The Holiday Season Begins Now…
November is a time to kick off get-togethers with friends and family, but there is always time to crack open a new book. I am interested in checking out the latest from Mitch Albom, Sigrid Nunez and Jillian Cantor. Let me know which ones below interest you and what your are reading this month.
From debut author Elaine Roth comes a hopeful and heartfelt story about a young widow who uncovers the magic of everyday life―and the power of second chances. After the sudden death of her husband, Hope finds herself reeling from the loss in more ways than one. First a young wife and now a grieving widow, she feels like fodder for never-ending town gossip. But when Hope meets Will, a screenwriter back in town to run his family’s inn, she sees in him another resident oddball. And like her, Will has been navigating a loss of his own. As Hope falls for Will, she seeks out another enigma in Maeve, an eccentric woman who makes healing teas and communes with the dead. Some of the townspeople think she’s a grifter, a fake. Will, too, is skeptical. Hope yearns for closure and forgiveness, seeing in Maeve the chance to trust herself again―and in Will, a chance to rediscover the enchantment in the world around her… And the courage to build a bigger life than she ever thought possible.
The Last Caretaker by Jessica Strawser (mystery)
Katie’s divorce was, in a word, humiliating. So when her friend Bess offers a fresh start—a residential caretaking job at a nature preserve—Katie accepts. No matter that she’s not exactly a “nature person.” How hard can it be?
But from day one, something feels off. Katie’s new farmhouse looks as if the last caretaker barely moved out at all. When a frantic, terrified woman arrives late at night, expecting a safe place to hide, it’s clear caretaking involves way more than Katie bargained for.
Katie can’t tell who she can trust: the brooding groundskeeper, the daily regulars—hikers, dog walkers, bird-watchers, photographers—even Bess.
As Katie digs deeper for clues in what the last caretaker left behind, she must discover courage she never knew she had—and decide how much she’ll risk to do the right thing.
The Girl in the Vault by Michael Ledwidge (thriller)
A bold new stand-alone thriller from the longtime James Patterson coauthor.
It’s summer in New York City and Faye Walker has it all. She’s not only scored one of the most highly coveted internships on all of Wall Street, she’s also just met the head-over-heels love of her life. With her natural-born gift for numbers and a work ethic that knows no bounds, Faye is a shoo-in for a full-time position at the illustrious merchant bank Greene Brothers Hale. Then, just as she awaits her offer and her signing bonus, a treacherous betrayal arrives to shatter Faye’s plans and her young life.
But what her high finance masters-of-the-universe bosses don’t know is that Faye isn’t like any of the other interns. Having made her way past her humble small-town beginnings, for Faye, going back is not an option. That’s why Faye now has a new plan. One that involves Swiss watch timing, nerves of steel and ten million dollars in cold hard Wall Street cash.
Absolution by Alice McDermott (historical fiction)
A riveting account of women’s lives on the margins of the Vietnam War, from the renowned winner of the National Book Award.
In Saigon in 1963, two young American wives form a wary alliance. Tricia is a starry-eyed newlywed, married to a rising oil engineer “on loan” to US Navy Intelligence. Charlene is a practiced corporate spouse and mother of three, a talented hostess and determined altruist, on a mission to relieve the “wretchedness” she sees all around her.
When Tricia miscarries, Charlene sweeps her into a cabal of well-dressed do-gooder American wives. Armed with baskets filled with candy and toys, they descend on hospitals, orphanages, and a leper colony on the coast, determined to relieve suffering, no matter the cost.
Sixty years later, Charlene’s daughter reaches out to Tricia, now widowed and living in Washington. As the two relive their shared experience in Saigon, they are forced to come to terms with the ways their own lives have been shaped and stunted by Charlene’s pursuit of “inconsequential good.”
With a narrative impact that recalls Graham Greene’s The Quiet American , Alice McDermott confronts the unresolved mysteries and ironies of America’s tragic interference in Southeast Asia.
