Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Broken Girls

The Broken Girls

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James was a book group choice for March.  It was a good mystery. I liked the way it was written, going between 1950 and then to 2014.  It also was not predictable (to me, at least, nor to any of the book group).

The Broken Girls is really two stories connected and intertwined with each other.  Part of the book is about a four girls living in a boarding school called Idlewild Hall in 1950.  It was where the "unwanted girls" were sent. Those girls who caused trouble for their families in various ways were sent there.  Even in 1950, it was said that the school was haunted. The other part of the book is set in 2014, when Fiona Sheridan, a journalist, learned that the school was being restored.  Her sister had been found dead on that property twenty years earlier.  Fiona decided to write a story about Idlewood Hall, not realizing, of course, that she would be opening up all kinds of secrets.

It's a good mystery!  I recommend it!

Some Beach Time Reading

Just spent two and a half weeks at the beach and got lots of reading in sitting by the pool!  Oh, what a life!  Anyway, I loved the books that I read! I recommend all of them!

1) Cemetery Road-by Greg Iles.  Iles is one of my very favorite mystery authors, so I was at the bookstore the day this came out.  It didn't disappoint!

The first paragraph of the book sums it up:

Cemetery Road (Signed Book)"I never meant to kill my brother.  I never set out to hate my father.  I never dreamed I would bury my own son.  Nor could I have imagined that I would betray the childhood friend who saved my live, or win a Pulitzer Prize for telling a lie."
In the story Marshall McEwan, a journalist, returned to his hometown, Bienville, Mississippi, to help with his terminally ill father.  Marshall never wanted to return there for a variety of reasons, including that he felt that his father had always blamed him for his brother's death and that his lover from years before had stayed there and married his best friend. Shortly after his return one of his old friends and mentor was found dead under suspicious circumstances.

The old Southern town held many secrets and as Marshall begins to investigate, the secrets began to emerge.

Another great read by Iles.

2) The Thornbirds by Colleen McCullough.  I'm not sure that any review of this book is necessary, but I wanted to add my impressions after reading it again after forty-two years (it came out in 1977).

What struck me the most is that usually most people's impression when they hear the name of the book remember it as a great love story between a priest and a younger woman.  Reading it this time, I was struck with how little that love story was a part of the whole book.  It really is a story of three generations of the Cleary family and their struggles on the ranch in Australia. The love story of Meggie and Fr. Ralph is like a thin silk thread running through the book.

I was also struck by how really good the book is.  It certainly stands the test of time.  Excellent writing.  Each chapter is centered around one of the main characters as the book goes from 1915 to 1969.

The Thorn Birds

3) Inheritance by Dani Shapiro.  This was a fascinating book.  It is a memoir about identity, love, ethics and forgiveness.

Dani was raised as an Orthodox Jew.  She was blonde haired and blue eyed and had been questioned about her Jewishness every once in awhile, but she did not have any reason to question her appearance.  She had grown up very close to her father, practicing the faith religiously with him.

Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love

Years later after her parents were dead and Dani was fifty-four years old, Dani's husband decided to do a DNA test and casually asked her if she wanted to order one also.  She said that she would, even though her half-sister had done one several years before. Then pretty much forgot about it.  Until the results arrived.  Dani learned that her father was not her biological father.  She began researching the family history and eventually found that she had been conceived by artificial insemination.  Of course, Dani then felt as if her entire life had been based on a lie...the ancestors in all the pictures were not her family.

Eventually, Dani was able to learn who her biological father, contacted him and began a tenuous relationship with him and his family.

I found the book so fascinating as Dani worked through the mysteries of her family and the clues that had been forgotten in the back of her mind.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

where i lost her

T. Greenwood's novel, where i lost her,  is one that I have been waiting to read for a long time.  It came out three years ago and I never saw it in paperback, so I finally ordered it through ebay.  It was a quick read and, while I didn't think that it was the best of her novels that I have read, I found myself thinking about it for days after I finished it.
Where I Lost Her

The novel tells two stories about Tess Waters, a married woman, who several years earlier had attempted to adopt an infant from Guatemala.  The story of that failed attempt is told in the italic chapters of where i lost her.  In the present time, Tess and her husband Jake had gone to visit longtime friends, Effie and Devin and their two daughters, at their cabin in Vermont.  Late one evening, Tess left the cabin to drive to the local liquor store and on the dark lonely road, came upon a young girl standing in the middle of the road.  Tess thought that the girl was three or four years old.  When Tess got out of the car to check on the girl, the girl ran off into the woods.  Tess tried to follow her, but lost her.  When Tess returned to the cabin, police were called and a search was begun for the young girl.

After a few days, the girl had not been located, nor was there any report of a missing young girl.  Her husband and their friends wondered if Tess was having a breakdown similar to what happened to her when the adoption had failed several years before.  Her tenuous marriage with Jake had been falling apart over the last few months also.

Tess persevered and continued to search for the young girl.  Her friend Effie continued to support her in any way she could as Tess began to uncover bits and pieces of illegal activities going on in the area.

I thought that the story kind of came together too easily in the end, but it still was a good read.  I will continue to seek out more of the author's works.