Tag Archives: women’s fiction

Nine Women, One Dress by Jane L. Rosen

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This elegantly written book shows just how connected we all are.  Here in Thunder Bay, it’s common to discover you have something or someone in common to almost everyone you meet.  The “one degree of separation” phenomenon is understandable in a city the size of ours, but could it work in the metropolis of New York?  This book proves it can, and one incredible dress is the touchstone that unites a group of nine diverse women.  It’s appropriate that the dress at the centre of this book is an iconic little black dress.  The dress takes on a mantle of magic as it fills a specific need for each woman that wears it.   The dress is created by a pattern maker at the end of his career, so it’s special as soon as it’s made.  A fresh off the bus model has the privilege to wear it first, and is an instant star.  After that the dress becomes the main character of the story.  Rosen gives the nine women their own chapter and voice, as their lives intersect with the dress. The dress works its magic in the lives of a Bloomingdales sales girl, a private detective, and a personal assistant, among others.  Rosen’s writing is a delight to read, and helps keep all the stories straight.  Readers discussing this book online have shared their own stories of life-changing moments, revealing that sometimes truth is stranger than fiction!

 

Mount! by Jilly Cooper

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I was thrilled to spot a new book by one of my favourite authors on display at the Brodie Library a few months ago, and it didn’t disappoint. Jilly Cooper is popular British writer who has a passion for horses, and a knack for relationships. Her newest book, Mount! focusses on Rupert Campbell-Black’s horse racing empire.  Rupert was introduced in Cooper’s first book, Riders, as a fun-loving young playboy who goes on to win an Olympic gold medal in show jumping. Nine books later he hasn’t changed much. Mount! begins with a descriptive list of both human and animal characters, which I skipped over at first, but did find handy to refer to when reading. Rupert doesn’t like to lose, and runs his racing and breeding stables with a firm hand. His staff of grooms and trainers live on his estate and for the most part get along as they are all horse lovers.

Ambition, loyalty and Rupert’s laser-focus on winning take their toll however, and this is where Cooper’s skilled writing about relationships shines. The story starts with a flash back to Rupert’s great (x 6) grandfather’s ill-fated horse race through a spooky wood.  This plants many seeds for the rest of the book, including rivalry, revenge and family ties. Cooper brings in characters from her other books, but I don’t think you need to have read them to enjoy Mount! International intrigue is woven into the story as Rupert travels to expand his business. Mount! is a big juicy story which takes readers within the high-stakes world of horse racing.

 

My Wish List by Gregoire Delacourt

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my-wish-list-cover

At the library recommendations on what to read come from both staff and patrons. Frequently they are variations on the theme of what is currently trendy, with only the occasional unexpected gem. “My Wish List” by Gregorie Delacourt, and translated into English by Anthea Bell, falls into the latter category. Reading the novel, which has been a bestseller across Europe, feels like sipping a glass of fine red wine. The plot acts like the top note, while it is the emotional depth of the main character that supplies the body.

Our protagonist is middle-aged Jocelyne, who lives in a small French town, running a mostly unsuccessful fabric shop. She is in the doldrums of her life: her marriage, while not unhappy, has lost any semblance of passion, and her grown children have moved away and distanced themselves. One of her few pleasures is writing a small knitting blog called “tengoldfingers”. Her life is destined to remain the same forever when on a whim she buys a lotto ticket and wins.

After Jocelyne wins, she tells no-one and squirrels away the cheque. She finds herself caught between the exciting potential for a new life for herself and her family, and the fear of leaving the comfort of her controlled, yet, cloistered life. As the days tick by, she goes between creating wish lists of the things the money can now buy and being frustrated by the fact that all the money in the world will not bring back her mother or reverse the dementia that is slowly claiming her father. While the novel itself is quite slim, and much of the language is sparse and almost poetic, the book is abundant in feeling as Jocelyne wins more than a lottery: she wins back her life.

Lori Kauzlarick, is Public Services Assistant at the Brodie Resource Library.

Me and my sisters, by Sinéad Moriarty

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I read this book on the recommendation of a patron whose two-word justification: “She’s Irish!” apparently explained everything – meaning that  because the author is Irish, this is a really good story, obviously very humorous, as well as heart-rending. I couldn’t not read it.

When I first started out I was highly skeptical, as it all seemed a little too nice for my tastes, even with the random expletive thrown in. I stuck with it, though, and actually couldn’t put it down. Yes, it is very, very nice and the characters are all very, very clichéd, but I did laugh out loud at times and bawled my eyes out at others.

With three sisters, each leading very different lives, as the main characters, I think each and every one of us could find something here to relate to. Julie is a mother of all boy triplets and another 18 month old son. The triplets haven’t reached school age and are an absolute typhoon, destroying everything in their path. Julie adores her family, including husband, Harry, but feels unsupported, invisible, taken for granted, and exhausted.

