The Arrivals by Meg Mitchell Moore

Title:  The Arrivals

Author:  Meg Mitchell Moore

Genre:  Fiction

Published:  May 2011 – Reagan Arthur Books/Little, Brown & Company

My take:  It’s summer and the three adult Owen children return to their parents’ home in Vermont. The eldest, Lillian, has her two small children with her. She’s left her husband after an unforgivable act. Middle child Stephen and his pregnant wife want to visit for a couple of days but a health scare forces them to extend the visit for weeks. Youngest child Rachel arrives wanting to forget about recent happenings in her life. Parents Ginny and William, both in their mid-60s, see their summer change from a quiet one to one that’s pretty much out of their control.

Meg Mitchell Moore’s character driven novel rang true for me. In fact, it made me think of how my own parents must have felt when my siblings and I (and our families) all gathered for vacations, holidays, etc. in their home. I can’t believe they still have their sanity! It was interesting to see Lillian, Stephen and Rachel move from normally capable adults to almost needy children in their parents’ home. I guess what the Owen children were seeking was a bit of security and grounding. Each was dealing with issues a bit out of their control and they needed to be taken care of by their parents – if only for a short time.

I think there’s a lot to relate to in The Arrivals. After all, we all have parents and many of us have children. My husband and I have recently moved into the roles of parents of married adult children. We’ve experienced our own ‘Arrivals‘.  The cycle continues. I enjoyed this debut novel and look forward to reading more by Meg Mitchell Moore.

Source:  I bought it.

Disclaimer:  See sidebar. I was not compensated for my review.

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13 rue Therese: a novel by Elena Mauli Shapiro

Title: 13 rue Thérèse: a novel

Author: Elena Mauli Shapiro

Genre: Fiction

About: (pub. synopsis) American academic Trevor Stratton discovers a box full of artifacts from World War I as he settles into his new office in Paris. The pictures, letters, and objects in the box relate to the life of Louise Brunet, a feisty, charming Frenchwoman who lived through both World Wars.
As Trevor examines and documents the relics the box offers up, he begins to imagine the story of Louise Brunet’s life: her love for a cousin who died in the war, her marriage to a man who works for her father, and her attraction to a neighbor in her building at 13 rue Thérèse. The more time he spends with the objects though, the truer his imaginings of Louise’s life become, and the more he notices another alluring Frenchwoman: Josianne, his clerk, who planted the box in his office in the first place, and with whom he finds he is falling in love.

My thoughts: Imagine starting a new job in a new country and you discover a box of someone’s mementos in your new office.  That’s what happens to Trevor Stratton. Something interesting occurs as he looks at each item: he seems to become part of the story of that item. I wish I’d read the book with a group because I’d like to get other interpretations.

Elena Mauli Shapiro’s novel is different from any I’ve ever read. Through her characters we experience the horror of war and the life of one interesting young woman. Scattered throughout the book are photos that depict the contents of the box. The story grows as Trevor examines each object. It is inventive, sensual, emotional and provocative.

This is a tough book for me to review as it is so unique but I will say I read it a few weeks ago and still think about it.

Recommend: Yes, especially if you’re looking for a different kind of novel. Check out the website at the link below.

Source: Reagan Arthur Books

You can read more about 13 rue Thérèse here

The Island by Elin Hilderbrand

The Island: A Novel

Goodreads synopsis: From New York Times bestseller Elin Hilderbrand, a new novel set on Tuckernuck, a tiny island off the coast of Nantucket. Four women-a mother, her sister, two grown daughters-head to Tuckernuck for a retreat, hoping to escape their troubles. Intead, they find only drama, secrets, and life-changing revelations.

~

My review: Listening to The Island was like taking a vacation.  Elin Hilderbrand’s novels usually take place on Nantucket but this time she takes us to the nearby island of Tuckernuck.

I found the relationships explored in the novel interesting.  There are two sets of sisters: Birdie and her sister India are in their 50s; Birdie’s daughters Chess and Tate are in their early 30s.  The dynamics are realistic and quite believable.  The story is told from all four points of view which always gives the reader a fuller understanding of the characters.

Birdie, recently divorced, planned a beautiful wedding for her daughter Chess and her fiancé only to have Chess call the whole thing off a few months before the event was to take place.  India, a widow, has recently experienced a personal relationship that made her uneasy. Chess called off her wedding and then received shocking news. Easy-going but workaholic Tate  is overdue for a vacation. They all decide to head to the Tuckernuck summer house that’s been in Birdie and India’s family for generations.  It has been thirteen years since the last visit but it is just as they remembered.

