Exploring Complicated Relationships and the Impact of Performance Art in The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose

The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose

My Review:

So much to love in this fictional novel centered around interesting characters and the real Marina Abramovic and her Artist is Present Performance Art exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in 2010 in NYC.  Just as Abramovic explores the human longing for connection in her art, Heather Rose’s characters grow and change as a result of their observation and contemplation at the performance artist’s exhibit.

The Museum of Modern Love explores complicated relationships and the impact of performance art.  Arky is a composer and at this time he is a lost man.  His wife, Lydia is ill and she has requested he not see her.  He is struggling with his music and is drawn to an exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art featuring Marina Abramovic, a performance artist.  He attends everyday, watching her sit and face other visitors as they look deep inside themselves.  Arky meets Jane, an art teacher from Georgia who is mourning the loss of her husband and has abandoned her plans to visit art galleries in NYC to attend this intriguing MOMA exhibit.  Captivated by Abramovic and the unique and powerful artistic expression, the two of them work through their thoughts on the importance and impact of art and contemplate their own personal loss and relationships.  This wonderful book is worthy of research and discussion – so much to think about when it comes to love and commitment, and a lot to learn about the courageous and one of a kind artist, Marina Abramovic… all available online, including a very funny spoof video with Fred Armisen and Cate Blanchett, Waiting For the Artist.

Additional Thoughts:

My book group had the wonderful opportunity to FaceTime with Australian author of The Museum of Modern Love, Heather Rose – from Tasmania to Westport, CT.  With a fourteen hour difference, we decided to do a practice run and lucky we did.  At 5AM I awakened by a FaceTime call, but the rehearsal was meant for 7pm my time, not her time! Heather and I tried again her next day, later the same day for me…and ultimately we got it right for the book group meeting!

Heather told us she had been working on writing a book for many years.  At the same time, and totally unrelated, she had come across something about performance artist Marina Abramovic and had been researching her, even though there was hardly any information available.  Abramovic had put her life on the line for her art and self expression – something that intrigued Heather.  Then, while on vacation, Heather was sitting at a restaurant alone at the hotel with an empty seat facing her.  She had this idea that different people would come and sit across from her and it sparked an idea for her book – people who had passed would come to visit the character… so she went up to her room and wrote all night.

Shortly after, she heard that Marina Abramovic was going to be at The Museum of Modern Art in NYC in an exhibit called The Artist Is Present, where she would be sitting with an empty chair facing her and inviting people to sit across from her.  Heather Rose went to NY and spent several weeks there.  She sat in the chair across from Marina 4 times, talked with people waiting in line, and each experience was profound and different.  With approval from Abramovic and her team, Heather rewrote her book with Marina Abramovic as the center piece of her fiction novel.

Heather Rose seemed to have some special connection with Marina Abramovic and heightened intuition and foresight which brought her to writing this novel.  Her personal life greatly influenced the characters and their journeys as well – she has a chronic illness as mirrored in the character of Arky’s wife, and she and her husband divorced during the writing of this story.  Our group was excited to hear she writes childrens books with a friend under the pen name, Angelica Banks, the Tuesday McGillyCuddy series, and knowing she enjoys spending time in NYC, we all hope to see her in person someday!

I loved this book and highly recommend it!  If you enjoy art you may want to check out The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis and On Color by David Scott Kastan.

Jennifer Blankfein's book group

Jennifer Blankfein facetiming with Heather Rose

Goodreads Summary

Author Heather Rose

About the Author:

Heather Rose is the author of five novels with a further two due for publication in 2016. Heather writes for both adults and children. Her adult novels include The River Wife & The Butterfly Man.

Heather writes the acclaimed Tuesday McGillycuddy series for children under the pen name Angelica Banks with award-winning author Danielle Wood.

Heather’s first novel White Heart was published in 1999. It was followed by The Butterfly Man in 2005 – a story based on the disappearance of Lord Lucan in 1974. It was longlisted for the IMPAC Awards in Ireland, shortlisted for the Nita B Kibble Award and won the 2006 Davitt Award for the Crime Fiction Novel of the Year written by an Australian woman.

