This is one of my all-time favorites, for the beauty of the story, and the beauty in the language and writing. A breath-taking story of the pull and t...moreThis is one of my all-time favorites, for the beauty of the story, and the beauty in the language and writing. A breath-taking story of the pull and tugs of family with those who take and those who give. Loved this one.(less)
I absolutely adore this novel, this lush and brilliantly woven saga of family and secrets and betrayal and longing, of finding home and wholeness thro...moreI absolutely adore this novel, this lush and brilliantly woven saga of family and secrets and betrayal and longing, of finding home and wholeness through those people and places we love deeply. One reviewer likens this novel to THE SECRET GARDEN and SHADOW OF THE WIND. I agree, but also must say that THE FORGOTTEN GARDEN is so much more. I am so glad a dear friend recommended this book, and I highly recommend it to others. Five stars.(less)
"Anyone can grow into something beautiful." This statement appears on some copies of Vanessa Diffenbaugh's heartrending yet luminous debut novel THE L...more"Anyone can grow into something beautiful." This statement appears on some copies of Vanessa Diffenbaugh's heartrending yet luminous debut novel THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS. Having read and loved THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS, I find this short statement to be so true, especially of the main character of the story, Victoria.
The story opens with Victoria on the morning of her official release from being a ward of the state, from living in a girls group home, on the brink of her journey of discovering life, her passion, and the long, winding road toward love and hope. Victoria grew up shuffled in and out of foster homes. Though her growing up was characterized by awful abuse, at age 10, Victoria was loved by one woman who changed her life, even as their time together ended all too soon. As reflected in the title of the book, Victoria spent her late teen years communicating with others in the language of flowers. With a single bouquet, Victoria relates to and evades others through messages made up of flowers. At age 18, as she plants flowers and seeds in improvised places, in shoes, on carpets, in community gardens, she uncovers her passion -- flowers, and how they help people to communicate a message.
Life has damaged Victoria in devastating ways, the least of which is her profound difficulty in relating to other human beings. And though she sabotages attempts others make toward loving her, Victoria gradually opens up in fits and spurts, making progress and regressing, all threaded together with a hope that lures the reader on in the story. The ending does not disappoint, as Ms. Diffenbaugh weaves so well the heartbreak into redemption. This story whispers that even in the most unloveable, unforgivable of pasts, love can triumph. Deep and lavish love at its most beautiful heals Victoria. As I turned the pages of her story, I found myself being healed, as well.
I most highly recommend THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS. I look forward to Ms. Diffenbaugh's future works, and mark her debut as one of my lasting and all-time favorite novels. (less)
"With her bold act, I realized the true purpose of our secret writing. It was not to compose girlish notes to each other... It was to give us a voice....more"With her bold act, I realized the true purpose of our secret writing. It was not to compose girlish notes to each other... It was to give us a voice." -page 210
This book is profound in so many ways, and yet so easy to read. I had to keep turning the pages in hopes of hearing Lily's voice tell her story. It's a beautiful story of families, sisterhood, friendships, and our common strongest need: unconditional love. I highly recommend.(less)
I haven't ever read I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS before, and now that I have read it, I know I have fallen in love with it. I had the incredible ch...moreI haven't ever read I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS before, and now that I have read it, I know I have fallen in love with it. I had the incredible chance to hear Dr. Maya Angelou speak a few months ago, and as I read, I could hear her voice resound with every word. Her style and voice are rich, her storytelling smooth, and her life riveting. I relate to having grown up in Arkansas and to her love of reading and books, but also to her lust for life and wider experience, for language and adventure and yet also having to conform to the roles of everyday life. This is one of my all-time favorite books. It has changed me and I'm so glad to have read it. And, I'm definitely adding more Angelou to my reading stack...(less)
A story of love and mystery and the secrets held over time, THE HOUSE AT RIVERTON captivated me with its lush twists and tucks in the story. Told in 1...moreA story of love and mystery and the secrets held over time, THE HOUSE AT RIVERTON captivated me with its lush twists and tucks in the story. Told in 1999 by Grace Bradley, one-time housemaid at the Riverton Estate in England, the story she tells is of the family she cared for, of sisters Hannah and Emmeline, and of the vast and sweeping secrets she helped them to keep. With full-bodied characters flawed over time and hardships, the sweeping story Grace tells leads the reader to a highly impactful ending.
