"Books are a uniquely portable magic." -- Stephen King
Happy Monday! How was your Fourth of July? We celebrated Independence Day by heading for the mountains and finding freedom from television (no TV set!), the Internet (no connection!), and our phones (very sketchy signal!). This left us quite behind on Tour de France coverage, but well caught up on our summer reading.
So how thrilled was I to return to civilization and find I'm the lucky recipient of On Grace thanks to the lovely Elizabeth of Pretty Pink Tulips? Elizabeth is friends with the book's author, Susie Orman Schnall, who spins a tale about friendship, betrayal and life after 40 with "themes that will resonate with any woman who owns at least one pair of Spanx." Sounds good to me - I can't wait to dive in!
Need a new read to lose yourself in as summer unwinds one lazy day at time? Here are a few other books I've enjoy so far:
Last winter when I stayed with my mother while my dad recovered in a nursing home from a sudden illness, I was deeply touched Jessica Soffer's recollection of the loss of her own father and her efforts to remove his sculptures from a New York City rooftop as recounted in Vogue.
Her words provided moments of peace and healing, like talking to a friend who understood exactly what I was going through. So I immediately pre-ordered her debut novel, Tomorrow there will be Apricots. Months later the title appeared on my Kindle screen but I didn't know how much the story of a troubled young girl and lonely older woman would engage me, especially as I sat poolside at a resort in Mexico. Turns out I drank it in faster than the steady stream of margaritas that were delivered regularly to my lounge chair. Jessica Soffer writes so eloquently of grief, love and unexpected connections, you can't help but fall for her two heroines. It's a beautiful book.
Are you longing to lose yourself wandering the streets of Paris but have no plans to visit the City of Light this summer? The next best thing is getting lost in the pages of Lessons in French by Hilary Reyl. This coming of age in Paris story is as engaging as they come and paints a beautiful portrait of the charms of the city and the fascinating characters who live there, all while posing interesting questions about family and fame, the boundaries we set with others, and how much of ourselves we should give.
Pining for Downton Abbey and still not able to accept the deaths of Lady Sybil and Cousin Matthew? The Ashford Affair by Lauren Willig will cheer you right up. Part Downton, with a healthy dose of summer Rom-com and a bit Out of Africa mixed in. The story bounces between past and present, from a stately English manor to a Manhattan law firm, telling the intertwined tales of Addie, Bea and Clementine, who unravels a family mystery while finding love where she least expects it.
Okay, I can't say I enjoyed spending time with Nora Eldridge, the self-proclaimed woman upstairs from Claire Messud's novel of the same name. In fact, the book has created a bit of an Internet kerfuffle about whether (female) characters need to be likable. (Have we already forgotten last summer's beyond unlikable Amy Dunne?) Whether or not you like Nora or the book, you'll definitely come away with all sorts of fodder for discussion about leaning in -- or out, having it all, creativity versus responsibility, and the sacrifices demanded by lives lived both large and small. Which makes me really glad this is my Book Club's title for the month of July.
Next up on my Kindle queue?
I think I'll need a few more long, disconnected, holiday weekends to get through them all! You can never have too many good reads lined up during the summer months, don't you think?
So tell me, what's on your night stand or in you Kindle queue these days? What was the last book you couldn't put down?