The French Gardener. By Santa Montefiore. Miranda and David Claybourne are an upper class English couple with two young children that live in the countryside not far from London. The "rat race" in London was bringing them down and for the benefit of their children and peace of mind they settled on a magnificent estate in the country. While David continued to work in London, Miranda began to fall in love with the country, the estate, the gardens and the gardener. She hired Jean Paul to bring the decayed garden back to its original beauty that everyone in the village spoke about. Miranda, a girl who never got her hands dirty and had a nanny raising her children, completely dove into this new life and began to drift further away from her marriage. David was having an affair in London and miserably coming home on the weekends. Things were not good for the Claybournes relationship. But just when it seemed impossible to repair, Jean Paul teaches Miranda about true love, magic, beauty and guides her back to her family to rebuild their happiness. Jean Paul holds mysteries of the past. The past gardens, and his past and only love of his life, Ava. As Miranda figures out his mystery, she reveals the truth about herself and in the process helps Jean Paul discover an end to his torment as well. A romantic novel if ever I read one. Enjoyed every minute I spent in "la la" land!
I Was Amelia Earhart By Jane Mendelsohn. A novel about Amelia Earhart, aviatrix, heroine and one of a kind character. This story finds Amelia and her navigator Noonan at a time just prior to their second around the world attempt in 1937. It portrays her brittle relationship with her husband G.P., and her tumultuous love/hate relationship with Noonan. Most importantly it describes, in breathtaking prose, her love of flying, and her love of the sky itself. I Was Amelia Earhart is a completely fictionalized story about what could have, might have happened if she and Noonan landed on a deserted island. It was this windy journey that Amelia took and was never seen or heard from again. In itself a mystery there have been multiple theories about where she could have crashed or landed on that fateful day. There are many writings about her life and her travels by herself and others that have traced her piloting career. This story was a pleasure to read and I thoroughly enjoyed envisioning these characters surviving on a tiny island in the middle of the Pacific. If you are in the mood for a love story and have a vivd imagination, don't miss out on this little treasure.
Push By Sapphire. This story is a necessary evil. It is hard to read. The spelling is written as it sounds, composed predominantly of slang and bitterness. Push is sad, it is scary, it can be depressing. PUSH MUST BE READ. It is life. It is a portrait of hard life taking place throughout inner cities across the country. Push details poverty, abuse, childhood stolen but Push is real. Push exists and people cannot pretend that it does not. It is not about color. It is about what is right and what is wrong and these very basic rights to life are not hard to figure out. Push is the story of Precious Jones. She is raised in Harlem. Precious is abused, misguided and almost forgotten but Precious has a big heart. Precious meets a teacher with a tremendous amount of patience and love to share. Precious somehow finds a tiny tiny escape route from her horrendous life. And slowly she sees the world. Slowly she attains the only thing she can afford, HOPE.
East of the Sun By Julia Gregson. In the late 1920's, many English girls searching for husbands (before they are considered spinsters at the ripe old age of 19!) travel to India where the English men outnumber the women and are considered a worthy catch! (these girls are called the Fishing Fleet!) East of the Sun features Rose, beautiful, sweet and about to marry said English man, Tor, her life long friend accompanying her for the wedding, Viva, their chaperone, (not much older than them) searching for clues about her childhood and deceased family and the unlikely shipmate Guy Glover, an extremely troubled teenager that Viva is also chaperoning to see his parents in India. The ship drama is enticing and only the beginning of their journey through their growing friendships, romances and mishaps. Their life over the next year in India is detailed, sordid and colorful. I loved the characters and the way the story completely immerses the reader in that time period. I have always had an affinity for India and English novels so this was a great mix for me. It is a long read (almost 600) but I truly enjoyed every moment.
Half Broke Horses, By Jeannette Walls. Ms. Walls has done it again. Her words have taken the reader to another time, another place. Inside the minds and hearts of her characters. The book had originally set out to be about her mother (the infamous Rosemary in The Glass Castle) but after extensive research and storytelling within the family she wrote the book about the life of her grandmother Lily Casey Smith. It is the early 1900's in the Southwest United States. Lily lives on a ranch, they raise horses and cattle. Life is hard work just to survive. People don't wonder if they are happy. Except Lily does. She is one of those women that even at a time in America where women had little say, she had a big voice and presence. She went to college, learned to fly, was a horsewoman and trainer. There was very little she couldn't do and she always gave her best. Lily is a funny, sarcastic, honest and intelligent woman and it was exciting to follow her through her years growing up, getting married and then raising her family. A little like (A Land Remembered, by Patrick Smith), a bit like Little House on the Prairie. All the things we take for granted and luxuries we think we could not do without were rare commodities. But love, faith and hope kept Lily and her family going. Enlightening also to understand where and how Rosemary grew up and what subsequently became The Glass Castle story. A worthwhile and easy read that I really enjoyed.