July 2020–Part One

Thank you for joining me here!   (Reminder: the page numbers I list here reflect the number of Kindle pages, not paper pages.)  I hope you enjoy this series and I’d love to hear from you about what you are reading these days.

Book #1:

A Hundred SummersA Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams (Length: 369 pages).   I loved this book!  This is another novel that I was always thinking about when I wasn’t reading it, and I couldn’t wait to pick it back up (my favorite types of books!).  This is definitely a beach/summer read.  The setting is “Seaview, Rhode Island”, based on an actual island of a different name, which was the actual location of the 1938 hurricane. This is a romance which bounces between 1932 and 1938.  It’s fast-paced, a love triangle with well-developed characters, with a bit of a mystery plotline in the background.  The New England society setting, plus New York City and an island, with surprise twists makes this a definite yes!  Let me know if you’ve read it.  I’m going to be checking out Williams’ other novels based on how much I liked this one.  

From the publisher:

Lily Dane has returned to Seaview, Rhode Island, where her family has summered for generations. It’s an escape not only from New York’s social scene but from a heartbreak that still haunts her. Here, among the seaside community that has embraced her since childhood, she finds comfort in the familiar rituals of summer.

But this summer is different. Budgie and Nick Greenwald—Lily’s former best friend and former fiancé—have arrived, too, and Seaview’s elite are abuzz. Under Budgie’s glamorous influence, Lily is seduced into a complicated web of renewed friendship and dangerous longing.

As a cataclysmic hurricane churns north through the Atlantic, and uneasy secrets slowly reveal themselves, Lily and Nick must confront an emotional storm that will change their worlds forever…

Book #2:

The JetsettersThe Jetsetters by Amanda Eyre Ward (Length: 318 pages).   This was my CrossFit book club’s choice for July.  It is VERY reminiscent of The Floating Feldmans which I have already reviewed on this blog.  (I preferred the latter book for sure).  There are similar characters, similar family dynamics, but The Floating Feldmans is much funnier and well-written.  I did enjoy the various ports of call in this novel, including Rome, Malta, Florence, etc.  The adult children (and the mother) in this novel are very unlikeable overall, and it’s very obvious how the various plotlines will resolve.  I will say this is a VERY fast read (I read it in one afternoon) so this would be a perfect poolside read, if you’re not expecting much.  My book club universally felt the same way.  

From the publisher:

When seventy-year-old Charlotte Perkins submits a sexy essay to the Become a Jetsetter contest, she dreams of reuniting her estranged children: Lee, an almost-famous actress; Cord, a handsome Manhattan venture capitalist who can’t seem to find a partner; and Regan, a harried mother who took it all wrong when Charlotte bought her a Weight Watchers gift certificate for her birthday. Charlotte yearns for the years when her children were young, when she was a single mother who meant everything to them.

When she wins the contest, the family packs their baggage—both literal and figurative—and spends ten days traveling from sun-drenched Athens through glorious Rome to tapas-laden Barcelona on an over-the-top cruise ship, the Splendido Marveloso. As lovers new and old join the adventure, long-buried secrets are revealed and old wounds are reopened, forcing the Perkins family to confront the forces that drove them apart and the defining choices of their lives.

Can four lost adults find the peace they’ve been seeking by reconciling their childhood aches and coming back together? In the vein of The Nest and The VacationersThe Jetsetters is a delicious and intelligent novel about the courage it takes to reveal our true selves, the pleasures and perils of family, and how we navigate the seas of adulthood.

Book #3:

The Handmaid's TaleThe Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (Length: 325 pages).   I’ve FINALLY picked up this excellent dystopian novel, and I’m so glad I did.  This is very well-written, almost lyrical at times.  It’s compulsively readable, in my opinion, as I kept wanting to find out how the major plot line is resolved.  I can absolutely see parallels with what is happening to women and society today, in this novel, specifically with regard to women and Evangelical Christianity.  The ending is a bit mysterious, but that’s okay as I’m able to read The Testaments next.  I found it fascinating that the author based Gilead (the fictional town in this novel) on Cambridge and the university in this novel is based on Harvard.  This would be a fantastic book club choice.  Please read if you haven’t already–you will not regret it.  

From the publisher:

The Handmaid’s Tale is a novel of such power that the reader will be unable to forget its images and its forecast. Set in the near future, it describes life in what was once the United States and is now called the Republic of Gilead, a monotheocracy that has reacted to social unrest and a sharply declining birthrate by reverting to, and going beyond, the repressive intolerance of the original Puritans. The regime takes the Book of Genesis absolutely at its word, with bizarre consequences for the women and men in its population.

The story is told through the eyes of Offred, one of the unfortunate Handmaids under the new social order. In condensed but eloquent prose, by turns cool-eyed, tender, despairing, passionate, and wry, she reveals to us the dark corners behind the establishment’s calm facade, as certain tendencies now in existence are carried to their logical conclusions. The Handmaid’s Tale is funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing. It is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and a tour de force. It is Margaret Atwood at her best.


Book #4

\My Grandmother Asked MeMy Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman (Length: 385 pages).   I’m clearly obsessed with this author, from A Man Called Ove to Beartown to Us Against You.  I’ve read that readers who also loved Backman, count this book as their all-time favorite.  I’d have to agree–this novel is absolutely delightful!  I adore Elsa, the seven year old narrator, and her relationship with Granny, her maternal grandmother.  This book is so witty and I actually laughed out loud in parts.  I was smiling as I was reading so much of this, which is rare.  I enjoyed the fairy tale angle as well.  (I didn’t enjoy how she kept feeding the dog chocolate throughout–but maybe that’s just me.)  A double thumbs up for this charming novel!  

From the publisher:

A charming, warmhearted novel from the author of the New York Times bestseller A Man Called Ove.

Elsa is seven years old and different. Her grandmother is seventy-seven years old and crazy—as in standing-on-the-balcony-firing-paintball-guns-at-strangers crazy. She is also Elsa’s best, and only, friend. At night Elsa takes refuge in her grandmother’s stories, in the Land-of-Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas, where everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal.

When Elsa’s grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has wronged, Elsa’s greatest adventure begins. Her grandmother’s instructions lead her to an apartment building full of drunks, monsters, attack dogs, and old crones but also to the truth about fairy tales and kingdoms and a grandmother like no other.

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry is told with the same comic accuracy and beating heart as Fredrik Backman’s bestselling debut novel, A Man Called Ove. It is a story about life and death and one of the most important human rights: the right to be different.

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