Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category

Winter Sisters

May 5, 2018

bookThis novel deals with a very difficult subject to read about, the sexual abuse of a young girl. Winter Sisters is historical fiction, set in Albany during the late 1800’s, when a blizzard hit the northeast in 1888. (In an author’s note, Robin Oliveira states that she moved the time frame up to 1879, to suit her narrative). Two young sisters go missing from school during the blizzard, and their aunt and uncle are led by police to believe that they had died during the storm, and in turn, give up their search for the girls. But when the ice melts in the town, it releases a flood of water that will change the lives of many, including the girls’ Aunt Mary and Uncle William. This is a heartbreaking read, but well written, and the author weaves NY state law in 1880 into the novel that will certainly shock the reader.

Now That You Mention It

April 11, 2018

bookNora never would have thought that she would return to her hometown after fleeing it for college and med school. But after being hit by a car and breaking up with her boyfriend, she finds herself moving back into her mother’s house on Scupper Island in Maine. Nora’s younger sister Lily is in jail in Seattle for selling drugs, so Nora’s teenage niece Poe is living in the house as well. Even as Nora tries to befriend Poe, her niece wants no part of her, her mother is not the sympathetic type, and Nora fights desperately to avoid backsliding into her childhood role of feeling like a loser. Kristina Higgins injects the novel with some great moments of humor, and Nora’s struggles are very relatable. The plot includes a love story as well and is a light read for anyone who craves a little escapism.

As Bright As Heaven

March 24, 2018

bookThree sisters move with their parents to Philadelphia from a small and familiar town in Pennsylvania, to live with their father’s uncle, an undertaker. Uncle Fred is widowed without any children and would like to leave the business to the girls’ father, Thomas. So Maggie, Evie and Willa must adjust to life in a big city, accepting their parents’ choice to move as a step toward a better life for their family. After losing their barely 6 month old brother to death, the family is struggling with¬† grief over the loss. But it is 1918, and the city faces the outbreak of the Spanish flu. Bodies of the dead are piling up in the embalming room, when young Willa is struck down with the disease. Her mom, Pauline, nurses her back to health, but then herself falls ill and dies, another huge loss for the grief-stricken family. But Maggie rescues a baby boy from a house where his mom and sister had died from the flu, and the girls focus on his well-being to keep their grief at bay. This is a touching portrayal of how families in the city of brotherly love coped with the Spanish flu, WWI and prohibition during the years 1918 to 1926, the time frame of the story. The author includes facts about the Spanish Flu, among them the reality that 50 million people had died worldwide, more than the amount of people lost during WWI. Recommended for fans of historical fiction.

The Stars are Fire

March 14, 2018

bookAnita Shreve pens another compelling novel about a woman who is given the chance to reinvent herself. Grace Holland , a young twenty-something, survives a devastating fire in 1947 Maine, protecting her children by crouching on the shoreline and covering them with her body. Much of the town is lost in the fire; Grace lost her home and all her worldly possessions. Her husband was last seen fighting the fire and has not been found. After re-uniting with her mother, Grace moves her family into her mother-in-law’s empty expansive home, recently left to her husband, Gene, an extremely controlling and sometimes abusive husband. With the chance for a new life, she lands a job to support her family, saves up for a car, and finds a new love. However, her life takes an unexpected turn and she must call upon all her newfound strength to keep herself on the right path. Recommended for fans of Shreve and relationship novels.

Carnegie’s Maid

February 21, 2018

book.jpgMarie Benedict imagines Andrew Carnegie’s philanthropy to have been inspired by a woman in her latest historical novel,¬†Carnegie’s Maid. In this case, it is his mother’s personal maid who ultimately has quite the effect on Carnegie’s view of monetary success. Clara Kelley has survived the forty plus days at sea on her way from Ireland to America in the late 1860’s. She is eager to find work to support her family’s dwindling income, and with some luck, takes a position as a lady’s maid in Pittsburgh. The lady happens to be Margaret Carnegie, the mother of Andrew and Thomas Carnegie. Benedict develops the character of Clara to be of equal intelligence to Andrew, despite the current disparity of their social standing and gender. She paints a vivid portrayal of the glaring inequalities of the haves and the have-nots, both in wealth, social class and gender, during the 1860’s. The reader gets a glimpse of the unfairness of tenant farming in Ireland in that period, as well as the poverty of newly arriving immigrants to America, and the huge imbalance in power between male and female. An entertaining and informative read; I highly recommend this for fans of historical novels.

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