Love, Alice by Barbara Davis

  • love-alice-126Title:  Love, Alice
  • Author:  Barbara Davis
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Pages:  432
  • Published:  December 2016 – Berkley
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  A year ago, Dovie Larkin’s life was shattered when her fiancé committed suicide just weeks before their wedding. Now, plagued by guilt, she has become a fixture at the cemetery where William is buried, visiting his grave daily, waiting for answers she knows will never come. 
 
Then one day, she sees an old woman whose grief mirrors her own. Fascinated, she watches the woman leave a letter on a nearby grave. Dovie ignores her conscience and reads the letter—a mother’s plea for forgiveness to her dead daughter—and immediately needs to know the rest of the story. 
 
As she delves deeper, a collection of letters from the cemetery’s lost and found  begins to unravel a decades-old mystery involving one of Charleston’s wealthiest families. But even as Dovie seeks to answer questions about another woman’s past—questions filled with deception, betrayal, and heartbreaking loss—she starts to discover the keys to love, forgiveness, and finally embracing the future…  (publisher)

My take:  Love, Alice is a story of acceptance, forgiveness, and moving forward. Barbara Davis’s story involves two women: Dovie, whose fiancé committed suicide not long before their wedding date and Alice, an unwed girl forced to give up her infant after giving birth. Both grappled with questions of why as they tried to move on with their lives. Although they would never meet their stories would become entwined.

I was completely absorbed by this book. The loss experienced by Alice is heartbreaking. Her story involves the Magdalene Laundries (click link for info). Hard to believe places like that were still in operation in the 1990s. Alice was young and, although still feeling the aftereffects of tuberculosis, had some strength of mind and body to carry on when she left the asylum. Her motivation was clear – she would find her baby.

Dovie would realize she had to face the truth about William – the things she’d chosen to ignore in the past – in order to move forward.

As bleak as it may sound I found the novel uplifting. I credit Davis’s gift of storytelling.  Love, Alice is a wonderful book. Recommended to fans of the author and women’s fiction. It would be a great book club selection. Included are a readers guide and recipes.

Sunday Post

Book arrivals:  (linked to Mailbox Monday)

any-day-now  a-million-little-things-feb17

Last week on Bookfan:

days-like-these   maxs-diamonds_cov

Reading plan for this week:

the-trouble-with-christmas

Not much reading last week. The good news is my husband came home from the hospital on Wednesday so life is starting to get back to a routine. Thanks for all the kind thoughts, good wishes and, of course, prayers. He had bypass surgery so we’re tweaking our diet and making small changes in other areas. I’m looking forward to visiting blogs this week and finding more reading time. Have a great week!

Spotlight/US Giveaway: Max’s Diamonds: A Novel by Jay Greenfield

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Description:

A stunning decades-spanning debut novel, about a man forced to confront his moral culpability, the legacy of impossible loss, and the claims of his Jewish identity. Paul Hartman, coming of age in postwar Rockaway, grows up haunted by the specter of his cousin Max, an Auschwitz survivor, and Max’s mysterious cache of diamonds, which fund Paul’s Harvard Law education and even sparkle in his fiancée’s engagement ring. When a stranger from his past confronts him with an impossible demand, one that could destroy his law career, his marriage and his sense of self, Paul must make choices that will change his fate forever.


Reviews:

“Five Stars (out of Five)! An incredibly engaging and thought-provoking story of one man haunted by the grief of his past. Max’s Diamonds, an excellent new work of fiction by Jay Greenfield, traces the life of a man hiding his past and a traumatic childhood. This is a story filled with secrets, lies, and an overwhelming sense of grief. …Greenfield fills his novel with richly drawn characters, each unique and interesting, flawed yet relatable…. It’s a place worth stopping by again, as the rich characters combine with beautiful descriptions of settings and, at times, an almost lyrical prose …. Themes of religious persecution, the consequences of lifelong guilt, and the difficulties of familial relationships and relationships created on a base of lies reside beneath the surface of this work, adding complexity as well as beauty.” —Tracy Fischer, Foreword Reviews

“Max’s Diamonds is a Bildungsroman, a mystery and a multi-generational survivor’s tale all at once. But above, it’s a hugely entertaining novel. Jay Greenfield has made a terrific debut.” —Leonard Cassuto, author, Hard-Boiled Sentimentality: The Secret History of American Crime Stories

“A terrific read, fast-paced and darkly humorous …. Part parody of the American dream of self-determination, part tribute to a bygone world defined by the claims of heritage, this riveting debut novel pits the legacy of the Holocaust against the promise of East Coast ambition to measure the conflicting moralities of mid-century American Jews.” —Eve Keller, co-author, Two Rings: A Story of Love and War

“Jay Greenfield’s engrossing novel vividly depicts a young man’s coming of age in Rockaway, a close-knit beach community in New York, during and after World War II. The Holocaust and its aftermath affect him personally through the experiences of family members. Paul, the protagonist, becomes an ambitious young lawyer, but ultimately comes to terms with his identity as a Jew through his dramatic encounter with his Israeli daughter. We could not put this novel down.” —Lawrence Kaplan and Carol Kaplan, co-authors, Between Ocean and City: The Transformation of Rockaway, New York


13055609_1628228444163978_6135174534182841502_nAuthor Bio:

Jay Greenfield was raised in Rockaway, New York. For several decades, he was a trial lawyer with a New York-based international law firm, where he argued in the Supreme Court of the United States, represented civil rights activists in Louisiana during 1964’s Freedom Summer, and was senior counsel in several cases establishing that, under New York law, homeless families have a right to shelter. He retired early to devote himself to writing fiction. He lives in Manhattan with his wife, Judy; they have three adult children and three grandchildren. Max’s Diamonds (Chickadee Prince Books, 2016) is his debut novel.

