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.
Louisa Clark happily goes to her waitressing job at The Buttered Bun, a place where she personally knows each customer by name. But the bad economy takes its toll and the café is abruptly closed. Kicking back and relaxing until something better comes along is simply not an option with Louisa’s parents depending on her financial help to make ends meet.
After a valiant struggle, Carmen’s husband, Jobe, succumbs to leukemia. Although she admired Jobe, and bore and raised three children with him, Carmen felt little passion for her husband while he was alive and occasionally strayed outside of her marriage to savor that missing ingredient. In The Forever Marriage, by Ann Bauer, Carmen has daydreamed for years about being a “free” woman, but the reality of Jobe’s death affects her in unexpected ways as she looks back on their life together.
While wandering through Europe after her junior year, Carmen—beautiful, worldly, and untamed—was mortified when she accidentally spilled hot tea on a stranger in London’s Kensington Gardens. It’s through this encounter that she met ungainly Jobe, who was pursuing his PhD in mathematics at Oxford. Never was there a more mismatched couple. But despite their differences, Jobe always seemed available to rescue Carmen when her future was most uncertain.
Dellarobia Turnbow feels trapped in her life. Although her husband Cub is a good man, he lacks imagination and ambition. Dellarobia dearly loves her two young children, but had hoped she would amount to more than just a housewife, living in a home teetering on the brink of foreclosure. Looking for any spark to ignite her soul, she’s prepared to throw everything away for a hastily planned tryst. But an unearthly spectacle of beauty greets her in the Appalachian countryside on the way to her clandestine meeting. This unprecedented phenomenon will change the course of Dellarobia’s life in Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver.