Monthly Archives: June 2013

Sunday Salon – June 30, 2013

Sunday Salon

June 30, 2013

Good morning and welcome to this week’s edition of The Sunday Salon. Visit the Facebook Page for links to other bloggers’ posts.

ShastaLavender.PandWcloseup0001I have not posted to the Salon since June 9th! But I have a good reason. My sister arrived from New Hampshire and we had a wonderful two week visit which included short day trips and lots and lots of sewing/quilting. We are in the process of constructing medallion quilts…and they will be collaborative, which means that we will be trading them back and forth and each person adds a border before sending it back to the other. Here is what we have done so far (Paula’s quilt is on the left…she did the center and did the first border which begins with the dark blue border and works out to include the flying geese; my quilt is on the right, and I did the center and Paula did the first round which starts with the tangerine border and works out to include the trees). Click on any of the photos to enjoy a larger view:

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I also had a lot of fun stitching a bunting for my niece, Abby, to celebrate her outstanding first year of college (she made the Deans list, among other things!):

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StillMidnightI have also enjoyed some reading time since my last Salon post…some great books in my stacks and never enough time to read them all! I finished reading Still Midnight by Denise Mina (read my review) which I enjoyed, although it wasn’t perfect. There was some good discussion of this novel over at Nicole’s blog (beware of spoilers!) and I am looking forward to diving into the next book in the series titled The End of Wasp Season which will be discussed on Jenn’s blog on July 11th.

DinnerThe next book in my stacks was a real page turner – although the characters are pretty unlikable (read my review). I think The Dinner by Herman Koch is one of those “love it” or “hate it” type of books. The reviews out there have been very mixed…and I do understand why. For me the book’s positives (compelling narration, moral questions, stunning writing) outweighed its negatives (a questionable plot and unlikable characters). We discussed this book for the Bookies Too Yahoo group, and it was an interesting discussion. I really liked how one of our members broke down the actual food references as symbolic of what was going on with the characters!! Join the Bookies Too group to read our whole discussion.

yonahlossseeJust the other day I finished reading Anton DiSclafani’s debut novel The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls (read my review). This is a book which has been getting a fair amount of buzz, and I do think it deserves it. This is, at its heart, a coming of age story – and I think it is a cross over YA/Adult title (or could be), although Riverhead Books is marketing it as adult fiction. DiSclafani is a talent, atmospheric writer. I’m looking forward to more from her in the future.

Darwin's GardenerI also finished the lovely new novella published by Peirene Press this month. Mr. Darwin’s Gardener by Kristina Carlson (translated from the Finnish by Emily Jeremiah and Fleur Jeremiah) feels like a long poem. I really enjoy these kinds of books, although they take longer to read and absorb. This was the perfect book to enjoy on the front porch with the butterflies fluttering around my plants. I’ll have a review up on this one by Tuesday. But suffice it to say that I was not disappointed with this little book – it is a Peirene Press classic.

AlwaysWatchingI’m trying to squeeze at least one more book into my reading before the month closes. So I am starting what I hope will be a page turner and quick read. Always Watching by Chevy Stevens promises to be haunting, heart-pounding, and sinister. Just what I need to blow through in the last days of June!

My stack for July is huge. I don’t even know where to start. I will definitely be reading Handling the Truth by Beth Kephart (her non fiction book on memoir set for release in August), Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (for both my face-to-face book club AND Bookies Too Yahoo group), This is Paradise: Stories by Kristiana Kahakauwila (for a TLC Book Tour on July 23rd), River Thieves by Michael Crummey (for Bookies Too Yahoo group on August 1st), and TransAtlantic by Colum McCann (a Library Thing Early Review book). That may be it – but perhaps these books will have me sailing right along and I might be able to cram a few more reads in before the end of July – we’ll see!

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I hope this Sunday finds you enjoying a beautiful day – and that it will, at some point, include a great book! Have a wonderful week!