In 2007 Heather received the Eleanor Dark Fellowship and an Arts Tasmania Wilderness Residency for her novel The River Wife. The River Wife was published in 2009.

In 2010 Heather began collaborating with Danielle Wood and the Tuesday McGillycuddy series for primary age readers was born.

The series begins with Finding Serendipity published in Australia, Germany and the USA in 2013/14. The sequel A Week Without Tuesday has been published internationally in 2014/ 2015 and the third book in the series – Blueberry Pancakes Forever – will be published in 2016/17.

In 2016 Heather’s next novel – The Museum of Modern Love – will be published by Allen & Unwin. It is based on the life and work of the artist Marina Abramovic.

Heather’s work has appeared in journals and anthologies including: Dirty Words – A Literary Dictionary of Sex Terms – edited by Ellen Sussman (Bloomsbury, USA), Some Girls Do – edited by Jacinta Tynan (Allen & Unwin) and Mosaic – edited by Ros Bradley (ABC Books). Her stories and reviews been published in various editions of Island magazine.

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An Undeniable Spark Between An Unlikely Twosome Creates Serious Heat In The Play, Burn This by Lanford Wilson

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My Review:

In anticipation of the Broadway production of Burn This starring Adam Driver and Keri Russell, I chose to familiarize myself with this emotional story of loss and love, and I am so glad I did!  In the late 1980s, in NYC, a female dancer, Anna, along with her gay roommate, Larry and her rich screenwriter boyfriend, Burton, are together mourning the loss of a friend, Robbie.  The deceased’s brother, Pale, shows up and looks to Anna to learn more about his younger sibling’s recent past, and amidst overwhelming emotions of grief, a physical relationship develops.  Anna ad Pale’s chemistry is undeniable and their relationship grows.  The connection is evident, but timing is not right and she denies them both the opportunity to continue by shutting him out.  To combat the pain of loss, Anna devotes herself to her work as a choreographer, developing a dance that represents this relationship she has turned her back on. 

Thank you to Lanford Wilson, the playwright, for giving Anna’s roommate, Larry, the understanding of the depth of her feelings for Pale…Larry sets them up to be alone in the apartment together without either of them knowing… and it was just what they both needed. I expect this play to be powerful and steamy.  The original cast in 1987 included Joan Allen and John Malkovich, and I think the current cast with Keri Russell and Adam Driver will have equal success.  I cannot wait to see the limited engagement, Broadway production at the Hudson Theatre in May!  

Interview with playwright Lanford Wilson about the writing of the play Burn This.

Goodreads Summary

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About the Playwright:

Lanford Wilson was born in Lebanon, Missouri on April 13, 1937 and died March 24, 2011.  He was an American playwright, considered one of the founders of the Off-Off-Broadway theater movement. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1980, was elected in 2001 to the Theater Hall of Fame, and in 2004 was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Can Dogs Help Us With Grief? In Sigrid Nunez’s Latest Novel, The Friend, You May Get Some Insight.

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Meeting the Author and My Review:

Fortunate to have had the opportunity to see her speak,  I have not come across many authors who are as impressive, authentic and old school as Sigrid Nunez.  A true, lifelong writer for writing’s sake, not caught up in the business of marketing her work or following her reviews, Nunez seems focused on her craft, and just expressing herself and getting her story out of her head and onto the paper.

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According to the author, her novel, The Friend just flowed and formed itself on its own without an outline or a plan. A while ago she had been asked to do a 10 minute reading so she wrote what turned out to be the beginning of The Friend.  Soon after, she was asked to do a 25 minute reading so she added on and she felt she had something of a novel developing so she just continued to the end.  She did not do much research for this book; most of the story was meditative as the reader is alway in the consciousness of the book’s narrator.  Nunez chose to keep to the tone of a “hushed, intimate voice of someone writing a love letter” but did not write in a letter format.  She enjoyed the freedom of going from thought to thought, and felt this form was liberating and easier to write than in any other way.

Nunez is a big reader, and could never envision herself living a happy life without it.  She likes to write in the morning, at home or in the school library where she is teaching, (currently she is at Syracuse University) and works on only one project at at a time.

