Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Cold April-Phyllis A. Humphrey

Cold April
Phyllis A. Humphrey
Camel Press, Nov 27 2010, $15.97
ISBN: 9781603818223

After spending the past three years working in America, Englishwoman Elizabeth Shallcross decides her future is not with being a governess to the affluent. She wants more independence, but has one last commitment to complete that will also book her passage back to America. Elizabeth will accompany the precocious child Kathleen as the girl and her wealthy father travel from London to New York.

On the Titanic, two males are attracted to Elizabeth. First there is her current employer who admires how good she is with his daughter, but likes her for herself too. Then there is Harry Palmer the magician who wants her. However, as Elizabeth decides on what she wants with neither or one of the two men competing for her, crashing into an iceberg changes all thoughts of the future.

Although there will be obvious comparisons to the Cameron Titanic movie, Phyllis A. Humphrey provides a fresh take on the disaster with a cautionary timely message to beware of prideful over-optimism (BP and Fukushima disasters). Through the fine cast especially the heroine, readers will believe they are on board the unsinkable luxury liner; as that Cold April almost a century ago has become A Night To Remember (by Walter Lord).

Harriet Klausner

The Violets of March-Sarah Jip

The Violets of March
Sarah Jip
Plume, Apr 26 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9780452297036

When Emily Wilson was in her twenties, she seemed to own the world. She wrote a bestseller and married a hunk Joel. That was then; a decade later Emily feels rudderless as her two anchors, writing and her spouse, fail her.

Her Great Aunt Bee invites Emily to spend a month on Bainbridge Island, Washington. With nothing to keep her away, she accepts the offer to stay by the sea. Just a half-hour ferry away from Seattle, the island begins to heal Emily’s mental strain so she can begin writing again. The writer finds a red velvet covered diary dated 1943. She reads about the diarist’s angst and sees a parallel to her current situation. Emily begins to feel renewed as the dairy has given new meaning to her life.

Filled with metaphors of life, Sarah Jip provides a fascinating second chance at life tale. Emily is the glue that holds the character driven story line together as she reads the WWII diary while researching what happened to the author and extrapolating the parallels to her present life. Although the action is limited, the support cast is fully developed and the locale wonderful. Readers will enjoy the visit to Bainbridge Island as Emily finds her missing groove.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Leaving Van Gogh-Carol Wallace

Leaving Van Gogh
Carol Wallace
Spiegel & Grau, Apr 19 2011, $25.00
ISBN: 9781400068791

In 1890, Vincent van Gogh moves to Auvers-sur-Oise, France to paint in the serene rustic environment. His brother Theo asks mental health specialist Dr. Paul Gachet, known for his artistic inclinations, to keep a close watch on his troubled sibling. As a patron of the fine arts, Gachet agrees. The physician finds the artist’s work incredible, but fears for the anguished man. He tries to comfort the tormented van Gogh and prepare Vincent’s family for the seemingly inevitable as the illnesses that torture van Gogh’s mind continue to grow. Ten weeks after the doctor was retained, his only patient committed suicide.

This is an intriguing biographical fiction that looks at van Gogh through the filter of the real doctor (van Gogh did a portrait of Gachet) who treated him in the months of his life. That perspective allows a fresh view, but also adds a degree of separation from the artist. Still this is a strong historical as Carol Wallace paints a vivid picture of medical profession at the end of the nineteenth century as the doctor struggles to help a difficult talented artist with a strange illness.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, March 26, 2011

To Be Queen-Christy English

To Be Queen
Christy English
NAL, Apr 5 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9780451232304

Her father Duke of Aquitaine William X trained Eleanor to maneuver her way through the volatile lethal world of regal politics. When he died when she was fifteen, she became the duchess as he mentored her to be. Her people adored and cherished their duchess. French King Louis adores Eleanor and three months after she became duchess she became his queen. They have two daughters, but Eleanor is disappointed in her spouse as he allows the Church to direct him instead of his acting as the monarch. Their marriage is shaky and collapses when Eleanor meets dynamic Henry of Normandy. Eleanor ends her marriage to Louis and crosses the Channel to wed her beloved Henry.

This is a biographical fictional prequel to The Queen's Pawn with much of the focus on the first royal marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine. At a time when female power meant no power, Eleanor learned starting with her mentoring father how to navigate a world of backstabbing betrayers to become a queen on both sides of the Channel. Well written, sub-genre readers, especially those who cherish the medieval period, will want to read Christy English’s entertaining look at the prototype for woman power.

Harriet Klausner

The Confession of Katherine Howard -Suzannah Dunn

The Confession of Katherine Howard
Suzannah Dunn
Harper, Apr 5 2011, $14.00
ISBN: 9780062011473

In childhood, Catherine Tilney and Katherine Howard became best friends when both were wards of the Duchess of Norfolk. They remain close through their teen years as their families ignore them. Katherine falls in love with Francis Dereham. However, King Henry VIII makes the teenager his fifth wife. However, her time as queen is short because of accusations that she had an arrangement with Dereham prior to marrying the king; her best friend, a lady in waiting, is also considered for execution due to guilt by association.

The Confession of Katherine Howard is made fresh by Catherine, as the narrator Tilney provides a unique perspective that in many ways turns the exciting story line into her tale as she paints a picture of her friend as being intelligent rather than an inane flirt. In order for Howard to have achieved what she did in a man’s world where she was abandoned as a child, she would have needed some smarts. Ironically what beheaded her was her childhood attraction to Francis Dereham, which no evidence supported the contention that this continued as an adult but was used as if it was alive during her marriage to the king. Although the wives of Henry have been featured in many biographical fictions including by Suzannah Dunn (see The Queen of Subtleties, The Sixth Wife and The Queen’s Sorrow; and The King’s Rose by Alissa Libby), this is a unique look at a woman unfairly judged during her life and since; perhaps Hnetry in his gut knew as he aged rapidly after her beheading.

Harriet Klausner

Heart of Deception-M.L. Malcolm

Heart of Deception
M.L. Malcolm
Harper, Apr 5 2011, $13.99
ISBN: 9780061962196

In 1937, the Japanese attack on Shanghai killed Martha Hoffman. She left behind her Hungarian businessman husband Leo and their seven years old daughter Maddy. Being a spy, Leo needs to find a way to protect his child so he marries and sends his second wife and his child to live in New York. However, after he returns to the field, his spouse could not care less what happens to her stepdaughter. By 1942, Maddy arrives in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey to live with her Aunt Bernice Mason while believing her father deserted her.

