“One True Thing” by Anna Quindlen.
A young woman is in jail, accused of the mercy killing of her mother. She says she didn’t do it; she thinks she knows who did.
When Ellen Gulden first learns that her mother, Kate, has cancer, the disease is already far advanced. Her father insists that Ellen quit her job and come home to take care of Kate. Ellen has always been the special child in the family, the high achiever, her father’s intellectual match, and the person caught in the middle between her parents. She has seen herself as very different from her mother, the talented homemaker, the family’s popular center, its one true thing. Yet as Ellen begins to spend her days with Kate, she learns many surprising things, not only about herself but also about her mother, a woman she thought she knew so well.
The life choices Ellen and her mother have made are reassessed in this deeply moving novel, a work of fiction that is richly imbued with profound insights into the complex lives of women and men.
“The Geography of Desire” by Robert Boswell.
A love-triangle type story which takes place in South America. Interesting characters and plot twists abound. The hotel owner loves the bookstore owner. The bookstore owner is a revolutionary on the run. The guided-tour director is a gifted storyteller. His son loves the bakery assistant. The bakery assistant loves the hotel owner. Her mother is friends with the bookstore owner’s mother. I can’t say anymore without giving away the plot. The ending floored me.
“Home Fires” by Luanne Rice.
Anne Davis has returned to the house where she grew up, trading her glamorous Manhattan lifestyle for a harsh winter on a wind-whipped New England island. Her marriage has crumbled in the wake of a tragic accident. Now she has returned to the home on Salt Whistle Road that has always meant shelter, security, family, and love. When she awakens one snowy night to a fire that roars through the old house, Anne escapes–but runs back into the blaze to save something so precious that it’s worth risking her life for. It is that reckless act of blind desperation that sets a miracle in motion…
Incredible. I highly recommend anything by Luanne Rice. She is one of my very favorite authors and I have never been disappointed in her work. She’s right next to Anne Rice on the shelves, and some of her titles are: Crazy in Love, Stoneheart, Angels all Over Town, and Blue Moon.
“Patty Jane’s House of Curl” by Lorna Landvik.
Maybe Patty Jane Dobbin should know better than to marry a man as gorgeous as Thor Rolvaag, but she’s too smitten to think twice. Yet nine months into their marriage, with a baby on the way, Thor is gone. It’s a good thing Patty Jane has her irrepressible sister Harriet to rely on–not to mention her extremely short, extremely rich almost-brother-in-law, Avel Ames.
It’s been said that a good haircut can cure any number of ills, and before long the Minnesota sisters have opened a neighborhood beauty parlor complete with live harp music and an endless supply of delicious Norwegian baked goods. It’s a wonderful, warm-hearted place where you can count on good friends, lots of laughter, tears, and comfort when you need it–and the unmistakable scent of someone getting a permanent wave . . .
This is one of those books that you wish would never end. I loved the community of women centered around the hair salon, the love and support that just flows around their lives.
“The Sixteen Pleasures” by Robert Hellenga.
“I was twenty-nine years old when the Arno flooded its banks on Friday 4 November 1966. On Tuesday I decided to go to Italy, to offer my services as a humble book conservator.to save whatever could be saved, including myself.”
The Italians called them “Mud Angels,” the young foreigners who came to Florence in 1966 to save the city’s treasured art from the Arno’s flooded banks. American volunteer Margot Harrington was one of them, finding her niche in the waterlogged library of a Carmelite convent. For within its walls she discovered a priceless Renaissance masterwork: a sensuous volume of sixteen erotic poems and drawings.
Inspired to sample each of the ineffable sixteen pleasures, Margot embarks on the intrigue of a lifetime with a forbidden lover and the contraband volume–a sensual, life-altering journey of loss and rebirth in this exquisite novel of spiritual longing and earthly desire.
“The Wood Wife” by Terri Windling.
A poet leaves his Tucson house and all his work to an artist in California. She moves to Arizona, and through subsequent friendships and a romance, begins to discover the poet, his talented and disturbed wife, and the magic of the Arizona desert. Does life imitate art, or art life? Fantastic and gripping, you can actually feel the heat of the desert sun on the pages.
“The Mists of Avalon” by Marion Zimmer Bradley.
Mom and I have been talking about this book for months. It is the story of King Arthur told from the woman’s point of view. So you are brought into the world of the Druid Priestesses and the threat they face from the rise and growth of Christianity. You experience the legends of the Round Table, Camelot, the Isle of Avalon, Joseph of Aramithea and Glastonbury from the point of view of Morgan le Fay (Morgaine) and Queen Gueniviere. We both found it fascinating and very, very compelling. If you enjoy it, you’ll also want to read Bradley’s prequel The Forest House, and keep your eye out in June for the release of Lady of Avalon.
“The Passion Dream Book” by Whitney Otto
(Whitney also wrote How to Make an American Quilt.)
This story traces the lives of Romy March and Augustine Marks, both photographic artists, from 1919 to 1956, from the Hollywood Silent Film era, to the Harlem Renaissance, to the Montparnesse Artist Colonies, to England, and home again to San Francisco. Romy is the descendant of the artist Guilietta Marcel, who encountered both DaVinci and Michelangelo in her Renaissance lifetime.
I thought it was delicious. It made me want to be a bohemian. It made me want to take pictures. It’s a very beautiful and poignant love story as well, and thank God for happy endings (I won’t say any more than that).