The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler (audiobook)

Title:  The Amateur Marriage: A Novel

Author:  Anne Tyler

Narrator:  Blair Brown

Genre:  Contemporary Fiction

Published:  2004

About:  The Amateur Marriage is the sweeping tale of a marriage that begins during WWII and ends in the 2000s. Tyler’s story  is about a young couple, Pauline and Michael, who meet and quickly marry in the early 1940s. After the war they settle into work, children and life in the Baltimore suburbs. As the kids grow up life gets complicated. The story moves briefly to San Francisco and then back to Baltimore.

My take:  I think Blair Brown is a good narrator for this sort of novel. The vocal nuance she gave each character worked beautifully. I’ll look for more of her audiobook performances.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy The Amateur Marriage early on but I kept listening and was kind of sad to see it end. The effect of one of Pauline and Michael’s teen-age kids actions is felt for the rest of their lives. But life goes on and so do each of them. Tyler takes us through the phases of the Anton family. Although the specifics would obviously be unique, it’s really the story of many marriages and families to one degree or another. For that reason alone this would be a good selection for a book club.

I’ve read a few of Anne Tyler’s novels over the years but not for a while. The Amateur Marriage is a good reminder of why I enjoy her books. It’s full of imperfect people with hopes and dreams – just like all of us.  Recommended.

Source:  I bought it.

At Witt’s End (Sadie Witt Mystery, #1) by Beth Solheim

Title:  At Witt’s End (Sadie Witt Mystery, #1)

Author:  Beth Solheim

Genre:  Cozy Mystery

About:  (Goodreads synopsis) Things are really bustling at the Witt’s End resort in Northern Minnesota. Clients are vying for one of the few remaining rentals, except Cabin 14 – thing is no one gets out of Cabin 14 alive.

Sadie isn’t your typical sixty-four year old senior citizen. She has things she wants to do and shouldn’t be expected to solve a murder while trying to prevent an unscrupulous sheriff’s deputy from shutting down the lakeside resort she owns with her straight arrow sister. But that’s exactly what Sadie Witt must do.

When five guests with hidden agendas arrive at Cabin 14, they’re stunned to learn that the flamboyant Sadie is their conduit to the hereafter. Clad in the latest fashion trends – fads typically reserved for those without sagging body parts – and sporting hairdos that make bystanders want to look away but can’t, Sadie realizes one of the guests has been murdered and must work against the clock to untangle the web and prevent further mayhem

My thoughts:  I don’t read many cozy mysteries or novels with paranormal themes but At Witt’s End was the June selection for one of my book groups so I gave it a try. It sounded like it could be a light,fun read and it was!

Sadie quickly reminded me of a slightly younger version of Janet Evanovich’s Grandma Mazur (Stephanie Plum series) – except in At Witt’s End Sadie is a principal character, not a minor one used simply for comic relief.

The characters are quirky, the pace is good, and I enjoyed the setting. If you’re a fan of cozies I think you might like the Sadie Witt Mystery Series. I look forward to reading more about the happenings at Witt’s End. The next book in the series is Outwitted.

Source:  I bought it.

Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn

TItle:  Mistress of Rome

Author:  Kate Quinn

Genre:  Historical Fiction

About:  (Goodreads synopsis)  Thea is a slave girl from Judaea, passionate, musical, and guarded. Purchased as a toy for the spiteful heiress Lepida Pollia, Thea will become her mistress’s rival for the love of Arius the Barbarian, Rome’s newest and most savage gladiator. His love brings Thea the first happiness of her life-that is quickly ended when a jealous Lepida tears them apart.

As Lepida goes on to wreak havoc in the life of a new husband and his family, Thea remakes herself as a polished singer for Rome’s aristocrats. Unwittingly, she attracts another admirer in the charismatic Emperor of Rome. But Domitian’s games have a darker side, and Thea finds herself fighting for both soul and sanity. Many have tried to destroy the Emperor: a vengeful gladiator, an upright senator, a tormented soldier, a Vestal Virgin. But in the end, the life of the brilliant and paranoid Domitian lies in the hands of one woman: the Emperor’s mistress.

My thoughts:  Kate Quinn’s characters are fully formed and her setting was carefully researched. Mistress of Rome is a story full of intrigue, politics, and romance – all come together to make for a good read.  At times it got too gory for me but I guess that made the gladiator scenes all the more real. One of the characters seemed really over the top but she moved the story forward – that’s for sure. All in all, it is an entertaining novel.

Recommend?  I think fans of historical (Roman) fiction might enjoy it!

Source:  I bought it.

2011 Reading From My Shelves Project

Diane at Bibliophile By The Sea is again hosting the Reading From My Shelves Project in 2011.  I joined last year and made it a goal to meet the minimum of 20 books (I cleared 24).  I’m joining up again for the 2011 challenge and hope to surpass that number.

Click here to join the challenge.


  • Challenge runs from January 1 – December 31, 2011.
  • Read books from your own shelves, and then pass the books on to someone else: a friend, relative, the library, used book store, swap them, just as long as the book leaves your house once it has been read.
  • Decide on your goal (12 is the minimum – no maximum). Cross over books are allowed.
  • Grab the button and do a post about the challenge.
  • Keep a running list of the books you’ve read and passed on.

My List

1. Promise Canyon by Robyn Carr

2. Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

3. Unveiled by Courtney Milan

4. Wild Man Creek by Robyn Carr

5. The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

6. The Perils of Pleasure by Julie Anne Long

7. Mine Till Midnight by Lisa Kleypas

8. The Human Bobby by Gabe Rotter

9. Harvest Moon by Robyn Carr  

10.  The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley

11.  Arranged by Catherine McKenzie

12.  Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn

13.  How to Bake a Perfect Life by Barbara O’Neal

14.  At Witt’s End by Beth Solheim

15.  The Trophy Bride’s Tale by Cyrilla Barr      

16.  Plum Lucky by Janet Evanovich

17.  The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler

18.  Alice Bliss by Laura Harrington

19.  To Be Queen by Christy English

20.  The Arrivals by Meg Mitchell Moore