The Mystery Guest by Nita Prose (mystery/thriller)
When an acclaimed author dies at the Regency Grand Hotel, it’s up to a fastidious maid to uncover the truth, no matter how dirty—in a standalone novel featuring Molly Gray, from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Maid, a Good Morning America Book Club Pick.
Molly Gray is not like anyone else. With her flair for cleaning and proper etiquette, she has risen through the ranks of the glorious five-star Regency Grand Hotel to become the esteemed Head Maid. But just as her life reaches a pinnacle state of perfection, her world is turned upside down when J.D. Grimthorpe, the world-renowned mystery author, drops dead— very dead —on the hotel’s tea room floor.
When Detective Stark, Molly’s old foe, investigates the author’s unexpected demise, it becomes clear that this death was murder most foul. Suspects abound, and everyone wants to who killed J.D. Grimthorpe? Was it Lily, the new Maid-in-Training? Or was it Serena, the author’s secretary? Could Mr. Preston, the hotel’s beloved doorman, be hiding something? And is Molly really as innocent as she seems?
As the case threatens the hotel’s pristine reputation, Molly knows she alone holds the key to unlocking the killer’s identity. But that key is buried deep in her past—because long ago, she knew J.D. Grimthorpe. Molly begins to comb her memory for clues, revisiting her childhood and the mysterious Grimthorpe mansion where she and her dearly departed Gran once worked side by side. With the entire hotel under investigation, Molly must solve the mystery post-haste. If there’s one thing Molly knows for sure, it’s that dirty secrets don’t stay buried forever…
Enchanted Hill by Emily Bain Murphy (mystery)
Escape to Enchanted Hill in this historical mystery where two people with a dark, shared past collide while working undercover at a glittering mansion on the California coast.
The year is 1930 and Cora McCavanagh is posing as a maid at Hollywood magnate Truman Byrd’s legendary estate. She’s closing in on the damning evidence she needs for a high-profile client.
An aspiring PI, Cora was trained by her father, a former prison guard at the notorious Pelican Island, where Cora grew up surrounded by hardened criminals.
Which is why she recognizes Jack Yates as soon as he walks through the door. The last time she saw him was on an ill-fated night that changed the course of her life and still haunts her more than a decade later. Cora never expected to see Jack again—and now a single misstep could cause both their secret identities to come crashing down.
They strike a tentative truce to help each other during a week of parties overflowing with champagne and caviar. But there are puzzles hidden in every corner of Truman Byrd’s labyrinthine estate, and if Cora is to finally learn the truth about Jack Yates, she must unravel a sinister history that the rich and powerful will do anything to keep concealed.
Filled with intrigue and Old Hollywood glamour, Enchanted Hill is an unforgettable, sweepingly romantic novel set in a world you won’t want to leave.
The Little Liar by Mitch Albom (historical fiction)
Beloved bestselling author Mitch Albom returns with a powerful novel that moves from a small village in Greece during the Holocaust, to America, where the intertwined lives of three survivors are forever changed by the perils of deception and the grace of redemption. Eleven-year-old Nico Krispis never told a lie. When the Nazi’s invade his home in Salonika, Greece, the trustworthy boy is discovered by a German officer, who offers him a chance to save his family. All Nico has to do is convince his fellow Jewish residents to board trains heading towards “the east” where they are promised jobs and safety. Unaware that this is all a cruel ruse, the innocent boy goes to the station platform every day and reassures the passengers that the journey is safe. But when the final train is at the station, Nico sees his family being loaded into a large boxcar crowded with other neighbors. Only after it is too late does Nico discover that he helped send the people he loved—and all the others—to their doom at Auschwitz. Nico never tells the truth again. In The Little Liar, his first novel set during the Holocaust, Mitch Albom interweaves the stories of Nico, his brother Sebastian, and their schoolmate Fanni, who miraculously survive the death camps and spend years searching for Nico, who has become a pathological liar, and the Nazi officer who radically changed their lives. As the decades pass, Albom reveals the consequences of what they said, did, and endured. A moving parable that explores honesty, survival, revenge and devotion, The Little Liar is Mitch Albom at his very best. Narrated by the voice of Truth itself, it is a timeless story about the harm we inflict with our deceits, and the power of love to ultimately redeem us.
