Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach – Book Review

DeadLetters

Twins Ava and Zelda (“A” through “Z”) Antipova have many reasons to dislike their home.  Raised by alcoholic parents, living on a failing vineyard in upstate New York and dealing with their mother’s medical issues is a life sentence.  However, after a fight with her wilder sister, Ava heads off to Paris, school and all things French.  Meanwhile, Zelda (the “bad” twin) tries to keep the vineyard and their mother going, all the while trying to get back in touch with Ava.

The book chronicles Ava’s homecoming after Zelda has supposedly died in a fire.  However, the mystery begins immediately since the barn doors were chained closed and Zelda had a meeting with a known drug dealer the very night that she “died”.  The book leads us through Ava and Zelda’s lives up to Ava’s escape to Paris 22 months previously.  Zelda leaves clues, leading to Ava’s conviction that she’s alive and hiding out somewhere.

This was a wonderful tale of the effects of family alcoholism, neglected children and Ava’s need to distance herself from her twin.  I really enjoyed this novel and highly recommend it.  Well done, Dolan-Leach!

CaiteDolan-Leach

Caite Dolan-Leach

 

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The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George – Book Review

thelittleparisbookshop

Where have you been all my life, Nina George?!?  I loved this book.  I laughed and cried my way through this book as I have seldom done with other novels.  I rarely actually buy a book, instead I go to the library and take out many many books.  My usual thought is that if I bought all the books that I’ve liked, I’d have nowhere to put my feet down, and I’d have to learn how to float.  However, I am going to buy this novel, and read it again and again.  I have the feeling it will have something new to teach me as time goes by.

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So, let me tell you something about this novel without giving too much away.  Jean Perdu is a Pairs bookseller, who sells books in his shop which he calls a “literary apothecary” on his barge, where he heals people’s souls through his book recommendations.  He has the ability to pick the perfect book for each person and heals them.  Unfortunately, he is unable to heal his own soul.  He is still suffering after twenty years the pain of his lover leaving him.  Twenty years ago, Manon, his married lover left him.  His reaction was excessive, and he refused to read the letter that she sent him a few weeks after leaving.

Suffice it to say that twenty years later, Perdu goes in search of Manon, and along the way meets people who by their friendship help him on his way to healing.  There are many characters, laughter, love and healing that take place in this novel.  I highly recommend it.  Well done, George!

Nina George

Nina George

On Turpentine Lane by Elinor Lipman – Book Review

On Turpentine Lane

If you are feeling that your own life is a little out of control, here is the book that will remedy that feeling.  Faith Frankel’s life seems to be just one absurd problem after another.  As the novel opens, Faith is wondering if her erstwhile finance is really still her finance, or is he using her as a bank.  Stuart is on a “walk about” (to borrow the expression from the Australians’) with no real reason other than to “find himself”.  He asked her to marry him before he left, and made it “official” by putting a red string around her finger.  Faith is still wearing a red string; however, Stuart’s Facebook and Instagram is full of him with his arms around other women, he rarely returns her phone calls, and she is feeling more than a little put out.

On top of this, Faith has problems at work; and she buys a house with a little more morbid history than she has bargained for.  Her father has moved out of the house that he shares with her mother, since he is answering the call of the artistic life.  Is he leaving her mother?  Will there be a divorce?  While Faith’s issues definitely come down on just this side of hilarious, they are indeed in need of dealing with.

I don’t want to give too much away, so I won’t.  I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, it’s a wonderful bit of fun, and I highly recommend it.   Well done, Lipman!

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Elinor Lipman

 

 

The Lost Book of the Grail by Charlie Lovett – Book Review

The Lost Book of the Grail

I found the story of Arthur Prescott, a bibliophile whose main interest in life is to find the Holy Grail, to be the most interesting when Arthur is giving us a “history” of the Grail through the writings of Sir Thomas Malory and other medieval writers.

But Arthur is not just a searcher, he is also a professor who seems to not understand his students, a friend who cannot seem to connect with people, and an all-round bumbler.  When the beautiful American, Bethany Davis comes into his life, his whole world is turned upside down.  Arthur is forced through Bethany’s sheer will-power to come meet the world half-way.

montypython grail

While I loved the progression of Arthur’s emotional life, what I really found to be the most compelling were the short stories regarding St. Ewoldas’ book, which was lost sometime in the past, but is so linked in some mysterious way to Arthur’s search for the Holy Grail.  I liked the mystery of it all, and also the legends of the Grail.

I highly recommend this novel.  One caveat that I have is that it’s quite strong on religion (obviously) with some theological discussions. Well done Lovett!

Charlie Lovett

Charlie Lovett