A writer her entire life, she is pleased, I am sure to get recognized by The New York Times (they published an article with the headline, “With ‘The Friend’, Sigrid Nunez Becomes an Overnight Literary Sensation, 23 Years and Eight Books Later”).  She is the winner of the National Book Award for Fiction 2018.

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The Friend is an unnamed woman’s story of grief after losing a lifelong friend to suicide and adopting his seemingly forlorn Great Dane, Apollo.  After meeting with her Friend’s 3rd wife who requested she adopt the pet, she agrees even though no dogs are allowed in her small apartment and she runs the risk of eviction.  The relationship with her Friend’s very large, aging companion becomes important to her and even though others believe she needs help to overcome her grief and back away from the unusual commitment to Apollo, she prefers to be with him rather than socialize with other people.  She assumes he misses his master and tries to understand what goes on in his head and his heart.

In the narrator’s voice, the author makes her own thoughts known regarding the writing community; she likens the publishing industry to a sinking ship, and mocks what could be a status builder, (the crazy but not altogether impossible idea of) a naked author calendar.  The narrator doesn’t believe people write for the right reason and interestingly enough, author Sigrid Nunez, through the voice of her narrator, has made her critical opinions known regarding the loss of integrity on the literary scene, and has unexpectedly received media attention with The Friend.

Throughout the story there is a lot to think about:

Philosophical questions and musings about reading and writing; “If reading really does increase empathy, as we are constantly being told that it does, it appears that writing takes some away.”

Publishing, and how literature has lost its quality;  “I recite your various gripes, which were not much different from those heard every day from other teachers: how even students from top schools didn’t know a good sentence from a bad one, how nobody in publishing seemed to care how anything was written anymore, how books were dying, literature was dying, and the prestige of the writer had sunk so low that the biggest mystery of all was why everyone and their grandmother was turning to authorship as just the ticket to glory.”

Dogs and their understanding; “What do dogs think when they see someone cry?”

The narrator talks about her Friend and his feelings about the benefit of walking as it contributes to creativity because it delivers a rhythm.  She tells stories of suicide, blindness, loss of speech, psychosomatic illness, sex trafficking and prostitution.

Does a good book have to deliver what the reader wants or is what makes it good the delivery of what the author wants to communicate?

I enjoyed The Friend and meeting Sigrid Nunez and hearing about her writing process and the inside scoop made me appreciate it even more!

Goodreads Summary

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About the Author:

Sigrid Nunez has published seven novels, including A Feather on the Breath of God, The Last of Her Kind, Salvation City, and, most recently, The Friend. She is also the author of Sempre Susan: A Memoir of Susan Sontag. Among the journals to which she has contributed are The New York Times, The New York Times Book Review, The Paris Review, Threepenny Review, Harper’s, McSweeney’s, Tin House, and The Believer. Her work has also appeared in several anthologies, including four Pushcart Prize volumes and four anthologies of Asian American literature.

Sigrid’s honors and awards include a Whiting Writer’s Award, a Berlin Prize Fellowship, and two awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters: the Rosenthal Foundation Award and the Rome Prize in Literature. She has taught at Columbia, Princeton, Boston University, and the New School, and has been a visiting writer or writer in residence at Amherst, Smith, Baruch, Vassar, and the University of California, Irvine, among others. In spring, 2019, she will be visiting writer at Syracuse University. Sigrid has also been on the faculty of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and of several other writers’ conferences across the country. She lives in New York City.

Reading, Writing and Pretty Revenge with Author Emily Liebert: women’s fiction with a healthy dose of psychological suspense is sure to grab you!

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My Review:

You will surely be hooked from the get go when you dive in to Emily Liebert’s upcoming emotional thriller, Pretty Revenge!  Eighteen years ago, Kerrie’s life was turned upside down.  Hurt by the betrayal and disappointment she once felt, and having never fully recovered, she is stuck in a bad relationship with no job and feeling disappointed.   After coming across the person she blames for her sad life on tv, old memories rise to the surface and retaliation becomes her goal.  She takes a job and reestablishes her life in the city with the sole purpose of revenge.

