Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach

Adelia Monteforte is a young teenager when her mother
unexpectedly puts her on a ship to America. Alone and scared with only a small satchel, Addie leaves everything she knows and loves behind as WWII closes in on her beloved Italy. She is met at the ship by an aunt and uncle that she has never met. They understand the danger she has faced in Europe and do the best they can to make her feel safe even though she is alone and desperately misses her parents. They rent a house for the summer at the Jersey Shore and to Addie’s surprise a carload of the fun loving Connally family pulls up next door. Addie is instantly enthralled and welcomed as part of the gang for the rest of the summer. A quiet romance begins with Charlie, the eldest, and that alone changes the path of their lives forever. Fall brings them back to Philadelphia, the Connally’s to their Irish neighborhood and Addie to her Jewish one. But that does not deter this budding romance and deep connection Addie feels towards this family. When tragedy strikes it tears them apart. The Connally’s disappears and a distraught Addie is abandoned yet again. She makes her way to London to help with the war effort. Addie is a spunky, driven young lady assisting at the newspaper when Charlie shows up and her world is once again turned upside down. This easy to read story is quite enjoyable until about three quarters through when it becomes way too predictable and the timing seems thrown off, it is quickly a rush to the finish, which I guess was a good thing.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Swans of Fifth Avenue

This is the story of writer Truman Capote and his intense,
complicated friendship with the women he dubbed The Swans during the 1950’s. Truman watched these women with awe and as his writing career escalated he slowly immersed himself deeply into the lives of Babe Paley, C.Z. Guest and Gloria Guiness, to name a few. Truman, a talented, flamboyant character was invited to stay on their yachts, visit their homes and get invited to the most important parties. Escaping from the south and a troubled childhood, Truman was desperate for things that were beautiful, dying to be loved. He became incredibly close to Babe Paley and her CBS Executive husband, Bill. Truman discovered their deepest darkest secrets and tucked them away in his little notebook. After a few years of clawing his way to the top and writing the biggest novel of his life (In Cold Blood) Truman experiences complete and utter self- destruction. This period is insanely glamorous and the riches and lives these women lead is almost unbelievable. Fabulous author Melanie Benjamin (The Aviator’s Wife -#unputdownable) has once again brought us back in time through her detailed, well researched story of these outrageous characters who were the IT girls of their time. Highly recommend BUT only if this period interests you. The story is easy to read but the shallow women and unstable Capote left me feeling empty and well, I was glad it ended swiftly.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Golden Son

Anil is the eldest son in a large Indian family.
They live in a rural farming village far from any big city. Few children in their village finish much schooling but Anil is the very first to attend college and then his life’s dream, medical school. While his brothers work the land with their father Anil is determined to finish school and ultimately attend a prestigious medical residency in Texas. Scared and anxious Anil travels across the world to begin his training in an extremely competitive, difficult program where he is easily cast as the odd man out.  Anil finds adjusting to the various American ways and language as difficult as the residency itself. Anil’s father becomes ill and it falls on his shoulders to mediate the towns disputes and decisions pertinent to the family business, much to the brothers dismay, as they are the ones performing the difficult work and he is far away living the golden son life. This beautiful family is torn apart by traditions that do not easily fit into modern life. Their strong respect and love for each other and their father’s memory keeps them from giving up on this difficult road where two world’s collide and Anil is torn between his dreams and responsibilities, wondering if he can ever have them both. The Golden Son is beautifully written with an incredible cast of characters. Author Shilpi Somaya Gowda, who also wrote the best selling novel The Secret Daughter, captures our hearts again as well as our imagination with this wonderful story that I did not want to end. And that’s the difference fellow readers, to find the books that you cherish every final page and do not want it to end! Highly recommend!!

Friday, February 5, 2016

A Paris Apartment

April Vogt is on her way to Paris. As a furniture expert working
at one of the largest auction houses in New York City, an unbelievably rare opportunity has been presented by her boss - to authenticate items that have been locked away in an apartment since the war. April jumps at this chance, as a professional she is anxious to see what treasures await and frankly things with her beautiful banker husband have not been ideal. Maybe she is running away from family issues she'd rather not face or perhaps a break is exactly what they need. April becomes quite enamored with the handsome French solicitor Luc, who represents the heir of treasures. It turns out (irresistible) Luc understands her more than she imagined. Journals are discovered that are initially used to issue provenance but very quickly April is mesmerized by the mysterious life this woman left behind and she simply must know why this apartment of rarities has been so long abandoned. She is swept into a world of past and present that very well may affect her future, but Avril (as Luc calls her) cannot resist the temptations of the most romantic city in the world. This delicious, easy, well written read was unputdownable. I simply love everything French and for just a few days found myself visiting Paris. Merci Michelle Gable, I cannot wait to read your next novel!