Vanity Fare : a novel of lattes, literature and love by Megan Caldwell

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Molly Hagan is a single mother in Brooklyn with a passion for coffee, books, and handsome men…Her husband left her for a hot young blond and she has been hiding behind romance novels and a steaming mug ever since. But the bad news keeps coming-her husband has lost his job and will no longer be paying for her son’s insurance or much else by way of child support, either. Molly will have to get a job and become entirely independent, and find a way to take care of her son alone…And she’s very, very worried about it.

Can she go back to work after being a stay-at-home-mom for so many years? Will her literature degree mean anything to ANYONE out there in New York City? Luckily, a family friend may have a temporary solution for her, helping out his company to do writing copy for a new bakery that’s going to be the next big thing-owned by a very sexy pastry chef from the UK who seems to think that Molly is, actually, kind of tasty herself.  Just to shake things up, a few other men are trying to tickle her fancy, too. The very serious and somber Nick actually seems to have a heart hidden under that sexy brooding facade…

This novel is about new beginnings, the importance of family and good friends, and power to women, especially those who are forced to re-examine their entire existence when things don’t go exactly as planned. If you like Chicklit or Women’s fiction with a touch of humor, like Heather McElhatton or Liane Moriarty, you won’t want to miss Megan Caldwell’s Vanity Fare: a novel of lattes, literature and love.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple

Bernadette Fox is kindof a mess. She doesn’t seem to get along with the other parents at her daughter’s school, her house is falling apart, her husband is never home, and she hates dealing with strangers so badly that she has decided to hire a personal assistant in India to make all of her appointments and take care of all of her duties. You may think that these things sound like issues that every woman deals with, but things are about to get even WORSE for Bernadette. The neighbor lady has a vendetta against her and things are about to come to a head in a major way. Her daughter has decided that for her reward for getting perfect grades in middle school, they should all make a trip to Antarctica to see the penguins….And Bernadette gets unbelievably seasick.

One day, Bernadette just disappears, and her daughter decides to follow the clues to figure out just who her mother really was, and what happened to make her go away. She refuses to believe that her mother would just leave or take her own life. But what happened to Bernadette? Following a trail of letters, emails and receipts, the middle schooler has decided the grownups have made a mess of things, and it’s up to her to put things right.

Any woman who has ever wondered if they were going to have a nervous breakdown and go completely bonkers will LOVE this novel, which takes you down Bernadette’s humorous path to possibly lunacy with perfect timing and character. Where’d You Go, Bernadette, by Maria Semple, is an easy read, and the audiobook format by Hachette Audio is perfection. If you ever venture into the world of audiobooks, add this one to your list.

If you enjoy books like What Alice Forgot, by Liane Moriarty, which delve into parenting, marriage, sanity, and the politics of the PTA, this novel is right up your alley.

A Simple Thing by Kathleen McCleary

A Simple Thing” by Kathleen McCleary is a novel about the trials of learning about yourself and finding peace while struggling with parenthood.

Susannah Delaney is a neurotic, controlling and anxious mother whose life seems to be spiralling out of control as her teenage daughter begins to rebel and assert her independence in very self-destructive ways, and her young son is being bullied by other children in their suburban world. Susannah decides that she wants to “save” her family, so she packs up their things and proceeds to move her two children to a remote island off of the coast of Washington State-leaving her husband behind, blinking in awe.

Katie and Quinn are none too pleased about the new arrangement at first, but as they begin to make new friends and get comfortable, she begins to wonder if she has made a huge mistake. Do life’s problems just follow you wherever you go, or can you escape them by changing your surroundings? Susannah is forced to deal with her own demons as she realizes a great deal about herself, her marriage and her children out on a barely populated island with no electricity and plenty of time to think about what is really important.

This is a novel about parenting, marriage, love, resentment, blame and shame, but most importantly, it’s a novel about learning who you are and accepting that there are some things you just can’t change.

If you love women’s fiction or anything about motherhood, you will not want to miss this novel. It’s also a GREAT vacation read, especially if you are “roughing” it. If you like this novel, also look out for “What Alice Forgot” by Liane Moriarty, which has similar themes and an equally satisfying ending.

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

Alice Love woke up on the gym floor with absolutely no idea what she was doing there. The paramedics keep asking her questions and she can’t seem to answer correctly. Alice soon discovers that she has amnesia, and she has somehow forgotten the last ten years of her life. Unfortunately for her, a lot has happened in the last ten years. She had 3 children, for example. And her marriage seems to have fallen apart but all she remembers is being madly in love with her husband Nick.

Alice’s family and friends are justifiably concerned, especially when her personality seems to have changed in the extreme. The 29-year-old Alice was kind and forgiving and thoughtful and enjoyed her humble life. The 39-year-old Alice is formidable and strict and so busy she has forgotten how to live. Can the young-minded Alice get the memories back so that she can learn what happened to her in the last ten years to make her so unpleasant? If the amnesia goes away, will 39-year-old Alice be able to find happiness again?

This is a novel about love, marriage, family, and the delicate moments that make differences in our relationships, adding up until you no longer recognize one another. Women’s literature and Chicklit fans will both like this novel, which is sentimental and humorous, and which puts things into rather harsh perspective and leaves you feeling grateful and utterly aware of the importance of loved ones in your life.

Liane Moriarty has really hit the mark with this excellent read, perfect for book clubs and for an excellent vacation read. You won’t want to miss this novel, so pick it up!