Jordana is a sophisticated New Yorker who seems to have it all.  She is a sought after wedding expert with a handsome, wealthy, successful husband and a beautiful apartment in the best part of town.  With dark secrets, she is running from her past while keeping herself busy with wedding plans for her wealthy clients.  When the job demands become overwhelming, she hires a much needed assistant who is agreeable to everything she is asked to do and seems to be extremely competent.   Focused on the details of expensive weddings and client management, the two women seem to develop a solid working relationship; but are they truly who they say they are, and how well do they really know each other?

With women and secrets, lies and deceit, friendships and forgiveness, Pretty Revenge delivers a suspenseful dose of crazy you won’t want to miss!  From her bestselling women’s novels focused on complex female relationships to this psychologically thrilling suspense, where we see a slightly darker side of those relationships…Liebert’s new spin is a huge success!  Easy to read with humorous, witty language, the novel’s impending dread constantly builds as it brings us to the truth, and appealing to my pollyanna side, we are lead to believe everything will tie up in a bow after the last page – perfect for a weekend away!  A most enjoyable read – available July 2019 – preorder a copy so you can have your own Pretty Revenge this summer!

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Q and A with Emily Liebert

You have been greatly successful with your women’s fiction novels, what made you decide to try psychological suspense this time?

EL: Writing women’s fiction novels was fun and fulfilling, but—ultimately—I wanted something edgier to sink my teeth into. I started reading a lot of psychological suspense and became motivated to challenge myself to try something new and bigger. With that said, I think both PRETTY REVENGE and the novel I’m writing now still have a women’s fiction element to them. I’m not going too far to the dark side, at least not yet! I also moved publishing houses to Simon & Schuster for these next two books, which I hope will be a major relaunch for me.

Are your characters in Pretty Revenge based on anyone you know?  Do you think people you know have recreated themselves and are hiding big secrets?

EL: I rarely base my characters directly on people I know, but there are always circumstances and stories from my life or from my friends’ lives that meander their way in. I don’t believe I know anyone who’s hidden his/her past life and is pretending to be someone else. I do, however, believe that everyone has at least one secret, some bigger than others.

The cheating husband of the woman who appears to have it all is not a new idea…why do you think we love to read about those types?

EL: Stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason, and I think people relate to them. They see their own lives reflected in the characters and plot. I always say, even if it’s not a revolutionary idea, there’s a fresh spin on it.

I was a fan of Kerrie’s from the get go but I felt compassion toward Jordana as her real life was revealed.  Who did you root for in Pretty Revenge, Jordana or Kerrie?

EL: As the author of the book and the creator of the characters, I have to say I was rooting for both of them in different ways. You think Kerrie is the underdog at first and you understand why she wants revenge. But then, my hope, is that people will realize how broken and vulnerable Jordana is too.

Your writing is very witty and fun to read.  Do you add descriptive phrases and detail afterward or does it just come out on the page as we see it?

EL: I love this question, and I get asked often about the humor in my writing. That is me! I’m funny (if I do say so myself). Also, I think you have to be able to laugh in life, even when it may not seem like the right moment. A big bucket list item for me would be to do standup comedy just once. I imagine it would be the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I’m not sure I’d be able to go through with it, but stay tuned!

When you are starting a new book, do you develop your characters first, assigning them a past, present and future, or do you write the storyline and their details develop along with the plot?

EL: There’s always a nugget of an idea to begin with and maybe one character who I assign to that. Then, as I start fleshing out the idea, I’ll establish who the 2-3 main characters are and begin defining their personalities. After that, I’d say the storyline and the characters’ pasts/presents/futures unravel together.

What 3 books have you read lately that you recommend and what is on your nightstand right now?

EL: Three books I’ve loved recently are advanced copies of The Last Time I Saw You by Liv Constantine and The Night Before by Wendy Walker (both pub in May), and Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell. On my nightstand are an advanced copy of Jane Green’s The Friends We Keep and Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty.

Goodreads Summary

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About the Author:

Emily Liebert is the USA TODAY Bestselling Author of five books.

PRETTY REVENGE, her forthcoming novel, will release on July 2, 2019.

Her first book Facebook Fairytales is available across the globe.

