We Are Not Ourselves
by Matthew Thomas is a riveting debut novel with a main character who will enthrall you. It is a heart wrenching family tale spanning three generations. We are with Eileen from her early teenage years, through her marriage to Ed Leary, and the torturous arc of a cruel disease. Her hopes, dreams and disappointments are laid bare as we grow to love her resilience and stubborn refusal to give up.
The Children Act
by Ian McEwan follows Fiona Maye, a judge in London’s Family Court who regularly makes very tough decisions that impact families. McEwan uses his talent for smooth prose to great effect here. The key decision that confronts her is whether a teenage Jehovah’s Witness should be allowed to refuse a life saving blood transfusion. The strains of a marriage in crisis add to her stress.
The Paying Guests
by Sarah Walters is so well written you want to savor every sentence. This is a masterful rendition of English society in the post WWI era. It begins with the mother and daughter Wray’s taking in lodgers to meet expenses. A couple moves in, and the repercussions of house sharing are far greater than anticipated. Read on! Highly recommended.
The Beekeeper’s Ball
by Susan Wigg is unashamedly romantic and a lot of fun. It is set in Sonoma CA and features a heroine who is starting a destination cooking school on her family’s historic ranch property. Bees play a starring role in “cute meets” and wonderful recipes. Indulge yourself!
by A.D. Garrett is a nail biting thriller with a strong emphasis on forensic knowledge and skills as an aid in crime solving. One of the dual authors is a forensic scientist, lending this book a realistic atmosphere. Simms and Fenimore are united in trying to solve a string a murders in the Manchester drug addict population. There is history between them, a complex relationship that continues to develop, and a nasty overlay of departmental politics. Some of the descriptions are violent so heads up, but the writing is tight and pulls you along as the story unfolds.
A Brief History of Seven Killings
by Marlon James is an eye opening expose of Jamaican culture and politics amid the violence of the modern drug trade. Told in a range of voices and languages (patois figures heavily) it is a monumental work that shines a bright light on the complicated modern history of Jamaica. The action ranges in time from the 1970’s through the 1990’s. This book has gotten a lot of attention for a good reason; it is a true epic.
The Girl Next Door
by Ruth Rendell is a classic. A group of children during WWII are brought back together seventy years later when the bones of two hands, clearly from murder victims, are found in their old ‘playground’. As is often the case with Rendell’s mysteries it’s not so much about who did the dastardly deed as why, with the usual astute examination of the motivations of the characters involved.
If you missed the movie The Hundred Foot Journey you can capture the smells and tastes brought vividly to life on the screen in the original book by Richard Morais. The story of an immigrant Indian family unraveling the mores of French culture and cuisine over the course of many years is perfect for anyone interested in family and culinary history.
Hampton Sides’ book In the Kingdom of Ice explores the ill- fated voyage of the SS Jeanette in 1879. Bankrolled by the owner of the ‘New York Herald’ the ship set off for the Arctic, only to become marooned in pack ice for two years. Anyone who was captivated by the Shackleford expedition will be equally mesmerized by the bravery of this crew as they fought to survive in an unforgiving climate. This is eminently readable history.
The English Country House Garden
by George Plumptre is a gorgeous coffee table book. Traditional, contemporary, vivid, subdued, geometric, free flowing, borders, fountains, sublime views – this book has it all. This is a well researched, beautifully photographed book of gardens that will inspire and delight gardeners and Anglophiles alike.
A Deadly Wandering
by Matt Richtel is the tragic true story of a death caused by texting while driving. We have been repeatedly told of the dangers of inattention behind the wheel; this book examines the science behind that inattentiveness while it focuses on the accident that changed Reggie Shaw’s life forever. First written as an article in the NY Times, the book successfully grapples in a thought provoking way with one of the key issues of our technology driven world.
by beloved author and dog rescuer Jon Katz can be read in one sitting; it’s that hard to put down. The true story of his adoption of an abused donkey is impossibly heart-warming. He learns so much compassion from being with and caring for Simon that it changes his way of looking at animals and our relationship with them. Donkeys are fascinating creatures; you will learn a lot!
Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant
is a touching memoir by Roz Chast complete with her trademark drawings. It is original and often very humorous despite the difficult subject matter. The author writes about caring for her aging parents with grace and tenderness, while pulling no punches on the difficulties faced by caregivers. She currently has a great exhibit down the road at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich.
Fire Shut Up in My Bones
by Charles Blow is a very brave book. His memoir of growing up in a deeply segregated Louisiana town is frankly harrowing in parts. His mother was a fierce disciplinarian and his large family sheltered a dark secret that caused him much pain and shame over the years. The road to manhood was long and hard but his courage allowed him to overcome obstacles that would have defeated many people.
by Jessica Merchant is particularly great for snacks and sandwiches. The brown butter banana bread is amazing.
Nick Malgieri’s Pastry is the latest in a long line of superb baking books from this master chef. It is lavishly photographed and the step by step instructions are very clear.
Comfort food is having a moment with the onset of colder nights. Jamie Oliver has published a new cookbook called Jamie’s Comfort Food, and Hillary Davis has published French Comfort Food. Both have divine photography and easy to follow, tasty recipes. Jamie’s recipes are more international and complex but well within the reach of the curious cook.
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