The war may be over, but as Leo seeks to reconcile with his daughter, he needs a legitimate passport to travel to New York. He agrees to conduct one last operation in North Africa for passage to America. However, Leo is unaware that his beloved daughter has found a loving home with her Aunt Bernice. Over the years she turns acrimonious towards her dad for abandoning her and distrusts men in general though she has trysts with different types of males.

Using real persona from the 1930s through the early 1960s, M.L. Malcolm continues the saga of Hoffman (see Heart of Lies) with a strong insightful epic that can stand alone, but clearly enhanced with how the lead male made the decisions that cost him raising his daughter. The story line rotates the tale of the father the espionage agent wanting to come in from the cold and his daughter who over time loathes her dad for abandoning her. Epic saga fans will enjoy this look at three middle twentieth century decades as world events and a sister-in-law keep a father and a daughter apart.

Harriet Klausner

The Journey-Wanda E. Brunstetter

The Journey
Wanda E. Brunstetter
Barbour, Apr 5 2011, $14.99
ISBN: 9781602606814

In Paradise, Pennsylvania, Titus Fisher always compared himself with his twin Timothy and found himself lacking. He loves his brother, but envies him. The latest comparison is Timothy is happily married to Hannah with a young daughter Mindy; while Titus’ beloved Phoebe Stoltzfus ended their relationship to move away from the Amish in California. When Englischer Allen Walters stops at the Fisher family spread, he informs Titus they need a carpenter in the Amish community in Christian County, Kentucky. Titus decides to take the position as he feels a need to start over.

In Pembroke, Kentucky Titus and Amish Suzanne Yoder meet. They are attracted to each other as each is excellent at woodworking; however she looks like a sister of Phoebe so he knee jerkily dislikes her. Besides which he rationalizes she is a tomboy who can’t cook. However, as she watches how considerate of others she is, he reassesses his assessment of Suzanne when Phoebe arrives for a second chance.

The latest Wanda E. Brunstetter’s Amish family drama is an entertaining tale as Titus’ response to the Lovin’ Spoonful song “Did You Ever have To Make Up Your Mind?” is to trust in the Lord to guide him. Although some minor subplots feel like inane padding, fans will rejoice with the first Kentucky Brothers’ tale as there is joy and heartbreak making for a tender realistic journey.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, March 25, 2011

Please Look After Mom-Kyung-Sook Shin

Please Look After Mom
Kyung-Sook Shin
Knopf, Apr 5 2011, $24.95
ISBN: 9780307593917

In an overly crowded Seoul subway station, Park So-nyo becomes separated from her husband rushing to make a train. A rural farmer who is totally lost in the big city Park vanishes.

Her spouse and adult children panic as mom’s steady consistency is the magnet that kept the family together. Each of Park’s family feel guilt for taking her for granted as they all assume she will always be there. Her spouse who has never had a kind word for his rural wife realizes how much she means to him and how she ignored her desires to be there for him. Her daughter who thought her mom was an illiterate barbarian who could not read a book misses her as she fondly recalls how her mother encouraged her to read and be much more. Her son who treated her with disdain as he made demands of his mom wants to make amends for his treatment of her. Meanwhile mom wanders the city while recalling her family’s embarrassment and disdain of her for being a throwback from a previous century.

This is an intriguing look at a Korean family who could be any ethnic group in which taking for granted a loved one until you lose what turns out to be most cherished is a common fault. The husband and two children were embarrassed by their mom until she vanishes; now they're worried and remorseful while mom reflects back on her loneliness due to her performing her motherhood duty. Filled with pathos and a strong underlying message to cherish those you love before it is too late, readers will relish this profound tale made even more poignant by the rotating viewpoint.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wickham’s Diary-Amanda Grange

Wickham’s Diary
Amanda Grange
Sourcebooks, Apr 2011, $11.99
ISBN: 9781402251863

In 1784 two boys around the same twelve years of age play together at Pemberly. Fitzwilliam Darcy will one day inherit the estate while George Wickham is the son of the steward and will only obtain whatever his friend’s father gives him as he cares for the lad like a second son. Wickham’s mother wants her son to marry an heiress and gives him advice on how to use Darcy as his entrance into Polite Society.

Darcy’s father pays for Wickham to attend Cambridge with his son, but while the latter is a stern righteous person walking the straight and narrow, the former is wenching, gambling and drinking. When Wickham is caught with a prostitute, Darcy washes his hands of his former best friend and refuses to pay his way out of prison. A few years later Wickham finds it ironic when he meets Georgiana Darcy as she is a beautiful adult heiress living apart from her brother and he starts to court her. Just when his dreams are about to happen, Darcy intrudes.

This may be a novella, but it packs the punch of a novel as readers observe the influence Wickham’s mother had on him. She encouraged him to go above his station, feeling it was his earned right to use any means necessary. The grand divide between the classes is shown in stark detail as George covets what Fitzwilliam inherits. Amanda Grange who has written Darcy’s Dairy Fitzwilliam’s viewpoint to Pride and Prejudice gives Wickham the same insightful treatment.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

When Sparrows Fall-Meg Moseley

When Sparrows Fall
Meg Moseley
Multnomah, May 3 2011, $13.99
ISBN: 9781601423559

Pregnant with her sixth child, Miranda Hanford had no time to mourn the death of her husband. When the Pastor Mason Chandler announces he is relocating the flock from Slades Creek, Ohio to McCabe, North Carolina, Miranda decides this is the time to end ties with the church though she will miss some of the women. She wants her children to feel free and loved instead of trapped and scorned as the pastor controls everyone’s life.

However, Chandler rejects Miranda’s notion of staying behind even when she says her late husband told her to hold on to the land. Instead he threatens to expose her secrets for the world, especially her kids, to know. The oldest child Timothy calls his Uncle Jack, a university professor, informing him that his mom took a nasty fall and he is their guardian while Miranda recovers. Though estranged from Miranda, wasting no time Jack arrives. He finds his nieces and nephews charming in spite of their ultra fundamentalist lifestyle. Jack brings with him a sense of freedom that life is to be enjoyed. Meanwhile Mason turns up the heat on Miranda while Jack tries to learn what the Pastor has on his sister-in-law.