Class by Stephanie Land (memoir)
From the New York Times bestselling author who inspired the hit Netflix series about a struggling mother barely making ends meet as a housecleaner—a gripping memoir about college, motherhood, poverty, and life after Maid.
When Stephanie Land set out to write her memoir Maid, she never could have imagined what was to come. Handpicked by President Barack Obama as one of the best books of 2019, it was called “an eye-opening journey into the lives of the working poor” (People). Later it was adapted into the hit Netflix series Maid, which was viewed by 67 million households and was Netflix’s fourth most-watched show in 2021, garnering three Primetime Emmy Award nominations. Stephanie’s escape out of poverty and abuse in search of a better life inspired millions.
Maid was a story about a housecleaner, but it was also a story about a woman with a dream. In Class, Land takes us with her as she finishes college and pursues her writing career. Facing barriers at every turn including a byzantine loan system, not having enough money for food, navigating the judgments of professors and fellow students who didn’t understand the demands of attending college while under the poverty line—Land finds a way to survive once again, finally graduating in her mid-thirties.
Class paints an intimate and heartbreaking portrait of motherhood as it converges and often conflicts with personal desire and professional ambition. Who has the right to create art? Who has the right to go to college? And what kind of work is valued in our culture? In clear, candid, and moving prose, Classgrapples with these questions, offering a searing indictment of America’s educational system and an inspiring testimony of a mother’s triumph against all odds.
The Fiction Writer by Jillian Cantor (mystery/thriller)
Last night I dreamt I went to Malibu again…
The once-rising literary star Olivia Fitzgerald is down on her luck. Her most recent novel—a retelling of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca—was a flop, her boyfriend of nine years just dumped her and she’s battling a bad case of writer’s block. So when her agent calls her with a high-paying ghostwriting opportunity, Olivia is all too willing to sign the NDA.
At first, the write-for-hire job seems too good to be true. All she has to do is interview Henry “Ash” Asherwood, a reclusive mega billionaire, twice named People’s Sexiest Man Alive, who wants her help in writing a book that reveals a shocking secret about his late grandmother and Daphne du Maurier. But when Olivia arrives at his Malibu estate, nothing is as it seems. The more Olivia digs into his grandmother’s past, the more questions she has—and before she knows it, she’s trapped in a gothic mystery of her own.
With as many twists and turns as the California coast, The Fiction Writer is a page-turner that explores the boundaries of creative freedom and whose stories we have the right to tell.
Water by John Boyne (fiction)
The first thing Vanessa Carvin does when she arrives on the island is change her name. To the locals, she is Willow Hale, a solitary outsider escaping Dublin to live a hermetic existence in a small cottage, not a notorious woman on the run from her past.
But scandals follow like hunting dogs. And she has some questions of her own to answer. If her ex-husband is really the monster everyone says he is, then how complicit was she in his crimes?
Escaping her old life might seem like a good idea but the choices she has made throughout her marriage have consequences. Here, on the island, Vanessa must reflect on what she did – and did not do. Only then can she discover whether she is worthy of finding peace at all.
Again and Again by Jonathan Evison (fiction)
From one of America’s greatest, most creative novelists comes Again and Again , a poignant and endlessly surprising story about love lost, found, and redeemed
Eugene “Geno” Miles is living out his final days in a nursing home, bored, curmudgeonly, and struggling to connect with his new nursing assistant, Angel, who is understandably skeptical of Geno’s insistence on having lived not just one life but many—all the way back to medieval Spain, where, as a petty thief, he first lucked upon true love only to lose it, and spend the next thousand years trying to recapture it.
