Thursday, June 16, 2016

Meg's Picks: July 2016, part 1

A little historical fiction can be just the thing on a sultry summer day--traveling to distant times and places from the comfort of your lounge chair, back in time for supper.

The Light of Paris, by Eleanor Brown. A new novel from the author of critically- and reader-acclaimed The Weird Sisters. Madeleine is trapped—by her family's expectations, by her controlling husband, and by her own fears—in an unhappy marriage and a life she never wanted. From the outside, it looks like she has everything, but on the inside, she fears she has nothing that matters. In Madeleine’s memories, her grandmother Margie is the kind of woman she should have been—elegant, reserved, perfect. But when Madeleine finds a diary detailing Margie’s bold, romantic trip to Jazz Age Paris, she meets the grandmother she never knew: a dreamer who defied her strict, staid family and spent an exhilarating summer writing in caf├ęs, living on her own, and falling for a charismatic artist. Margie and Madeleine’s stories intertwine to explore the joys and risks of living life on our own terms, of defying the rules that hold us back from our dreams, and of becoming the people we are meant to be. I'm recommending this to fans of authors like Kate Morton and JoJo Moyes.

The House at the Edge of Night, by Catherine Banner. Likened to favorites like Isabel Allende, Jess Walter, and Sara Gruen, Banner's debut adult novel is a sweeping saga, for while it's set on the remote isle of Castellamare, it spans four generations of the Esposito family who run the local cafe, called The House at the Edge of Night. What unfolds is a hundred years of stories of the Esposito family and other islanders, including: a cruel count and his bewitching wife, a priest who loves scandal, a prisoner of war turned poet, an outcast girl who becomes a pillar of strength, a wounded English soldier who emerges from the sea. The people of Castellamare are transformed by two world wars and a great recession, by the threat of fascism and their deep bonds of passion and friendship, and by bitter rivalries and the power of forgiveness. This will be one to be savored.

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