The Identicals

The Identicals, by Elin Hildebrand, is the perfect summer read. I do enjoy her books as they transport me to the New England islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, where even the poor people are able to buy super local produce and seafood and have adventures around the islands. Of course, there’s also those with much more money traveling around as well.

In this novel, 2 identical twin sisters, who grew up as close as twins can, are forced to live with different parents after their separation. Its a little ridiculous, since the girls were in college at the time and could have remained closer, but this novel has them growing apart. There was a time when they once again relied on each other, but tragedy struck forcing them further apart. Upon the death of their father, the girls who think the other twin has an easier life, end up switching lives for the summer. Not secretly, they each retain their own identity but they trade responsibilities. Of course, there’s lots of family drama with their mother and one of their daughters forcing complications, but the story of the sisters finding themselves and each other again is sweet and goes down easily with a chilled glass of Sauvignon blanc.

Easy, fun read about family and beaches.

Read August 2017

Vinegar Girl

I only picked Vinegar Girl from the library since it was on the “Lucky Day Shelf”, which usually means its a popular book that you can pick up today and not have to wait for it on hold…get it…its your “Lucky Day”. Most books that I’ve gotten from this section have been well written or really popular. Its not always my style, but I can usually see why its popular. Not so with Anne Tyler’s Vinegar Girl.

I read the cover which described the character Kate Battista as almost spinster-like and caretaker of her father, her sister, and their home. She organized lunches, does all the laundry, cleaning, etc, all the while totally unappreciated by anyone that she does anything for. I thought dear old Kate would have some sort of awakening moment and it might make an interesting, easy read. I read the novel and waited for her epiphany that she’s being used and she needs to create her own life. When her father proposed that she marry his research assistant to extend his visa, she rightfully freaks out. This was finally the point that she’d break through and become her own person and stop being a doormat!! Except, that didn’t happen. While the assistant is foreign and quirky, he’s also kind of a jerk. And yet Kate goes through with this horrific marriage to escape her father and sister. Oh, and at the wedding she defends her new-husband who beat up a teenager by saying “It’s hard being a man.” WTF?

And incase you think this was written in the 1850’s when marriage was the only way for a woman to escape her parents, it wasn’t. This is a modern horrifying novel. The only pretense at modernism is the Epilogue that has, without any actual character development, Kate receiving a Botany award when her kid is still young. This woman has done nothing in the Botany-world other than having a hobby as a backyard gardener. This was absolutely preposterous and its like the editors realized how sexist and horrible this novel is and wanted to give it a feminist finish.

Anyway, this was horrible. Don’t read it. Don’t let your friends read it. Burn it if you see an impressionable young girl reading this who’s trying to look to the world around them for what might be acceptable treatment that they should expect in a relationship, with a parent, sibling, or boyfriend.

Read June 2017

UPDATE: Since reading the book and writing this blog, I’ve learned that this novel is based Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, a play I’ve never read, but from a quick search has some controversy as either being witty satire or a horribly misogynistic play. I’m not sure what Tyler was hoping to achieve with Vinegar Girl, but I did not see much wit, but an awful lot of misogyny.

 

Here’s to Us

Elin Hilderbrand uses her characters and sense of place to help her story transform from an ordinary tale of family members mourning their father, husband, ex-husband. Deacon Thorpe died at his beloved Nantucket home leaving behind 2 ex-wives, 3 children, and a current wife. All are thrown together for a weekend to throw his ashes and learn that Deacon left all 3 women a part of the house and a debt that only one of them can afford.

Each woman hates another and there is a lot of blame for the end of each of their marriages. Laurel, his high school sweetheart. Belinda, a movie star who stole Deacon from Laurel. And Scarlett, Belinda’s former nanny and Deacons current wife. Each had one child with Deacon. All 6, along with Buck, Deacon’s best friend, are sharing the home and history with each other. There stories spread across decades and showcase a man larger than life who left a big hole in each of their hearts.

Great, moving story.

Read December 2016

Marriage, Monsters, and Murder

Marriage, Monsters, and Murder is a mystery with a chick lit flair. While I enjoy both genres, the combination in Sara Rosett’s book is too much for me. Almost everything about the wedding, the activities, the wedding planner’s involvement in the investigation, how people treat each other felt contrived and silly.

While an easy read and the setting was well written, I didn’t much enjoy this book.

December 2016

First Comes Love

Emily Griffin’s First Comes Love looks at what happens within a family and each individual when some they love dies too young. The Garland family falls apart after the young son/brother dies while driving to get a burger. Griffin picks up the story 15 years later with the remaining sisters fulfilling the roles they had when they were still young. One is uber responsible until the weight of having a perfect life almost knocks her down. The other is carefree and cannot maintain a relationship.

Through events in their lives today, they’re able to face how their brother’s death, and the responsibility they’ve felt. This is a heart breaking story of how a tragedy can affect everyone’s lives.

Read December 2016

Truly Madly Guilty

Liane Moriarty’s Truly Madly Guilty is a page turner story about childhood friends Clementine and Erika. They’ve grown up and grown apart, but neither are able to disentangle themselves from their childhood relationship. Written in the same style as Big Little LiesMoriarty gives small glimpses into a secret that a group of adults share. Slowly revealing what happens at a spontaneous neighborhood BBQ, the characters’ secrets threaten to tear apart the couples involved.

The “big reveal” wasn’t as dramatic as Big Little Lies and I was a little disappointed that the event was never discussed afterwards. Was it a scary and dramatic event? Yes, absolutely. But enough to tear apart friends, couples, and neighbors? Maybe, but a bit unconvincing. However, the story about the relationship between Erika and Clementine was interesting and held the book together. Forced to play as children, Clementine’s parents took in Erika to give her a sense of normalcy missing from life at her own home. The strangeness between the girls that this caused and how their friendship evolved was well written and thought out.

A good read, but the climax and big secret could have been more interesting. The characterization makes up for it to a certain degree, but the mystery part of this mystery needed a bit more work.

Read August 2016.

Shopaholic and Baby

Shopaholic and Baby is another Shopaholic novel where I’m horrified by Becky’s purchases and her need to have absolutely everything for her soon-to-be baby. So much so that she buys 5 prams…short note, I really get a kick out of the British term pram. Its so quaint compared to our stroller or even carriage.

Of course, Becky is surrounded by her loving friends and family, but its her need for a celebrity level OBGYN, that brings Venetia Carter into her life. Or more importantly, her husband Luke’s life. The need to hide her extravagant purchases and Luke’s sudden secretiveness, fuel Becky’s paranoia about Venetia.

All of these problems could be solved by open communication, but of course thats not he world this novel’s set in. This is a cute novel with great friendships and an easy read.

Read March 2016