Tag Archives: Family

Pretty Girls

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Title: Pretty Girls

Author: Karin Slaughter

Publisher: William Morrow, September 2015

*This book contains graphic descriptions of violence, particularly sexual violence against women, so be warned.*

Summary/Review: I found this novel a somewhat interesting read because it describes good, bad, and even horrible relationships, from a woman’s perspective.

Two decades ago the older sister of the two women involved in this mystery was abducted. Her body was never found. This destroys her parents’ marriage and emotionally cripples, to some extent, the remaining two girls’ development. One sister self-medicates with alcohol, drugs and sex. The other buries her misery and eventually marries a successful architect. Together they create a fairy-tale perfect, suburban marriage.

The story takes a terrible twist when the “good daughter” discovers (or does she?) horrible secrets about her architect husband after he is murdered in a mugging gone terribly wrong.

But what are we to believe? Are all his awful secrets actually true? Can he really be involved in a series of abductions and tortures of young women over the years? Is their perfect lifestyle financed by online snuff porn videos? If so, how did this behavior start and how could he have kept this twisted side of his life a secret for so long?

The sisters become almost action heroes as they uncover more and more, and worse and worse facts about their family, the dead husband and the fate of many young women over the years.

There are several dramatic plot twists which will probably blind-side the reader. You don’t want to know what they are in advance. This is a somewhat trashy page-turner so it won’t take long to read if you want to know all the details.

Who will like this book? Someone who’s a fan of criminal procedurals who won’t shy away from graphic violence.

If you like this, try this: Karin Slaughter has a huge repertoire of works, so if you like her writing you’ll have plenty to choose from.  If you’re looking for other crime procedurals written by women, try Lisa Gardner or Kathy Reichs.
Recommended by: Mark Z, Guest Reviewer

If this looks like something you’d like to read, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and/or to place a hold!

Lucy Barton

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Title: My Name is Lucy Barton

 Author: Strout, Elizabeth

 Publisher: Random House, January 2016

Summary/Review: Elizabeth Strout is one of the best out there when it comes to writing about flawed, complicated women.  As Lucy Barton recovers from a mysterious illness in the hospital, she has a visitor she’s not spoken with in several years – her mother. The visit spans several days, and as their conversation ebbs and flows in intensity, from gossip to family secrets, Lucy’s memories of her painful childhood are revealed in such a way that, even at the end of the story, she remains somewhat of a mystery.   One thing is for certain – the fragile Lucy Barton has a tremendous capacity for love and forgiveness.

Who will like this book?: Someone looking for a female-centric book that focuses on relationships.

 If you like this, try this: Elizabeth Strout is a well-known name, particularly for “Olive Kitteridge” and “Burgess Boys”, so if you enjoy the writing these two may suit you.

 Recommended by: Mary C, Reference Librarian

If this looks like something you’d like to read, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and/or to place a hold!

Railwayman’s Wife

Title: The Railwayman’s Wife

Author: Ashley Hay

Publisher: Atria Books, April 2016

Summary/Review: A poignant, post WWII novel set in New South Wales, The Railwayman’s Wife is the type of book you wish you could step into, if just for a moment, to make everything right. Some novels make it difficult to just sit back and watch…

Ani Lachlan, her husband Mac, and their daughter Isabel live in what Ani considers “the most beautiful place in the world”, a lovely cottage in a village nestled between the mountains and the sea. But not even this idyllic village can shelter its people from heartbreak and tragedy. Not the local doctor, returned from war but still haunted by the lives he couldn’t save.  Not the young poet whose writing once flourished on the battlefield but is now uninspired and hollow. And not Ani, who turns to her love of books to find solace and healing after her own personal tragedy. Three people whose lives are connected in ways even they do not realize. One person whose life might be saved with just one word.

Beautifully written, atmospheric and haunting, my heart broke for these characters during their darkest hours, and cheered for them as they tried to find their way in this new world.