Who is Geno? A lonely old man clinging to his delusions and rehearsing his fantasies, or a legitimate anomaly, a thousand-year-old man who continues to search for the love he lost so long ago?
As Angel comes to learn the truth about Geno, so, too, does the reader, and as his miraculous story comes to a head, so does the biggest truth of that love—timeless, often elusive—is sometimes right in front of us.
The Vulnerables by Sigrid Nunez (fiction)
The New York Times –bestselling, National Book Award–winning author of The Friend and What Are You Going Through brings her singular voice to a story about modern life and connection
Elegy plus comedy is the only way to express how we live in the world today, says a character in Sigrid Nunez’s ninth novel. The Vulnerables offers a meditation on our contemporary era, as a solitary female narrator asks what it means to be alive at this complex moment in history and considers how our present reality affects the way a person looks back on her past.
Humor, to be sure, is a priceless refuge. Equally vital is connection with others, who here include an adrift member of Gen Z and a spirited parrot named Eureka. The Vulnerables reveals what happens when strangers are willing to open their hearts to each other and how far even small acts of caring can go to ease another’s distress. A search for understanding about some of the most critical matters of our time, Nunez’s new novel is also an inquiry into the nature and purpose of writing itself.
Day by Michael Cunningham (fiction)
As the world changes around them, a family weathers the storms of growing up, growing older, falling in and out of love, losing the things that are most precious—and learning to go on—from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Hours
April 5, 2019 : In a cozy brownstone in Brooklyn, the veneer of domestic bliss is beginning to crack. Dan and Isabel, troubled husband and wife, are both a little bit in love with Isabel’s younger brother, Robbie. Robbie, wayward soul of the family, who still lives in the attic loft; Robbie, who, trying to get over his most recent boyfriend, has created a glamorous avatar online; Robbie, who now has to move out of the house—and whose departure threatens to break the family apart. Meanwhile Nathan, age ten, is taking his first uncertain steps toward independence, while Violet, five, does her best not to notice the growing rift between her parents.
April 5, 2020: As the world goes into lockdown, the brownstone is feeling more like a prison. Violet is terrified of leaving the windows open, obsessed with keeping her family safe, while Nathan attempts to skirt her rules. Isabel and Dan communicate mostly in veiled jabs and frustrated sighs. And beloved Robbie is stranded in Iceland, alone in a mountain cabin with nothing but his thoughts—and his secret Instagram life—for company.
April 5, 2021: Emerging from the worst of the crisis, the family reckons with a new, very different reality—with what they’ve learned, what they’ve lost, and how they might go on.
From the brilliant mind of Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Cunningham, Day is a searing, exquisitely crafted meditation on love and loss and the struggles and limitations of family life—how to live together and apart.
So Late in the Day by Claire Keegan (short stories)
A tryptic of stories about love, lust, betrayal, misogyny, and the ever-intriguing interchanges between women and men. Celebrated for her powerful short fiction, Claire Keegan now gifts us three exquisite stories, newly revised and expanded, together forming a brilliant examination of gender dynamics and an arc from Keegan’s earliest to her most recent work.
In “So Late in the Day,” Cathal faces a long weekend as his mind agitates over a woman with whom he could have spent his life, had he behaved differently.
In “The Long and Painful Death,” a writer’s arrival at the seaside home of Heinrich Böll for a residency is disrupted by an academic who imposes his presence and opinions.
And in “Antarctica,” a married woman travels out of town to see what it’s like to sleep with another man and ends up in the grip of a possessive stranger.
Each story probes the dynamics that corrupt what could be between women and a lack of generosity, the weight of expectation, the looming threat of violence. Potent, charged, and breathtakingly insightful, these three essential tales will linger with readers long after the book is closed.
The long-awaited memoir by the superstar of stage, screen, recordings, and television.
