The spark. The recognition. The connection. Whatever the special ingredient is that pulls us close, thatAs readers, we’re all looking for that magic.
The spark. The recognition. The connection. Whatever the special ingredient is that pulls us close, that makes it impossible to let go of a story and its characters . . . well, Aidan Donnelley Rowley’s THE RAMBLERS has it.
Set over the course of one autumn week in New York City, THE RAMBLERS tells the stories of Clio Marsh and Smith Anderson — longtime best friends both set adrift by lovers, family and circumstances, clinging to each other through life’s changes before finally realizing they’re ready to inch into whatever comes next.
Smith and Clio are flawed. They’re struggling. Leaving her roots with a mentally ill mother and distant father, Clio is now a successful ornithologist who also leads bird walks through Central Park in New York City. Smith is Clio’s college cohort, a life organizer — a fixer — who grew up in a blue-blood family . . . but her advantages come with many costs.
Clio is in love with Henry, a hotelier who desperately wants her to move forward — and in — with him; Smith is still smarting from the cataclysmic break-up of her engagement to a doctor her father didn’t deem “suitable.” Clio believes it’s time to confront her grief at her mother’s recent death, but it’s actually her life — their shared lives, disrupted and distorted — that she’s mourning. And Smith has to learn how to snap the gilded strings her parents wrapped around her wrists . . . just in time to attend her younger sister’s wedding.
Here’s the thing about Rowley: her writing is gorgeous, lyrical, intentional. Each word is carefully selected; nothing is left to chance. This could come across as stilted, even condescending — but it doesn’t. The result is a novel of fully-formed characters that endear and irritate. They make an impression.
Described in the publisher copy as a “love letter to New York City,” the setting certainly has a starring role. I knew nothing about the Ramble before diving in, but found myself picturing it beautifully as we moved along. I actually didn’t do any research until after I’d finished; I wanted to save my own mental pictures. They were pretty accurate, it turns out: the Ramble is a 36-acre “‘wild garden'” within Central Park where more than 40 species of birds perch year-round.
This is a love story, but not necessarily in a traditional sense. Though it gets steamy, even sexy, this is really a modern story of two women choosing to unshackle themselves from the past — and prior selves. There is growth, and when you finish? You feel like you’ve really gone somewhere. You’ve arrived.
Fans of thoughtful fiction, lush New York settings and lyrical writing will find much to adore in THE RAMBLERS. There is much more I could discuss, but it’s a novel best enjoyed on its own merits. And after adoring Rowley’s first work so much? Well, it was more than worth the wait....more
As much as I wanted to like this book, the abrupt shifts between present day (and first-person narration) and the past were jarring and nonsensical. EAs much as I wanted to like this book, the abrupt shifts between present day (and first-person narration) and the past were jarring and nonsensical. Every time I returned to the novel, I had no clue -- ZERO! -- what was happening; it all felt so disjointed. Claire, the modern narrator, is unlikeable -- and the historical sections didn't seem to connect with the contemporary storyline at all. I'm sure it all came together eventually, but I couldn't muster the energy to get there....more
Jessica Tom’s Food Whore is fast-paced, light and entertaining — everything I love in good chick lit. Comparisons to a foodie version of The Devil WeaJessica Tom’s Food Whore is fast-paced, light and entertaining — everything I love in good chick lit. Comparisons to a foodie version of The Devil Wears Prada are pretty spot-on, but I liked Tia’s persistence and willingness to step out to reach her goals.
Even if that meant getting stepped on.
As a narrator, Tia could be frustrating, though. She’s frequently gullible, though I can’t pretend I would know better. The plot line with her college sweetheart was a little irritating, given dude was as interesting as plain vanilla ice cream (let him go, lady), but I liked the push-and-pull Jessica Tom established in Tia’s conscience: settle for the old, or strive for the new?
Though Tia is our main squeeze, Michael Saltz — and his creepiness — seep between every crack in the story. He presents himself as Tia’s savior, a one-man ticket to a better life, but I had the sense he was all bluster from the beginning. We know his intentions aren’t romantic (he’s gay), but his obsession with Tia as the one remaining tether to his lifestyle and prestige is . . . unsettling, to say the least.
Food Whore moves quickly — so fast I finished it in a few days, which is a record for this new mama who rarely reads more than a few pages at a clip. It often kept me up past my bedtime, and I found myself thinking about Tia and her madcap adventures throughout the day.
Fans of women’s fiction, tantalizing food descriptions, New York settings and speedy reads will enjoy Food Whore. I really liked slipping into Tia’s stylish shoes for this adventure through New York’s culinary culture — and I would return in a heartbeat....more