When nurses Kay and Jo became friends, and then joined the U.S. Army , they certainly weren't expecting things to be easy, necessarily--but they werenWhen nurses Kay and Jo became friends, and then joined the U.S. Army , they certainly weren't expecting things to be easy, necessarily--but they weren't expecting the trauma and atrocities that soon came hurtling their way during World War II. In the Pacific, Kay is soon swallowed up by the chaos of the Japanese victories, disappearing into the inhumane conditions of the internment camps, whereas Jo endures the Western theater--amphibious landings, ships bombed, and eventually, all of her medical colleagues killed. By 1945, Kay is starving, and Jo is grimly hanging on to her sanity as she nurses 6 men with dwindling food and medical supplies while an Army captain constantly harasses her. Allegedly, thoughts of each other and their friendship keeps these women comforted and hoping to survive and see each other again (at least, so says the book jacket) but frankly, these women are a little too busy surviving to think too much of anything beyond the present.
It's a pretty brutal look at World War II (because apparently there is a dearth of those) and filled with lots of historical details, so if you enjoy reading books set in this era, you'll probably enjoy it; otherwise, an optional read....more
Traditionally, generally, marriage is considered an institution that is comprised of certain absolutes, lifelong fidelity being chief among them. YetTraditionally, generally, marriage is considered an institution that is comprised of certain absolutes, lifelong fidelity being chief among them. Yet into many marriages, certain discontents, doubts, and temptations creep, along with stagnation, boredom, and an increasing awareness of our mortality. Bundle all of these together, and then consider the ways in which sexuality and sexual expression have become less taboo as many people permit themselves to become more open-minded, and sometimes, you get some couples that decide to explore sexual adventure outside of the boundaries of marriage...while still, at the end of the day (both literally and figuratively) returning home to the people with whom they said "I do."
Lucy and Owen, residents of the picture-perfect, happy Hudson Valley town of Beekman, are one such couple. On a beautiful summer night, lit with fireflies and drenched in wine, their old friends tell them of their own decision to explore the concept of an "open marriage"...and soon, Lucy and Owen find themselves exploring this concept for themselves. With rules, of course. 6 months of exploration, no questions asked. No falling in love, of course. Owen promptly picks up a paramour in the form of Izzy, a wild-child woman who's "five kinds of crazy", whereas Lucy, when not wrangling her rather dreadful child (allegedly on the spectrum, but such a caricature of a beast that it's hard to take him seriously) stumbles into a hookup arranged by a mutual friend.
Every marriage is complicated and messy, so when you add other parties into the mix, you're guaranteed that things will become even moreso, and Owen and Lucy are denying themselves if they think any differently. Perhaps open marriages can work, perhaps they can't, perhaps it takes some very special kinds of people, but no matter the outcome, the journey to it makes for a fascinating read. ...more
Into a quiet New England coastal town, a beat-up car rolls, driven by a singularly untrustworthy man and carrying June, a young woman old before her tInto a quiet New England coastal town, a beat-up car rolls, driven by a singularly untrustworthy man and carrying June, a young woman old before her time, and her baby. Soon they are established guests at Mabel's seaside resort cottages--or at least, June and her baby are, for the man wastes no time in abandoning them. Reluctantly, Mabel becomes involved in the lives of these hapless waifs, and they, in turn, become involved in the lives of the various town residents: Iris, a bitter, stubborn hermit; Duncan, the attorney who manages Iris's affairs and pines for Iris's long-gone daughter; and Oldman, the town sage and conscience.
This book could probably be classified as "domestic fiction"--it's not a story in which anything particularly spectacular happens, but all the same, you get the feeling that everyone in the story evolves as they revolve around, and interact with, eachother. It reminds me a little bit of Billie Lett's Where the Heart Is, in terms of the distinctive characters and the plot device of an unwed mother cast upon the charity of strangers, but this is not an unfavorable comparison. All in all, I enjoyed this soothing, thoughtful, quiet tale. One interesting trick the author pulls is to convey dialogue without use of quotations--a risky move, but one that she pulls off well. ...more
For the first time in my life, I find myself in the position of being about to review a book written by a author whom I personally know. Not just an aFor the first time in my life, I find myself in the position of being about to review a book written by a author whom I personally know. Not just an acquaintance, mind you, but an honest-to-goodness, longtime friend. My cataloging life partner from library school! The woman who helped me learn how to use a Mac! The gal I rocked out to Dar Williams with in Broad Ripple in April 2006! The loyal friend who helped me prepare for the interview that landed me in my current wonderful job!
Sorry...I digress. This is supposed to be about Sarah Title's book. But how am I supposed to give an unbiased review of a book written by a personal friend? Perhaps I can't. Who cares? Here I go!
I don't often read romance novels; historical fiction tends to be my escapist subject of choice. But the plot of this novel caught my attention, and as it so often happens, it ended up being the right book that showed up at the right time in my life. *cough cough* not that I relate AT ALL to academic librarian Bernie, who is unwittingly caught up in an Internet furor after her "Disapproving Librarian" face becomes the Meme of the Week (TM) and provokes plenty of pity and derision from a society that loves to reduce women to being objects intended to be courted, admired, scorned, and shamed. Nonetheless, this "undateable librarian" becomes more than just a meme when an online publication, Glaze, and a journalist, Colin, takes it upon himself to turn her into a project. The challenge, ostensibly, is for him to give Bernie a makeover and send her out on 30 dates in 30 days. The challenge actually becomes for Collin to understand the ways in which women are held to impossible standards in a game where the goal posts are always changing, in a world where women's worth is measured not by their personality and contributions, but the ways in which they (dis)please the male gaze. And the challenge is made more complicated by the fact that Colin finds himself wanting, very much, to date (and do other things with) Bernie.
Buckle up, folks. This is a fun and flirty read with a solid amount of substance and a powerful feminist message. Bonus points for the author really teasing out an authentic depiction of quirky, liberal, diverse, pretentious San Francisco and making it a character all its own!
***Quick spoiler alert***
The only issue I had, personally, with the book (and really, I think it's more to do with my own cynical point of view) is the credibility of Colin's character towards the end of the story. He seems to be utterly besotted with Bernie after...uh, being intimate with her...and thinking she is the best sex he has ever had. I just don't find that particularly believable, but that's because I don't believe that of any guy, and no romance novel will be able to tell me differently.
One other reviewer pointed out the lack of diversity in the menfolk that Bernie dated, and I do see their point (even if I didn't pick up on that myself.) But one thing that I will point out...while the men Bernie dated generally were not identified as being ethnic minorities, I don't recall them as being identified explicitly as Caucasian, either. So perhaps we are projecting our own biases and expectations, there.
(PS: Even IF Bernie finds herself believing that dating is not so horrible, doesn't mean this here librarian/reviewer is inclined to be talked 'round to that point of view. The mere thought of it makes me want to cry and rip my own arms out.)...more