Goodnight From London by Jennifer Robson

  • Title:  Goodnight From London
  • Author:  Jennifer Robson
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction
  • Pages:  400
  • Published:  May 2017 – William Morrow Paperbacks
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  From USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Robson—author of Moonlight Over Paris and Somewhere in France—comes a lush historical novel that tells the fascinating story of Ruby Sutton, an ambitious American journalist who moves to London in 1940 to report on the Second World War, and to start a new life an ocean away from her past.

In the summer of 1940, ambitious young American journalist Ruby Sutton gets her big break: the chance to report on the European war as a staff writer for Picture Weekly newsmagazine in London. She jumps at the chance, for it’s an opportunity not only to prove herself, but also to start fresh in a city and country that know nothing of her humble origins. But life in besieged Britain tests Ruby in ways she never imagined.

Although most of Ruby’s new colleagues welcome her, a few resent her presence, not only as an American but also as a woman. She is just beginning to find her feet, to feel at home in a country that is so familiar yet so foreign, when the bombs begin to fall.

As the nightly horror of the Blitz stretches unbroken into weeks and months, Ruby must set aside her determination to remain an objective observer. When she loses everything but her life, and must depend upon the kindness of strangers, she learns for the first time the depth and measure of true friendship—and what it is to love a man who is burdened by secrets that aren’t his to share.

Goodnight from London, inspired in part by the wartime experiences of the author’s own grandmother, is a captivating, heartfelt, and historically immersive story that readers are sure to embrace.  (publisher)

My take:  Goodnight From London is the story of Ruby Sutton, a young American writer who was sent to London to cover the war for her magazine as well as a London magazine. She experienced the Blitz, learned to live without things she’d considered basic necessitiess of life, and along the way met some people who would change her life. It’s a story of hope, determination, survival, friendship and love during very difficult times.
Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres and I thought Jennifer Robson did a wonderful job portraying the spirit of the British people in time of war. Highly recommended to fans of the genre and Jennifer Robson.


 

The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan

  • Title:  The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir
  • Author:  Jennifer Ryan
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction
  • Pages:  384
  • Published:  February 2017 – Crown
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  As England enters World War II’s dark early days, spirited music professor Primrose Trent, recently arrived to the village of Chilbury, emboldens the women of the town to defy the Vicar’s stuffy edict to shutter the church’s choir in the absence of men and instead “carry on singing.” Resurrecting themselves as “The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir,” the women of this small village soon use their joint song to lift up themselves, and the community, as the war tears through their lives.

Told through letters and journals, THE CHILBURY LADIES’ CHOIR moves seamlessly from budding romances to village intrigues to heartbreaking matters of life and death. As we come to know the struggles of the charismatic members of this unforgettable outfit– a timid widow worried over her son at the front; the town beauty drawn to a rakish artist; her younger sister nursing an impossible crush and dabbling in politics she doesn’t understand; a young Jewish refugee hiding secrets about her family, and a conniving midwife plotting to outrun her seedy past– we come to see how the strength each finds in the choir’s collective voice reverberates in her individual life. In turns funny, charming and heart-wrenching, this lovingly executed ensemble novel will charm and inspire, illuminating the true spirit of the women on the homefront, in a village of indomitable spirit, at the dawn of a most terrible conflict.  (publisher)

My take:  My thanks to the Library Thing Early Reviewers program and Crown for the  review copy. The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir is a warm and touching novel about life in a village in Kent during 1940. The war is in full-swing and most able-bodied men are away, involved in the fight. When the Vicar sees fit to disband the choir because there are no male voices, the women beg to differ in their opinion. Under the leadership of a confident director, the ladies of Chilbury meet to practice their songs and, at the same time, become a source of support to each other that will be invaluable in the days ahead.

