The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
This novel is certain to be one of the “big” novels of the fall. Its author Ann Patchett is well known for her thoughtful, literary style and moving story lines The Dutch House will be welcomed by Patchett’s loyal readers and may well attract some new fans.
The book tells the story of siblings, Maeve and Danny, those around them and the home that resonates with them. The story moves back and forth in time as characters and their stories take center stage or temporarily recede.
This is a complex and sophisticated novel that makes readers think about relationships (parent/child, stepparent/child, husband/wife, siblings, step-siblings, those who work for families), finding a way in life, sacrifices and choices. Readers will not forget The Dutch House and those who lived there.
Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this read in exchange for an honest review.
Our Woman in Moscow (by Beatriz Williams)
There was a time in England when Cambridge grads became traitors; among the most famous of these men were KIm Philby, Guy Burgess, Anthony Blunt and Donald Maclean. They hid in plain sight, not suspected for a long time because of their social class and educations. They were idealistic to start with but some devolved into alcoholism and of course, many defected.
This novel takes place within the time frame of these spies in the late 40s and early 50s. One of the spies, Guy Burgess, is even a character in the novel.
Two sisters Iris and Ruth are the book’s protagonists. When the story opens, Ruth is successfully running a modeling agency in New York. She and Iris have not spoken for many years. Readers will find out why when they read the novel.
When the two were still close, they lived in Rome during part of WWII. While there Iris falls madly in love with Sasha Digby. She makes the decision to follow him wherever he goes and, not to spoil anything they eventually make a big move. Readers will find out why.
One day, Ruth gets a call for help from Iris. She heeds it and this leads to the most exciting events of the novel.
Also in the story is Lyudmilla, a very conforming Russian. Where does she fit in the story and how do her life and the Digbys’ lives intersect? Again, read to find out.
Beatriz Williams has written an absorbing story here with an excellent plot twist. Events unfold; this is not a James Bond like read but it is a good one. The settings and characters shine.
Think about the title as you read. See how close you come to guessing some of the story’s resolutions. Enjoy the novel as you do. It makes for a good read.
The Christmas Bookshop
by Jenny Colgan
Jenny Colgan can be counted on to write an engaging Christmas novel every year and this year is no exception. The Christmas Bookshop is set in Scotland. Colgan portrays Edinburgh and brings it to life. I had never known that Edinburgh was so hilly! Mr. McC’s bookshop also is described in a way that makes it feel so real in all its initial scruffiness and then as it slowly transforms.
Protagonist Carmen chose not to attend university but rather continued to work at her local department store…until it closed and Carmen found herself unemployed. Meanwhile her sister Sofia seems to have it all. She has the job, the house, the husband and is pregnant with her fourth child.
Carmen travels to Edinburgh to stay with Sofia. Sofia finds her the position in the bookshop and from here the story moves forward. There are several characters whom readers feel will vie for Carmen’s affection. One is a disaffected self-help book author while another is a bookshop customer.
Readers can enjoy this story knowing that all will end well. Watch the bookstore begin to thrive (I love bookstores in books) and wait for Carmen to find happiness.
Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher. All opinions are my own.
Another Woman’s Husband
Mary Kirk, Bessiewallis Warfield, Diana Spencer…their stories entwine in this historical novel that is largely based on truth. It is a page turning and fascinating look at life in America and Europe from 1912 until 1997.
Mary and Wallis became friends in their teens; Wallis married an American pilot; Mary married a French pilot. Wallis divorced and subsequently married Ernest Simpson. You probably all know who her third husband was… but do you know who Mary married next? I won’t spoil the book by telling you.
Mary and Wallis’s stories come alive in a glittering London. The story of Alex and Rachel, who are impacted by Diana’s death, takes place in 1997. Choices are made by all with implications and consequences. I truly enjoyed this book and suggest it highly to fans of historical fiction.