When Sparrows Fall is an exciting small town drama that uses hyperbole to purposely showcase how much a pastor can control their flock. Character driven by a strong cast, readers will relish the psychological battle between Jack and Mason over the souls of the children and their mother. Although a romantic subplot feels more like a sub-genre requirement, the relationship shows how far Jack has come from mocking his sister-in-law. Fans will enjoy this deep family drama.

Harriet Klausner

The Sisters Brothers-Patrick Dewitt

The Sisters Brothers
Patrick Dewitt
Ecco (HarperCollins), Apr 26 2011, $24.99
ISBN: 9780062041265

In 1851 the Commodore directs his vicious hired guns Charlie and Eli Sisters to kill prospector Hermann Kermit Warm. The siblings head from Oregon City through San Francisco to Sierra foothills where Warm has a Gold mining claim.

Their trek south is wrought with danger and adventures whether it is in the wilderness or the saloons. From a witch who curses the duo to drunken females who entice them, The Sisters brothers are starting to understand human existence is more than just birth and death as they elude a horde of fur trappers out to kill them.

This is a strong pre Civil War western thriller starring two interesting brothers. The key to the insightful look at the underbelly of the Pacific coast circa 1850s story line is how the readers’ attitude towards the Sisters changes through the course of the tale. Initially, the siblings seem like brutal cold killers (Liberty Valance comes to mind). Soon as their back story becomes known; as well as the affectionate caring for one another and Eli’s tenderness to a woman surface, fans realize there is more to the brothers in this super mid nineteenth century Americana.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Daughter’s Walk-Jane Kirkpatrick

The Daughter’s Walk
Jane Kirkpatrick
WaterBrook, Apr 5 2011, $14.99
ISBN: 9781400074297

In 1896, mother and daughter Helga and nineteen year old Clara Estby begin a walk from Spokane to New York City in an attempt to win a $10,000 prize from the fashion industry to save the family farm; threatened by foreclosure. On their pedestrian trek, Clara begins to understand her mom’s life especially the mistreatment by family.

When they return home, Clara leaves her family. Estranged from her kin for years, Clara tries to make it in the unheard of position for a female, a businesswoman. Still with success professionally, she prays to God that one day to reconcile with her family.

Mindful of Susan Hunt’s Bold Spirit, especially the first part of this super historical novel that focuses on the real life walk of mother and daughter to save their family farm. The rest of the story line centers predominantly on Clara, who learns so much about life; though much of her lessons are negative from her trek across the country with her mom. Readers will believe they have been transported in time and place as they walk the walk with the Estby duo and continue to accompany Clara a suffragette business woman who navigates a male only world populated with true believers that females belong in the kitchen and bedroom not the boardroom.

Harriet Klausner

Tea for Two-Trish Perry

Tea for Two
Trish Perry
Harvest Houses, Apr 1 2011, $9.99
ISBN: 9780736930161

Counselor Tina Milano uses Millicent's Tea Shop in Middleburg to facilitate her group sessions with women. She also enjoys, as do all the females, inspecting the goods of the "hot produce man".

The deliverer of fresh fruit and vegetables to Milly's, Zack Cooper is unaware that the ladies consider him a hot hunk. Instead the single dad struggles with the troublesome behavior of his two teenage children Dylan and Sherry and his first attraction to a woman in years. However, he is over the top when his son calls from jail and his daughter lies to him. Milly suggests he asks Tina for help before his two kids get any deeper in trouble. Neither knows how to deal with their attraction for one another, but both knows the kids come first.

The second Tea Shop romance (see The Perfect Blend) is a warm contemporary starring two refreshing lead characters as each is relationships reticent with flaws holding them back on taking a chance especially when each rationalizes they have dependents in need of them. The secondary cast enhances a tender tale as the tea shop employees, owner and customers as well as Tina’s BFF and clients, and Zack’s kids make for a fun spot of tea at Milly’s.

Harriet Klausner

The Sandalwood Tree -Elle Newmark

The Sandalwood Tree
Elle Newmark
Atria, Apr 5 2011, $25.99
ISBN: 9781416590590

In 1947, Jewish-American scholar Martin Mitchell earns a Fulbright grant to study Indian politics. He takes his Catholic wife Evaleen and their son Billy to Masoorla, Hindustan at a time when their marriage is shaky as he came back from the war a changed person.

Meanwhile Evie finds letters from the 1850s written by two foreign female occupants of the same house the Mitchell family resides in. The British women (Felicity and Adela) were concerned with the bloody Sepoy Revolt, but that takes a back seat to when Felicity becomes pregnant carrying her Sikh lover’s child; while Evie worries about her family’s safety after the Partition, but cannot stop researching what happened to Felicity and Adela.

This is an entertaining insightful look at India through the eyes of three women during two tumultuous eras. Thus the story line has a historiography feel as a 1947 American expatriate reads the letters written a century earlier by two British expatriates. The 1850s saga is the fresher subplot due to being less known today by most readers than the 1947 Independence days. Although the Mitchell marital woes wrap up to quickly, historical readers will feel transported to both eras by Elle Newmark’s well written the Sandalwood Tree.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Heartbreak of a Hustler’s Wife-Nikki Turner

Heartbreak of a Hustler’s Wife
Nikki Turner
Ballantine One World, Apr 5 2011, $14.00
ISBN: 9780345511089

In Richmond, shook by the attempt on her husband Des’ life, attorney Yarni Taylor prays for her spouse to give up his street hustlin’ ways and be a by example pastor to the congregation of the Lady of the Good Life Ministry. Des insists he will once he deals with the punk who shot at him and the insolent fool who robbed the church during services.

Already concerned with her husband’s safety, Yarni turns frantic when non-clients appear at the law firm reminding her of five years old daughter's kidnapping. Eighteen year old Desember Day (see Natural Born Hustler) claims to be Des’ daughter; an offspring he never knew he sired until she came to their door. In spite of never having met before, Desember proves to be a chip off her father’s block with a knack to landing in trouble. Yarni comes from a line of hustlers so knows what she must do to break the gangsta cycle. For her to keep the street out of her home, church and law office means confronting those who threaten her dream even family members.