Who will like this book?: Someone looking for a melancholy but beautiful book that will make you want to jump into its pages.

If you like this, try this: The Soldier’s Wife by Margaret Leroy, The Golden Hour, by Margaret Wurtele

Recommended by: Sue B, Circulation Coordinator

It’s too soon to put a hold on this book, but keep checking to see when the library orders it!

Reunion of Ghosts

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Title: A Reunion of Ghosts

Author:  Judith Claire Mitchell

Publisher:  Harper, March 2015

Summary/Review:  This book is an absolute perfect balance of humor and sadness, hope and despair, blessing and curse, past and present, reason and insanity.  The story of the Alter sisters and their relatives, living and dead, will not soon leave me.  It’s a family history filled with tragedy (loosely based on the story of the German chemist who invented the poisonous gas used in both world wars).   Lady, Vee and Delph Alter decide they can no longer live with this legacy of guilt, and decide to end it all on the same day in December of 1999. In an interview, the author Judith Claire Mitchell says that when writing “A Reunion of Ghosts” she felt like she was “alone in a bunker with this family.”  It’s that engrossing.  This expertly-written and unique family saga is not to be missed!

Who will like this?   Someone looking for a historical family saga that will cover a huge range of emotion for the reader

If you like this, try this:  Mitchell has written another book, “Last Day of the War” which covers Paris and World War I.  If you’re looking for female-centric family sagas, try Kate Morton or Isabel Allende.

Recommended by:  Mary, Reference

If this looks like a book you’d like to read, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and/or to place a hold!

Man Called Ove

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Title:  A Man Called Ove

Author:  Fredrik Backman

Publisher:  Atria Books, 2014/Dreamscape Media, LLC. (audiobook), 2014

Summary/Review:  Ove is not someone you want to cross paths with.  He is an older man, set in his ways, and not afraid to tell people what he thinks whether they want to hear it or not.  Ove is a man on a mission.  He has only one goal left to accomplish, but it is not going to be easy to achieve it.

As the story switches back and forth from present to past, you get a better understanding of how certain experiences in Ove’s life, especially those involving his youth and wife, shaped his personality and outlook.  The supporting characters provide a unique link to Ove’s daily routine.  There is a great importance of how timing affects everything.

This book will make you laugh, cry, and appreciate the people (and animals) in your life.  The story will stay with you long after the book ends.  It is a strong read from start to finish and an excellent choice for book clubs.  It will easily top your favorites’ list.

Added note:  The reader (and known actor) on the audiobook is exceptional, painting a clear image of Ove and the rest of the cast.

Who will like this book: Anyone looking for the next best book.

 If you like this, try this:  The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Recommended by: Sharyn, Circulation

If you think this is a book you’d like to read, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and/or to place a hold!

Delicious Foods

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Title: Delicious Foods

Author: James Hannaham

Publisher: Little Brown & Company, March 2015

Summary/Review: The story begins with Eddie, who has recently escaped a mysterious company called Delicious Foods. His mother, Darlene, is still working there. Eddie has no hands, he’s estranged from his relatives, he’s poor and distraught about his mother, but he is ultimately good-natured and ready to emerge with a new life. The real struggle is with Darlene, Eddie’s mother. In her past life she would be described as a grieving widow whose husband was murdered, a hard-working, educated, beautiful, and caring mother. In her new life Darlene is addicted to crack cocaine, prostituting herself, neglecting Eddie, abusing herself and others and, ultimately, losing her mind – until she is saved by Delicious Foods, who offer a wonderful new dream filled with hope, redemption, hard work, and a rampantly dark underbelly.