Louise, is the single, control freak lawyer married to her work as senior partner in a highly reputable firm. After a drunken one night stand, she finds herself pregnant. Usually, ultra-organized and in control, this one and only mistake turns her world upside-down as she stubbornly refuses to adjust her former lifestyle and routine to fit in with the needs of her baby.

Sophie, the youngest of the three, was a model, but is now married to a high-flying hedge fund manager, Jack. They have a daughter who they indulge to the max., and Sophie spends money like there’s no tomorrow. In an unstable Irish economy, though, anything can happen, and Sophie comes face-to-face with the utterly unthinkable.

With each chapter devoted to the perspective of one sister in turn, Moriarty builds the story, showing us that in the long run, family is the basis of all our lives – the one thing we can always depend on. Even when we seemingly want different things out of life, blood, as they say, is always thicker than water.

So, yes, totally predictable and at times repetitive: a hundred less pages might have made it easier going, but it’s a decent, already-done-a-million-times-before-but-that’s-okay, kind of story.  If you like Marian Keyes, you’ll probably enjoy Sinéad Moriarty as well.

Rosemary

Hearts On A String by Kris Radish

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There’s a new book by one of my favourite authors. She wrote Anne Freeman’s Fabulous Traveling Funeral. I’ve talked about that book before, so I won’t bore you again.

Her new book hooked me right from the start. The prologue starts with a young girl going for a walk with her great-grandmother. I loved the line – “And then Nana holds the adorable girl’s hand there, over a heart that will very soon slow until it completes its wonderful circle of life.” (I’m very much into the circle of life). Her great-grandmother tells her about the string that connects all women. I loved the concept.

The story then begins with a string (unintentional pun) of profanities in the washroom of the Tampa, Florida airport terminal. One slight slip and Nan’s iPhone is about to be flushed from her life. What follows is the coming together of a group of strangers in an effort to rescue the phone from the watery bowels of the toilet. There’s Nan – a banker, Patti – a 63 year old singer, Cathy – a manager of a Wendy’s, who in fact knows Nan’s husband, Margo – the mother of 3 teenagers and Holly – a hairstylist.  After the initial toilet fiasco they find out all flights have been cancelled due to a spring storm heading across the U.S. Nan offers to take the group to her suite in a local hotel and they accept the invitation. Once there they discover that there’s a psychic convention going on at the hotel. What follows is like an episode of Survivor. Will they bond during the storm, or be ready to vote someone off the island. There were a few surprises that I didn’t see coming. In the end it’s not my favourite Kris Radish book, but I did enjoy it.

The Wife’s Tale

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The author of The Girls has a new book – The Wife’s Tale. What would you do if your husband disappeared on the eve of your 25th wedding anniversary? If you’re Mary Gooch you would set out on a journey to find him and end up finding yourself.  At 43 years of age and 300 plus pounds Mary finds herself “so gilded with fat that hardly a bone from her skeleton could insinuate itself in her reflection”. Food is a comfort to Mary, who is a secret and obsessive eater. Life altering events for her are measured in pounds – a father’s death adds 10, a miscarriage adds 20. I think I can understand how she copes with grief. Her journey to find her husband takes her out of her comfort zone from her home in a Southern Ontario town to Toronto and then onto her mother- in- laws home in Los Angeles.  What follows is an amazing journey as she makes new friends, rekindles old relationships and becomes a whole new Mary. I really liked this book. It even had references to the girls and their hometown.  Enjoy.

The Girl Who Chased The Moon

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Last June I wrote a blog entry about Sarah Addison Allen’s new book “The Sugar Queen”. Now hot off the press is her latest book, “The Girl Who Chased The Moon”. Like her previous books this one has magical elements that attract me. Seventeen year old Emily Benedict visits the small Southern town of Mullaby, North Carolina hoping to find answers such as why her mother Dulcie left town at an early age and never returned. Emily moves into her mother’s childhood home with her larger than life grandfather, Vance Shelby. When she first meets her grandfather he has to duck through an archway to avoid hitting his head – “He was fantastically tall and walked with a rigid gait, his legs like stilts”. A man of few words, her grandfather does not want to talk about Dulcie.  Then Emily soon discovers that several town folk still dislike Dulcie for dumping an old boyfriend and the aftermath that followed. Meanwhile she discovers there are funny things going on in her grandfather’s house. The bedroom wallpaper has the ability to actually change itself, missing items suddenly reappear and then there’s the mysterious lights that flicker and dance in the backyard. There’s even a legend about the Mullaby Lights. Are they ghosts? And why does her grandfather keep checking the clothes dryer. What is he looking for? It’s probably not a missing sock. Ha ha. I enjoyed this book and it’s a quick read. I look forward the next novel by this author. She’s becoming one of my favourites. Enjoy.