The latest “Hustler” street lit (see A Hustler’s Wife and Forever a Hustler’s Wife) is a terrific family drama as once again Nikki Turner makes straddling the fence between the gangsta hustle and that of the middle class hustle seem real due to a strong cast. Yarni is fabulous as she struggles between her dreams and her compromised reality. Des feels as pulled in multiple directions as his wife does. Though the novel has a sort of been there- done that sense of a transition book, the extended family and the congregation enhance an entertaining character driven hip hop thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, March 18, 2011

Mothers and Daughters-Rae Meadows

Mothers and Daughters
Rae Meadows
Henry Holt, Mar 29 2011, $25.00
ISBN: 9780805093834

In Madison, Wisconsin thirtyish Sam struggles with the recent death of her mother Iris just before giving birth to her daughter. She is unable to move past the roles of grieving daughter and supermom. Her husband Jack is alienated by her abnormal behavior and her inability to give him any time. Sam knows he is right and tries todo otherwise, but is unable to generate any energy involving going back to work.

Sam receives a box of her late mom’s mementos. This includes information on her maternal grandmother Violet that she never knew occurred. Violet grew up as a neglected child wandering the streets of the Bronx until her indigent mom placed her on the Children's Aid Society's orphan train heading to the Midwest when she was eleven. Learning more about Violet enables Sam to understand her late mom much more than when Iris was alive.

Moving back and before in time, this is an entertaining look at the relationships between Mothers & Daughters. Character driven by the three generations of females, the story line is at its freshest following the journey of Violet from a New York street urchin to her new life in the Midwest. Although the males in their lives seem emaciated compared to the three women, readers will appreciate this well written family drama.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Badass: The Birth of a Legend-Ben Thompson

Badass: The Birth of a Legend
Ben Thompson
Harper, Mar 15 2011, $16.99
ISBN: 9780062001351

Ben Thompson switches from the real Badass personas of his previous tale to those of legend (biblical, mythology and Hollywood) with thirty-eight entries. Some of the toughest kick butts are females like Kali the Indian Goddess who dined on entails washed down buy blood and Atalanta who sailed on the Argo and defeated the male Greek heroes in a wrestling tournament. Others include Captain Kirk, Moby Dick, Thor, Beowulf and Godzilla, etc. The basic underlying theme that connects the Badass heroes and antiheroes is the battle between irrelevancy and reverence for top dog as only the winner does not have to look at the butt of the loser (even Saint Michael the Archangel who beat Satan’s butt receives this treatment). Fittingly the Daleks are included; if you are unaware of who they are, this probably is not your book. For the rest of us, the glib commentaries make my day (Harry is included).

Harriet Klausner

Slow Dancing on Price’s Pier-Lisa Dale

Slow Dancing on Price’s Pier
Lisa Dale
Berkley, Apr 5 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425239957

In Newport, Rhode Island, Coffee shop owner Thea Celik is divorcing her husband Jonathan Sorenson after ten years of marriage and a ten years old daughter Irina. At the same time, lobbyist Garrett Sorenson comes home after fifteen years away due to his then high school girlfriend Thea and his brother betraying him when they married. Their split makes him believe it is time for the Sorenson family to reconcile starting with a divorce party in Providence.

When Garrett and Thea meet, each is stunned as their attraction remains as strong as it did when they were teens. Although she wants to stay away from Garrett, she wants her child to know his paternal family. Garrett wants to know his niece, but distrusts Thea and his feelings towards her.

This is an entertaining family drama starring a strong woman who refuses to rat out her cheating husband to anyone especially his mother Sue who she loves. The competing brothers (and the other males) seem a bit emaciated compared to the female trio of Thea, Sue and Irina, who own the story line. Switching character viewpoints in the present and a decade ago, fans will enjoy drinking coffee and Slow Dancing on Price’s Pier.

Harriet Klausner

Song of the Silk Road-Mingmei Yip

Song of the Silk Road
Mingmei Yip
Kensington, Apr 1 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9780758241825

Growing up in Hong King, Lily Lin, an orphan at twenty-eight, lives in New York. There she is writing her Chinese-American family biography, attending graduate school at NYU, waiting tables at Shun Lee Palace, and in a nowhere relationship with her married Professor Chris Adams.

Mills and Mann law firm contacts Lily to inform her that she inherited a fortune from a late maternal aunt Mindy Madison who she never knew existed. However, Aunt Mindy placed several stipulations that were placed on the three million. Although she has doubts, Lily, knowing she risks little as her assessment is that she has little decides to take up the gauntlet her aunt placed on her. Lily must perform specific tasks while traveling the Silk Road of the Taklamakan Desert.

This is an intriguing coming of age romantic adventure as the heroine finds her groove and love in the Chinese desert. Lily is a fascinating lead who keeps the story line focused even when her male counterpart seems more like the star of the Perils of Paul. Although the ending is too neatly tied up after such a harrowing trek, readers will enjoy accompanying Lily as she traverses the Silk Road.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted -Bridget Asher

The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted
Bridget Asher
Bantam, Mar 29 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9780385343916

Henry died two years ago in a car accident. His wife Heidi has failed to move on as she lives for his memory and to keep germy reality away from touching her and their eight years old son Abbott. She even stopped making her bakery a success.

Heidi’s mother and her sister Elysius are worried about Heidi and what her grief is doing to Abbott. They decide that Heidi and Abbot accompanied by Elysius’ troubled teenage stepdaughter Charlotte will go to the family house in rustic Puyloubier in Provence, France to oversee the fixing up of the kitchen ruined by a fire. Although they object, the trio heads to the estate only to lose all their belongings. However when Julien, whose marriage has just ended, and Heidi meet for the first since they were children, they are attracted to each other. However, their mutual desire leads to Abbott running away, sixteen years old Charlotte announcing she is pregnant, and what happened the summer mom ran away to Provence.

This is an entertaining family melodrama starring a wonderful protagonist who wants to be left alone in her wallowing and a strong cast who either share in her miserable outlook or foster an intervention on her. Melancholy and nostalgic, fans will agree with mom that the house in Puyloubier possesses the “logical cure for the brokenhearted.”

Harriet Klausner

Jane Austen Summer-Cindy Jones

Jane Austen Summer
Cindy Jones
Morrow, Mar 29 2011, $14.99
ISBN: 9780062003973

In Texas in a few months, Lily Berry lost her job due to Austen and her boyfriend also due to Austen. On top of that her mom passes; leaving behind for her two daughters necklaces made from her jewelry. Lily and her sister Karen feel they also lost her father who has a new girlfriend Sue; who he plans to marry and consequently is unavailable to help either of his shell shocked daughters.

