The best-selling author, Christina Baker Kline, most well known for her novel Orphan Train, has outdone herself once again. A Piece of the World, by Christina Baker Kline, is unlike anything else. Poignant, not always kind, but always deep, this novel puts you in the head of Christina, a woman who spent her entire life in a small fishing community, living in a rural area. Inspired by Andrew Wyeth’s painting entitled “Christina’s World”, Christina Baker Kline tells the story of a woman who had a small life, but who is full of incomparable determination and grit.
Cursed with an unknown medical condition from a young age, Christina struggled to undertake tasks that others took for granted. Not one to simply accept a life of infirmity, Christina found ways to contribute just as much as everyone else in her large family. Giving herself to everyone else dutifully her entire life, she was always behind the scenes. Until she wasn’t.
A painter named Andrew Wyeth comes into town and introduces himself to Christina and her brother at their seaside home. He wants to paint the house, the landscape, the garden…Everything. Christina sees something in that painter, and she welcoms him to paint and roam as he pleases. Thus forms a friendship and a connection that would forever change their lives.
Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott, is a solid piece of classic American literature. Those of us who read the book or even just loved the movie (movies), basically fell in love with strong-willed Josephine (Jo) March and her passel of sisters-Amy, Meg, and Beth. Josephine was a tomboy and a nonconformist. Meg was the eldest and sensible to a fault. Beth had the biggest, purest heart. And Amy…. Well, Amy was adorable and a very comical character.
Amy wore a clothes pin on her nose because she was terribly vain. At one point, Amy throws Josephine’s manuscript into the fire in a fit of jealousy. The sisters were polar opposites and Amy was portrayed as a superficial ninny who was favored by her Aunt and frustrated the heroine to no end.
Many people are aware Little Women was based upon Louisa May Alcott’s life growing up in Massachusetts with her sisters. The Other Alcott, by Elise Hooper, delves into an aspect that many haven’t considered. Was May Alcott so much like Amy March in real life? What were her real aspirations? What was it like growing up in the shadow of a sister who was a literary celebrity?
Meanwhile, May was trying desperately to carve out her own destiny as an artist. She traveled artistic circles during a time when art was changing drastically. She had a husband, a circle of friends, and her own life.
If you loved Little Women, you would probably enjoy The Other Alcott, by Elise Hooper, which is an adventure in perspective and a thrilling journey through the art world of the time-and also a journey into the ever-so-complicated world of sisterhood.
When Olivia Kavanagh finds an old manuscript in her grandfather’s bookshop she finds herself pulled into the mystery within its pages. Her grandmother has been placed in a home and her memory is disappearing rapidly, but once in a while she is just lucid enough to feed the fires of Olivia’s curiosity.
Decades earlier, two young girls create a sensation when they capture photos of fairies near a brook in the local woods. Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright were two young girls who became famous overnight. News of their fantastic photos, seen as evidence of the existence of fairies, reached all edges of the world and even attracted famous figures such as Arthur Conan Doyle.
Olivia Kavanagh holds the key to the answers, if she can only solve the riddle. How was her grandmother involved with the girls at Cottingley? Who put together the manuscript in her grandfather’s book shop?
Finding the answers suddenly becomes a quest for Olivia to find herself and her own place in the world, both fantastical and otherwise.
The Cottingley Secret, by Hazel Gaynor, is a novel for history fans and mystery lovers. If you liked Hazel Gaynor’s other works (I know I did), or if you like authors like Kate Morton or Kimberley Freeman, then definitely give The Cottingley Secret a try.
Maud may hold the only clues to the case of a missing woman… But she suffers from dementia, and the clues fade in and out of her consciousness. No one seems to want to help her find her best friend Elizabeth and no one believes her when she tells them the woman has gone missing.
But things are not all as they seem in Maud’s world, and the past keeps stirring up into the present. Maud’s sister disappeared decades ago and was never found. Can the two mysteries be related in some way? Why do specific images and memories keep coming to her mind, so close but then sliding back out of reach before she can connect the dots? Does the truth about the missing women live inside a grandmother with advanced dementia who will stop at nothing until the truth resurfaces for once and for all?
Elizabeth is missing by Emma Healey was a special read for me because I too have loved a grandmother who suffered much like Maud. The unreliable narrator tests your patience brutally, and the choppy stream of consciousness is highly irregular for a mystery novel. But if you love women’s fiction and suspense novels, and you think you have what it takes to follow endearing, sassy, confused Maud through her story, I highly recommend the book.
The Boston Girl, by Anita Diamant, came up as a recommendation on one of my many booklover sites (I believe it was librarything.com but it could have been goodreads.com). I read The Red Tent a year or two ago and found it gripping and heart-wrenching, so I approached The Boston Girl, by the same author, Anita Diamant, with caution. I thought it was likely that I would love the book but I was afraid of the commitment. Am I the only one who has that problem sometimes? The struggle is real.
Anyways, I buckled down and read The Boston Girl, and it was just as enticing and upsetting as I expected. Addie Baum is an elderly woman dictating the story of her life growing up in Boston to her granddaughter. The third daughter of Jewish immigrants in the early 1900s, her path was a rocky one, but full of sweet memories, love and good friends.
The Boston Girl addresses the struggle of immigrant families, the nuances of growing up Jewish during a tumultuous time, the difficult relationships between mothers and daughters and sisters, the shocking introduction of men and dating for a very naïve young woman, and the pain of loss followed by the warmth of togetherness shared by kindred spirits. If you love books that deal with women’s issues and focus on the feminine, The Boston Girl is a wonderful example…If you think you can handle it. And if you have a box of Kleenex by your bedside. The Boston Girl is not a fun summer vacation read, and not light reading by any standard…But I loved it. And some of you might love it, too.