For more information connect with him on Facebook.


US Giveaway

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Days Like These by Sue Margolis

  • days-like-theseTitle:  Days Like These
  • Author:  Sue Margolis
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Pages:  384
  • Published:  December 2016 – Berkley
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  Recently widowed, Judy Schofield jumps at the chance to look after her two grandchildren for six weeks, while their parents are out of the country. After all, she’s already raised one set of children—and quite successfully, if she may say so herself. But all it takes is a few days of private school functions, helicopter parents, video games, and never-ending Frozen sing-a-longs for Judy to feel she’s in over her head.
 
As weeks become months, Judy feels more and more like an outsider among all the young mothers with their parenting theories du jour, especially when she gets on the wrong side of the school’s snooty alpha mom. But finding a friend in another grandmother—and a man who takes her mind off all the stress—almost make it worthwhile. She just needs to take it one food allergy, one incomprehensible homework assignment, and one major meltdown at a time…  (publisher)

My take:  When Judy’s daughter and son-in-law, both MDs, volunteer their services to a country recently hit by an earthquake they ask Judy to care for their two young (school age) children for six weeks. Of course she agrees hoping that, along with helping her family, it might help her start to climb out of the grief she’s experienced since the death of her husband a year earlier.

Judy jumps into the children’s schedules and is soon overwhelmed with all of their activities. When the kids start to exhibit negative behaviors she realizes she needs to make some decisions. When the six weeks turns into a lengthier stint for the doctors Judy finds the challenges of grand-parenting increase as well.

I appreciated Judy’s predicament of being in the sandwich generation. Her mother added comic relief to the story as well as charm and warmth. Even though themes of bullying, grief, second chances at love, and parenting in the 21st century are addressed I found Days Like These to be a rather light and amusing novel. I liked it and would definitely read more from Sue Margolis.

Sunday Post

Book arrivals:  (linked to Mailbox Monday)

christmas-at-the-comfort-food-cafe  saving-jake  while-you-were-sleeping

Last week on Bookfan:

the holiday gift (11:29)   victoria

Reading plan for this week:

traveling-light

I’m hoping I’ll get to start this novel but life got a different kind of busy last week when my husband went to the doctor for a pre-op exam before back surgery and ended up in the hospital having triple bypass surgery for his heart. He’s still in the hospital but I’m hoping will be home in a couple of days. Prayers and good thoughts for him are appreciated.

 

Victoria by Daisy Goodwin

  • victoriaTitle:  Victoria
  • Author:  Daisy Goodwin
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction
  • Pages:  352
  • Published:  November 2016 – St. Martin’s Press
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  In 1837, less than a month after her eighteenth birthday, Alexandrina Victoria – sheltered, small in stature, and female – became Queen of Great Britain and Ireland. Many thought it was preposterous: Alexandrina — Drina to her family — had always been tightly controlled by her mother and her household, and was surely too unprepossessing to hold the throne. Yet from the moment William IV died, the young Queen startled everyone: abandoning her hated first name in favor of Victoria; insisting, for the first time in her life, on sleeping in a room apart from her mother; resolute about meeting with her ministers alone.

One of those ministers, Lord Melbourne, became Victoria’s private secretary. Perhaps he might have become more than that, except everyone argued she was destined to marry her cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. But Victoria had met Albert as a child and found him stiff and critical: surely the last man she would want for a husband….

Drawing on Victoria’s diaries as well as her own brilliant gifts for history and drama, Daisy Goodwin, author of the bestselling novels The American Heiress and The Fortune Hunter as well as creator and writer of the new PBS/Masterpiece drama Victoria, brings the young queen even more richly to life in this magnificent novel.  (publisher)

My take:  Victoria was eighteen years old when she became Queen. She’d lived a very sheltered life up to that point and had to make many changes in short order. Starting with a crash course in a Queen’s duties, political relationships, and learning who could be trusted when it came to the people closest to her, she proved herself up to the task.

One of the most important people in Victoria’s life was her prime minister, Lord Melbourne. She grew to trust him which led her to feel an emotional bond that troubled some people. He was, after all, old enough to be her father. Despite that, it was difficult not to like Lord M. Another important person was Victoria’s cousin Albert. I loved how Goodwin developed his character. It was more complex than I expected and my feelings changed as I learned more about him.

Of course, if you’ve previously read about Victoria you know what happens. I enjoyed Goodwin’s version and recommend it to fans of historical fiction. I look forward to watching the television production in January (US).