Meg Mason’s Sorrow and Bliss revolves around the 40 year-old Martha and her mental illness. While the author purposefully never names Martha’s diagnosis, we learn she has returned to live at her parents’ home in London after her husband has walked out on her and the marriage. Her husband, Patrick, has been patient and loving, but Martha’s illness has conquered even his strong reserves. Once back in her childhood home, Martha ruminates on her past, her marriage, and why she ‘is the way she is.’ Her sister, Ingrid, about to have a fourth child, tries to intervene in a helpful way, but at some point all of Martha’s family are at a loss as to how to help her. Meg Mason describes Martha’s fumblings with humor although we know she can’t control herself. Sorrow and Bliss is an interesting study of a woman wishing she were healthy and her family who try to support her.
Catherine Steadman’s latest mystery did not outdo her previous titles. Steadman (an actress as well as author) has written a mystery set mostly in Los Angeles, CA. British actress, Mia Eliot, is sent to LA from London by her agent to audition for a part that may make her career. Looking for a change of scenery since her boyfriend of 5 years just broke up with her (by text!), Mia is eager for a change. While waiting to be called to read for the part, Mia meets another actress (Emily) in the waiting room who is going for the same part. Emily asks Mia to go ahead of her because she has to ‘feed the meter’ so she doesn’t get a ticket. Instead, Mia offers to go out and feed the meter herself. When she returns, Emily is gone. Mia reads next, but when she finishes Emily still hasn’t shown. This convoluted plot continues to become more mired in unbelievable twists as Mia searches for the missing Emily. While she doesn’t seem very heartbroken over the end of her relationship, Mia is determined to find out what happened to Emily. However, Steadman’s chain of events are bogged down in unimportant details and fail to engage the reader. While somewhat entertaining, The Disappearing Act ultimately is not worthwhile.
This new title by Jeff Mack is a great story to read aloud to the preschool set. A young boy finds a book in a library, and his imagination runs wild. He is almost captured by pirates, stomped by a herd of elephants, stepped on by a baby dragon, and worst of all, ALMOST KISSED by a frog. A whimsical ode to the power of imagination and the power of stories to take us anywhere we like…
Connie Berry has set her first novel in the Kate Hamilton series on the Isle of Skye, in the Hebrides, off the coast of Scotland. Kate, an antiques dealer in Ohio, is summoned to Skye by her not so favorite sister-in-law, Elenor, to help ease her fears about something, without giving an explanation. When Elenor is murdered shortly after after Kate arrives, and a local mentally impaired man is accused, Kate decides to investigate. Berry writes a fast-paced thriller, with a bit of romance thrown in, and I thoroughly enjoyed this.
Set mostly in the present day, Morningside Heights follows the couple Pru Steiner and Spence Robin at their first meeting in college and thirty years later when they’ve been married and tragedy strikes. As a student in Spence’s Shakespeare class, Pru falls for her erudite professor, Spence. They marry and have a child. Spence attempts to be an honorable father to his first son, Arlo, who appears sporadically throughout the story. Told through the eyes of Pru, we witness their love and eventual turning point when Spence begins to have memory problems. Pru is determined to help her husband maintain his dignity. Engaging and thought-provoking, Morningside Heights is a look at marriage, family and the choices people make when faced with unexpected twists and turns.