From Andrea Kalinowski
Author: Samuel Richardson
Pamela is the story of a virtuous young woman in household employ. The young master is enamored of her charms and beseeches her to allow him her favors. She resists him mightily and so she wins his hand in marriage. Shamela by Henry Fielding is his satirical response to Richardson’s virtuous protagonist. He did not believe that Richardson’s character truly acted in that fashion and so he turned everything Richardson had penned on its head. Fielding made the main character a loose woman and the opposite of every virtue Richardson had given Pamela was contained in Shamela. Shamela was a scheming, devious woman who ensnared her master. Pamela embodied all that was good in womankind and Shamela was all the vices in womankind. As entertaining a read then, as it is today.
From Elaine Pasquali
Still Mr.and Mrs.
Author: Mary McBride
A delightful mystery that incorporates an attempt on the life of the mother of the President of the United States and an estranged couple of married Secret Service agents. Fast moving and funny, it’s difficult to put down and leaves you wanting more.
From Ginny Pisciotta
author: Afshar, Tessa
Pearl in the Sand : a novel
This gripping novel is faithful to the biblical account while elaborating on the story of Rahab, a Canaanite prostitute in Jericho who aided the Hebrew spies, joined the Israelites, and went on to become the mother of Boaz (the husband of Ruth) and the great grandmother of King David. This book has it all – action, romance and deep spiritual insight. My one gripe would be that at times you wished it didn’t take so long for Rahab and Salmone to understand each other (even after they married).
From Hannah Columbo
Distant Shores is a wonderful, soul searching novel about two people who have lost their way after 24 years of marriage. They still love each other, but as times change they become different people. They wonder if they love each other enough. Few writers get to the heart of this as well as Kristin Hannah. You will understand both their points of view, and hope they will find their way back to each other before it’s too late. Highly recommend this book.
From Gina Cortina
author: Picoult, Jodi
Sing You Home
Max and Zoe have been unsuccessful at having a baby. They have tried EVERYTHING! Max is tired and says he has given up. Their marriage crumbles and Zoe falls for someone else. Another great story by one of my favorite authors! This one starts out a bit slow but don’t put it down, trust me you will be rooting for the ‘moms’ by the middle of this heart~warming story.
From Elaine Pasquali
author: Buchan, Elizabeth
The Good Wife
The title of this book caught my eye because of its similarity to the title of the popular TV program, The Good Wife. The similarities continues with the main characters: a career politician and straying husband (Will) and a wife (Fanny) who sacrifices her own passions and career to the demands of being a “good” wife and mother. Further complicating Fanny’s life are her ambivalent feelings about her live-in alcoholic sister-in-law. When Fanny’s father dies and her daughter leaves the nest, Fanny sets off on a journey of self-exploration and personal fulfillment. Set in England and Italy, this book flows easily and seamlessly as it navigates themes of imperfect marriage, family dynamics, and midlife crisis.
From Charlene Muhr
author: Wharton, Edith
The house of mirth [sound recording]
I recently listened to the audio book The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton, read by Barbara Caruso. Caruso mesmerizes the listener with her reading of this classic novel. Wharton’s novel was first published in 1905, and it was her first important work of fiction. The novel deals with the social classes in the late nineteenth century. Lily Bart is twenty-nine, unmarried, and obsessed with wealth and luxury. She is dependent on her aunt for her meager allowance and the only way to secure her place among the upper class is to marry a wealthy man. Lily has passed up some marriage proposals, always feeling she could do better. She even turns away from her true love, Lawrence Selden, because he couldn’t provide her with the life she desired. Lily’s obsessions, gambling addiction, and bad relationships, cause her to fall from her aunt’s good graces and be rejected by her friends. Her world as she knows it collapses and she is faced with only one tragic choice.
From Rita Gross
author: Udall, Brady
The Lonely Polygamist
Golden Richards has four wives, twenty eight children, three homes, a failing business and a major mid-life crisis. Just multiply the entanglements of the usual American family novel by the power of four (at least), and you will have the depths of the problems that Golden Richards encounters. The story is told from the point of view of Golden, one wife, one child and a narrative voice. Sad and funny, it is a look inside an atypical way of life.
From Jackie Cantwell
author: Stewart, Chris
A parrot in the pepper tree
This is book two of the Driving over lemons trilogy. Now Chris and Ana are
the parents of a daughter named Chloe. Getting her to school every day is
an adventure in itself as they try different forms of transportation to
cross the river. We follow the budding romance between Domingo, his
multi-talented neighbor, and a Dutch sculptress. The author takes time to
smell the roses; sometimes he ditches his farm chores and goes on day-long
hikes. Picture the scene as he and Ana take a 6-hour, 5000 foot climb to
see a field of blue gentian flowers under a deep blue sky. I enjoyed the
chapters where he reminisces about his past. We find out exactly how he
came to be a member of the band Genesis and how later he became a drummer for Sir Robert Fossett’s circus in Britain. Read with astonishment as Chris drives over a frozen sea in Sweden to shear sheep on remote farms. Chris tries to learn flamenco guitar in Seville as a young man and is
still a novice when he goes to guitar school in Granada some twenty-plus
years later. We fear for Chris’s safety when he interferes with a
friend’s domestic dispute, and the husband vows to come after him. You’ll
laugh as Chris falls for the sales pitch of an “ecological engineer” who
builds him a swimming pool that is supposedly in harmony with nature.
Chris learns to love Ana’s green parrot, who steals all the cutlery and
attacks anyone who tries to use the bathroom. For an update on where
everyone is now, read the interview with Chris at the end. If you want to
read the third installment, The Almond Blossom Appreciation Society,
you’ll have to buy it from the UK, as it is not published in the U.S.
author: Griffin, Maggie
Tip it: the world according to Maggie
This is a fast read. Fans of Kathy Griffin: My life on the D-list, the
Bravo channel TV show, will probably want to read Kathy’s mother,
Maggie’s, life story. Kathy even adds her comments to the text, which are
in brackets and italics. Maggie is funny, and she has good old-fashioned
values, too. She is 90 years young, and describes meeting her husband,
Johnny Griffin, in her Chicago neighborhood during WWII. Boy, she is one
lucky woman. She describes how her husband shared equally in the child
care (they had four children) and housework, and never complained. Their
marriage was marked by respect, caring, good communication and lots of
laughter. I enjoyed reading about their move to Los Angeles where her son
Kenny lived, after Johnny’s retirement. They had had enough of snow and
cold weather; and Kathy decides to join them to try to break into acting.
They are star struck every step of the way, and have many photos with
celebrities to prove it. Readers interested in life during depression-era
Chicago will find a lot to like. As you may know, those who survived the
Depression are usually frugal for the rest of their lives, and Maggie is
no exception. Find out why Maggie loves to wear muumuus and read her tips for living (which offers sensible advice for everyone).