Tuesday, December 27, 2022
Tuesday, December 20, 2022
Reprinted from auburnpub.com
It’s the time of year for the Most Compelling Books of 2022. These are books that I still think about even months after I finished reading them, books with unforgettable characters and writing that takes my breath away.
Barbara Kingsolver is a writer whose works I never miss, and her new novel, Demon Copperhead is her best one yet. She takes on a classic- Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield- and sets her story about an orphan boy in Appalachia, as she tackles the topics of addiction, poverty, the foster care system, and the beginnings of the opioid crisis. I am not the only reviewer to pick this as the best book of the year.
I read a great deal of historical fiction, and Adriana Trigiani’s moving epic about the importance of family stories The Good Left Undone, takes the reader from WWII Italy, France, and Scotland as Matelda, the matriarch of the Cabrelli family, shares her mother’s long-lost love story with her children and granddaughter so that it will not be forgotten. Every detail here is perfect.
Anthony Marra’s Mercury Pictures Presents is also an epic about a young Italian woman who flees WWII to Los Angeles where she ends up working in the motion picture industry. Marra’s characters are so well-drawn they feel real, and his story is engrossing.
Melissa Fu’s Peach Blossom Spring is set in 1930s China as Japan’s aggression forces Meilin and her young son to flee their home. They become separated from their family and Meilin does anything she has to in order to keep her son safe. When he grows up, he moves to the United States but Meilin stays behind. It’s a powerful story of a mother’s sacrifice for her son.
John Searles’ superb suspense novel, Her Last Affair is set at an abandoned drive-in theater as a blind widow rents out a cabin to a mysterious man, and a married woman reconnects on Facebook with a high school boyfriend. How Sayles cleverly connects these three characters at the end had me gasping.
Another book that connects its characters in a clever manner is Fiona Mozely’s brilliant Hot Stew about a group of people who are affected when a developer decides to sell a building in Soho in London to put up luxury condos. The tenants, including two women who run a brothel there, band together to defeat his plan.
Matt Cain’s charming The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle is the feel-good book of the year. Albert is a lonely postman facing retirement in a small English town. He decides to confide in his coworkers about his life and makes a friend in a young single mom on his route. This beautiful story restores your faith in humanity.
Jennifer Close’s Marrying the Ketchups is a wonderful story about a family who owns an Irish family restaurant in a Chicago suburb. When the patriarch passes away suddenly, there is a void and a decision about who should run the restaurant- the cousin who has been doing most of the work or the daughter who returns home from New York? I love a good Irish family story and throw in a family business and I’m in.
Another foodie-novel I liked is Natalie Caña’s romance A Proposal They Can’t Refuse about two grandfathers who play matchmaker with their grandchildren- Kamilah, who is trying to save her family’s Puerto Rican restaurant, and Liam, who runs his family’s brewery next door. I love the combination of food, family businesses, and hot romance in this enemies-to-lovers novel.
I read two nonfiction books that are outstanding. Laura L. Engel’s heartbreaking You’ll Forget This Ever Happened is a memoir about her experience after becoming pregnant in high school in the 1960s. She was sent to a home for unwed mothers where she was forced to give up her baby and it scarred her for life. It’s a searing book.
Vanity Fair writer Marie Brenner was given unprecedented access as she wrote The Desperate Hours about the beginnings of the COVID pandemic in New York City as seen through the eyes of doctors, nurses, administrators, and patients on the front lines at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. It’s a harrowing story well-told.
Three books I read in 2022 to look for in 2023- Amy Poeppels’ charming The Sweet Spot, Lauren Willig’s fantastic historical novel, Two Wars And A Wedding,
and Mary Beth Keane’s amazing novel The Half Moon.
I wish you all a very happy holiday season.
Sunday, December 18, 2022
Friday, December 16, 2022
Friday, December 9, 2022
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4) When we travel I like to pick up an ornament for our Christmas tree, and this year we have two new additions. We visited Edinburgh, Scotland and picked up a Royal Yacht Britannia ornament from the decommissioned royal yacht when we toured it. If you watched season five of The Crown on Netflix, you'll know what I'm talking about.When we visited our younger son in Boston, we toured the JFK Library and I picked one up there as well.