In 2012, Emily wrote her debut novel, You Knew Me When (Penguin), which published on September 3, 2013. Her second novel, When We Fall, published on September 2, 2014. Those Secrets We Keep, her third novel, released on June 2, 2015, and her fourth novel, Some Women, came out on April 5, 2016, all with Penguin Random House.

Emily is featured often in the press, by outlets such as: Today Show, The Rachael Ray Show, Anderson Cooper, FOX News, Good Day New York, The Couch, Oprah Radio, Martha Stewart Radio, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, InStyle, OK!, Nylon, Ladies’ Home Journal, Woman’s World, WWD, Woman’s Day, The New York Post, The Washington Post, The New York Daily News, The Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald, and The Huffington Post.

She has also served as a spokesperson for Microsoft, appearing on TV and radio stations nationwide.

 

The blind leading the blind at a NYC psychiatric institution makes for unmatched psychological suspense in The Blind by A.F. Brady.

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My Review:

Therapists are supposed to have it together but in The Blind, Dr. Samantha James is not on solid ground.  Her love hate relationship with alcohol, abusive boyfriend and struggle with anxiety, are self destructive and cloud her judgement, while and at the same time she has fooled her colleagues and is the shining star therapist at the Manhattan psychiatric institution where she takes on all the most difficult patients.

When her boss is overloaded and reaches out for help, Sam goes the extra mile to help out with paperwork.  Things come to a head when she reads her own psych evaluation and she is faced with her personal demons that could impact her career.  At the same time, she is finally having a break through with Richard, her most difficult and mysterious patient who up until now has refused to talk.  Lines become blurred when this doctor – patient relationship method of communicating strays from tradition, secrets are unleashed, and the question becomes, “who is helping whom”?

The Blind is “on the edge of your seat” reading, the linear timeline is fast moving and easy to follow with character and background information slowly revealed amidst many shocking snippets of Sam’s crazy days and nights during a five month time span. Upsetting episodes of domestic violence, disturbing alcohol related binges and purges, tension filled sexual encounters and tender moments of friendship are peppered with Sam’s emotional instability and her continual struggles to hide reality, all under the illusion of a perfect life…wonderfully addictive!

I loved this book and can’t wait to read Alex Brady’s new novel, Once A Liar.

The main character, Dr. Samantha James has Borderline Personality Disorder and according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, more than 4 million people are diagnosed with BPD with around 75% of them, women.

Mental illnesses are not talked about as much as they could be, so enjoy this SHORT VIDEO with information about BPD.

One more thing….

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I had the wonderful opportunity to hear Alex (A.F.) Brady speak on a panel with Lynne Constantine, one of the sisters who wrote The Last Mrs. Parrish and the upcoming novel, The Last Time I Saw You, and Wendy Walker, author of Emma in the Night and her upcoming novel, The Night Before, moderated by comedian and life coach, Lisa Lampanelli.  According to the smart and witty Alex Brady, author and psychotherapist, it is POSSIBLE the characters she writes about MAY deal with similar issues and illnesses as her real life patients.  She enjoys the writing process, gets little sleep when working on a plot twist and has a wonderfully helpful husband who picks up the slack with their two little ones when she needs to put in the time to concentrate on her novels.  Alex appreciates a good, rugged cocktail, but be forewarned…you will be taking your chances if you offer her a Malibu Bay Breeze!

Goodreads Summary

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A.F. Brady is a New York State Licensed Mental Health Counselor/Psychotherapist. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Brown University and two Masters degrees in Psychological Counseling from Columbia University. She is a life-long New Yorker, and resides in Manhattan with her husband and their family. The Blind is her first novel.  Her most recent book, Once A Liar was released in Jan. 2019.

Improvement by Joan Silber

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My Review:

Connecting 1970s Turkey and New York today, 72 year old author Joan Silber, winner of the 2018 Pen/Faulkner Award for Fiction weaves a tapestry of interpersonal connections and shows how relationships bind us together and decisions have widespread impact across countries and over time in her latest novel, Improvement.