Reading reviews you might think this story is focused on drugs – after all, the drugs have their own chapters, told from their point of view. You might think it’s about a mysterious company, Delicious Foods, and all the horrible things that go on in a place where you keep people addicted to drugs and brainwashed. You might even think that it’s about Eddie, and his struggle to regain a new life. But the truth is that the book is about all of these things yet none of these things. It’s a beautifully written book. It’s the type of book you have to read slowly because it takes a long time to convince yourself you’re not there, experiencing these things. You could probably call it a mystery thriller, but that wouldn’t accurately describe its deep literary roots. The truth is that “Delicious Foods” is indescribable – you just need to read it. It’s wonderful, magnetic, heart-breaking, scary, thrilling, hilarious, and poetic.

Who will like this book?: Someone that doesn’t shy away from dark topics such as race, addiction, and hopelessness. Someone looking for a read that’s thrilling but deep and literary.

If you like this, try this: James Hannaham has written one other book, “God Says No”, which is probably worth a try. I honestly can’t think of a book similar to this one, so you’ll need to try it yourself!

Recommended by: Lauren O

If you think this is a book you’d like to try, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and/or to place a hold.

Aquarium

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Title: Aquarium

Author: David Vann

Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press, March 2015

Summary/Review: David Vann is a master of family dysfunction. Hidden within his beautiful writing lurk some of the cruelest and manipulative characters you will ever meet. His newest novel, AQUARIUM, is no exception. This one, however, allows for some hope which isn’t always the case with Vann.

Twelve year old Caitlin lives with her single mother, Sheri, in Seattle. Sheri is struggling as a single mother, working full time while trying to build a good life for herself and her daughter. Since, according to Sheri, they are all alone in the world, Caitlin is left alone for long periods while Sheri is at work. Caitlin is dropped off at school early in the morning and heads to the local aquarium after to school to wait for her ride home. It is at the aquarium that she meets a very kind elderly man who takes an interest in Caitlin and keeps her company while she waits for Sheri to pick her up. When Sheri learns of this friendship, she is consumed with an uncontrollable rage and her haunted past comes roaring back with a vengeance.

Sometimes there’s just no way to tell how damaged a person really is until they are forced to confront the demons from their past.

 Who will like this?:  Someone who’s not turned off by dysfunction.  Someone looking for a thrilling read.

 If you like this, try this: other David Vann novels, FATHER OF THE RAIN BY Lily King, DROWNED, by Therese Bohman, and DISQUIET by Julia Leigh.

If you think you’d like this book, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and/or to place a hold.

Paying Guests

 

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Title: The Paying Guests

Author: Sarah Waters

Publisher: Riverhead Books, September 2014

Summary/Review: I have never read the fiction of Sarah Waters before, but I am happy to have now read The Paying Guests.  She writes beautifully – creating characters that you can literally see and hear in your own head as you read the book.

The story begins at the dusk of the Edwardian era, a few years after the end of World War I.  Frances lives with her mother in what was previously a grand house.  They have fallen on hard times.  Frances’ father is dead, after having mismanaged the family fortune and a brother has died in the War.  In order to make ends meet, they must take in paying guests — a matter of some shame.

The Barbers, a young middle class, perhaps lower middle class couple, take rooms on the second floor.  They are young, stylish in their way, and are a product of a new society growing in England that has tossed aside the trappings of propriety of the past.

The author slowly unfolds the plot to reveal events that would never be understood or tolerated at this time in English society. Then the final unforgivable act takes place– and it is a fast and furious ride all the way to the end of the novel. So hang on.

Who will like this?: Those interested in period novels that describe post WWI-era. Someone looking for a gripping novel.

If you like this, try this: If you’re interested in the 1920’s, the standard is “Great Gatsby”. However, you could also try Hemingway or Fitzgerald. If you liked Sarah Waters’ writing, you could try her other novels including “The Night Watch” and “Affinity”.

Recommended by: Susan Z, Reference

Does this look like a book you’d like?  Visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and/or to place a hold!

