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Night of Miracles

January 19

This newest by popular author Elizabeth Berg was published November 13, 2018.  It continues the much loved story of her previous book, The True Story of Arthur Truluv, which was published November, 2017.  You don't have to have read Arthur Truluv to enjoy this book, as the author does a good summary at the beginning, but I've got to say that if you have read Arthur Truluv, you will love Night of Miracles even more!

After Arthur left this world, 4th grade teacher Lucille came to live in his empty house.  In addition to teaching school, Lucille taught cake baking classes, and the writing about these cakes will make you hungry! Lucille was so devoted to dessert, cakes specifically, that when a neighbor invited her over for dinner, and rejected her offer to bring a cake, "because we don't eat desserts, " Lucille refused to go to their house ever again!

Much of the action in this book takes place in Polly's Henhouse, the local diner.  When the owner went on vacation, she asked Lucille and friend Iris to run the diner in her absence.  So, the first thing these caretakers did was add Lucille's cakes to the menu and display cases. Next, they decided that the entire diner menu needed to be changed. From top to bottom! What fun.

This is a charming book, set in a small town where people care about each other, and are kind.  I know, what a relief.

Elizabeth Berg does an excellent job of drawing characters, and you will cheer for them as relationships form and live moves on.

I highly recommend this as a good light read.

 

Ways to Hide in Winter

December 18

 

The Latecomers

December 18

 

The Collector's Apprentice

December 18

If you liked reading The Art Forger or The Muralist, you will be thrilled to know that author B.A. Shapiro has done it again!

Her newest book, The Collector's Apprentice, is great historic fiction; full of art, romance, mystery and intrigue, with an ending that will surprise you!  The author, in her acknowledgements, says that "This work of fiction is loosely inspired by the lives of the art collector Albert Barnes and his assistant Violette de Mazia, as well as the Barnes Foundation." The setting is Philadelphia in the 20's and 30's.

The book opens with a muder trial.  Vivienne, previously known as Pauline, is on trial for allegedly plotting the murder of her boss, head of the art museum.  Why would she do that? Because he was ill, and had made her his beneficiary upon his death. All that art would be hers, not his wife's! Pauline/Vivienne grew up as the cherished daughter of a prominent art collector, taught from childhood to appreciate, collect, and eventually take over her family's vast art holdings.  After she married the wrong guy, her fortunes sharply declined. 

Following this opening, the reader is taken back and forth between Philadelphia and Europe, where precious art is collected.  Our heroine finds herself in the salon of Gertrude Stein, where she meets Henri Matisse, who of course, enchanted, wishes to paint her.  She is not the only character with more than one identity, and the writer does such a good job of keeping the reader on the edge of her (of his) chair as the drama unfolds.

A worthy read for anyone interested in a good story full of art history, love and suspense.  This will be great for book club discussion. 

 

We Own The Sky

April 18

   I am absolutely surprised by how much I liked this debut novel. Surprised because We Own the Sky is about a child who dies, and whose father drowns his sorrows in alcohol. Not my usual cup of tea, but I literally could not put this book down, can’t stop thinking about it, and would be glad to read it again.

   The setting is contemporary London, and the main characters are Rob Coates, his wife Anna, and their son Jack.  Rob is a talented computer programmer who has sold his business to a large company, and he no longer has to work very much.  He met his wife Anna, an accountant, when they were at Cambridge together. After a great deal of difficulty, they have a son, Jack, who is the light of their lives. When Jack is just five years old, he begins having health problems, and tragically he is diagnosed with a brain tumor. Surgery only offers a temporary respite to his symptoms, and when problems return, Jack and Anna are told that there is nothing else that can be done for Jack.

   Rob turns to an on line support forum called “Hope’s Place” to learn more from other families in similar situations. On the site, parents gather to talk about their children’s illnesses and their frustration at ineffective treatments. Through Hope’s Place, Rob reads about a controversial clinic in Prague that might offer a cure. Anna, the rational, data driven accountant, is dead set against anything that has not been proven, researched, and documented.

    The title of the book, We Own the Sky, comes from a website that Rob created. On the site, he posts stunning panoramic photographs he has taken of places that he and Jack visited together. It becomes a form of therapy for him, and although it’s easy to dislike Rob because he is coping with grief by numbing himself with vodka, he ultimately becomes a sympathetic character.

    Allnutt is from the U.K., but he’s lived and worked in Prague since 1998. Currently in remission, he wrote We Own the Sky when he himself was having chemotherapy. I recommend his book highly, and I can’t wait to discuss it with book clubs.