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Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Three Great Spring Reads

Reprinted from auburnpub.com:

Spring is traditionally a busy time of year with many publishers releasing some of their most promising books of the year and this year is no exception. This month’s Book Report has a few of them in different genres.

Colm Tobin’s latest novel, Long Island picks up the story he began in his novel Brooklyn twenty years ago. We met young Irish immigrant Eilis Lacey who moved to Brooklyn, fell in  love, and married Tony Fiorello in Brooklyn

Twenty years later, Eilis, Tony and their two teenage children live amongst Tony’s large family in a Lindenhurst, Long Island cul-de-sac. Eilis still feels like an outsider in the large Italian-American family years later.

When a man comes to the door and says that his wife is pregnant with Tony’s child, and that when the baby is born he will be dropping the baby on Eilis’ doorstep, she tells Tony that she will not raise another woman’s baby.

As Tony and his mother make arrangements for her to take care of the baby, Eilis returns home to Ireland for a planned visit to see her own mother whom she hasn’t seen in twenty years.

Eilis’ last visit home was fraught with complications. She never told anyone she was married to Tony, and wasn’t sure then whether she would stay in Ireland or return to Brooklyn and Tony.

She began a relationship with Jim, whose family owned a pub in her hometown. After leaving Jim heartbroken, she never spoke to him again. Jim is now in a relationship with Nancy, a widow who was Eilis’ best friend. 

Eilis’ return again causes complications for Jim. He loves Nancy and wants to build a life with her, but seeing Eilis again brings up old feelings he thought were buried.

I found the character of Jim the most intriguing in Long Island. He is a good man who is torn between doing right by Nancy, a woman he truly loves, and wanting to be with Eilis, even if it means leaving all he knows behind.

Colm Toibin writes complicated, realistic characters, and I felt completely immersed in the small Irish town where most of the story takes place. We waited twenty years for the continuation of Eilis’ story and it was certainly worth the wait. I highly recommend Long Island.

I have two books that resonate with mothers and daughters. Andromeda Romano-Lax’s novel The Deepest Lake tells the story of Rose, a mother whose twenty-something daughter Jules drowned in a lake in Central America. 

Jules was working at a writers’ workshop run by Eve Marshall, a popular memoir writer whom Jules greatly admired. Rose is troubled by the fact that Jules was afraid of water, and wonders why Jules was last seen in a small boat out in bad weather. 

Rose decides to go incognito to the writers’ workshop to find out what happened to her daughter. While there, Rose meets the other women at the workshop, and begins to probe them and others about what exactly goes on at this retreat, without blowing her cover.

Rose can see why so many women are seduced by Eve’s glamour and personality, but she comes to feel that Eve’s methods to get these women to open up and write their own stories are disturbing. She feels that Eve is hiding something that may have to do with Jules’ mysterious death.

There is a twist at the end that I did not see coming that upends the story and creates tension in the novel. At the heart of the story is the strength that a mother finds in herself to discover what happened to her daughter. If you like well-written literary thrillers with intriguing characters, put The Deepest Lake on your list.

After the death of Mary Lou Quinlan’s mother, she discovered that her mother had stashed small boxes all over her home filled with little slips of paper containing petitions to God. 

The God Box shares many of the prayers her mother Mary wrote asking God to help her children, friends, and even people she barely knew. From serious health matters to job advancement to help with relationships, Mary’s faith, compassion, and empathy for others shines in this slim read, and it’s a beautiful tribute to her life.

The God Box is a lovely inspirational gift for any mom or daughter, it will encourage you to reflect on your own mother’s life.

Long Island by Colm Toibin-A

Published by Scribner

Hardcover, $28, 320 pages

The Deepest Lake by Andromeda Romano-Lax- A-

Published by Soho Crime

Hardcover, $26.95, 384 pages

The God Box by Mary Lou Quinlan- A-

Published by Greenleaf Book Group Press

Hardcover, $16.95, 122 pages

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