It was fun reading (listening) as they revisited favorite places on Tuckernuck, met friends who meant so much, and reminisced about past family trips to the island. Hilderbrand’s pace is good.  I liked how Chess’s story was revealed slowly through her journaling.  Most of the characters are enjoyable but  Tate wore a little thin at times.  I thought she was quite immature for a thirty year old woman but perhaps it was because she was back in the role of the younger sister/daughter of the group. There are a few twists along the way which make the story even more interesting. I can’t complain about the lack of an epilogue.  There is a lengthy one in which the author ties up all the loose ends.

Narrator Denice Hicks did a fine job.  Her lilting voice made listening a pleasant experience. The Island would be a great vacation read – exactly the kind of book I want when I’m going to the beach or at home wishing I was at the beach.

Review Audiobook from Hachette Book Group

Marriage and Other Acts of Charity by Kate Braestrup

Marriage and Other Acts of Charity

I listened to the audiobook read by the author. Kate Braestrup’s gentle, reassuring voice tells the story of her first marriage and what happened after.
Near the end of the book Braestrup repeats something her father once told her:

If an experience is good, it’s good. If an experience is bad, it’ll make a terrific story.

That’s what this memoir is. We hear the good but also the bad and how Braestrup came through the experiences. She is now a chaplain for the Maine Warden Service where she is called upon to help people at the time of injury or death of a loved one, a job she’s well-suited for since she was on the receiving end when her first husband, a Maine state trooper, was killed in a car crash while on duty.


I appreciated Braestrup’s discussions of caritas and where God is when tragedy strikes. A lot to think about, a lot to strive for. This would be a wonderful selection for a book club.

Audiobook was a giveaway win from all about {n}

The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris

The Unnamed

From the back of the audiobook: Tim Farnsworth is a handsome, healthy man, aging with the grace of a matinee idol.

His wife, Jane, still loves him, and for all its quiet trials, their marriage is still stronger than most. Despite long hours at the office, he remains passionate about his work, and his partnership at a prestigious Manhattan law firm means that the work he does is important. And even as his daughter, Becka, retreats behind her guitar, her dreadlocks, and her puppy fat, he offers her every one of a father’s honest lies about her being the most beautiful girl in the world.

He loves his wife, his family, his work, his home.

And then one day he stands up and walks out. And keeps walking.

* * * * * * *

My thoughts: The Unnamed is a book that I couldn’t stop reading, or rather, listening to. I was lucky enough to get an audiobook. According to the interview at the end this is the first time Joshua Ferris has narrated one of his books – I think he should always narrate his books. His voice is perfect and I felt I was experiencing The Unnamed the way he intended.

The Unnamed is a story about a man with an illness. The illness hasn’t been diagnosed specifically because it can’t be confirmed as either a disease of the mind or the body. You get an idea, early on, what the disease could be. This is also the story of a marriage and what happens when those easily repeated wedding vows come into play. The whole “for better or worse, in sickness and in health” is put to the test. Tim and Jane give it their all and we get to see how it plays out.

Another aspect of The Unnamed is the subject of mental illness. At what point does one lose his tether to a stable life? At what point does one begin to drift? A lot to think about and maybe rethink.

This is not an easy novel. I’m so glad I listened to it. One thing I want to mention about the audiobook is the music composed by Brendan Feeney. It is hypnotic and beautiful and perfect for the book.

Audiobook from Hachette Audio

Reagan Arthur Books Challenge

I’m joining the Reagan Arthur Books Challengehosted by Kathy/Bermuda Onion & Julie/Booking Mama.

Some specifics:

* The goal is to read the Reagan Arthur Books. Order doesn’t matter and we are defining “reading” as print, audio, or e-book. You don’t have to read all of the books, but we encourage you to read all of those that appeal to you!

* Begin the challenge when you write your challenge post. The challenge is perpetual and does not have an end date.

* Submit the links to your reviews (or your reviews if you don’t have a blog) to rabookschallenge(at)gmail(dot)com.

* Help spread the word. We will be using the hashtag #rarthurbooks on twitter.

* There are prizes!


Challenge Books:

1. The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris – review – 2010

2. Marriage and Other Acts of Charity by Kate Braestrup – review – 2010

3. The Island by Elin Hilderbrand  – review – 2010

4. 13 rue Thérèse by Elena Mauli Shapiro – review  2011

5. The Arrivals by Meg Mitchell Moorereview – 2011

6.  Life After Life by Kate Atkinson – review – 2013