Part travelogue, part epistolary novel, this tale will engage fans of family sagas.

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The Path to Kitty Islet

Debut historical fiction about an upper-class young woman who begins her marriage by traveling from England to the frontiers of Canada in the early 1900s.    

In this ambitious novel, Pekter takes readers on a journey that spans approximately 100 years, beginning with the reckless decision of Minnie Sinclair to marry a man she hardly knows. When she meets Harry Worthing Jr. in London, she’s immediately infatuated, forsaking her former love interest as well as her familial obligations to remain near her childhood home. After a whirlwind courtship, she crosses the Atlantic as the new Mrs. Worthing, ready to tackle homesteading in the Dominion of Canada. Unfortunately, the harsh realities of life on the unforgiving Canadian plains quickly change Harry, who becomes cruel. In many letters written to her lifelong friend Emily McCrindle, Minnie discloses the difficult emotional and physical struggles she faces. Emily proves a faithful pen pal and friend, ultimately traveling to Grand Prairie, Alberta, to help Minnie raise her children. The Minnie who awaits Emily on the homestead is much changed, and Emily knows she was right to come. After an additional tragedy strikes the family in Grand Prairie, they relocate to Victoria, where they form new relationships, resulting in multiple generations over several decades. Despite the apparent progress of Minnie’s children and grandchildren, the secrets of her life in Grand Prairie continue to haunt them until they uncover shocking truths. Throughout the novel, Pekter uses a stately, classical prose that lends a feeling of authenticity to the characters’ observations: “The wind has ceased. Its voice must feel as dry and cracked as my hands—both of us exposed to the cold.” There’s a languidness in the first half of the story that deftly reflects the lifestyle of the characters of the era, but the pace gets faster as the plot ascends into the modern era. Along the way, the author presents intriguing details about life on the Canadian Prairies at the turn of the 20th century and about the long-lasting psychological effects of impulsive choices.   

Part travelogue, part epistolary novel, this tale will engage fans of family sagas.

Pub Date: June 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4602-7792-8

Page Count: 270

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

A WEEK AT THE SHORE

A middle-aged woman returns to her childhood home to care for her ailing father, confronting many painful secrets from her past.

When Mallory Aldiss gets a call from a long-ago boyfriend telling her that her elderly father has been gallivanting around town with a gun in his hand, Mallory decides it’s time to return to the small Rhode Island town that she’s been avoiding for more than a decade. Mallory’s precocious 13-year-old daughter, Joy, is thrilled that she'll get to meet her grandfather at long last, and an aunt, too, and she'll finally see the place where her mother grew up. When they arrive in Bay Bluff, it’s barely a few hours before Mallory bumps into her old flame, Jack, the only man she’s ever really loved. Gone is the rebellious young person she remembers, and in his place stands a compassionate, accomplished adult. As they try to reconnect, Mallory realizes that the same obstacle that pushed them apart decades earlier is still standing in their way: Jack blames Mallory’s father for his mother’s death. No one knows exactly how Jack’s mother died, but Jack thinks a love affair between her and Mallory’s father had something to do with it. As Jack and Mallory chase down answers, Mallory also tries to repair her rocky relationships with her two sisters and determine why her father has always been so hard on her. Told entirely from Mallory’s perspective, the novel has a haunting, nostalgic quality. Despite the complex and overlapping layers to the history of Bay Bluff and its inhabitants, the book at times trudges too slowly through Mallory’s meanderings down Memory Lane. Even so, Delinsky sometimes manages to pick up the pace, and in those moments the beauty and nuance of this complicated family tale shine through. Readers who don’t mind skimming past details that do little to advance the plot may find that the juicier nuggets and realistically rendered human connections are worth the effort.

A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-11951-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

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THE GIVER OF STARS

Women become horseback librarians in 1930s Kentucky and face challenges from the landscape, the weather, and the men around them.

Alice thought marrying attractive American Bennett Van Cleve would be her ticket out of her stifling life in England. But when she and Bennett settle in Baileyville, Kentucky, she realizes that her life consists of nothing more than staying in their giant house all day and getting yelled at by his unpleasant father, who owns a coal mine. She’s just about to resign herself to a life of boredom when an opportunity presents itself in the form of a traveling horseback library—an initiative from Eleanor Roosevelt meant to counteract the devastating effects of the Depression by focusing on literacy and learning. Much to the dismay of her husband and father-in-law, Alice signs up and soon learns the ropes from the library’s leader, Margery. Margery doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, rejects marriage, and would rather be on horseback than in a kitchen. And even though all this makes Margery a town pariah, Alice quickly grows to like her. Along with several other women (including one black woman, Sophia, whose employment causes controversy in a town that doesn’t believe black and white people should be allowed to use the same library), Margery and Alice supply magazines, Bible stories, and copies of books like Little Women to the largely poor residents who live in remote areas. Alice spends long days in terrible weather on horseback, but she finally feels happy in her new life in Kentucky, even as her marriage to Bennett is failing. But her powerful father-in-law doesn’t care for Alice’s job or Margery’s lifestyle, and he’ll stop at nothing to shut their library down. Basing her novel on the true story of the Pack Horse Library Project established by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, Moyes (Still Me, 2018, etc.) brings an often forgotten slice of history to life. She writes about Kentucky with lush descriptions of the landscape and tender respect for the townspeople, most of whom are poor, uneducated, and grateful for the chance to learn. Although Alice and Margery both have their own romances, the true power of the story is in the bonds between the women of the library. They may have different backgrounds, but their commitment to helping the people of Baileyville brings them together.

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-56248-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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