Despondent she turns to Jane Austen for solace as the local bookstore owner Vera offers her a chance to participate in a reenactment of Mansfield Park by Janeite enthusiasts. However, Vera fails to inform excited Lily that their effort is failing and she has no role. Lily is attracted to Anglican Deacon Willis. Meanwhile Magda the director gives the Texan a hard time while she also has an affair with her superior until his wife and toddlers arrive. However, a different triangle with kids shakes the Berry siblings.

The premise of a sort of Venn diagram using interrelated relational triangles instead of circles is set up nicely due to the different personalities especially flaws the key characters bring to the mix. Since none of the relationships takes deep control throughout, readers will have difficulty determining what matters as Lily never anchors the story line. Still Janeites will enjoy spending “A Season at Mansfield Park” with the Berry sisters.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, March 13, 2011

At Home With the Templetons-Monica McInerney

At Home With the Templetons
Monica McInerney
Ballantine, Mar 29 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9780345518651

In 1993, the magnificent seven of the Templeton clan move from England to Victorian Goldfields, Australia. They take residence in Templeton Hall, a manor unused for years. The locals are taken aback by the brood and the youngest daughter eleven years old Gracie soon learns not everyone is welcoming of her and her family.

The patriarch Henry hopes to make money off the estate by providing period piece (in full costume and d├ęcor) to tourists of the stately manor house. Eleanor the matriarch struggles with controlling her husband’s zaniest money making schemes as they never work. She also needs to keep their five children actively involved or Henry’s latest plan will join the boondoggle failure pile. Their neighbors, single mother artist Nina Donovan and her son Tom, rent a nearby farmhouse; both are fascinated with the Templeton family. A tragedy splits the clan apart as culpability is everywhere and nowhere as over the next decade an a half, the Templeton kids make their own way in the world.

This is an engaging look over sixteen years at a family, in which each goes their separate way down paths of success, failure, love and betrayal. The key to this family epic is that each Templeton and the Donovan diet come across as different people with strengths and weaknesses as the viewpoint changes amongst them. Fans of family drama will enjoy reading At Home With The Templetons.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Realm of Hungry Spirits-Lorraine Lopez

The Realm of Hungry Spirits
Lorraine Lopez
Grand Central, May 2 2011, $13.99
ISBN 9780446549639

Growing up in a devout fundamentalist household, thirtyish schoolteacher Marina Lucero has gone the complete opposite of her dogmatic parents as she has grave doubts about organized religion. Instead she turns to the Dalai Lama for spiritual enlightenment.

However, heeding to the Dalai’s code to care for the downtrodden proves difficult. The dependents at school, in the neighborhood and her family take their toll on her mental state. Her former boyfriend shows chutzpah when he arrives with his list after dumping her on Valentine’s Day. Her sister makes demands of her though offers nothing in return except more demands. Rudy's best friend, a Santeria priest, threatens to give her the evil eye if she fails to fill his order. As her life implodes and tragedies occur, Marina wonders what she did to deserve this; her self-deprecating answer is being the sucker Good Samaritan; so she knows it is time for no more Ms. nice guy as she needs to cleanse her soul.

This is an amusing dark lampooning of the Good Samaritan who tries to be there for everyone else, but has no time to take care of herself. This work is satirical as the support cast keeps making demands on the protagonist who fails to say no even to those who hurt or threaten her. Although the story line is too long as the demand and supply becomes too frequent, fans will enjoy this dark jocular satire as readers conclude that even the Dalai Lama would retire rather than deal with her demanding crowd.

Harriet Klausner

Angel Sister-Ann H. Gabhart

Angel Sister
Ann H. Gabhart
Revell, Feb 1 2011, $14.99
ISBN: 9780800733810

In 1930s Kentucky Preston Merritt is the most powerful person in town. However, since his favorite son died in a drowning accident, he has become cold and nasty even towards his surviving offspring. His son Victor marries Nadine, daughter of Reverend Orrin Reece before he went off to fight. When he came back from the war he was not the same, but he still loves his wife though he loves alcohol as much or more.

They have three children. The oldest Evie falls in and out of love while the youngest Tori is a tomboy of sorts. The middle daughter Kate is the responsible one trying to take care of the family especially her dad when he comes home intoxicated.

Six years old Lorena Birdsong is abandoned by her parents on the steps of Rosey Corner Church. Her mom says an angel will soon come for her. So when Kate finds her, Lorena assumes this is her angel. The Merritt family takes the child in, but the townsfolk decide Victor cannot care for his family so Lorena will be taken from them and placed with a wealthy family.

Although Kate is the glue that holds the wonderful storyline focused, the ensemble cast is fully developed in this terrific historical Christian family drama. Each has flaws, which turn worse as their troubles mount while their faith in God wanes until it seems it will take real angeles dancing with the joy of a miracle to keep the extended family (to include the abandoned Lorena) together. Readers will appreciate this inspirational rural Americana Depression Era tale.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Already Home-Susan Mallery

Already Home
Susan Mallery
Mira, Mar 29 2011, $14.95
ISBN: 9780778329510

With her marriage to chef Aaron in ruins due to his cheating and her self-esteem in the sewer, sous chef Jenna Stevens leaves Los Angeles and returns home to Texas. When Jenna sees a to rent sign near her parent’s home where she is staying, she decides to open a cooking store. She immediately hires Violet to work at the store.

Like Jenna, trying to move on to is Violet. She and Jenna make a terrific team at the store and as friends. Violet also is welcomed by Jenna’s mother, Beth who worries about her daughter succeeding with a store as Jenna has no experience running a shop. However, just after the store opens, her biological parents Atomic and Serenity arrive hoping to bond with their daughter; confusing Jenna and upsetting her mom.

The extended family females (to include Violet and Jenna’s high school friends) are fully developed characters with fears, flaws and diverse personalities. On the other hand the men in their lives lack that same level of intensity as they each come across as one dimensional in support of the prime woman in their life. Still readers will enjoy Susan Mallery’s warm contemporary tale as jittery Jenna finds her groove.

Harriet Klausner

The Goodbye Quilt-Susan Wiggs

The Goodbye Quilt
Susan Wiggs
Mira, Mar 29 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9781611069945

Mother and daughter Linda and Molly Davis are driving across the country for the latter to begin college. As they journey together on their first trip without the man of the house Dan, Linda, having worked part-time at Pins and Needles, begins knitting a quilt using remnants of fabrics from Molly’s past to highlight her daughter’s life. Her plan is to give the quit to her daughter when they reach their destination.