Kate Morton's beautiful style of telling the story is enchanting, and keeps the reader turning pages ever more urgently as the novel draws to a close. I appreciated Ms. Morton's adept telling of the story through the eyes of Grace, and of the complex world she reflects upon from her youth.
It is important not to flip to the end and spoil the story ... I was blown away by the ending, yet it all made perfect sense.
A brilliant, luminous read, highly recommended for readers who enjoy literary mystery woven with a impactful love story, with historical and contemporary elements. One of my all-time favorite novels.(less)
When I found a single copy of this book in a tiny bookstore adjacent to the main square in Pfaffenhofen, Germany, I had already heard a few buzzed com...moreWhen I found a single copy of this book in a tiny bookstore adjacent to the main square in Pfaffenhofen, Germany, I had already heard a few buzzed comments from writer / reader friends and thought it might be a book I would enjoy. But, I couldn't have known when I brought it back home to Prague with me that this book would become one of the books I would have to love and remember for a long time to come. THE STORY OF A BEAUTIFUL GIRL is a story to read and keep inside for life.
The setup comes on the first page, of an elderly woman who is suddenly thrust into an unlikely relationship with a man and a woman seeking shelter at her farmhouse from a torrential storm. Soon, the elderly woman, Martha, discovers the couple also has a baby tucked into their dripping coverings -- a newborn not more than hours old. And thus begins the story, gripping, shocking, heart-warming and at times heart-wrenching, and most of all hope-filled.
Through the unfolding of many years, we watch as the couple, their baby, Martha, and other key caregivers' lives are torn apart, and yet have to root for them as the characters struggle, journey, and strive to come back together. And as the last page nears, the page-turning happens with more and more urgency. For me, the ending was brilliant, tying together so many dangling threads, yet returning the reader to many points in the story at the same time. I have not read many more satisfying endings in my life, and know this will be a book I will have to gift to many friends, and reread myself many times. Beautiful girl's story is that good. A huge thank you to Rachel Simon for such a luminous and affecting story. (less)
GONE GIRL is like the 1989 movie WAR OF THE ROSES meets Sharon Stone's BASIC INSTINCT. I highly recommend it to those who enjoy a dark yet utterly-com...moreGONE GIRL is like the 1989 movie WAR OF THE ROSES meets Sharon Stone's BASIC INSTINCT. I highly recommend it to those who enjoy a dark yet utterly-compelling story. And, I can't wait to watch Reese Witherspoon's version on the big screen (movie rights sold to her last week).
This is a novel that you begin thinking you'll read a few pages, but find yourself so sucked in by the voice and the characters that you have spent hours reading, hoping to get another step forward through the maze of the story.
As many other reviewers have said, a detailed review for this book is difficult because of its millions of plot twists and turns that will spoil the story. For me, though, GONE GIRL is excellent not because the characters are likeable (in true Gillian Flynn style, they're not) or because the story leaves a warm feeling (it doesn't), but because of the intense conflict written into every single page. It begs to be read. And when you get to the end, you'll marvel at Gillian Flynn and her story.
I loved this book so much, I read it in small pieces so I could savor it. A Circle of Quiet is one of my favorite books of the year, maybe even of my...moreI loved this book so much, I read it in small pieces so I could savor it. A Circle of Quiet is one of my favorite books of the year, maybe even of my lifetime. Ms. L'Engle's voice speaks so assuredly, winding bits and thoughts that seem somehow unrelated into a profound yet simple point over and over again. I especially love her shared experiences about her writing career, her family life, her quiet solitude, and her faith. A beautiful, much-treasured book.(less)
An at times beautiful, emotional, and powerfully moving story about the choices we make, the pain we hold close, and how that pain may dictate the cou...moreAn at times beautiful, emotional, and powerfully moving story about the choices we make, the pain we hold close, and how that pain may dictate the course of our lives. I loved the setting in remote Australia and on Janus, an island off the coast between the two oceans. I also loved the symbolism, between the land and the water, and truth or desire and the blurred line in between. I recommend The Light Between Oceans especially for book clubs, as this is a novel to discuss with others. Excellent.(less)