 

Mrs. Hemingway

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Title: Mrs. Hemingway

Author: Naomi Wood

Publisher: Penguin, May 2014

Summary/Review: Favorable comparisons with Paula McLain’s outstanding novel “The Paris Wife” are inevitable and deserved, and anyone who enjoyed “The Paris Wife” will no doubt love “Mrs. Hemingway.”  What makes Naomi Wood’s book such a treat is that the reader will get to know not just one but all four of Ernest Hemingway’s wives – Hadley, Pauline, Martha and finally, Mary.  And through the story of the wives and their relationships also comes a vivid portrayal of the tortured man they loved.  Wood’s writing flows with a deceptive ease; make no mistake that the pain and suffering the women experienced was real and not romanticized in these pages.   In fact this fictionalized account of the lives and times of these people feels as real as any well-researched biography; perhaps this comes from all of the research that the author did, visiting Hemingway’s homes and old haunts in Chicago, Paris, Antibes, Key West and Havana.  “Mrs. Hemingway” is beautiful, gripping and tragic – a worthwhile revisiting of what may be a familiar story.

Who will like this book?  Fans of historical, literary fiction, particularly those who love reading fictionalized biographies.  And anyone who likes to read about the lives of writers.

If you like this, try this;  The Paris Wife by Paula McLain; Z: a Novel of Zelda by Therese Ann Fowler; Hemingway’s Girl by Erika Robuck.

 Recommended by:  Mary C, Branch Reference Librarian

If this looks like a book you’d like to try, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and/or place a hold!

 

 

Days of Anna Madrigal

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Title: The Days of Anna Madrigal

Author: Armistead Maupin

Publisher: Harper, January 2014

Summary/Review: In January 2014, Armistead Maupin published the ninth and final book in his glorious Tales of the City series. Maupin began writing Tales as a newspaper column in San Francisco during the 1970’s. Tales centered on landlady Anna Madrigal and her magical apartment house at 28 Barbary Lane in SF’s Russian Hill neighborhood. Anna’s tenants included Mary Ann Singleton fresh from Ohio, Michael “Mouse” Tolliver, out and proud gay man, Mona Ramsey frustrated copywriter, and aging ladies’ man Brian Hawkins. Tales of the City was turned into an award-winning television mini-series in the 1990’s for PBS, and the second and third books were also produced for television by Showtime starring Olympia Dukakis as Anna and Laura Linney as Mary Ann. Maupin created a world where people of all walks of life could not only be friends but family to each other.

The Days of Anna Madrigal continues the story of these characters. Now a fragile ninety-two year old and committed to the notion of “leaving like a lady,” Anna Madrigal has seemingly found peace in the bosom of her “logical family” in San Francisco: her devoted young caretaker, Jake Greenleaf; her former tenant Brian Hawkins; Brian’s daughter Shawna; and Michael Tolliver and Mary Ann Singleton, who have known and loved Anna for nearly four decades. Some members of Anna’s family are bound for the otherworldly landscape of Burning Man, the art festival in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada where sixty thousand revelers build a temporary city (Michael calls it “a Fellini carnival on Mars”) designed to last only one week. Anna herself has another Nevada destination in mind: a lonely stretch of road outside of Winnemucca where the sixteen-year-old boy she used to be ran away from the whorehouse he then called home. With Brian and his beat-up RV, she journeys into the dusty, troubled heart of her Depression-era childhood, where she begins to unearth a lifetime of secrets and dreams, and to attend to unfinished business she has long avoided.

Who will like this book? Fans of Maupin’s earlier work, lovers of light, suspenseful novels, San Francisco-philes, people interested in Burning Man, readers who enjoy alternative families, life-long friendships, characters aging gracefully, and LGBTQ readers and allies.

If you like this, try this: Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father by Alysia Abbott, Exiles in America by Christopher Bram, Rough Music by Patrick Gale, Fun Home by Alison Bechdel, She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders by Jennifer Finney Boylan, Michael Nava’s Henry Rios mystery series, and Greg Heren’s Scotty Bradley mystery series.

Recommended by:  Philip B. Reference Librarian

If this looks like a book you’d like to try, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and/or place a hold!