Linda also ponders what life will be like without her offspring sharing the house with her and Dan who remained behind to care for their aging pet Hoover. Meanwhile as Linda considers empty nesting, Molly wonders about leaving behind her high school boyfriend.

The Goodbye Quilt is a deep look at a mother and daughter relationship at a critical point when the only offspring leaves home for the first time. The quilt represents where Molly has been while the road trip reflects the present and where she is going. Susan Wiggs provides a powerful passionate parable of the first rite of passage the older person begins passing life’s torch to the next generation.

Harriet Klausner

Daughters of Rome-Kate Quinn

Daughters of Rome
Kate Quinn
Berkley, Apr 5 2011, $15.00
ISBN 9780425238974

In 69 A.D. Cornelia is the paragon of a Roman politician’s wife as she expects to one day soon become the empress. Their cousin Lollia is used by men in the family as a pawn to gain favors with the affluent. Another cousin Diana chooses to stay out of the elite arena as her preference is as a spectator at chariot racing.

Otho leads a bloody coup that ends with the Emperor Galba dead after a reign of seven months following Nero’s suicide. Cornelia’s dream died with her spouse. Marcella must adapt having manipulated Galba. All four females struggle to survive as two more emperors follow in the "Year of the Four Emperors."

This work of biographical fiction looks closely at the impact of the ‘Year of the Four Emperors" had on four women. Each of the women is fully developed while the men in their lives serve as background catalysts on the feminist stage. The two sisters are fascinating protagonists turned to antagonists as Cornelia mourns what she felt was her divine right lost with her husband’s death and Marcella turns from historian to Machiavellian emperor maker and breaker. The cousins are fully developed but less influential. A prequel to the author’s Mistress of Rome, ancient historical fiction fans will enjoy this intriguing look at the disorderly first year after Nero’s death.

Harriet Klausner

The Caregiver-Shelley Shepard Gray

The Caregiver
Shelley Shepard Gray
Avon, Mar 8 2011, $12.99
ISBN: 9780062020611

For two years, Paul abused his wife Lucy. She concealed the bruises from friends and families; however those aware of his viciousness also pretend all was right with the couple. Now Lucy feels relief since Paul fell off a ladder to his death although it is one year since he died and she still remains frightened of men.

Lucy rides the train to visit her ailing cousin Mattie in Jacob’s Crossing. Timid Lucy meets Amish siblings extroverted Calvin and precocious Katie on board. The train breaks down near Cleveland, which allows additional time for Lucy to become less frightened with Calvin. He notices how comfortable she is with his younger sister but is wary of him. When they reach Jacob’s Crossing, they learn they are neighbors, but her focus is on her relative suffering from breast cancer while he concentrates on his family farm. He hopes to help her move past the big hurt that has her acting like a scared cat around him but fears giving her his heart.

The first Families of Honor tale is a terrific and stunning story as Shelley Shepard Gray makes a case that even in the most pious communities abuse occurs and is often ignored by those who should intervene. Lucy makes the plot work as she is afraid of men yet attracted to Calvin; while she also remains a true believer, in contrast her cousin is losing her faith in the Lord. Character driven, readers will enjoy this insightful look at an abuse victim starting to heal due to her faith and people showering her with love.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Friendship Bread-Darien Gee

Friendship Bread
Darien Gee
Ballantine, Apr 5 2011, $25.00
ISBN 9780345525345

In Avalon, Illinois six years has passed since their offspring Josh died. Neither Julia nor Mark Evarts has moved on as each is trapped in their grief; so much so their marriage is being torn apart from inside. She also never forgave her BFF sister Livvy who was with her son when he died.

Julia and her five years old daughter Gracie arrive home to find an odd package waiting for them. An anonymous person left homemade Amish Friendship Bread and a starter kit on how to make your own loaf. She wants to toss the package out, but Gracie begs her not to dump it. They bake the bread and soon Julia begins distributing the recipe to people in need like Widow Madeline Davis struggling with her tea salon and concert cellist Hannah Wang de Brisay whose marriage and perhaps her career has died. Over tea and bread, Madeline, Hannah and Julia begin to heal while the latter ponders whether to bring Friendship Bread to Livvy who has not forgiven herself.

This is a compassionate community drama based on the concept that good food is a healer of many emotional traumas even the death of a loved one; sitting Shiva for instance includes neighborly dishes. The women are terrific as the audience will understand what eats at each of their souls. Although the men in their lives lack any dimension beyond that of the respective woman in their life, fans will appreciate the uplifting message to bake a Friendship Bread (recipes included) to help heal a hurt.

Harriet Klausner

Driftwood Cottage-Sherryl Woods

Driftwood Cottage
Sherryl Woods
Mira, Mar 29 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778329961

In Baltimore, Heather Donovan loves divorce lawyer Conner O’Brien and desperately wants to marry him. However, he has unresolved issues with his mom Megan who walked out on the family years ago even though she is back married to his father, famous architect Mick O’Brien. He refuses to marry anyone even the mother of his baby son Mick who he loves and has lived with since college.

Having been estranged with her parents over being pregnant and unwed, she realizes how futile her dream is. Unable to pretend otherwise, Heather accompanied by their child, moves away from her beloved to start over in his hometown of Chesapeake Shores. The former inner city high school teacher opens up a quilt shop and is welcomed by the O’Brien clan elated with their grandson living nearby.

The key to the latest Chesapeake Shores O’Brien family drama (see A Chesapeake Shores Christmas and Harbor Lights) is Connor. His distrust of marital relationships does not magically disappear though he misses Heather and Mick as months have passed and he remains obstinate. When he finally turns around after an extended separation, Heather rejects his attempt at reconciliation as she does not believe his so-called epiphany. He has his work to atone for what he caused as he casts around for a solution. Fans of the series will enjoy the latest entry.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, March 7, 2011

Baby, Baby-Karen Wiesner

Baby, Baby
Karen Wiesner
Whiskey Creek Press, Apr 1 2011, $17.95
ISBN: 9781611600117

In Peaceful, Wisconsin, Robert and Tamara married just after graduating from high school. Over the next two decades, he brought in income while she stayed at home as a housewife to raise their children. Now the youngest Cora enters preschool so Tamara considers what to do with her suddenly part-time “empty nest”. The answer comes from an elderly woman who sees the baskets Tamara makes for friends and family. She offers Tamara money to buy one so she can send it to her daughter as a birthday present.

