by Karma Brown ‧ RELEASE DATE: Jan. 21, 2020
An engaging and suspenseful look at how the patriarchy shaped women’s lives in the 1950s and continues to do so today.
A wife in 2018 discovers letters and a cookbook from her house’s previous inhabitant—and realizes that their lives might not be so different.
Alice Hale doesn’t want to move from her tiny Manhattan apartment to a fixer-upper in the suburbs. But her husband has long wanted to move out of the city, and Alice, recently out of a job, feels like she doesn’t have a reason to say no. The free time may even give her more of a chance to start her novel-writing career. But when Alice discovers a cookbook and letters left behind by the house’s previous owner, Nellie Murdoch, she gets more inspiration than she bargained for. Alice pores over Nellie’s letters to her mother (mysteriously never mailed) to learn the minutiae of her life as a slightly bored housewife—the cooking, cleaning, and Tupperware parties. Alice even enjoys testing out the cookbook, making vintage recipes like Baked Alaska. But as readers see in chapters from Nellie’s point of view, her life wasn’t just a parade of fancy desserts and dinner parties—she was harshly controlled by her cruel and physically abusive husband. Nellie spent as much time hiding her bruises as she did making a home, being sure to keep the sordid details of her life a secret. Meanwhile, Alice is keeping a few secrets of her own from her husband. He doesn’t know that she was really fired from her last job or that she has no desire to get pregnant with the child he wants to have immediately. But as Nellie gains the courage to take control of her life, so does Alice—even if both of them might have to resort to dramatic measures. Brown (The Life Lucy Knew, 2018, etc.) skillfully alternates between Alice’s modern world and Nellie’s in the 1950s. With plentiful historical details (including recipes and depressingly hilarious marriage advice), the pages devoted to Nellie come to life. As both women both start to feel even more stifled in their marriages, Brown ratchets up the tension and pulls off a surprising—but satisfying—ending.An engaging and suspenseful look at how the patriarchy shaped women’s lives in the 1950s and continues to do so today.
Pub Date: Jan. 21, 2020
Page Count: 336
Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019
Share your opinion of this book
by Kristin Hannah ‧ RELEASE DATE: Feb. 3, 2015
Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.
Hannah’s new novel is an homage to the extraordinary courage and endurance of Frenchwomen during World War II.
In 1995, an elderly unnamed widow is moving into an Oregon nursing home on the urging of her controlling son, Julien, a surgeon. This trajectory is interrupted when she receives an invitation to return to France to attend a ceremony honoring passeurs: people who aided the escape of others during the war. Cut to spring, 1940: Viann has said goodbye to husband Antoine, who's off to hold the Maginot line against invading Germans. She returns to tending her small farm, Le Jardin, in the Loire Valley, teaching at the local school and coping with daughter Sophie’s adolescent rebellion. Soon, that world is upended: The Germans march into Paris and refugees flee south, overrunning Viann’s land. Her long-estranged younger sister, Isabelle, who has been kicked out of multiple convent schools, is sent to Le Jardin by Julien, their father in Paris, a drunken, decidedly unpaternal Great War veteran. As the depredations increase in the occupied zone—food rationing, systematic looting, and the billeting of a German officer, Capt. Beck, at Le Jardin—Isabelle’s outspokenness is a liability. She joins the Resistance, volunteering for dangerous duty: shepherding downed Allied airmen across the Pyrenees to Spain. Code-named the Nightingale, Isabelle will rescue many before she's captured. Meanwhile, Viann’s journey from passive to active resistance is less dramatic but no less wrenching. Hannah vividly demonstrates how the Nazis, through starvation, intimidation and barbarity both casual and calculated, demoralized the French, engineering a community collapse that enabled the deportations and deaths of more than 70,000 Jews. Hannah’s proven storytelling skills are ideally suited to depicting such cataclysmic events, but her tendency to sentimentalize undermines the gravitas of this tale.Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.
Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2015
Page Count: 448
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2014
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014
Share your opinion of this book
by Colleen Hoover ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 18, 2014
Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable...
Awards & Accolades
New York Times Bestseller
Sydney and Ridge make beautiful music together in a love triangle written by Hoover (Losing Hope, 2013, etc.), with a link to a digital soundtrack by American Idol contestant Griffin Peterson.
Hoover is a master at writing scenes from dual perspectives. While music student Sydney is watching her neighbor Ridge play guitar on his balcony across the courtyard, Ridge is watching Sydney’s boyfriend, Hunter, secretly make out with her best friend on her balcony. The two begin a songwriting partnership that grows into something more once Sydney dumps Hunter and decides to crash with Ridge and his two roommates while she gets back on her feet. She finds out after the fact that Ridge already has a long-distance girlfriend, Maggie—and that he's deaf. Ridge’s deafness doesn’t impede their relationship or their music. In fact, it creates opportunities for sexy nonverbal communication and witty text messages: Ridge tenderly washes off a message he wrote on Sydney’s hand in ink, and when Sydney adds a few too many e’s to the word “squee” in her text, Ridge replies, “If those letters really make up a sound, I am so, so glad I can’t hear it.” While they fight their mutual attraction, their hope that “maybe someday” they can be together playfully comes out in their music. Peterson’s eight original songs flesh out Sydney’s lyrics with a good mix of moody musical styles: “Living a Lie” has the drama of a Coldplay piano ballad, while the chorus of “Maybe Someday” marches to the rhythm of the Lumineers. But Ridge’s lingering feelings for Maggie cause heartache for all three of them. Independent Maggie never complains about Ridge’s friendship with Sydney, and it's hard to even want Ridge to leave Maggie when she reveals her devastating secret. But Ridge can’t hide his feelings for Sydney long—and they face their dilemma with refreshing emotional honesty.Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable characters and just the right amount of sexual tension.
Pub Date: March 18, 2014
Page Count: 384
Review Posted Online: May 6, 2014
Share your opinion of this book
Hey there, book lover.
We’re glad you found a book that interests you!