This book was funny. The opening lines stole my breath away with their beauty. Then, somewhere in the middle, my interest started to wane a bit. There...moreThis book was funny. The opening lines stole my breath away with their beauty. Then, somewhere in the middle, my interest started to wane a bit. There was something about the author's style that I just wasn't sure I liked. Some lines were beautiful, but some were...I don't know how to explain it.
Yet the beauty of the romance, the heart of a woman in love with a man...her story compelled me to keep reading. And it wasn't just a love story. It was a story about the power of friendship as well. Friendship that can weather a war and decades of silence.
It was also about the bond of family - in particular between a grandmother and her granddaughter.
And at the heart of it all was a mystery, enshrouded with scandal and love and the beauty and secrets.
If you love a good romance but not too much romantic-sappiness...and a good mystery...and a good story written beautifully...read this book. I'm so glad I kept with it because the ending brought tears of joy, love, and beauty to my eyes.(less)
The synopsis: Catherine Young, Vice President and newly-anointed Democratic nominee, is surging in the polls. The race is on against GOP candidate Jer...moreThe synopsis: Catherine Young, Vice President and newly-anointed Democratic nominee, is surging in the polls. The race is on against GOP candidate Jerusha Hutchins, known for her big blonde hair, who is the darling of the far-right Liberty Party. But with political wunderkind Zane Zarillo running her campaign, Catherine is sure to hold onto the lead.
Suddenly a medical emergency puts the President in the hospital and forces Catherine to act in his place… a perfect opportunity for her to show her Oval Office stuff. Just when her election looks like a sure thing, Catherine's romantic fling from decades ago comes to light. Will the American public accept a woman with a past?
I thought this is a well-written story, fast-paced. There's a bit of info-dumping to explain Catherine's past that probably could have been distributed more evenly, but overall, I enjoyed it. I thought Fitzgerald did a superb job with the different points of view. The voices were powerful and distinct. Catherine grew as a woman, a mother, a candidate and an individual, and the blackmailer (I don't want to give too much away) rapidly spiraled, causing the reader to both hate and pity him while looking upon him with absolute disgust.
This story is very relevant to America's current tumultuous economy and political theater. Several times, all I could do was shake my head at the truth behind the scenes. Even though the politics wasn't the main theme, it's there, and it's true to these times in which we live.
I loved this book for one simple reason - Grace Wen wrote about my life.
No, not my life now. And some of it wasn't the same - I never actually fell in...moreI loved this book for one simple reason - Grace Wen wrote about my life.
No, not my life now. And some of it wasn't the same - I never actually fell in love with anyone other than my ex while we were married. Or had an affair. In fact, he was the one who had the affair.
But the part that mattered could have been written about me.
The MC Nicole Evans has been with her husband for 15 years. She believes she's done everything possible to be the "good" wife and to support her husband Josh, his career, and his ambition.
When his new job takes them 6 hours away from everything she knows, however, she's miserable. Josh is always busy working, and she's left alone and lonely. Josh doesn't seem to appreciate her efforts and in fact, he seems like a pompous jerk who lets his higher occupation status get to his head. He ignores Nicole and her feelings when she tries to talk to him, though, admittedly, Nicole dances around the more important topics rather than tackling her issues with her husband head-on. And as we all know, unless you spell it out, letter by letter, men are clueless. (I say this with love and respect!)
When Nicole meets Josh's new boss, she's swept away in his kindness and thinks he's everything her own husband is not. He kisses her...and she kisses him back. And everything she knows of her life threatens to change forever.
I could relate to much of Nicole's feelings, and that's what made this book so enjoyable for me. The pages just flew by as I sat there reading, nodding my head, noting in the margins things like, "Yes...yes, I so remember those days!" or "It was the same with the ex."
I look forward to buying Grace's second book Hard Bargain and highly recommend you read this book!
...I'd be in love with myself. I'd be head-over-heels, in love with the pen in my hand and the way the words splash...moreIf my first novel were this good...
...I'd be in love with myself. I'd be head-over-heels, in love with the pen in my hand and the way the words splashed across the page in front of me.
I just read Laurie Frankel's first novel, and I am now in love with her.
I don't often do book reviews on my blog. I try to do some sort of review for every book I read on Goodreads and Amazon, and I wish I had time to do them all justice.
Before this book, I found two new favorites: This Glittering World by T. Greenwood and The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman. Though very, very different, both books were so beautiful that I had to download the e-version just so I could have them with me always. That sounds silly, I know. But it's true. I'm sure that, sooner rather than later, I'll be rereading them. There are several other favorites of mine I'll probably download as well. I am a lover of beautiful things, and when authors find a way to touch my heart with the beauty of their words and the way they put those words together, I must have it with me.
The Atlas of Love is another one of those books, only this one surpasses the other two by far. Again, it's a very different story. But Laurie Frankel is the most gifted writer I've encountered in a long time. Often hilarious, always beautiful, very real and raw...I've fallen in love with Janey, the heroine.
First-novelist Frankel mashes together a number of themes familiar to readers of women’s fiction—though not quite in the way they’re combined here—sprinkling the whole with liberal doses of low-key humor. Canadian Janey, Mormon Katie, and vegetarian Jill all become good friends while attending graduate school in Seattle. Although they share a love of literature—they’re English-lit students—they are quite different in their approaches to life and love. Then Jill becomes pregnant by her much younger boyfriend, who decides he cannot handle the burdens of parenthood. Both Janey and Katie immediately volunteer to move in with her and help her raise her child. Janey, especially, falls in love with the baby they name Atlas, and they begin the herculean task of juggling their schedules between teaching, studying, and child care. A medical emergency involving Atlas, though, soon tests their idealistic arrangement in unforeseen ways. Frankel proves insightful on the topic of friendship, incorporates a foodie’s love of cooking, and overly idealizes a few of the characters; but this is a feel-good novel, after all, and ultimately a celebration of modern family life and the myriad forms it can take.