Reyna is a single mother living in Harlem and standing by her not so perfect boyfriend, Boyd, as she visits him during his 3 month incarceration at Riker’s. Her Aunt Kiki lives in the Village after spending some time in Turkey and traveling the world in her younger days.  Kiki worries about Reyna and her young son Oliver and is unaware of the illegal activities Boyd, Reyna and their friends are involved with.  When Reyna is asked to drive the car in a cigarette smuggling heist, she makes a crucial decision to remover herself from the dangerous antics and that sets off a series of events with a ripple effect that pervades countries and time, affecting people they know and strangers alike.

The book was written in three parts; a novel but with a feel of linked stories; parts 1 and 3 told in first person, and the middle was narrative necessary to fill in all the holes with description and stories of the past, colorfully adding to the context and connecting further the characters and situations.  Joan Silber expertly intertwines the complexities of people’s lives as they each make decisions to try and improve their existence.

Very enjoyable read.

Goodreads Summary

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About the Author:

Joan Silber is the author of six previous works of fiction. Among many awards and honors, she has won a PEN/Hemingway Award and has been a finalist for the National Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Fiction Prize. She teaches at Sarah Lawrence College and lives in New York City.

The Subway Girls by Susie Orman Schnall

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My Review:

It is not often where I pick up a book that has everything I’m looking for at that moment and The Subways Girls by Susie Orman Schnall delivered.  I started out in my early 20s in NYC at an ad agency so this book was a real treat for me as I was immediately drawn in and wanting to read more.  The urge to google and learn something new is always a good sign when I am reading a book, and the Miss Subways ad campaign sparked my interest.  Well developed, relatable characters that had me rooting for them and invested in them so much to pull at my heart strings and cause me to shed some tears, two separate and equally intriguing stories that perfectly connect, and just enough information or a cliffhanger at the end of each chapter to spur me made this a winner for me.

In her novel, Susie Orman Schnall explores some of the challenges women faced in the 1940s and some that still exist today.  In 1949 Charlotte wants to graduate college and work in advertising, yet the ad agencies only seems to have women working in the typing pool.  She has an opportunity to be in ad campaign that essentially is a beauty contest where the winner’s photo will be up in the subway cars, a lovely and successful boyfriend who wants to marry her and start a family, but her desire is to be educated and become a working woman, not a beauty queen or a wife and mother.  Her father demands she drop out of school, work at the family business and not participate in the Miss Subways contest.  After being rejected from all the jobs she applied to, feeling rebellious and going against her father’s wishes, and initially not being in favor of becoming an object of beauty, she decides to apply for Miss Subways anyway – with nothing to lose, she thinks it could help her father’s business by getting some publicity should she win.  Her supportive boyfriend stands by her, although some of his decisions reflect questionable judgement.  (No spoilers!)

Seventy years later, successful ad executive Olivia has to come up with an advertising idea for the MTA.  She has a complicated relationship with her boss, who has power over her financially and emotionally.  Her male coworker is not a fan of women and has no problem stealing her ideas and presenting them as his own.   Feeling despair, alone and her job on the line, Olivia has to make some decisions. Her strength and perseverance, despite the odds being against her, lead her to research the old Miss Subways campaign.   Through heartbreak, a new love and a surprising connection right next door, Olivia’s future begins to look bright.

Striking a balance for women is often challenging; a constant juggling between works and family….wanting it all.  Happiness is fluid and different things may be more important at different times.  I found myself rooting for both Charlotte and Olivia, a champion for the women, no matter what they wanted in order to be happy – the job, the beauty contest, the attention from the guy, the winning campaign…I thoroughly enjoyed this book!

To learn more about The Subway Girls read this fascinating Harper’s Bazaar article written by the author.