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls – Book Review

yonahlossseeI was still more child than adult. I was not a monster but a confused, wronged girl. It would be years, though, before I would understand. In those two weeks at home, Mother had been angry, Father mainly mute, as if there was nothing to be said. They blamed me. And so I came to Yonahlossee a person worthy of blame. – from The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls –

Thea Atwell is only fifteen, a girl growing into a young woman, when she is expelled from her home in Florida and sent to the Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls. The year is 1930 and the Great Depression is destroying businesses and families. But for Thea, the destruction is closer to home and more personal. Cast from her family, Thea finds herself surrounded by other young women and the singular love of horses as she struggles to understand and forgive herself for a mistake whose consequences have separated a family, and caused irreparable harm to those she has loved.

Anton DiSclafani’s debut novel is a coming of age story of a strong-willed young woman who finds herself alone in the world after a terrible mistake. Thea is a complex and beautifully rendered character. She has grown up in a sheltered home, raised by a mother who seems perfect in her beauty and demeanor. Sexuality is something hidden, not discussed, and has a feeling of shame attached to it. Thea shares her life with a twin brother, a boy who loves to explore the natural world. They are so close, and yet, Thea is growing up and discovering her body and emotions which are filled with sexual yearning.

The novel opens with Thea’s arrival at the riding camp – which is actually more of a boarding school for girls that includes riding lessons. It is there that Thea discovers the intimacy of friendship with other young women who are experiencing many of the same emotions and feelings. There is the expected rivalry between the girls which is accentuated by the competition of riding horses.

DiSclafani skillfully captures the flavor of growing up as a young woman during the 1930’s when women were not expected to pursue academia, and open sexuality was taboo. Rich and atmospheric, DiSclafani’s writing captured my imagination. The novel explores family loyalty, love, class, and self-discovery. Embedded in the story is the love of horses and how connecting with animals can be emotionally healing.

Thea is a character who I grew to love as the novel progressed. I loved her feisty attitude, and felt sadness for her situation…which admittedly she makes worse for herself as the story unfolds.  Thea’s growth is painful, something which tugged at my heartstrings and reminded me of the difficulty of growing up and searching for oneself.

I predict that The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls will become a favorite of book clubs. Its themes and lovely evocation of the South, as well as the conflicts which arise, will certainly provide for rich discussion. Anton DiSclafani has penned a stunning first novel.

Recommended.

4Stars

FTC Disclosure: This book was sent to me by the publisher for review.

The Dinner – Book Review

DinnerIf I had to give a definition of happiness, it would be this: happiness needs nothing but itself; it doesn’t have to be validated. “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is happy in its own way” is the opening sentence of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. All I could hope to add to that is that unhappy families – and within those families, in particular the unhappy husband and wife – can never get by on their own. The more validators, the merrier. Unhappiness loves company. Unhappiness can’t stand silence – especially not the uneasy silence that settles in when it is all alone. – from The Dinner, page 6 –

Paul and his wife Claire go out one night to meet another couple for dinner. But this is not just any dinner. The other couple is Paul’s brother, Serge, and his wife Babette…and the purpose of the meal is to discuss their sons and a terrible act of violence. As the courses are served, the tension mounts until, eventually, the conversation moves from polite to one of confrontation. How far would a parent go to protect their child? Is happiness, fame, or reputation ever a reason to cross a moral line? The Dinner begins benignly and ends with a bang.

Serge is an up and coming politician whose notoriety opens doors for him. He and Babette live a wealthy and privileged life which is now at risk. Paul, on the other hand, is decidedly “off.” And it is Paul who narrates the story, teasing the reader with buried “facts,” and offering tiny bits of information which reveal a darkness in not only his heart, but Claire’s as well. The violent act is gradually revealed as the narration moves back and forth from the dinner scene to events which have recently occurred.