However, when she tells Robert she wants to open up a gift business selling her hand made baskets, he is unhappy as he is filled with pride being the breadwinner like his father was. Thinking what he could do before his beloved Tamara no longer needs him in her life; panicked Robert decides the answer is another baby at a time he loses a deserved promotion to an inexperienced college grad. Stunned by her husband’s response as she thought he would encourage her, Tamara turns to God for advice. She ponders whether Proverbs 31 submissive missive is to cede all your wants to your husband’s desires; which in turn denotes never doing something for your own self gratification as that otherwise is selfishness.

This is a reprint of the first entertaining Family Heirlooms inspirational family drama. The enjoyable story line is character driven mostly by the lead couple, but ably supported by a strong support cast especially the extended family. Although some readers will scoff at adhering to God’s Will to solve major problems, fans will appreciate Robert’s actions and reactions when Tamara announces her intention of a designer gift basket business; as he makes the tale worth reading.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Trades of The Flesh-Faye L. Booth

Trades of The Flesh
Faye L. Booth
Forge, Mar 1 2011, $14.99
ISBN: 9780765327840

In 1887 in Preston, dying Nell Ketch tells her oldest daughter Lydia to take care of her younger sister Annabel. Her mom suggests Lydia use her comely body to make a living. Lydia’s only other choice is the brutal workhouse.

In 1888, Lydia works for brothel owner Kathleen Tanner, as she takes care of herself and her sibling. Client Henry Shadwell makes an intriguing offer as a photographer he wants to take pornographic pictures of her. Realizing this is an easier means to make money she agrees. Over time she assists him in obtaining corpses for his anatomy class because he is a surgeon that he teaches. As she falls in love with him and he wants only her, they keep their sexual relationship as it always has been with him being her paying customer.

This is a superb Victorian historical tale starring a young woman desperately trying to keep herself and her sister out of the workhouse though the protagonist hopes to leave the brothel business soonest too. The story is character driven, but its the Dickensian descriptions of Victorian England even two decades after the writer’s death that grips the audience; as being a woman of ill repute is less acceptable even with her patrons (and their families) than dying young at the workhouse. With a powerful unexpected final twist, readers will appreciate Trades of the Flesh, one of the few ways an impoverished woman can make a living.

Harriet Klausner

Blind Sight-Meg Howrey

Blind Sight
Meg Howrey
Pantheon, Mar 29 2011, $24.95
ISBN: 9780307379160

In Philadelphia seventeen years old Luke Prescott has never seen his father; for that matter he has never met a blood male relative. He lives with his mysticism divorced mom Sara, devout Christian Nana, and two younger half-sisters (Aurora and Pearl).

He is filling out his college applications when his biological father whom he never met asks him to visit him in Los Angeles. Luke knows his dad is a famous TV star who had a one nighter with his mom. He accepts the invitation to spend the summer with his father. In Hollywood, Luke quickly separates the public Mark Franco from the private Anthony Boyle lives of his dad. He learns secrets from both his parents as he feels he is finding his personal Rosetta Stone as empirical data does not always lead to truth.

This is a terrific character driven family drama starring a delightful caring teen. Luke is fabulous as he tells much of the tale, which at times effortlessly switches from his filter to the third person viewpoint. Although a late twist detracts from what Luke and the readers learn during his season of epiphanies, the audience will appreciate how the teen spent his summer.

Harriet Klausner

A Heart For Home-Lorraine Snelling

A Heart For Home
Lorraine Snelling
Bethany House, Mar 1 2011, $14.99
ISBN: 9780764206115

In 1904 in South Dakota, Dr. Astrid Bjorkland provides medical care to the Rosebud Indian Reservation at a time the tribe faces a terrible epidemic. She and her family also try to help the immigrants settling in Blessing, North Dakota. In fact the Bjorkland clan wants to construct a medical facility to help the needy.

However, Astrid’s immediate concern is the ailing Indians whose elders want her to leave until wise men like Red Hawk notice some of their tribe is recovering under her care. While she works diligently as a physician, she also mentors others to provide some medial help. Meanwhile Joshua Landsverk wants a second chance with Astrid who believes God wants her to doctor the needy.

The third Home to Blessing historical tale (see No Distance Too Far and A Measure of Mercy) is a terrific early twentieth century novel that provides a deep spotlight on the Native American and Norwegian cultures in the Dakotas. The cast is solid but this is Astrid’s tale as she wonders what God wants from her when Joshua begins to try to court her. Readers will appreciate this wonderful return to Blessing.

Harriet Klausner

To Defy a King- Elizabeth Chadwick

To Defy a King
Elizabeth Chadwick
Sourcebooks, Mar 1 2011, $14.99
ISBN 9781402250897

In 1204 daughter of renowned British knight William Marshal, fourteen year old Mahelt "Matty" Marshal marries Hugh Bigod, heir to the earldom of Norfolk in a politically arranged deal between two powerful families. Over the next few years, the pair shares a deep regard for one another that turns to love as they raise their four children.

The serene rustic lifestyle ends for Matty and Hugh when King John begins systematically abducting her family. He arrests the heir to the Pembroke earldom, Matty’s brother Will; and follows that with incarcerating her other sibling Richard. Finally King John goes after her famous father, who has made it clear he is against the monarch’s avaricious stealing of land. Matty resolutely tries to get her family free while also remaining loyal to her husband and their children; not easy to achieve when contradictions and conflict are the norm.

This is a great Middle Ages biographical fiction that enables fans of Elizabeth Chadwick to feel they are “living the history”. (See the author’s blog at http://livingthehistoryelizabethchadwick.blogspot.com/2007/07/beyond-looking-glass.html for more information). The story line is character driven mostly by the heroine although the support cast especially her two families enhance the heroine’s dilemma of being caught in the middle of rescuing her birth family and yet not endangering her married family. Readers will enjoy Matty’s efforts to walk a thin red line as she knows not to waste her time pleading For the King's Favor since the Marshal kin are persona non grata, but cannot remain idly on the sidelines.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Peach Keeper -Sarah Addison Allen

The Peach Keeper
Sarah Addison Allen
Bantam, Mar 22 2011, $25.99
ISBN: 9780553807226

Thirty year old Willa Jackson hopes to be able to move beyond the long shadow cast by her ancestors who went from prominence to poverty. Her family’s once proud home The Blue Ridge Madam symbolizes the acme and decline of her clan as much as her being a female storekeeper.

