She Walks in Beauty

April 24th. 2010

She Walks in Beauty is the title of Siri Mitchell’s gilded age, historical fiction novel–it’s also one of the most delightful lines of poetry ever penned. And Lord Byron factors into this novel via a first edition keepsake for our main character, Clara. I’d love to go on and on about Siri’s engaging characters and fascinating time period–if you’ve loved Edith Wharton’s novels you love Siri’s–but I have a sunburn and I’m a bit too¬†achey to go on and on about anything. As I was on the deck reading about Victorian women who’d cinch their waists and essentially develop anorexia to achieve the desirable 16″ waist that was the rage back then, I was in a non-corseted swim suit exposing winterized skin to the sun for the first time in 2010. I’m afraid I got a bit too wrapped up in the forced courtship of the main characters to recognized that my skin had fried. So, before I submerge myself in aloe vera, trust me on this . . .this novel, like the others books I’ve read by Siri, is wonderful. Her research is refreshing in its unusual details and observations and her style is excellent. Now . . .where’s my ibuprofen and orange juice chaser?? Read the rest of this entry »

Whistlin’ Dixie in a Northeaster

April 23rd. 2010

I bought Lisa Patton’s debut novel (in hardback, no less) the other day and started reading it even though I have a perfectly good stack of books collecting dust on my nightstand. And do you want to know why Whistlin’ Dixie in a Northeaster was a line-jumper? Because it’s all about Southern girls. Memphis girls, to be exact. Coming from the land of Carson McCullers I wasn’t one who was really into the whole country club scene, but I sure do love to read about it. And the best parts of this book are when the main character, LeeLee, is with her girlfriends. They do get up to mischief in Yankee -land. I would have liked to know more behind the facades of LeeLee and Baker Satterwhite, and why he (**spoiler alert**) leaves her high and dry in Vermont, but I’m not going to complain. Bring on the peach preserves, peach jam, peach candles and peach daiquiris and let’s just have a good ole time.

As a Georgia girl, I do miss hearing a good Southern drawl and a “bless your heart” every now and then. Since it doesn’t look like I’m leaving Texas anytime soon, I guess I’m just going to have dig into my imagination and bring out a story or two from my days along the Chattahoochee River. Oh, even better, I’ll climb into one of those age-old, Spanish moss-covered trees on Amelia Island and spin a tale told to me by one of my great aunts. Have I mentioned a pair of them (twins) used to work for the OSS? (That would be the front runner to the CIA back in the day.) Are there any other displaced Georgians out there hankering for a Golden Flake dinner roll and cold RC? Let me know. I still have friends in the old country. I’m pretty sure they’d put together a care package for the desperate.

Almost Home

April 18th. 2010

Don’t let the name deceive you, Almost Home is not the sweet novel you might think by the title–actually having read (and ¬†enjoyed ) this book, I would have named it something entirely different. Don’t know what, but something. This is the third novel I’ve read by Pan Jenoff. The first two were page-turner WWII dramas, heavy on the unsuspecting character angles, small stories made large, and imminently well-written. (There’s a great backstory to the Kommandant’s Girl that is an inspiration to all unpublished authors with a bestseller in their pen.) This book is set in contemporary times. A State Department employee, with enviable connections, asks for a reassignment that stuns the people to whom she’s closest. I was captivated by page one. This story spins out into elegant settings around Cambridge and London, and falls probably more into the ‘thriller’ category than drama. But the elements of romance, friendship, loyalty, greed and political ambitions are big enough to throw it into whatever genre appeals to you. All I can tell you is that I was surprised by the end and left hanging with the dear hope that Pam Jenoff has written a sequel. After reading a book like this, you wonder how much of it might be autobiographical (it feels that real) but I guess if she were tell us the answer to that question . . .then she’d have to kill us. Spies are like that.

Catch a Rising Star

April 12th. 2010

So, I picked up a copy of Tracey Bateman’s 2007 book, Catch a Rising Star. She and I are friends on Facebook–not that it’s an important fact, but a connection is a connection. I’ve followed many of Tracey’s travails writing (we writers were made for the 140 characters on Twitter and Facebook, it’s a challenge to easy to resist,) and when I found one of her books I snatched it up. This one falls into the chick-lit category and it was a fun, fun read. I actually laughed out loud in places, I’m not going to lie, and I’m not even a fan of daytime soap operas–not since the Luke and Laura wedding of the 1980s, but I digress. The good news here is, after reading this juicy little book about a day time soap diva who has an up and down and up ride on the road to fame and romance, I’m not going to worry about Tracey’s writing travails. She’s obviously well equipped to overcome even the nastiest of editing deadlines. I wonder who I’ll stalk–I mean read–next. Let’s see…