The Dinner is dark, sardonic, and skillfully written. Paul is a memorable, unreliable narrator who becomes creepier as the novel progresses. Thematically, the story explores family dysfunction, mental illness (is it genetic or environmentally triggered?), the gray line between amoral and moral behaviors, the disenfranchised and attitudes toward them, and personal responsibility. Herman Koch, who is the award winning author of seven novels and three short story collections, crafts a sharply observed tale of two interconnected families who are faced with a terrible decision.

I had a mixed reaction to this book. On the one hand, the writing is brilliant, the story compelling. On the other hand, the characters were highly unlikable. I don’t need to love the characters in a book to love a book, but by the time I finished reading The Dinner, I felt like I needed a bath to wash away the ugliness embedded within these families. Despite my aversion to the characters, my dislike of who they had become, I could not put this book down. I kept returning to its pages wanting to see how it would all end. Some readers in my Bookies Too Yahoo group found the plot a bit unbelievable. I disagreed, but I was left with some questions about what exactly was wrong with Paul. I can’t say more without spoiling the book for others.

Readers who have read and enjoyed Shadow Tag by Louise Erdrich (read my review) or Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (read my review) will be drawn to The Dinner – a literary, psychological thriller full of dark secrets and dysfunctional husband-wife relationships. It is for those readers I can recommend Koch’s international best-seller.

4Stars

Still Midnight – Book Review

StillMidnightDespite herself, her interest was piqued. She could feel it happening: facts, disjointed, irrelevant, being card-indexed and filed away in her mind, the familiar private landscape of deduction. All the niceties of politics, personal or professional, eluded her always, but she could do this. It was the one absolute certainty for Alex Morrow. She was good at this. – from Still Midnight, page 26 –

When three armed men commit a home invasion, seriously injuring a young woman and taking an elderly man hostage, Detective Inspector Alex Morrow is assigned to the case along with DS Grant Bannerman, a man with whom Alex shares a strained professional relationship. The case is complicated by racism (the family whose home is invaded are Asian Muslims), and a mysterious person named “Bob” whom the criminals referred to when the crime was committed. Alex’s home life is in a shambles, the “good ole boy” attitude in the police station threatens to stall her career, and her half-brother becomes a player in a case with plenty of twists, turns, and surprises.

Still Midnight is the first book in a trilogy featuring Alex Morrow – a woman who is complicated, somewhat unlikeable and a bit of a pit bull when it comes to solving crime. The novel establishes its characters, delving into their backgrounds, problems and motivations, and pits the police against a rag-tag group of kidnappers who reminded me of the “bad guys” in the movie Fargo. The narrative moves back and forth from Alex’s POV to that of the kidnappers to that of the kidnapped man (Aamir), which allows the reader to fill in the pieces of the puzzle as the plot unfolds.

My favorite parts of the book were written from the points of view of Pat and Eddy, the criminals who seem like bumbling idiots for most of the novel. It was these sections of the book where Mina inserts a black humor, a sardonic look into the minds and character of those who commit violent crime. I also enjoyed the sections where Aamir revealed his tragic past and how those experiences influenced his response to being a victim.

The strengths of the novel are the complex lives of the characters and the theme of family loyalty, loss and recovery from trauma. It was here where Mina’s writing shone the brightest. But the book is not without its faults. Some of the plot seemed contrived, and the ending struck me as unbelievable. Despite these short comings, I did enjoy the book and plan on reading the second book of the trilogy, The End of Wasp Season, which is the BOOK CLUB pick over at Jenn’s blog on July 9th.

Readers who enjoy thoughtful mysteries and suspense-thrillers, will want to give this one a try.

Visit the BOOK CLUB discussion at Nicole’s blog (note: there are spoilers in the discussion post).

3hstars

Book-Club-Logo-295x300FTC Disclosure: I received this book from Reagan Arthur Books as part of BOOK CLUB (hosted by Nicole at Linus’s Blanket and Jenn at Devourer of Books).

