A life-threatening health condition led Dee Williams, author of The Big Tiny: A Built-It-Myself Memoir, to make some unorthodox life decisions. In seeking the traditional American dream of being a homeowner, she buys a house—one with great potential, but in need of extensive TLC. Dee, a farm girl, is not intimidated by hard work, and gradually she transforms her fixer-upper into charming digs, complete with a lavish garden. Between maintaining her abode and traveling for her job as a state hazardous waste inspector, she has no time to simply luxuriate in little day-to-day pleasures. It’s not until she is diagnosed with heart failure in her early forties that she realizes how vital it is to change her priorities. She is no longer content to be a slave to house and yard work.
After years spent working in East Africa for a world health aid organization, Frankie Rowley returns to her parents’ (formerly summer, now permanent) home in the small New Hampshire town of Pomeroy. Although she had come stateside on numerous occasions, this visit is different. In Sue Miller’s The Arsonist, Frankie finds herself torn between the challenging but transient nature of her current job and the need to find something more permanent…permanent in terms of locale and permanent in terms of relationships.
She had no idea when she accepted the curator position at the Nauk—an innovative Cape Cod gallery dedicated to emerging artists—that a dead woman would thwart her at every turn.
Early in her career, photographer Rebecca Winter unexpectedly set the art world on fire with her images known as the “Kitchen Counter” series. Women, young and old, related to the photos’ ability to capture the essence of their everyday lives. The most famous picture “Still Life with Bread Crumbs”—and also author Anna Quindlen’s title for her novel—had thus far funded a comfortable life for Rebecca, her son, and her aging parents.
What I’m about to say will be blasphemy to many of you. I DIDN’T like…no, actually, I hated Elizabeth’s Gilbert best-selling book Eat, Pray, Love. BUT, before you vow to never again read one of my blog posts, let me quickly assure you that I wholeheartedly embrace her latest epic offering, The Signature of All Things.
Englishman Henry Whittaker was born into a dirt-poor family. By combining an innate entrepreneurial spirit with an equally impressive knowledge of botany, Whittaker succeeds in amassing an early fortune. He and his Dutch-born wife move to Philadelphia where they build an opulent estate, and Henry assumes a position as one of America’s richest men.
Madeline Hart vanishes without a trace while on a Corsican vacation in Daniel Silva’s new page-turner, The English Girl. As a rising star in British politics, Madeline’s disappearance is certainly troubling. But the fact that she was having a clandestine affair with Prime Minister Jonathan Lancaster—who is both married and up for reelection—adds obvious complications to the situation.
Recently I heard Jo Robinson on NPR discussing her latest work, Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health, and was riveted. So, move over Barbara Kingsolver. Sadly you’ve been replaced as my nutrition guru. I SOOOO loved Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life.
Jessie Knadler, transplanted from Montana, is living a less than satisfying life in the Big Apple. She’s just been laid off from her position as a magazine editor; she recently learned that her lover has a proclivity for (really) young girls; and she’s certain that her late nights spent drinking into the wee hours will not prolong her life. When she’s offered a freelance opportunity to return to Montana to write a story on a popular rodeo event, Jessie figures she’s got nothing better to do…plus there’s always the nagging fact of needing cash. In Rurally Screwed: My Life Off the Grid with the Cowboy I Love, Jessie’s trip back West will dramatically change her life.
There was never any doubt that Claire Roth was an exceptionally gifted painter. But in The Art Forger, by B. A. Shapiro, her troubles begin when she creates a piece for her boyfriend Isaac, a famous but blocked artist. He gratefully submits the work as his own for a prestigious MoMA commission. The painting becomes an instant sensation, and overnight Isaac is the new darling of the art world. He unceremoniously dumps Claire but continues to reap the benefits associated with her work.
Josie Moraine was named after one of the most famous madams in New Orleans. Her mother, Louise, earns her living working as a prostitute for another notorious Big Easy madam—Willie Woodley. Josie supplements her own income from her beloved book store employment by cleaning Willie’s brothel. But, in Out of the Easy, by Ruta Sepetys, Josie Moraine would gladly leave her past behind in a heartbeat. She harbors dreams of attending Smith College. Although she’s applied, she has no idea how she would ever pay the exorbitant tuition…or, more importantly, fit into such a different scenario.