The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

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From the book jacket: January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’d never met, a native of Guernsey, the British island once occupied by the Nazis. He’d come across her name on the flyleaf of a secondhand volume by Charles Lamb. Perhaps she could tell him where he might find more books by this author.
I can’t remember the last time I read a book as lovely as The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. It is written in epistolary form. I think that is responsible for keeping the book from becoming maudlin. I found myself laughing out loud at times and reaching for a tissue at others. It’s rare for a book to move me to either emotion, much less write about it. 5 stars.

Bridge of Sighs by Richard Russo

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From the back of the book: Louis Charles Lynch (also known as Lucy) is sixty years old and has lived in Thomaston, New York, his entire life. He and Sarah, his wife of forty years, are about to embark on a vacation to Italy. Lucy’s oldest friend, once a rival for his wife’s affection, leads a life in Venice far removed from Thomaston. Perhaps for this reason Lucy is writing the story of his town, his family, and his own life that makes up this rich and mesmerizing novel, interspersed with that of the native son who left so long ago and has never looked back.
As I read Bridge of Sighs I kept coming back to the thought that it’s all about the secrets and lies we tell others and ourselves about our lives. The truth as we want it. The best possible truth – which usually leads to feelings of guilt and inadequacy. But people do what they need to do to get by – to deal with the actual truths that shape their lives. This is the story of the Lynch family and others who do just that.

I have to say I was really wondering when and where it (the story) would finally end… until the last 200 pages. That’s when it turned into the book I didn’t want to end. If you’re a fan of Richard Russo this book should not disappoint. I hope he has more books in him because I’m not ready to be finished reading them.

Horseplay by Judy Reene Singer

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Judy Van Brunt’s husband has cheated on her for the last time. She’s had it with him and is sick of sharing him with other women. She needs a change. Her riding instructor gives her directions to a horse farm in North Carolina so she packs up the Mazda and heads south. She becomes a groom at the farm and is allowed to live there (with three other single women) as well.

Judy Reene Singer gives us a peek into the world of the horsey set. Horseplay touches on a few serious topics but overall is a broad comedy. Filled with characters covering most stereotypes, it is never demeaning but usually evoked giggles from this reader. It’s a fun, light read.

Drinking Problems at the Fountain of Youth by Beth Teitell

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From the back of the book: Women today are being told that we can have it all, including the twenty-year-old face and body we didn’t even have when we were twenty.

Beth Teitell (From Here to Maternity) gives a humorous but informative look at the world of looking younger. From fashion tips to surgical procedures, and just about everything in between, Teitell has done the legwork for us. And she actually makes it an enjoyable experience to read about it. In the end, though, it all comes down to how one feels about herself (in my humble opinion, that is). That said, I especially like the “ten tips that work, and won’t break your budget, eat up your time, or make you wonder about your own priorities” at the end of the book.
This is a review of an ARC and is due to be published in October 2008.

Stone Creek by Victoria Lustbader

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From the book: …like pain, love comes in many different shades and textures and strengths, from ones that tickle you to ones that blind you to ones that destroy you.
Lily Spencer is married to Paul and living a fairy-tale life. The only thing missing from her life is a child. At 46, she’s unable to conceive and Paul refuses to adopt.
Danny Malloy, 36, is the father of five year old Caleb. They are grieving the unexpected death of Tara who died a year earlier. Caleb doesn’t understand death much less the aneurysm that killed his mother.
Lily, Danny and Caleb meet and help each other on the road to healing.

Stone Creek is a very sad book and yet, by the last page, the reader is left with a sense of hope.
You can hear an interview with Victoria Lustbader here. The interview was found at Book Club Girl (see my favorite blogs list for the latest post at BCG). Thanks to Dar for telling me about the interview. I found it so interesting.