Vintage Modern Flower Girl Quilt

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*Click on any photo to enjoy a larger view

This is my most recent quilt finish – a bright, happy, summery quilt which uses Camille’s wonderful Flower Girl pattern and Bonnie & Camille’s collection of Vintage Modern fabrics (with a few other lines mixed in). I won a fat quarter stack of Vintage Modern for my participation in the Vintage Holiday Quilt Along over on Heidi’s blog (fabric provided by the Fat Quarter Shop) and this seemed like the perfect project in which to use it. I enlarged the quilt a bit (adding an extra row) so that it finished at 95″ X 95″ which is an oversized Queen or a slightly short King quilt.

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As with all my quilts, I did a pieced back.

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On this quilt, I made sure to stitch a colorful strip about 6″ from the top of the back so that when the quilt is folded down on the bed, it looks pretty.

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This was one of the biggest quilts I have ever quilted. I used Tuscany cotton batting which still gives you all the crinkles when the quilt is washed, but is a lighter weight batting so it is a bit easier to quilt on a home sewing machine. I did a meandering stipple type quilting. The binding is a combination of red and salmon colored fabrics…so it is a little scrappy, pieced binding.

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I had so much left over fabric, I decided to make two coordinating pillows to match the quilt. One mimics the front design and incorporates a hidden zipper and pieced back:

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The second pillow is crafted using a granny square pattern and also has a pieced back, but instead of a pillow, I crafted an envelope closure:

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I think they really make the bed look nice!

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I think this quilt is probably my favorite now – I love the summer feel. And the fabrics just make me feel happy. Are you working on something wonderful for summer?

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Mailbox Monday – June 17, 2013

mailboxsummerWelcome to this week’s Mailbox Monday and which is hosted by Bellezaa at Dolce Bellezza this month. Visit the dedicated blog for the meme to see the complete tour schedule in the right sidebar.

Here are the wonderful books which arrived at my house this week:

handling_the_truthFINALMy friend, the ultra talented Beth Kephart, sent me TWO signed/personalized copies of:  Handling the Truth (Gotham, August 2013) and Dr. Radway’s Sarsaparilla Resolvent (Paperback edition, New City Community Press, April 2013). Anyone who reads this blog knows my love for Beth’s work…and both of these books look amazing. Handling the Truth is a nonfiction book on the writing of memoir. I read the first three chapters right off – loved them…but then had to put the book down as my sister is visiting from New Hampshire and I want to read completely uninterrupted when I pick this book back up.

sasparillaDr. Radway’s Sarsaprilla Resolvent was first released in 2012 and was re-released this past April. It is set in 1871 Philadelphia and centers around fourteen year old William who is struggling to manage with his Pa in prison, his brother murdered, and his Ma grieving. Readers who have read Beth’s novel Dangerous Neighbors may recognize William who appeared in that book as a boy with a talent for saving animals. The novel is illustrated by the talented William Sulit.

Beth Kephart is an award-winning author of fifteen books, teaches creative nonfiction at the University of Pennsylvania, and is the strategic writing partner in the boutique communications firm, Fusion. Learn more about Beth by visiting her beautiful blog.

EnonRandom House sent me a copy of Enon by Paul Harding (September 2013) which I won through the Library Thing Early Reviewers Program. The novel follows a year in the life of Charlie Crosby as he tries to come to terms with a  personal tragedy. Grandson of George Crosby (the protagonist of Tinkers – Harding’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel which I reviewed here), Charlie inhabits the same dynamic landscape of New England, its seasons mirroring his turbulent emotional odyssey. Along the way, Charlie’s encounters are brought to life by his wit, his insights into history, and his yearning to understand the big questions. Described as “a stunning mosaic of human experience,” I have a feeling this book is going to garner some attention.

Paul Harding is the author of the novel Tinkers, which won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. He has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and the PEN/Robert Bingham Fellowship for Writers. He was a fiction fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and has taught at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Harvard University, and Grinnell College.

