#89 ~ 37

July 26, 2008 at 9:39 am | Posted in Books, Culture, Family | 5 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , ,

37 by Maria Beaumont

As someone whose 37th birthday is quickly approaching, I could not turn down the opportunity to read this novel by Maria Beaumont. It chronicles the approaching midlife of Fran Clark, a talented former voice over actress living in London.  Fran left acting 10 years earlier when she started her family with her husband Richard. As her 37th birthday party nears, her life and drinking habit get more and more out of control. When everything is finally turned upside down on the night of her party, Fran has to choose  between finding a way to recreate herself or give in to the alcoholism that runs in her family and potentially ruin her children’s childhood. What seems obvious to everyone surrounding her proves to be very difficult for Fran.

37 was written in a comfortable, conversational tone. As someone who has never been to England, I very much enjoyed the dialog. It was delightfully different from what I am used to. Part way through the book the voice in my head while I was reading it even took on a British accent ala Madonna. I love how so often sentences were ended in rhetorical questions. No one uses the word brilliant quite like the British.

Conversation aside, life in upper-middle class London isn’t all that much different than it is here in the United States. Fran has two wonderful best friends, but they are but a life raft in shark invested waters.  Fran’s relationship with her husband suffers from what sadly happens far too often after children are born.  The mothers running her school’s equivalent to the PTA act and react just like catty women everywhere.  Beaumont nailed the competitive nature between women that has no real reason to exist.  Women are our own worst enemies.

37 was somewhat heavier than I had anticipated, but it read quickly.  I related to Fran and empathized with her experiences.  The ending was satisfying and inspiring.  I hope that Maria Beaumont continues to write.  Her voice is what made this story special.

********
To buy this book, click here.

Advertisements

#66 ~ Gilding Lily

April 23, 2008 at 11:07 pm | Posted in Books, Culture, entertainment, Family, My Life with Books, Reading | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Gilding Lily by Tatiana Boncompagni

Sometimes getting what you dream about can become a nightmare. At least that is Lily’s experience in this engaging, fun, and fast-paced novel. Gilding Lily tells the story of a young woman from a middle class background who marries into an established, wealthy family in New York City. Her romance with Robert Bartholomew, which brought her swiftly into society as one of New York’s “It girls,” rivals any Disney Princess story. Only for Lily, her wedding day didn’t signal a victory over a vicious step-mother or blood thirsty dragon. It was only then that her nemesis came out into the full light of day – Josephine Bartholomew, her mother-in-law.

Lily’s time in limelight in New York’s social scene ended as quickly as it began. She became pregnant before the ink was dry on her marriage license. Along with baby came Robert’s career crisis. By the time Will is a few months old, Lily hadn’t lost a pound of her baby weight, is having trouble making ends meet on the income from her husband’s trust, and is lonely and miserable. Robert, without the prospect of a job in sight, spends his days networking with his mother or playing squash at the club. At night he’s often out escorting Josephine to social events. Finally, after a particularly heated argument about the two Ms (money and mother-in-law), Lily decides to go back to work. Her talented writing, her connections, and her knack for getting stories other reporters could only dream of provide Lily with an opportunity to return to New York’s socialite scene. Soon she has to decide if getting the story, becoming a socialite in her own right, and, perhaps, earning her mother-in-law’s respect is worth the risk of losing the man she loves.

From the first chapter where we meet Lily tripping on the hem of couture dress on her way to gala, I was drawn in to the book. I got so involved in the characters that by the end I could hardly put the book down. In fact, if it were not for this book I might never have discovered that I have an unusual talent for reading a paperback while curling my hair and drinking the morning’s first Diet Coke. This novel revolves around New York’s elite, but the highly competitive animosity that often exists between women is universal. When push comes to shove, women are often our own worst enemies. So, where there is a group of women you will usually find a catty woman like Di or a Morgan who is trying to undermine everyone else to insure her position. When your disapproving mother-in-law is the queen bee of that social set, eventually all hell will break lose. As much fun as it is to watch the fur fly, you’ll be hoping along with Lily that having a happy family with Robert really isn’t too good to be true.

Boncompagni’s writing, which is smooth and easy to read, is what really made this book for me. So often when reading chick lit I get the impression that the author thinks nothing about the readers beyond the dollar signs. When reading Gilding Lily, you can sense the pride that Boncompagni has in her work. If this first novel is any indication of what is to come, hers will be a career to follow.

_____________

Gilding Lily will be published in September of 2008. As the publication date draws near, look for a contest here to win your own copy!

*********
To buy this book, click here.

#58 ~ The Witch’s Trinity

February 15, 2008 at 12:22 pm | Posted in Books, Brain Food for Thought, Culture, Family, Historical Fiction, LIfe, Religion | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , ,
trinity.jpg

The Witch’s Trinity: A Novel by Erika Mailman

I’ve been reading a lot of historical fiction recently and most of it has centered on London. The greatest portion of that has taken place during the reigns of the Tudor monarchs. I wanted to change things up. So, when I read the list of Divia’s holiday bounty, I instantly took notice of The Witch’s Trinity. Not only does it take place in Germany, it had a paranormal twist. This made it very much different from my usual fare. It was a quick read that did not disappoint.

The Witch’s Trinity tells the story of Güde Müller, an elderly grandmother who lives with her only son Jost and his family. They live in Tierkinddorf, Germany and have been experiencing two years of extreme famine. The strain of living without adequate food is taking its toll on the family and the town as a whole. Güde can tell how much Irmeltrud, Jost’s wife, resents her being alive and taking food that would ordinarily go to her children. After a Catholic priest is called in to investigate whether witches are to blame for the town’s hard luck, one of Güde’s childhood friend is burned at the stake. Still, the town is desperate. The able-bodied men leave the village in search of food. While they are gone, the village starts to turn on one another and it seems that no one is safe from being accused of witchcraft.

This book had a powerful affect on me. It made it difficult for me to sleep well for almost a week. It’s unbelievable the things that humans will do to one another and it’s frightening how open women and the elderly are abuses of many kinds. It’s especially shameful how women turn on each other instead of supporting each other. The terror experienced by Güde and other helpless citizens of Tierkinddorf was so believable that there were entire sections of this book that had my heart racing. I left this book feeling thankful to be alive in 2008 instead of 1608. Witch trials make workplace cattiness seem like child’s play.

As with many books, The Witch’s Trinity was tidied up too quickly and neatly. I would still suggest that anyone interested in witch trials or the plight of women or the elderly read it. You will continue to think about this book and its themes long after you’ve finished it. That certainly sets this novel by Erika Mailman apart from the rest.

********
To buy this novel, click here.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.