Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The 19th Wife

The 19th Wife  By David Ebershoff      This novel is historical fiction at its best. Ann Eliza Webb Young is the 19th wife of the infamous Bringham Young. In 1874 she leaves him. She writes a memoir and travels America lecturing to enlighten people on how polygamy is destroying the Mormons, destroying women and children and should be against the law in the United States. In The 19th Wife the author intertwines this history (reaching to the very beginning of the Mormons in the early 1800's) and a modern day polygamist murder that has taken place in a small desert town. Jordan Scott is a young twentysomething man that was excommunicated from the Firsts religious group as a teenager. He thought he would never see his family again, but returns when his father is murdered and mother is in jail for the crime. Jordan is determined to find the truth in this drama that unfolds before his very eyes. Jordan is a very likeable character which makes the reading wonderful. Ann Eliza is described in such detail that her voice could be heard. The 19th Wife is a unique blend of ethics, intrigue, relationships, gender identity, love and religion. Are people free to live how they choose and who gets to decide. A book I could not put down and it is neither light nor quick. The only advice I should dispense is that this is fiction based on pieces of history. It is a little confusing at times, just keep reading and do your googling later. Enjoy the ride back in time.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The School of Essential Ingredients

The School of Essential Ingredients  By Erica Bauermeister    A perfect book to have read on Valentines Day. Filled with delicious food, wine, friendship and romance. In essence it is a story about enjoying the moment. Enjoying life every precious day, slowly, not rushing about and missing the finer points. Lillian, the owner of the restaurant, learns to cook at an early age. The author gently touches on her difficult childhood which led her to become a chef. She has a cooking class where a rather odd mix of characters joins her every Monday evening for lessons. Interestingly, there are no recipes, no notes to be taken. It is purely to be absorbed, enjoyed, felt and relished. This story is an uplifting, simple tale of different lives that have come together and if nothing else you should relax and enjoy every single page, slowly.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The House at Sugar Beach

The House at Sugar Beach  By Helene Cooper.   Helene grew up in Liberia, Africa. Her family are descendants of Free black Americans that came to Liberia in the 1820's to start a new American colony apart from the horrendous slave trade that was still a strong force. Her family and others like them were known as Congo and the native Liberians were called Country. The Congo became the elite. They were educated and continued to prosper for over 150 years. Helene went to a private American school and lived in a mansion on the beach, Sugar Beach. She has an adopted sister Eunice, brought into the family to keep her company and another younger sister, Marlene. Her life seems idyllic as a child rarely sees the politics surrounding their little world. In 1980 it begins to fall apart. She is 14 years old, just becoming a woman. The Country people rebel and take over the government, raping, executing and looting Monrovia. Helene's family is lucky enough to escape and travel to America. Sadly, Eunice is left behind. For no reason other than that is what people did. She went back to her village. 23 years later, Helene as a successful reporter returns to Liberia for the first time, to find her childhood and the memories she has tried so hard to leave behind. This memoir is written from the heart, it is truthful, painful, happy and sad. Ms. Cooper shares her life with the reader and gives us a moment to appreciate the land we are born to and family we have.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Lit  By Mary Karr. Her third memoir, this book portrays the later years of Mary Karr's life. In detail she describes to her reader a childhood full of fear and isolation. Her adulthood leaned immediately toward the center of destruction. As her mother finally finds sobriety, she takes her place in a dangerous world of alcoholism (says the universe can only handle one drunk Karr at a time). Ms. Karr's memoir is real and honest and scary. She doesn't hold back at all to make a picture that is remotely pretty or happy. When she later is sober she searches for religion, god and some faith to hold onto. Ms. Karr's memoir is at times funny (believe it or not) her excellent writing is poetic and unique and her path is one that is taken everyday by many. It can be a depressing read as are most that deal with drugs,  alcohol and abuse. She and her sister (seemingly her one and only rock and bright light through her life, bless her) set out to find normalcy, forgiveness and still deeply love their mother and father. While this can be a hard read, mystifying for some, too close to home for others, some books need to be read.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Good Things I Wish You

Good Things I Wish You.  By A. Manette Ansay. 

From Johannes to Clara in 1856: " I wish I could write you as tenderly as I love you and tell you all the good things that I wish for you. You are so infinitely dear to me, dearer than I can say....."

Award winning novelist Manette Ansay's latest book is a story about Jeanette Hochman, a 40 year old, divorced woman raising a child in South Florida. She is just edging herself back into the world of dating via a dating service. Jeanette meets Hart, a German born entrepreneur who helps her with some translating and begins a mostly platonic friendship that she is not always confident will work. She has been researching for years the infamous love triangle between musician Clara Schumann, her husband, composer Robert Schumann and his protege Johannes Brahms. The story flips between present day Miami and 19th century Germany. There is deep love involved, child parent relationships and friendships that are struggling to survive. An intriguing subject and unqiue style of writing make this a terrific read! To grasp some of the detail better, a little google search is helpful, and set the scene by putting on a little piano music while reading!