Fifty words for Rain

In 1948, in Kyota, Japan, a mother leaves her eight year old daughter at her grandparents house with the words: “Promise you will obey: Do not fight. Do not question. Do not resist.” Noriko “Nori” Kamiza has no idea what is in store for her. Her grandmother is a rich, powerful and cold woman, and keeps Nori inside her house for three years, since she is a bastard child. Until her half brother comes to live with them, Nori is miserable. But the relationship that she develops with Akira, her brother, will be a lasting bond. Asha Lemmie’s first novel is brutally honest about the powerlessness of a young girl in 1940’s Japan, and the cruelty that can result from power and riches. But it is balanced by the innocence and love of a brother and sister. I thoroughly enjoyed this well-written novel and look forward to her next book.

The Perfect Marriage

In the tradition of Gone Girl, you can guess that The Perfect Marriage of Sarah and Adam Morgan is not so perfect. Living outside Washington D.C., Sarah is a driven, successful attorney. Adam is a writer who hasn’t published anything for years. In his miasma of despair, he begins an affair with a young woman. When her body turns up murdered, Adam is the prime suspect and Sarah decides to defend him as his attorney. Switching back and forth between Sarah and Adam’s perspectives, we follow the investigation as more evidence is revealed. The plot thickens and we begin to suspect Sarah, her best friend, police officers, and the dead woman’s husband. Entertaining and twisty, The Perfect Marriage is a worthwhile thriller.

Our Italian Summer

Jennifer Probst has written a story involving three generations of women within a family. Francesca is a successful head of an ad agency, but work is her life. Her daughter, Allegra, resents her mom’s complete focus on her career, since she is not around all that much. So the burden falls on Allegra’s grandmother, Sophia, to pick up the slack. But Sophia plans a summer vacation for the three of them, a month in Italy, after Allegra gets caught smoking pot with friends. The novel switches between all three character’s point of view, which keeps the reader engaged. A nice “feel-good” story if you are looking for one.

Last Train to Paris

Rose Manon is an American journalist who is sent overseas in the early 1930s. While in Paris, her cousin and favorite aunt arrive on a visit, and the cousin is murdered. This actually happened to a distant relation of the author, so she wove a story around it. Some of the characters are real people: Colette and Aurora Sand, and 2 of the lawyers in the story. Rose travels to Berlin to cover events happening in the main city of the Nazis, and falls in love with a Jewish man. As the situation worsens, Rose tries to help her friends and lover escape the regime, but tragedy ensues. I found the novel a little tough to navigate; the writing is very serious and disheartening. Not for the faint-hearted…