Jennifer Ryan’s novel will probably land on my favorites list this year. Told through letters, diary entries, newspaper items, etc. the story of Chilbury unfolded seamlessly. The drama, humor, fear and sadness were palpable when shared by various characters’ perspectives. When I finished reading I immediately thought ‘there’s more story to be told here’ as only a few months in 1940 were covered. I’d love a series! This is Ryan’s debut novel and I look forward to reading more from her in the future. Recommended to fans of historical fiction.

Note: I also used an Audible credit for the book. It’s a wonderful audio production.

Every Wild Heart by Meg Donohue

  • every-wild-heartTitle:  Every Wild Heart
  • Author:  Meg Donohue
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  304
  • Published:  March 2017 – William Morrow Paperbacks
  • Source:  Publisher; LibraryThing Early Reviewers

Description:  Passionate and funny, radio personality Gail Gideon is a true original. Nine years ago when Gail’s husband announced that he wanted a divorce, her ensuing on-air rant propelled her local radio show into the national spotlight. Now, “The Gail Gideon Show” is beloved by millions of single women who tune-in for her advice on the power of self-reinvention. But fame comes at a price. After all, what does a woman who has staked her career on being single do when she finds herself falling in love? And is the person who is harassing her in increasingly troubling ways a misguided fan or a true danger to Gail and her daughter, Nic? 

Fourteen-year-old Nic has always felt that she pales in comparison to her vibrant, outgoing mother. Plagued by a fear of social situations, she is most comfortable at the stable where she spends her afternoons. But when a riding accident lands Nic in the hospital, she awakens from her coma changed. Suddenly, she has no fear at all and her disconcerting behavior lands her in one risky situation after another. And no one, least of all her mother, can guess what she will do next… (publisher)

My take:  Every Wild Heart is the story of a mother and daughter. Gail Gideon (GG) is a late-night radio talk show host who lives with her fourteen year old daughter Nic. GG has been divorced from Nic’s father for several years but has an amicable relationship with him.

GG has a fan who seems to be moving into stalker mode so she’s on edge about her daughter’s safety as well as her own. Nic is an anxious girl who would rather stay home than go to school. The one thing she looks forward to is riding her horse. She goes to the stables every day after school and that’s what gets her through the school day. When Nic is injured at the stables life for her and Gigi takes a turn.

The theme of letting go – of anger and fear – runs through the novel. What would happen if Gigi started to follow her heart and see where life could take her?  She can learn a lot from watching her daughter as she starts to live with a braver heart.

I enjoyed how Meg Donohue’s story played out through the perspectives of mother and daughter in alternating chapters. The characters were interesting and seemed authentic and at the end of the novel I wished there were another hundred pages.


 

Fall of Poppies

  • Fall of Poppies (LTER win)Title:  Fall of Poppies: Stories of Love and the Great War
  • Authors:   Heather Webb, Hazel Gaynor, Beatriz Williams, Jennifer Robson, Jessica Brockmole, Kate Kerrigan, Evangeline Holland, Lauren Willig, Marci Jefferson
  • Pages:  368
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction
  • Published:  March 2016 – William Morrow Paperbacks
  • Source:  Publisher; Library Thing Early Reviewers

Description:  On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month . . .

November 11, 1918. After four long, dark years of fighting, the Great War ends at last, and the world is forever changed. For soldiers, loved ones, and survivors, the years ahead stretch with new promise, even as their hearts are marked by all those who have been lost.

As families come back together, lovers reunite, and strangers take solace in each other, everyone has a story to tell.

In this moving, unforgettable collection, nine top historical fiction authors share stories of love, strength, and renewal as hope takes root in a fall of poppies.  (Goodreads)

My brief take:  Fall of Poppies: Stories of Love and the Great War is an anthology of stories about World War I. They revolve around Armistice Day (Nov. 11, 1918) – “where were you then?” and “what happened before and after?”.

I liked all of the stories but one stood out from all the rest: All For the Love of You by Jennifer Robson. It’s about a young American woman in Paris who meets an injured American soldier at her place of work and forms a unique friendship. Circumstances out of their control determine what happens next… until one day when they meet again. I loved the story and will definitely look for more from author Jennifer Robson.

