Today I’d like to focus on two books that I’ve read and loved recently.
First is HOW TO WALK AWAY by Katherine Center.
From the author of Happiness for Beginners comes the instant New York Times bestseller (May 2018), an unforgettable love story about finding joy even in the darkest of circumstances.
Margaret Jacobsen is just about to step into the bright future she’s worked for so hard and so long: a new dream job, a fiancé she adores, and the promise of a picture-perfect life just around the corner. Then, suddenly, on what should have been one of the happiest days of her life, everything she worked for is taken away in a brief, tumultuous moment.
In the hospital and forced to face the possibility that nothing will ever be the same again, Maggie must confront the unthinkable. First there is her fiancé, Chip, who wallows in self-pity while simultaneously expecting to be forgiven. Then, there's her sister Kit, who shows up after pulling a three-year vanishing act. Finally, there's Ian, her physical therapist, the one the nurses said was too tough for her. Ian, who won't let her give in to her pity, and who sees her like no one has seen her before. Sometimes the last thing you want is the one thing you need. Sometimes we all need someone to catch us when we fall. And sometimes love can find us in the least likely place we would ever expect.
This lovely, fascinating book starts out with Margaret’s fear of flying, so we are horrified when her fiancé practically forces her into a plane on Valentine’s Day, proposes to her, then ruins her life when the plane crashes. Paralyzed, with burns on her face, neck and shoulders, Margaret has to figure out what comes next. She’s wildly attracted to Ian, her Scottish physical therapist—and the only person in the world who calls her Maggie—but he keeps telling her it’s a natural reaction to their situation. In other words, more infatuation than anything real. She is not convinced, but there’s nothing she can do about it if he refuses to take her feelings seriously. Meanwhile she has to deal with complicated family dynamics, especially once her sister pops up after disappearing for three years. Ian has a tragic past, but he’s also at the mercy of a petty, jealous pedant who wants nothing more than to get rid of him, which he may just manage to do with Maggie’s inadvertent help. After she’s released from the hospital, her sister leaves and Ian is in limbo, possibly forced back to Scotland, Maggie has to figure out what to do with the rest of her life, since the one she’d planned so diligently literally went up in flames.
A wonderful, beautiful, thought-provoking book.
Next is MATCHMAKING FOR BEGINNERS by Maddie Dawson.
Marnie MacGraw wants an ordinary life—a husband, kids, and a minivan in the suburbs. Now that she’s marrying the man of her dreams, she’s sure this is the life she’ll get. Then Marnie meets Blix Holliday, her fiancé’s irascible matchmaking great-aunt who’s dying, and everything changes—just as Blix told her it would.
When her marriage ends after two miserable weeks, Marnie is understandably shocked. She’s even more astonished to find that she’s inherited Blix’s Brooklyn brownstone along with all of Blix’s unfinished “projects”: the heartbroken, oddball friends and neighbors running from happiness. Marnie doesn’t believe she’s anything special, but Blix somehow knew she was the perfect person to follow in her matchmaker footsteps.
And Blix was also right about some things Marnie must learn the hard way: love is hard to recognize, and the ones who push love away often are the ones who need it most.
Okay, so I mostly adored this book. I loved all the characters and the themes and the writing and almost everything about it.
I did, however, get annoyed, more than once, at how hand-wringingly clueless Marnie could be.
“Oh gee, I know my ex-husband, who completely screwed me over, shouldn’t be in my house that his aunt left me but maybe Blix made a mistake and meant to leave it to him—even though everyone tells me that is absolutely not the case. And I just can’t resist him. So I think I’ll sleep with him…."
“And maybe he’s proven to me that I absolutely can’t trust him, so I suppose it wouldn’t occur to me or any of my Brooklyn-ite neighbors that once I get him to leave I should possibly change the locks?”
I loved the magic, and the ideas that we can change our lives, and we create our own miracles. I loved Patrick—the wry, reclusive burn victim who lives in the basement. I loved all the neighbors that Blix left for Marnie, who help her change her life, and in turn are changed by her love and attention.
This book is magical, in many senses of the word. I just wish I’d had a few less times when Marnie made me think, “Really?”
Of course, once she comes into the true glory of who she’s supposed to be, we—I? I seem to be in a minority according to all the Amazon reviews—forgive her. And some of the more clever aspects of the plot can’t happen if she doesn’t do some of those annoying things. So I get it. Mostly.
Nonetheless, overall, these are two extremely compelling books I thoroughly enjoyed and truly could not stop listening to.
So in the end, two great big recommendations.
(Also, I hope you’re following the Q&As - the calendar with links is here - and the author visits for Read-A-Romance Month. Shirley Hailstock is on The Romance of Reading page today, and coming up are Sonali Dev & Talia Surova, Lisa Patton, Tracey Livesay, Danelle Harmon, Minerva Spencer and Christina Lauren.
#AugustReads #LoveBooks #ReadARomance