The Walls of Water, North Carolina Women’s Society Club President Paxton Osgood, who attended highs school with Willa, invites her and others to attend the gala reopening of the restored Blue Ridge Madam as a prestigious inn. However, the remains of traveling salesman Tucker Devlin, who worked the circuit over seven decades ago, are found. Ironically as both struggle due to a lack of any true friends, their grandmothers Agatha and Georgie were best of friends. Now with a common cause to learn what happened to Devlin, they begin to investigate the talk. With a hint of magic in the air, Willa and Paxton begin to forge a friendship that each hopes mirrors that of their ancestors.

Although there is a sense of Garden Spells in the air and a touch of the amateur sleuth, The Peach Keeper is more a character driven tale of friendship. Willa and Paxton are fully developed lonely protagonists who bond over Blue Ridge Madam renovation and corpse interred for years under the peach tree. The story line is uplifting as the magic of the latest visit to Sarah Addison Allen’s North Carolina (see The Girl Who Chased the Moon) is everyone needs close friends.

Harriet Klausner

Falling Apart in One Piece: One Optimist's Journey Through the Hell of Divorce -Stacy Morrison

Falling Apart in One Piece: One Optimist's Journey Through the Hell of Divorce
Stacy Morrison
Simon and Schuster, Mar 15 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9781416595571

Wannabe film writer Chris informed his wife Stacy just months after they purchased a townhouse in the exclusive Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn that their marriage was over. She was taken aback as she had no inkling this was coming especially with their new home and nine month old child. Chris remained to help with her with her post marriage life as a single mom before leaving; while Stacy began to question her worth. However, heeding her own advice at Redbook and that of her steel magnolia mom, Stacy realized her only major error was pretending they were the All American family. She moved on no longer appeasing a spouse who felt she and Zack held him back, but had the decency to stay until they were settled.

The key to this profound memoir is Stacy Morrison’s heartfelt personalized trek through chaos that at times feels like a journey through Dante’s Inferno as there are many unpleasant and unhappy moments. The author limits her life moral generalizations learned to small knowledge gains, which in turn makes her memoir even more relevant. Powerful, Falling Apart in One Piece is a deep look at a dying marriage as the participants go though a form of the phases of grief while wondering what they could have done differently to resuscitate the relationship. This is an honest account of a personal journey to hell and back.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Hummingbird Lake-Emily March

Hummingbird Lake
Emily March
Ballantine, Mar 22 2011, $7.99
ISBN 9780345518361

Dr. Sage Anderson suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after what she witnessed as a Doctors Without Borders volunteer in Africa. So horrific, Sage has also stopped practicing medicine. She has come to Eternity Springs, Colorado to recover her mental sense of balance amongst her friends. Here, she begins to succeed as an artist because painting helps her forget the torment at least for small moments.

Woodcarver Colt Rafferty comes to Serenity Falls when he needs to clear his mind of the tragedies he investigates. When they meet, each is attracted to the other. He wants to know what secret has darkened her eyes and knows when he touches her she remembers there remains good in the universe as he brings light to her eyes.

The return to Eternity Springs (see Angel’s Rest) is a charming contemporary romance in which the relationship seems simplistic yet magically the individuals are extremely complex. Character driven by two emotionally wounded warriors, Emily March once again provides a wonderful tale as love between caring people is more than just a great healer; it is a powerful vanquisher of traumas.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Savage City-T.J. English

Savage City
T.J. English
Morrow, Mar 15 2011, $27.99
ISBN: 9780061824555

In 1963, on the same day that Reverend King presented his “I have a Dream”, in a Manhattan apartment, two white females were bound, raped, and brutally murdered. Nineteen year old vision impaired black laborer George Whitmore is arrested for the gruesome homicides that the media calls the "Career Girl Murders". NYPD obtained a forced signed confession from Whitmore. The convicted Whitmore spent the next decade trying to obtain justice from a system that refused to budge beyond locking away a scapegoat black male for a heinous crime against white females.

NYPD Bill Phillips was a second generation cop. He was corrupt and caught by the Knapp Commission looking into alleged illegal activity by law enforcement before testifying in the early 1970s about a department overwhelmingly white, bias and dirty. Many cops went to jail due in part to his testimony. In 1975 he was convicted of murdering The Happy Hooker and her pimp and spent years behind bars.

Dhoruba Bin Wahad was a founding father of the Black Panther Party who spent years in prison. He made enemies on both sides of the vast racial divide as rival Black groups including inside the Panthers and the white establishment through NYPD and the courts sought to silence him. In 1973 he was convicted of attempted murder of two cops in his third trial.

This is a powerful historical account of a brutal dark period in which T.J. English shines a spotlight on a New York troubled by racial tension as police brutality became a household phrase while the cops faced urban guerilla warfare with no psychological or combat training. The prime trio remains alive and free although each spent long period in jail; through them and their associates, Mr. English describes the Big Apple as rotten to the core.

Harriet Klausner

Finding Emilie-Laurel Corona

Finding Emilie
Laurel Corona
Simon and Schuster, Apr 12 2001, $15.00
ISBN 9781439197660

In 1749, less than a week after she gave birth to her daughter, fortyish mathematician Emilie the marquise du Chatelet dies. Since the father is unknown, the late mother’s best friend Julie de’Bercy raises Lili along side of her own recently born daughter, Delphine.

Julie realizes how much Lili is just like her late mom as a brilliant independent person. Neither trait is welcome during the reign of King Louis XV. Her daughter proves as much a feisty troublemaker as her adopted child. However Lili keeps Delphine safe until she finds the right mate for her best friend though that leaves her alone wanting to learn who sired her.

Finding Emilie is a terrific Louis monarchy French historical in which the three femmes are terrific fully developed characters. The two BFFs make a formidable team as Julie (and readers) knows first hand. Based on the life of a real aristocratic female mathematician, readers will relish this deep look at eighteenth century France anchored by real people like Voltaire as Laurel Corona uses two complementary subplots; that of the two buddies and their mom, and that of the marquise as the mathematician and her daughter remind readers “to thine own self be true” (Hamlet).

Harriet Klausner