One little boy disappears in the night. The family is devastated. Alice Edevane is a budding teenager with a flair for mystery fiction writing and she’s concocted the perfect crime. When it appears to have come to fruition in real life and the gardener has gone missing, the weight of what she might have put into motion weighs heavily on her for the rest of her life.
Decades later, a young London detective named Sadie Sparrow is taking some time off after she makes a terrible career mistake. She heads to Cornwall and the mystery of the disappearance of the little boy calls to her, piquing her curiosity and prompting her to fill the long days with investigation into what might have truly happened. Two plucky heroines meet in a crossing of paths as they find they both have an interest in whatever happened to the Edevane baby that night at the Lake House party…And the plethora of family secrets held in the walls of the estate are more than anyone could have ever expected from the private, respected family.
The Lake House, by Kate Morton, does not disappoint. I waited years for the release of the author’s most recent novel and as always, I adored the novel. Kate Morton is a genius in all things secretive and long buried, and she crosses time periods so perfectly so the past has no choice but to slowly resurface, creating perfect page-turning intrigue that will leave you reading deep into the night. If you read The Forgotten Garden, The Secret Keeper, The House at Riverton, or The Distant Hours (or in my case, all of the above), you will not want to miss The Lake House. Kate Morton takes long-buried secrets and mysteries to the deepest, and most intricate levels, leaving readers feeling drained and bereft by the end of her novels…And craving more.
If you are a regular follower on my site you probably already expected me to adore The Lake House. If you have the time and energy for a book that will rob you of all your reserves, you will want to pick up The Lake House today. If you don’t…. Too bad for you.
Nora, Ozzie, Monica, and Grace were four teenage girls who met when their home lives fell apart and they found themselves at the Turning Winds Home for Girls. They found comfort in one another and learned many powerful lessons about life and love and friendship, but when they were old enough to be on their own, the four young women went off on their separate paths.
Now they are grown women, and Grace is in trouble. She needs her friends again. The four women come together again and learn that you’re never too old to need a friend…And maybe they can all learn something from one another again, before it’s too late for all of them to remember who they really are, and where they came from.
The Invisibles, by Cecilia Galante, is a novel about growing up, and about female relationships in all their complexity. If you like women’s fiction, The Invisibles will pull your heartstrings and maybe even make you pull out the Kleenex box. If you’re looking for your next cry, The Invisibles is for you.
Addie Andrews is chasing answers, but she isn’t quite sure what the question may be. She is hoping that Eunice, Arkansas, will provide some answers…Or at the very least, give her a reprieve from her sad story. Recovering from heartbreak and tragedy, Addie decided to take solace in the home of her deceased Aunt, fixing it up to sell so she can get her life back in order.
Out for a walk one day she stumbles upon a poor, sad little Pit Bull puppy, left for dead. She rushes to the local veterinarian’s office and sets into a motion a whole new life for herself–but not everyone is happy that Addie has fallen into life in Eunice. Some local characters are decidedly less than welcoming, and some are downright unsavory… One local man seems to turn up wherever she goes, and he wakes up feelings in her she thought she had lost forever…But why does he keep running away from her whenever they start to get close?
A town mystery, local politics, romance, friendship in the oddest places, and the love of a sweet, innocent puppy make this story unique and fresh. Sit! Stay! Speak!, by Annie England Noblin, is an interesting read if you want to read something a little outside the box this summer….And who can resist a story about a puppy?
A Memory of Violets, by Hazel Gaynor, is definitely making it onto my top 10 books for 2015. Anyone who knows me is aware that I have a penchant for long, descriptive stories full of mystery and family secrets. Kate Morton and Katherine Webb are my favorite authors of all time. Who didn’t love The Thorn Birds, by Colleen McCullough? I was surprised when Hazel Gaynor’s latest novel sucked me in, right away, and I had a feeling right from the beginning that I was in for a ride.
A Memory of Violets is about two girls born into poverty in the 1800s, into a life of selling flowers on street corners. Flora and Rosie barely have food to live on, but they have one another. One horrific day they are separated in a crowd and the never see one another again. Flora spends the rest of her days looking for her baby sister-and Rosie, too young to know how to get back home, must adapt to a new life. Years later, Tilly Harper finds the journal of Flora when she starts a job at Mr. Shaw’s Training Homes for Watercress and Flower Girls-and she feels compelled to find out just what happened to Flora, and what happened to her lost baby sister Rosie.
If you read The Painted Girls, by Cathy Marie Buchanan, or , or you have a taste for novels that tear brutally at your heartstrings but come together in the end with perfect closure and new beginnings for much-loved characters, you won’t want to miss A Memory of Violets, by Hazel Gaynor. This reviewer couldn’t put it down.
A woman is found wandering, lost, confused and ill during World War I. A kind and generous couple takes her into their home and nurses her back to health, realizing with time that the self-named Stella Bain actually has no idea who she is, and has no place to go. The couple observes only that she has been serving in the war, based on her uniform, and that she has an American accent.
Stella must overcome her amnesia and get her life back-but how long will it take? Does she have family and friends who are worrying about her? Why can’t she push away the nagging guilt that arises whenever she tries to remember who she is? What if she doesn’t want to know the truth about her past?
Suddenly, it all comes back to Stella, and she must decide what to do with the rest of her life and rediscover who the real woman inside her wants to be.
Stella Bain is very historical fiction/women’s fiction in genre. The tone is very serious and rich in description and sentiment. I found it to be an excellent audiobook to hear at work- but I also have a special weakness for historical fiction set during the Great War-I just think it was a great time for women to start showing the world what they were made of, don’t you?!