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Friday, September 7, 2018

Two Perfect Books for the Weekend

Reprinted from the Citizen:
It’s hard to believe we’ve come to the unofficial end of summer. Why do summers go by so fast, and winters drag on? If you want to hang on to a little bit more of summer, this month’s Book Report has a few books that will help you do that.au
Miriam Parker’s delightful debut novel, The Shortest Way Home, begins as Hannah and her boyfriend, Ethan, are celebrating their impending business school graduation with a trip through Sonoma wine country before their move to New York City, where Hannah will begin a coveted job at Goldman Global Investment Research. 
They end up at a lovely small family-owned winery, Bellosguardo, where Hannah becomes enchanted by Tannin, the family dog, and the beautiful setting. Hannah strikes up a conversation with the owner’s son, William, and after awhile, she begins to brainstorm some terrific ideas to drum up more business for the small winery.
Hannah is the kind of person who likes to talk to the locals to find out where the best places are; Ethan likes to research and plan, and follow that plan to the letter. Ethan prefers to observe, Hannah prefers to interact.
Hannah can’t get the small winery out of her head, and when she discovers that she left her wallet at the winery, she returns and meets William’s mother, Linda, who offers Hannah a summer job at the winery working on marketing.
Her excitement gets the best of her, and Hannah decides to take the job, which doesn’t pay much, but allows her to live in a sweet little cottage at the winery. Ethan is dumbfounded that Hannah is willing to give up a high-paying job in New York to work at the small winery. He is also concerned what this will do to their relationship, as he loves Hannah and hopes to marry her.
I adored The Shortest Way Home. If you are a wine lover, as I am, this book is for you. It will have you planning a trip to beautiful wine country, or in the case of central New Yorkers, heading over to one of the many lovely local wineries in the Finger Lakes region to taste the best of what it has to offer.
I also think Parker realistically portrays the difficulties of owning a small family business, and the incredibly hard work it is to keep a business afloat. I related to Hannah and Ethan’s habit of looking at a business and coming up with ways to make it more successful (my husband and I like to do that, too). 
The Shortest Way Home is the perfect book to end with this summer. Pour a glass of your favorite white wine, take it out to your comfy front porch chair and settle in for an enchanting read.
Elin Hilderbrand sets most of her books in Nantucket, and her latest book, The Perfect Couple, is no exception. What is different is that this book has a murder mystery at its center. Celeste is about to marry Benji, whose wealthy family has a summer home on Nantucket.  
Benji’s mom is a popular author, having written a series of mysteries for 20 years, although her last book was rejected by her publisher. His dad owns a successful hedge fund. Celeste’s parents are solidly middle-class, her dad works at a clothing store in a mall in Pennsylvania, and her mom is suffering from breast cancer and not doing well.
When the maid of honor is found drowned the morning of the wedding by Celeste, the police are sent in to discover if it was an accident or a murder. Everyone at the wedding seems to be hiding something, from the married man who was having an affair with the maid of honor, to the best man who is keeping a big secret from the groom, to the family friend (frenemy?) lurking at the edges of the wedding festivities.
Characters from Hilderbrand’s previous books pop up to give her fans an added level of enjoyment. I liked the sunny setting of the wealthy Nantucket enclave and the juxtaposition of the relationships of Benji’s wealthy parents and Celeste’s middle-class parents.
Hilderbrand has written a classic beach read with a twist, and if you bring this book to the beach to read, be sure to put on plenty of sunscreen because you won’t be leaving your chair until you finish every last page of this intense novel.

If you read

BOOK: The Shortest Way Home by Miriam Parker
COST: Hardcover, $26
LENGTH: 320 pages

BOOK: The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand
PUBLISHER: Little, Brown and Co.
COST: Hardcover, $30
LENGTH: 481 pages
Diane La Rue is a member of the National Book Critics Circle and blogs about books at http://bookchickdi.blogspot.com. You can follow her on Twitter @bookchickdi, and she can be emailed at laruediane2000@yahoo.com.


  1. I adored The Shortest Way Home too and I'm not even a wine drinker.

  2. I liked both of these, too. Especially Miriam's book.