Aside from the beauty of the story - the themes being love and family, two things for which I'm a huge sucker - Frankel's humor and literary genius shine through and stole me away from the first page. I have never, NEVER, laughed out loud quite so often as I have with this book, and part of the reason is because the characters are so damn real. Everything they do and say, the way they act and think, could be any one of us at some point in our lives.
Take this conversation, in the hospital right after Atlas is born: (page 89)
"I have a grandson," said Diane, as if this clearly followed, starting to look a little freaked out herself. "What are we going to do with a boy?"
"That's exactly what I said." I nodded.
"Don't know nothin' about boys," mused Diane.
"Oh, they're just the same," said Katie, who had four brothers as well as three sisters and so should have been a good source of information on this point, but Diane and I were skeptical.
"What if he's one of those unenlightened ones who can't think of anything but breasts?" Diane wondered.
"What if he takes full advantage of the hegemony," I said, "and screws us."
"What if he thinks he's better just because he has a penis?" added Diane.
"What if he just thinks with his penis?" I countered.
"How do you even clean a penis?" wondered Diane to the amusement of everyone in the crowded hallway. "What if you all raise the girliest boy there ever was?" said Diane, and we were quiet, thinking about that one, wondering what sort of boy we'd raise and how he'd get along in the world having grown up with three crazy academic moms.
I was cracking up out loud, but I could imagine having this conversation if I hadn't had little brothers of my own - couldn't you?
The other thing I loved, well, one of the other things I loved, was Frankel's touch of literary. Since Janey and her friends are all English majors and in grad school, Janey often compares life to different forms of literature. As a writer, I naturally appreciate the depth of her metaphors. I have to share at least one of them with you.
During Week Two of the summer classes, Janey's makeshift family is experiencing a lot of drama. She's also teaching her students short stories.
From page 191-192:
Short stories scare students because with poems they know there's more than they're getting at first, and they're game for finding it. It's like a scavenger hunt. With short stories, there may be more or there may not. And if there is, you have to find it like a reflection in one of those fun house mirrors - it's there but in pieces and odd angles, and reconstructing it involves as much seeing as looking, as much imagination as observation.
Talking about layers of meanings, digging them out, thinking about how stories can mean one thing and also their opposite, thinking about how details can mean everything or not much at all, it was hard to talk about these things in class all morning and think they applied only to short stories and not to my life. Once you start doing literary analysis, you see it everywhere. You can't turn it off.
A few more gems I can't help but share:
Things don't exist on their own. They don't exist at all without being owned. And in being owned, they have a story. Some are remarkable of course....but other things, endlessly everyday and mundane, have stories worth telling in them too.
I had to remember about open, blind, knowing, unreserved, unambiguous, unconditional love - naked love - before any of it could make sense again.
And one more laugh from page 112:
Jill and I share a distrust of history and people who study it. It wasn't like dating a Republican, but it was still good to be alert.
Okay. That's enough. You're just going to have to buy the book yourself. It helps you to understand your own life in relation to the stories we tell - whether fiction or non. It gives you hope for love and peace, strength and the beauty of family.
Parts will bring you tears, parts will force outbursts of random laughter, and many parts will entice you to pick up a pen and write something yourself. Your own story. Your own love. Your own life. And I don't mean your life as in a memoir, but I mean your life as reflected through characters living in your own heart.
I hope that makes sense to you too. Otherwise, I'm insane and should stop listening to the voices in my head.
I cannot wait for the release of her next novel Goodbye for Now.
I have to say I was slightly disappointed by this novel. I've heard such good things, and I loved The Dovekeepers, Hoffman's most recent novel. I have...moreI have to say I was slightly disappointed by this novel. I've heard such good things, and I loved The Dovekeepers, Hoffman's most recent novel. I haven't read anything else by her yet, but I will.
From the Publisher Practical Magic is a tale of two sisters, Gillian and Sally Owens, brought up by their two elderly guardian aunts in a world of spells and exotica from which they eventually escape - one by running away, the other by marrying - but which never escapes from them. Many years go by before strange circumstances thrust them together again, and again they are in a world that blends the mundane and the mysterious, the familiar and the fantastic, the normal and the numinous. Three generations of Owens women are then united in an experience of unexpected insight and revelation, teaching all of them that the perceptions provided by what is called the magical are rare and wonderful endowments.
This book was good. Please, don't get me wrong. But...I guess it was the POV that threw me off. It was a strange POV. Third person, very distanced from the characters. Sometimes, it was present tense, and sometimes, Hoffman would go into the future. She's say something like, "The winds would later become so strong that in the morning, not a single trash can would be left standing."
That's not a direct quote, but it's close. Then, after a paragraph of describing what the strong winds would do, Hoffman would come back to the present.
Though it was odd to me, it did work with the overall tone for the novel in a way I can't really explain. I guess, the aura of mystery surrounding the main characters. The fear of the unknown and the gravity of the sisters' positions in life, being gifted with this magic that can reveal so much about other people, both the good and the evil.
I enjoyed it. But compared to other books I've read, I have to rate it only 2 stars.(less)