him. Antoinette tells Rochester she’s happy, but follows it by saying she’s afraid of happiness because she’s never experienced it. Rhys doesn’t give the characters or the readers a moment of peace.
Wide Sargasso Sea is a tragedy, but one worth reading. If you like Toni Morrison or Edgar Allan Poe, you’ll enjoy this.(less)
One hears so much about “voice” in fiction, and rarely is the power of voice more clear as it is in the work of Beatriz Williams. Yes, the plot is eng...moreOne hears so much about “voice” in fiction, and rarely is the power of voice more clear as it is in the work of Beatriz Williams. Yes, the plot is engrossing, the story fascinating, and the setting luminous, but the real draw of Williams’ novel is that feisty, zingy, pop-an-olive-into-your-mouth-from-your-martini-while-giving-the-gossip voice of the narrator, Vivian Schuyler. The reader will know after approximately 1.6 pages with Vivian that they will devour the next 400+ pages just to lean a little closer and hear Vivian deliver this tale.
THE SECRET LIFE OF VIOLET GRANT begins in Manhattan, but takes the reader on a journey across the world, when Vivian seeks to find out what happened to her aunt Violet, who disappeared with her lover after her husband was murdered. In Williams’ capable hands, even basement laboratories and physics become sexy, and as the novel progresses it develops into quite a nail-biting thriller. The story lines in 1964 and in 1914 are every bit as engrossing as the other, and the suspense in both love and war make the book un-put-downable.
Readers of Williams’ fabulous A HUNDRED SUMMERS will get a thrill, as family stories intersect here, and will be just as pleased with the finish of this book as they were with the last. Go and purchase a copy of THE SECRET LIFE OF VIOLET GRANT immediately, and place it on the top of your beach bag pile. You will not be sorry. (less)
Mostly set in Cornwall and London in the 1980s and during the second World War, THE SHELL SEEKERS is the story of the loves, heartbreaks, and children...moreMostly set in Cornwall and London in the 1980s and during the second World War, THE SHELL SEEKERS is the story of the loves, heartbreaks, and children of Penelope Keeling, and the canvas, painted by her famous father, that connects three generations through time and place.
When the novel begins, Penelope has suffered a small heart attack, and her three grown children respond in practical and selfish ways. Smart business woman, Olivia, handles the difficulty with the ease of a corporate transaction, while her siblings Nancy and Noel try to persuade their mother to sell her father’s famous paintings under the guise of ensuring Penelope’s well being and care.
Penelope is no fool, however, and she gracefully handles her children while making her own plans. Amidst remembrance and a stubborn will to persist, Penelope continues to live her life as she always has–on her own terms–and what results from her choices blooms as radiantly as her beautiful gardens.
From the open, Bohemian household in which Penelope was raised, to her painfully empty marriage, to the sweetness of young love and second chances, THE SHELL SEEKERS weaves together heartbreak and joy, conflict and peace, and devastation and elation so authentically that it feels as if the Keeling family truly exists.
I am so grateful to my writing partner for recommending this moving family saga to me, and I must recommend it to you. If you are a fan of novels in the style of THE THORN BIRDS, I highly suggest you read THE SHELL SEEKERS.(less)
Van Booy's subjects and plots are interesting, but it is his prose that entrances so completely. The depth of his layering, his subtle clues revealing...moreVan Booy's subjects and plots are interesting, but it is his prose that entrances so completely. The depth of his layering, his subtle clues revealing deeper meanings, and the achingly beautiful humanity of his characters make him one of the most talented literary writers of our day. I will always read Simon Van Booy.(less)
I read this novel in a weekend, and was captivated by the protagonist, Nicolas Kolt, a highly flawed but very real man. The Other Story perfectly capt...moreI read this novel in a weekend, and was captivated by the protagonist, Nicolas Kolt, a highly flawed but very real man. The Other Story perfectly captures the life of the writer, social media addiction, the end of a relationship, and the beginning of self-realization. Tatiana de Rosnay has a way of sketching the atmosphere of a room through keen insights into the characters populating it, reminiscent of F. Scott Fitzgerald, and the denouement of the novel is moving and redemptive.
The Other Story is very different from de Rosnay's other novels, and every bit as good. I will read anything she writes because I know it will be outstanding. Highly recommended.(less)