Barbra Streisand is by any account a living legend, a woman who in a career spanning six decades has excelled in every area of entertainment. She is among the handful of EGOT winners (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony) and has one of the greatest and most recognizable voices in popular music. She has been nominated for a Grammy 46 times, and with Yentl she became the first woman to write, produce, direct, and star in a major motion picture. In My Name Is Barbra, she tells her own story about her life and extraordinary career, from growing up in Brooklyn to her first star-making appearances in New York nightclubs to her breakout performance in Funny Girl (musical and film) to the long string of successes in every medium in the years that followed. The book is, like Barbra herself, frank, funny, opinionated, and charming. She recounts her early struggles to become an actress, eventually turning to singing to earn a living; the recording of some of her acclaimed albums; the years of effort involved in making Yentl; her direction of The Prince of Tides; her friendships with figures ranging from Marlon Brando to Madeleine Albright; her political advocacy; and the fulfillment she’s found in her marriage to James Brolin.
No entertainer’s memoir has been more anticipated than Barbra Streisand’s, and this engrossing and delightful book will be eagerly welcomed by her millions of fans.
Barbra Streisand is an American singer, actress, director and producer and one of the most iconic figures in music and film, the only recording artist in history to have earned #1 albums over six consecutive decades. She has received the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the Kennedy Center Honor, the National Medal of Arts, France’s Légion d’Honneur, and America’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She founded The Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center at Cedars-Sinai, helping to raise awareness and push for more research into women’s heart disease, the leading cause of death among women. Through the Streisand Foundation, which she established in 1986, she has supported national organizations working on preservation of the environment, voter education, the protection of civil liberties and civil rights, women’s issues, and nuclear disarmament. In 2021 she launched the Barbra Streisand Institute at UCLA, a forward-thinking institution dedicated to finding solutions to the most vital social issues.
The Last Applicant by Rebecca Hanover (mystery thriller)
From award-winning author Rebecca Hanover comes an emotional thrill ride about two women whose lives take a dangerous turn in the high-stakes arena of private school admissions.
Audrey Singer revels in her position as the admissions director of an exclusive Manhattan private school. Parents cater to her whims and desires, desperate to give their children an edge. Audrey’s power is undeniable; privilege comes with the territory. Her perfect marriage completes the glossy picture of her life.
Until the arrival of the neurotic, vulnerable Sarah Price. Determined to get her son into the city’s most coveted kindergarten class, Sarah inserts herself into Audrey’s world, testing boundaries at every turn. For Sarah, everything Audrey has is a potential target: her job, her friends…even her marriage.
But what seems to be another ploy by an overachieving mother takes a dark and ominous turn. Sarah seems to be hiding secrets of her own. Are her designs on Audrey’s life purely about getting what she wants for her son?
Or is there something more sinister at play in this cutthroat game?
Maybe Once, Maybe Twice by Allison Rose Greenberg (romance/fiction)
Filled with the romance and angst that defines the years you come to know yourself, with a shifting timeline covering two decades and ratcheting up the tension, Maybe Once, Maybe Twice is a novel of second chances and finding your own way.
You know that old saying, “if we are still single when we’re 35, we should get married?” Well, Maggie Vine made that vow with two different people, at two very different stages of her life.
And they both showed up.
Maggie Vine’s life is going extra-medium. At 35 she’s pursuing her dreams of being a singer and being a mother—though neither is successfully panning out. So when Garrett Scholl—stifled hedge fund manager by day but electrifying aspiring rock singer by night—comes to her 35th birthday party with the intention to kiss Maggie senseless, it feels like one piece might click into place. Except he’s engaged to someone else, and Maggie knows she won’t fit into the cookie-cutter life he’s building for himself.
Enter Asher Reyes. Her first boyfriend from summer camp, turned into heartthrob actor, he’s lived a successful yet private life ever since he got famous. When a career-changing opportunity is presented to Maggie after her reconnection with Asher, it feels like everything—music, love, family—will fall into place. But her past won’t let her move on without a fight.