ThisIsParadiseHogarth sent me a copy of This is Paradise: Stories by Kristiana Kahakauwila (July 2013) as part of a TLC Book Tour. The book is described as “a visceral, poignant, and elegantly gritty work of debut fiction set in Hawaii, in the vein of Junot Diaz’s Drown and Danielle Evans’s Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self.” Tied to the Hawaiian Islands, This Is Paradise explores the relationships among native Hawaiians, local citizens, and emigrants from (and to) the contiguous forty-eight states. Kahakauwila’s style is being called: contemporary, edgy, and mature…with a sense of history reverberating into the present. I will be touring this book on July 23rd.

Kristiana Kahakauwila, a native Hawaiian, was raised in Southern California. She earned a master’s in fine arts from the University of Michigan and a bachelor’s degree in comparative literature from Princeton University. She has worked as a writer and editor for Wine SpectatorCigar Aficionado, and Highlights for Children magazines and taught English at Chaminade University in Honolulu. She is an assistant professor of creative writing at Western Washington University. Learn more about Kahakauwila and her work by visiting the author’s website.

CenterOfTheWorldFrom Other Press came a signed copy of The Center of the World by Thomas Van Essen (June 2013). Publisher’s description:

Alternating between nineteenth-century England and present-day New York, this is the story of renowned British painter J. M. W. Turner and his circle of patrons and lovers. It is also the story of Henry Leiden, a middle-aged family man with a troubled marriage and a dead-end job, who finds his life transformed by his discovery of Turner’s The Center of the World, a mesmerizing and unsettling painting of Helen of Troy that was thought to have been lost forever.

Filled with sex, beauty, and love (of all kinds), this richly textured novel explores the intersection between art and eroticism.

Thomas Van Essen graduated from Sarah Lawrence College and earned his PhD in English from Rutgers University. He lives in New Jersey with his family. The Center of the World is his first novel. Learn more about Essen and his work by visiting the author’s website.

OnTheFloorPicador sent me a finished copy of On the Floor by Aifric Campbell (June 2013). This novel was longlisted for the Orange Prize. The story centers around a hard-living investment banker who has three days to decide her destiny.  After 182 days of vodka and insomnia since Geri Molloy got dumped, the twenty-eight-year-old investment banker has a rare knack for numbers. It is January of 1991, and war in the Middle East is about to shake up the markets—and maybe also change the course of her career. Geri’s firm’s biggest client is Felix Mann, and when she finds herself caught up in a high-stakes takeover, Felix is game for the power play—but his price tag is Geri’s future. Described as “a sharp-edged story about love and money, the cruel appraisals we make of one another, and what it really means for a woman to take control of her life.

Aifric Campbell spent thirteen years at Morgan Stanley, where she became the first woman managing director on the London trading floor. She left to earn a Ph.D. in creative writing at the University of East Anglia and currently teaches at Imperial College, London. Campbell has been awarded a fellowship at UCLA and residencies at Yaddo. Learn more about Campbell and her work by visiting the author’s website.

Did any amazing books arrive at YOUR house this week?

 

Mailbox Monday – June 10, 2013

mailboxsummerWelcome to this week’s Mailbox Monday and which is hosted by Bellezaa at Dolce Bellezza this month. Visit the dedicated blog for the meme to see the complete tour schedule in the right sidebar.

Here is what arrived at my house this week:

StillMidnightHachette Books sent me Still Midnight by Denise Mina which is the first book in the Alex Morrow series.  I won a copy of this book in order to participate in BOOK CLUB which is the brainchild of Nicole and Jen. This summer they’ve choose to read not only this book, but the next two in the series: The End of the Wasp Season (July 9th) and Gods and Beasts (August 13th).  The series features Detective Inspector Alex Morrow who works in Glasgow, Scotland. In Still Midnight, the plot centers around a home invasion and kidnapping. Stop back here tomorrow at the end of the day to read my review.

Denise Mina is the author of several other novels. She received the John Creasey Memorial Award for best first crime novel for her book Garnethill. Her novel, The Dead Hour, was nominated for an Edgar Award. She lives in Glasgow. Learn more about Mina and her work by visiting the author’s website.