Recommended to fans of historical fiction/romance anthologies – especially with a Great War theme.

Summer At Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

  • summer at little beach street bakery (3:22)Title:  Summer At Little Beach Street Bakery
  • Author:  Jenny Colgan
  • Series:  Little Beach Street Bakery #2
  • Pages:  416
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  March 2016 – William Morrow Paperbacks
  • Source:  Publisher via LibraryThing Early Reviewers

Description:  A thriving bakery. A lighthouse to call home. A handsome beekeeper. A pet puffin. These are the things that Polly Waterford can call her own. This is the beautiful life she leads on a tiny island off the southern coast of England.

But clouds are gathering on the horizon. A stranger threatens to ruin Polly’s business. Her beloved boyfriend seems to be leading a secret life. And the arrival of a newcomer—a bereft widow desperately searching for a fresh start—forces Polly to reconsider the choices she’s made, even as she tries to help her new friend through grief.

Unpredictable and unforgettable, this delightful novel will make you laugh, cry, and long for a lighthouse of your own. Recipes included.  (publisher)

My take:  Jenny Colgan takes readers back to Mount Polbearne. I loved seeing what was new in the lives of Polly, Huckle and all the rest. We meet a few new characters and yes, Neil the puffin is back.

Colgan’s novel lived up to my expectations. There’s love, loss, humor and drama in the lives of the residents of the tiny seaside village in Cornwall we first visited in Little Beach Street Bakery. It was great to visit and my hope is that we might someday meet up again.

Even though Colgan provides a brief catch-up of the first book I highly recommend reading it before this book because I enjoyed it so much. Fans of small town settings and characters will find a lot to love in these books.

All The Single Ladies by Dorothea Benton Frank

  • all the single ladiesTitle:  All the Single Ladies: A novel
  • Author:  Dorothea Benton Frank
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Published:  June 2015 – William Morrow
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  The perennial New York Times bestselling author returns with an emotionally resonant novel that illuminates the power of friendship in women’s lives, and is filled with her trademark wit, poignant and timely themes, sassy, flesh-and-blood characters, and the steamy Southern atmosphere and beauty of her beloved Carolina Lowcountry.

Few writers capture the complexities, pain, and joy of relationships—between friends, family members, husbands and wives, or lovers—as beloved New York Times bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank. In this charming, evocative, soul-touching novel, she once again takes us deep into the heart of the magical Lowcountry where three amazing middle-aged women are bonded by another amazing woman’s death.

Through their shared loss they forge a deep friendship, asking critical questions. Who was their friend and what did her life mean? Are they living the lives they imagined for themselves? Will they ever be able to afford to retire? How will they maximize their happiness? Security? Health? And ultimately, their own legacies?

A plan is conceived and unfurls with each turn of the tide during one sweltering summer on the Isle of Palms. Without ever fully realizing how close they were to the edge, they finally triumph amid laughter and maybe even newfound love.  (publisher)

My take:  I love how Dorothea Benton Frank tells a story. I’ve read a handful of her books and am so happy there are so many more to read. She makes me laugh as well as sympathize with her characters’ dilemmas.

The ladies of ALL THE SINGLE LADIES are of a certain age (40s and 50s) and seem to be happy (or maybe resigned to) where life has taken them. At any rate, they’re used to being single and fending for themselves. When the friend who brought them all together dies and leaves her estate to one of the women they are faced with a mystery. As they try to figure things out life brings new people into their lives. The supporting characters are, for the most part, completely charming. They add to the warmth, tension, and emotion of the novel.

The ladies find that true friends will get you through just about anything life throws at you. And a sense of humor and an open heart make the road easier.

I loved the novel and look forward to the author’s next book. I also listened (used an audible credit so I could listen when I walked). The narration by Robin Miles was so enjoyable. Her performance enhanced the book for me.

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.