Goodreads Summary

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About the Author:

I am the author of the novels THE SUBWAY GIRLS, THE BALANCE PROJECT, and ON GRACE. I grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. My writing has appeared in publications including The New York Times, The Huffington Post, POPSUGAR, Writer’s Digest, and Glamour. In addition, I have spoken extensively on work-life balance and I’m the founder of The Balance Project interview series. I live in Purchase, NY, with my husband and our three sons. For more about me, please visit www.susieschnall.com or follow me at:

Instagram: @SusieOrmanSchnall
Facebook: SusieOrmanSchnall
Twitter: @SusieSchnall

 

The Lost Family by Jenna Blum

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My Review:

The Lost Family is a beautifully written novel by Jenna Blum, author of the bestseller, Those Who Save Us.  The story begins in 1965 Manhattan.  World War II is over but the haunting memories are omnipresent for Peter Rashkin.  He survived Auschwitz but tragically lost his beloved wife and twin daughters, and Peter is  trying to start a new life for himself.  His extended family, the few that are still alive, have encouraged him to meet a nice Jewish girl and get on with life.  He owns and runs a restaurant called Masha, his lost wife’s namesake, and with a hole in his heart, emotional damage beyond repair, and physical scars on his body to prove it, Peter presses on.  He develops a relationship with June, a beautiful model twenty years younger, and although he cannot escape his torturous past, he hides his emotional and physical scars and gives what he can toward this new and exciting relationship.

Two decades later, Peter, his wife June and their daughter Elsbeth continue to struggle with Peter’s ghosts, the scars of war, and the legacy of the Holocaust and all the victims.  This emotional story touches upon many things, including the difficult restaurant business, high fashion modeling, the excitement and pitfalls of infidelity and the disturbing effects of eating disorders, but the basis of the emotional grief and ongoing challenges that engulfs the Rashkin family stems from personal loss, suffering and the terrors of World War II. Such a compassionate and engaging novel, don’t miss this great read.

Additional note:  Our past becomes part of who we are and we cannot separate out parts of ourselves.  Close family and younger generations may inherit the pain and suffering of oppressed and tortured relatives and Peter Rashkin’s family is no exception. Here is an article that talks more about this…CNN report discusses the possibility

Goodreads Summary

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About the Author:

New York Times and internationally bestselling author of novels THOSE WHO SAVE US (Harcourt, 2004) and THE STORMCHASERS (Dutton, May 2010) and the novella “The Lucky One” in GRAND CENTRAL (Berkeley/Penguin, July 2014). One of Oprah’s Top 30 Women Writers. Novel THE LOST FAMILY was released from Harper Collins JUNE 5, 2018!

A Marriage in Dog Years by Nancy Balbirer

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My Review: 

AVAILABLE IN JUNE! PRE-ORDER NOW! Author Nancy Balbirer takes us with her on the rocky journey of life as we see her joy filled marriage filled with hopes and dreams blossom then fizzle, at the same time her beloved, terminally ill beagle, Ira struggles to defy the odds and live another day.  From LA to NYC, single to married with a child, from puppy to old dog, and dreams of second chances, so much of life’s ups and downs happen and Nancy keeps you laughing through your tears.

A Marriage in Dog Years is a touching true story is told with honesty and humor, stirring up so many different feelings including love, anger, forgiveness and hope, well written in the author’s unique voice. Balbirer’s story is reminiscent to Sarah Jessica Parker’s hit show, Divorce on HBO – the good, the bad and the ugly truth about the slow death of a marriage, a complex relationship crumbling with regrets and infused with hope for peace and a bright future, with the added bonus of actual puppy love – unconditional and unwavering mutual support and devotion in man’s/woman’s best friend. If you love love, and if you love your pet, this emotional ride is for you!

Amazon Prime members can download A Marriage in Dog Years for FREE on May 1st and Book Nation by Jen will be hosting a GIVEAWAY for a copy hot off the press COMING SOON!

As Seen on Goodreads:

When Nancy Balbirer learns her beloved eleven-year-old beagle has kidney failure, she’s devastated. She and her husband had gotten Ira as a puppy—a wedding gift to each other, and their first foray into “parenthood.” Now, her dog is terminal, her marriage is on life support, and Nancy is desperate to save them both (whether they want it or not). In a single year, she loses her two best friends, but Nancy’s life is about to take yet another unexpected turn.

With humor and heart, Nancy Balbirer shares her story of relationships, loss, and canine friendship in this illuminating memoir about the lengths people will go to keep love alive…and the power of finally letting go.

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About the Author:

Nancy Balbirer is a writer and performer of stage and screen. She is the author of “Take Your Shirt Off and Cry.” She lives in Los Angeles with her family.