Friday, August 11, 2017

Glitter and Glue

This is a mini-memoir by Kelly Corrigan. It tells the story of how Corrigan, in her early 20's and on a Grand Adventure, ran out of money in Australia. She was faced with the decision to go home and face her mother ("I told you so...") or get a job. This is how she wound up as the nanny to newly-widowed John Tanner's two children. As she stepped into this role, she began to hear her mother's no-nonsense voice everywhere. She had not expected this. Like many "daddy's girls", Corrigan's relationship with her mother was fraught... sometimes distant. Her time with the Tanners is when she first began to appreciate her mom. Later she had her own children and a health scare, cementing the bond she now has with her mother. Who we admire and why changes as we grow and develop. That's what this book is well as motherhood and what that looks like in its absence as well as in its glorious, messy, mind-wracking presence.

The Shepherd of the Hills

This lovely work by Harold Bell Wright is my mother's favorite book. So when my Reader's Challenge included "A book published before you were born" I knew what it had to be. I had actually read it once before, in my teens, and hadn't seen what all the fuss was about (it was one of my grandmother's favorites, as well). Now that I'm an adult, with children and a relationship with God, I get it. It's a gentle tale of second chances, forgiveness, and the love we bear through the generations.

Daniel Howitt comes into the Ozark mountain community of Mutton Hollow from the City - the world outside. For reasons of his own, he takes his place among the simple backwoods people as a shepherd for Grant Matthews and his family. He teaches young Sammy Lane how to be a real lady, since her intended has gone to the City. He fills in for the preacher. He finds a home and, eventually, peace for his heart. There are secrets revealed, and pride broken down, and hearts eased. It's a lovely book. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

I Let You Go

Holy cow! I just finished this intense, compelling novel by Clare Mackintosh; it is four in the morning! The novel opens with a young mother walking her son home from school one rainy day. Excited to be home, he darts across the street when she momentarily lets go of his hand. He is struck and killed by a car whose driver then flees the scene. Jenna leaves her life in Bristol behind; everything she lived for has been taken away. She moves to Wales to begin anew, but is haunted by the car accident that instigated her move. And there's Ray and Kate, the police investigators in charge of finding the perpetrator of the hit-and-run. As they're drawn deeper into the twist -filled case, they're drawn closer to each other... An excellent read: highly recommended.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Good As Gone

Amy Gentry's debut novel, and a true suspense thriller. Julie was kidnapped from her own bedroom when she was thirteen years old, while Anna and Tom, her parents, slept downstairs and Jane, her ten year old sister, watched from a closet. Eight years later, Julie returns, with an unbelievable story of what happened and where she has been. Is Julie lying to them? Is this young woman who showed up at their door even Julie at all? And if not, what does she want?

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Stars Are Fire

This is a fabulous novel by Anita Shreve! She began with the truth of the largest fire in Maine's history, and spun her story of a young mother finding herself around that. In October 1947, after a summer-long drought, fires break out all along the Maine coast, racing out of control from village to village. At 24, Grace Holland and her two toddlers are home alone because her husband has gone to fight the fire. She saves herself and the children by huddling together under a blanket in the sea overnight. They emerge to a changed world. They are now penniless, homeless, left in a town that no longer exists. Grace must learn to rely on herself - to drive, to find a home, a job, a way to care for the children while all these other things happen. She finds a freedom and her own strength in the aftermath of the catastrophe. Little does she know, her greatest test still lies ahead. A fantastic read. Highly recommended.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Secret Keeper

A novel by Kate Morton which I found to be uneven but intriguing nevertheless. Laurel Nicholson is hiding from her sisters in her childhood treehouse during a family birthday party when she sees a stranger coming onto their farm. She watches as he and her mother speak... and then witnesses a crime that calls into question all she thought she knew about her loving, imaginative, near-perfect mother, Dorothy. Fifty years later, Laurel is a successful actress in London. The family is gathering at the old farmhouse for her mother's ninetieth birthday and Laurel decides it's time to find the answers for that crime that still haunts her; answers buried in her mother's past from pre-WWII England through the blitz and the unlikely friends she made then, to the 1960s and beyond.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Death Comes to Pemberley

This is a fabulous novel by P.D. James! She has taken the characters from Pride and Prejudice and drawn them into a murder mystery with emotional ramifications for the Darcy and Bingley families. It is 1803. Elizabeth and Jane have been married six years to their respective mates. They are each mothers, in charge of large estates. Elizabeth has settled well into Pemberley, with Jane nearby. Her father visits often; Darcy's sister Georgiana may soon marry. They are all busily preparing for the annual autumn ball when a coach barrels up the drive. Inside is a hysterical Lydia, Elizabeth's disgraced sister who married the infamous Wickham, both of whom have been banned at Pemberley. Lydia is screaming that Wickham has been murdered in the woodland. Pemberley is now embroiled in a murder mystery.

The first chapter of this book is given to a synopsis of Jane Austen's original work. Then we're given a glimpse of the peaceful, orderly world of Pemberley with Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy in charge. Then the mystery.... P.D. James has lovingly and masterfully re-created the world of Pride and Prejudice. There are no glaring anachronisms, no one slips out of character.... It really could be a "sequel" . It almost feels traitorous to Miss Austen to say that. This was a pleasure to read. Highly recommended.

My Stubborn Heart

Can't think why I had a Christian romance novel by Becky Wade on my to-be-read list. Any kind of romance novel. I determined long, long ago I could not read romances; they left me dissatisfied with my life as it was and I just couldn't handle that irritation. Now that I'm married, actually, now that my identity comes from God rather than from my husband or our relationship, I find I can read romances again. The Christian romance is often quite saccharine, setting my teeth on edge (and there seem few Catholic Christian writers in this genre). 

This book avoids the too-sweet pitfall. It's well written, with real interior struggles between main characters and the Maker included. Kate, disillusioned by both her work and dating, agrees to accompany her grandmother to Redbud, Pennsylvania to restore her childhood home. Their contractor is Matt Jarreau, handsome, clearly wounded. What in his past could cause this rift between him and others, God, himself? Kate sets herself the task of finding out.