TranslatorPegasus Books sent me a finished copy of The Translator by Nina Schuyler (July 2013). This novel looks fascinating and has gotten some great early reviews where Schuyler’s prose is described as evocative, intelligent, and dazzling. When renowned traslator Hanna Schubert falls down a flight of stairs, she suffers the loss of her native language. Now speaking only Japanese, Hanne leaves for Japan where she is publicly confronted by an author who claims she intentionally sabotaged his work. Confused, Hanne seeks out a former master of art in the Noh theater – the novelist’s inspiration for his book – and is forced to re-examine her life, including her relationship with her estranged daughter. Described as “a deeply moving and mesmerizing story about language, love, and the transcendence of family,” The Translator promises to be a haunting novel.

Nina Schuyler’s first novel, The Painting, was nominated for the Northern California Book Award, and named a “Best Book of the Year” by the San Francisco Chronicle. She was nominated for a 2010 Pushcart Prize and teaches creative writing at the University of San Francisco. Learn more about Schuyler and her work by visiting the author’s website.

NeverPromisedFinally, Harper Collins sent me I Never Promised You A Goodie Bag by Jennifer Gilbert (reprint edition April 2013) which is a memoir of survival, renewal, and transformation. Gilbert is one of New York City’s most successful and respected special events coordinators. When she was twenty-two years old, someone tried to cut her life short in the most violent way. She buried this traumatic event and launched her career, convinced she’d never again feel joy. Yet weddings, anniversaries, and holiday parties slowly brought her back to life.

Jennifer Gilbert has worked with Fortune 500 companies, broadcast media giants, international nonprofit organizations, and celebrities from Oprah Winfrey to Bill Gates and beyond. She is the founder and Chief Visionary Office of Save the Date, a New York-based special events company. She was named Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year and her company was voted one of the top 500 woman-owned businesses. She lives in New York City with her husband and three children.

Did any great books arrive at YOUR house this week?

Sunday Salon – June 9, 2013

Sunday Salon

June 9, 2013

Good morning and welcome to this week’s edition of The Sunday Salon. Visit the Facebook Page for links to other bloggers’ posts.

hotWell, I don’t know what’s happening in the rest of the country, but out here in California we’re breaking heat records. Yesterday’s temps soared to 115 in the valley, and up here in the mountains (where it is usually beautiful and comfortable) it was 105. Yikes! Today is supposed to be 10 degrees cooler – I hope so!

I’m heading out of here shortly to do a little work in town, but will be back in the afternoon to relax and catch up on some chores, bills, reading, and maybe a little sewing too.

RiverOfDustThis past week I posted reviews on two books. One book, The River of Dust, I talked about on my last Salon post…so I won’t say much else about it except: Read it. This is the kind of book that gets stronger and stronger as the pages turn. Very smart fiction. Read my review here.

HundredSummersI found myself totally engrossed in A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams (read my review). Williams caught my eye with her debut novel Overseas (read my review), and her sophomore effort is even better. Here is an author who seamlessly blends romance with historical fiction and captivates with great characters and some twists in the plot. I don’t want to say too much because I don’t want to spoil the story…but suffice it to say that A Hundred Summers is making all the “best books of summer” lists out there and it deserves the praise it has been getting – the perfect beach read.

StillMidnightMy current read is a terrific mystery/suspense novel set in Scotland. Still Midnight by Denise Mina is the BOOK CLUB read which will be discussed over on Nicole’s blog on Tuesday (the 11th). I plan on being there…and truly, if you love mysteries, this one could be read in a couple of days, so it is not too late to join us. I have long wanted to read a Mina book…and if you are new to this author this is a good one with which to start. Stay tuned for my review on Tuesday (I am more than 1/2 way done with the novel, so I should have no trouble getting a review up by then).

DinnerI next hope to crack the spine on The Dinner by Herman Koch which is the book selection for the Bookies Too Yahoo group for June 16th-30th. This novel looks intriguing – have you read it? If so, what did you think? It is a relatively short book at just over 200 pages…so I hope to have it read quickly since the discussion is not all that far off.

