I haven’t read any of Ruth Reichl’s books (even though a friend lent me Garlic and Sapphires years ago), but I was excited to pick up Save Me the Plums since I have heard so many good things about it. It’s on a ton of summer reading lists, including my favorite by Modern Mrs. Darcy. And, when I read the epigraph, which is one of my favorite poems by William Carlos Williams, I was sold. This is a wonderful memoir about the former editor of Gourmet magazine. Grab it and put it in your summer reading bag. You won’t be disappointed!
Of course I wanted to read The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo since Reese picked it for her Sunshine Book Club. It’s the story of Ji Lin who is helping her mother work off a mahjong debt by working at a dressmaker and a dance studio. One of Ji Lin’s dance partners accidentally drops a vial with a finger in it and Ji Len tries to figure out where the finger came from. At the same time, Ren has been told by the doctor he works for that he needs to reunite his severed finger with his body after his death. These are the alternating stories we learn as we read. While I didn’t love this one, it picked up as it went and I found myself enjoying it more and more as it got closer to the end. Overall, though, it would not be one of my best reads so far this year.
I enjoyed Lilac Girls and was excited to read Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly, even though it hasn’t been as well received. And, now that I have finished, I can see why. Lost Roses is about friends, living in Russia and New York during WWI. Eliza, Sofya, and Varinka lives are detailed through the book. The stories are interesting and I liked learning about the characters, but the book as a whole was too long. I am glad I read it, but it was slow-going.
The Gown by Jennifer Robson was just the kind of book I like: historical fiction and a back-and-forth between the past and present. It’s the story of two women who embroider Princess Elizabeth’s (now Queen Elizabeth) wedding gown. And, it’s the story of one of the woman’s granddaughter who finds out about her grandmother’s interesting life after her death. This was a quick read and a very enjoyable one – the perfect way to spend Mother’s Day!
My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing was a good psychological thriller, complete with the requisite surprises and twists without unnecessary gore. The chapters sped along quickly and the ending was satisfying. All in all, it was a nice choice. It’s the story of a marriage and the way it stays interesting and the way secrets work in a relationship. I’d grab it for summer reading. It won’t disappoint.
There has been a lot of hype around Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid (whose books I have liked: After I Do, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Maybe in Another Life, and One True Loves). And, while it had a slow start and a style that you had to get used to (interviews with band members and other related people), it had a good rhythm and kept me interested for the most part. It’s the story of a fictitious band led by Daisy Jones. And, while that doesn’t maybe sound that interesting, it did have a storyline that kept it moving and a plot that was OK. The fifty pages leading up to the ending, though, were a bit of a slog and, overall, I didn’t love this one. It didn’t live up to the hype or to other Reese Witherspoon choices.
I didn’t love The Editor by Steven Rowley. The premise was a good one – a writer is surprised that after years of trying to make it in the book work that his editor is Jackie Kennedy – but the book didn’t really capture my interest and I didn’t really like the characters or find their dramas interesting. I’d give this one a pass if I were you.
I enjoyed Beyond the Point by Claire Gibson more than I thought I would for the first half. We know right from the beginning that one of three West Point friends’ husbands has died. But the story spends most of its time introducing us to the three woman who play basketball at West Point and taking them through their college and post college lives. Their stories were interesting (and a little predictable), but the last 100 pages were the ones that made the book better. I will admit, I was even brought to tears a few times. It’s a long read, but worth it – a good one to add to your beach bag.
The River by Peter Heller was a short and quick read that was both edge-of-seat riveting and also left me with questions. So, while mid-way through I might have given it a five-star rating, by the abrupt ending, I demoted it to four stars. The River is a story of two friends who set off to canoe a Northern Canadian river together. Mid-way through the journey, a wildfire quickens their pace, they hear a man and woman arguing through the fog, and then the man turns up on his own. What follows is a survival novel. A good one, but not as great as it was set up to be.
I did not much care for Lost and Wanted by Nell Freudenberger (and annoyingly, I didn’t check on Amazon, as I usually do, to rule it out – books with fewer than four stars NEVER make the cut). I think if you had gone to Harvard and could have related more to the names and places referenced in the book OR if you are really into physics, you might like it better than I did. It’s the story of a friendship between two Harvard students in the 90s, weaving back and forth from the present, where one of the friends has died, to their time together in college. Not only was the book a bit long, slow, and draggy for my taste, but there were parts left out that I wanted to know more about. I really wanted to enjoy it more than I did, there were some parts where the writing really annoyed me (using the same sentence structure over and over in one paragraph, for example), and I wasn’t sorry when I finished the last page (though I did make it to the end to find out what happened).