He’s Gone: A Novel by Deb Caletti

He's Gone

  • Title:  He’s Gone
  • Author:  Deb Caletti
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction; Mystery
  • Published:  May 2013 – Bantam
  • Source:  Publisher; LibraryThing Early Reviewers

Synopsis:  “What do you think happened to your husband, Mrs. Keller?”
The Sunday morning starts like any other, aside from the slight hangover. Dani Keller wakes up on her Seattle houseboat, a headache building behind her eyes from the wine she drank at a party the night before. But on this particular Sunday morning, she’s surprised to see that her husband, Ian, is not home. As the hours pass, Dani fills her day with small things. But still, Ian does not return. Irritation shifts to worry, worry slides almost imperceptibly into panic. And then, like a relentless blackness, the terrible realization hits Dani: He’s gone.

As the police work methodically through all the logical explanations—he’s hurt, he’s run off, he’s been killed—Dani searches frantically for a clue as to whether Ian is in fact dead or alive. And, slowly, she unpacks their relationship, holding each moment up to the light: from its intense, adulterous beginning, to the grandeur of their new love, to the difficulties of forever. She examines all the sins she can—and cannot—remember. As the days pass, Dani will plumb the depths of her conscience, turning over and revealing the darkest of her secrets in order to discover the hard truth—about herself, her husband, and their lives together.  (publisher)

My brief take:  He’s Gone is a compelling narrative by a woman whose husband has gone missing. It’s the story of when they meet until that day she can’t find him. It’s a smooth, psychological portrayal by, what some might think, an unreliable narrator.

Deb Caletti certainly kept me wondering and guessing about what happened to Dani’s husband! I liked He’s Gone and will definitely look for more of Caletti’s books.

The All You Can Dream Buffet: A Novel by Barbara O’Neal

the all you can eat dream buffet

  • Title:  The All You Can Dream Buffet
  • Author:  Barbara O’Neal
  • Genre:  Fiction
  • Published:  March 2014 – Bantam
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  Popular blogger and foodie queen Lavender Wills reigns over Lavender Honey Farms, a serene slice of organic heaven nestled in Oregon wine country. Lavender is determined to keep her legacy from falling into the profit-driven hands of uncaring relatives, and she wants an heir to sustain her life’s work after she’s gone. So she invites her three closest online friends—fellow food bloggers, women of varied ages and backgrounds—out to her farm. She hopes to choose one of them to inherit it—but who?  (publisher)

My take:  The author’s name was the first thing to draw me to The All You Can Dream Buffet  and then the synopsis pulled me right in. I’m a fan of Barbara O’Neal’s novels. Her evocative descriptions always make me feel as if I’m in the background observing what’s going on in each scene.

The characters and their specific issues engaged me from the start.  Ruby, a vegan chef and food blogger, went through a shocking break up with her boyfriend of six years and can’t get over him.  Ginny, a cake blogger and photographer, can’t wait to meet her online friends and is ready to make big changes. Val, a wine blogger, and her daughter are on their way to a new life after suffering a devastating loss. They all meet up at Lavender’s farm for her 85th birthday party. Little do they know she hopes to make one of them heir to her farm. This is a story of change and second chances and I cheered for each woman along the way.

I liked this novel but after finishing wished it could have been longer. Since the book is 400 pages I wonder if a lot had been cut which made the ending seem a bit rushed. All that aside, if you’re a fan of the author, novels with a food theme, recipes and just a touch of magical realism you might want to read The All You Can Dream Buffet. I’m glad I did.

The Garden of Happy Endings by Barbara O’Neal

Title:  The Garden of Happy Endings

Author:  Barbara O’Neal

Genre:  Contemporary Fiction

Published:  April 2012 – Bantam

Paperback – 416 pages

My take:  Reverend Elsa Montgomery is going through a crisis of faith after the brutal murder of a young parishioner. She’s so angry that God would allow such an unspeakable act that she’s not sure she can continue as a minister. She takes a sabbatical from her Seattle church and goes home to Pueblo, Colorado to work through things. When she gets there she finds her sister Tamsin going through a life-changing upheaval of her own. Her missing husband has been charged with running a Ponzi scheme that stole millions. She finds herself homeless, penniless and not sure where to turn.

Elsa and Tamsin wind up living in the small house where they grew up. Elsa reconnects with the parish priest who also happens to be her former boyfriend. He broke off their engagement twenty years earlier when he had a calling to the priesthood. They managed to stay friends and kept in touch over the years. Ultimately he becomes the catalyst to Elsa finding her way back to her faith. Through him she meets many people (wonderful primary and secondary characters) who help her along the way.

Tamsin has lived a life of privilege but is now happy to accept a job in the fabric department at Walmart. She also helps out with a new community garden program at the parish. She learns that she may not have been as happy or content in her old life as she thought. In fact, she realizes how lonely her life had become.

Watching the story unfold as Elsa and Tamsin found their way on such personal journeys made for an emotional reading experience. Barbara O’Neal is a wonderful storyteller. Her characters and story truly resonated with me. I can’t ask for more than that. Recommended.

Disclosure:  I received this book from the publisher. I was not compensated for my review.