I hope you are enjoying your Sunday…and that whatever you are doing, it involves a great book at some point!

 

A Hundred Summers – Book Review

HundredSummersI wish I could remember more. I wish I had taken down every detail of Nick’s appearance, his expression, his outline against the gray buildings of the station, because I was not to see him again until the summer of 1938, the summer the hurricane came and washed the world away. – from A Hundred Summers –

Lily Dane is still a college girl at Smith in 1931 when she meets Nick Greenwald for the first time while at a weekend Dartmouth football game with her effervescent childhood friend, Budgie Byrne. After a whirlwind romance and engagement, however, something goes terribly wrong. Several years later, in 1938, Lily returns to the fictional oceanfront community of Seaview, Rhode Island to enjoy another traditional summer…and then learns that her once best friend, Budgie, has landed there as well, accompanied by her new husband – who is none other than Nick. The two young women reconnect, but there is tension that strums beneath the surface and the local townspeople seem to be shunning the Greenwalds primarily because of Nick’s Jewish background. And then there are the rumors about the parentage Lily’s six year old sister. As the summer unfolds, dark secrets begin to surface, while a history-making hurricane barrels up the coast and threatens to change Nick, Budgie and Lily’s lives forever.

A Hundred Summers is a terrific and luscious summer read. Narrated in Lily’s singular voice and moving back and forth from 1931 to 1938, the novel is compelling.

Beatriz Williams catapulted onto the literary scene last year with her debut novel Overseas (read my review). Her sophomore effort establishes her as a serious writer of women’s fiction. She builds believable characters who hook the reader…and creates sizzling romance interspersed with riveting historical events. The New England Hurricane of 1938 is one of those real events – in fact, it is the basis for the title of the book (Williams explains in the historical notes that New England hurricanes of a Category 3 are called “hundred-year storms” because the probability of such a disaster occurring in any one year is about 1 percent).

I remember my grandmother and grandfather talking about the 1938 storm which they lived through. They told of huge waves, flooding and downed trees which forced my grandfather to drive through neighbors’ back yards and winds which howled endlessly. In her novel, Williams recreates those tense moments perfectly and uses them to amp up the already conflict-ridden plot.

I read through this novel in no time. The way Williams sets up the narrative, flipping back from past to present, kept me turning the pages long into the night. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I really enjoyed this book! Readers who love women’s fiction, but who are also interested in historical fiction, will be drawn to A Hundred Summers. But it is Williams’ pitch perfect dialogue, emotionally engaging plot and fantastic characters who will keep them coming back for more. I’ll be looking for future novels by this talented writer.

Highly recommended summertime read.

4hStars

FTC Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher for review.

 

Beth Kephart Giveaway Winners!

I am delighted by the wonderful response to this giveaway. Beth Kephart’s books NEED to be read – she is such an amazing writer, and so the fact that so many of you entered to win one of them makes me so happy. I’ve chosen two winners randomly…but first I thought it would be fun to share the statistics re: book choices. The top five vote-getters were:

  • 43.3% of respondents chose SMALL DAMAGES
  • 33.3% of respondents chose HOUSE OF DANCE
  • 30% of respondents chose DANGEROUS NEIGHBORS and YOU ARE MY ONLY
  • 23.3% of respondents chose SLANT OF SUN and INTO THE TANGLE OF FRIENDSHIP
  • 20% of respondents chose HANDLING THE TRUTH and UNDERCOVER

So now onto the winners….Drum roll please!

Congratulations to Sprite @ Sprite Writes who won a gift pack of the following:

sasparilla SmallDamages Undercover

Congratulations to Hannah @ Word Lily who won a signed edition of one of Beth’s books…I’ll be contacting you by email Hannah and you can choose one of your picks:

SmallDamages YouAreMyOnly[1] HouseOfDance

I will be emailing the winners…and for the rest of you, I hope you’ll find time to read one of Beth’s books soon!