March 2021–Part Two

Thank you for joining me here!   I hope you enjoy this series and I’d love to hear from you about what you are reading these days.

Book #1:

The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey (Length: 401 pages).   This is a really enjoyable read. It’s the first in a series (with 3 total released so far), and is set in India, in 1917 through 1921. This is a fictionalized account of the first female lawyer in Bombay, and the focus of the novel is about the lawyer (Perveen Mistry) settling the estate of three widows, with a subsequent murder. This is a bit slow to begin, but the writing is very strong and the author weaves various threads together very skillfully. The central mystery is well-constructed, and I really enjoyed seeing how Perveen evolves into a female detective of sorts. I will say that I think a print version of this novel would be easier to read as the glossary of the various Indian terms used is at the very end of the Kindle version and is not very accessible while reading. I do plan to keep reading in the series as I’m now invested in Perveen’s evolution as a lawyer/detective.

Book #2:

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman (Length: 349 pages). I am a HUGE Backman fan, and this latest novel just affirmed my love for him and his style of writing. I adore how Backman assembles a seemingly disparate group of characters, with them all coming together in the end in a truly magical way. (I just imagine Backman planning his novels with an enormous whiteboard, mapping out all of these relationships). This novel is about a group of “hostages” after a bank robbery gone wrong. I will warn you that you will HATE most of these characters in the first few chapters of this book, but this is on purpose because by the end your opinions will be turned on their heads and you’ll be enjoying their interactions and their development as characters. I found this novel to be laugh out loud funny in places, the writing quality is fantastic and you will be recommending this to everyone you know (as I am doing here).

Book #3:

At the Edge of the Orchard by Tracy Chevalier (Length: 297 pages).  This book has been on my TBR for ages, and I can’t remember who recommended this one. It wasn’t my favorite read this month, but I am glad I stuck with it. It’s a very well-written historical fiction novel based (loosely) on Johnny Appleseed (or John Chapman) and William Lobb (a plant/tree seeker) in the early 19th century. The book is divided into five sections, and the first section is a bit difficult to read (emotionally) so I almost DNF. (I actually jumped over to read the reviews on Amazon to see if I should even bother continuing, and I’m glad I did). The first section covers a mother and father (Sadie and James Goodenough) who settle in the Black Swamp in Ohio in the 1830s and 40s with their 10 children. It’s a hard, difficult life, and ultimately 5 of their children die, which isn’t helped by Sadie being a raging alcoholic with a weird crush on Johnny Appleseed and James being obsessed (to the detriment of his entire family) with planting apple trees. Where the book redeemed itself, in my opinion, is in the subsequent sections which follow the son, Robert, who ends up working with Lobb amongst the giant redwoods and Sequoias in California during the Gold Rush. Those sections were fascinating, and I’m glad I stuck with it.

Book #4:

The Nothing Man by Catherine Ryan Howard (Length: 261 pages).  I am VERY picky about thrillers (perhaps as a former criminal prosecutor?) and find many of them to be unbelievable or too easy to solve. This novel here is amazing! The premise is a 12 year old girl in Ireland hears her entire family murdered by a serial killer while she is locked in a hallway bathroom, and the killer is never apprehended. Years later as an adult she decides to write a book about her experience (as well as the other victims of the killer) with the singular aim of drawing him out. The alternating chapters are written from the perspective of the killer, so you as a reader know who he is the entire novel. This is a fictionalized account but it’s so well done that I actually Googled it TWICE in disbelief that this wasn’t an actual memoir. Apparently the author was inspired to write this book after reading Michele McNamara’s stellar I’ll Be Gone in the Dark (which I reviewed here previously) and I absolutely can see similarities here. This is SUCH a good read–perfect for the beach!

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