A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan

  • a window opens (8:25)Title:  A Window Opens
  • Author:  Elisabeth Egan
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Pages:  384
  • Published:  August 2015 – Simon & Schuster
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  From the beloved books editor at Glamour magazine comes a heartfelt and painfully funny debut about what happens when a wife and mother of three leaps at the chance to fulfill her professional destiny—only to learn every opportunity comes at a price.

In A Window Opens, Elisabeth Egan brings us Alice Pearse, a compulsively honest, longing-to-have-it-all, sandwich generation heroine for our social-media-obsessed, lean in (or opt out) age. Like her fictional forebears Kate Reddy and Bridget Jones, Alice plays many roles (which she never refers to as “wearing many hats” and wishes you wouldn’t, either). She is a mostly-happily married mother of three, an attentive daughter, an ambivalent dog-owner, a part-time editor, a loyal neighbor, and a Zen commuter. She is not: a cook, a craftswoman, a decorator, an active PTA member, a natural caretaker, or the breadwinner. But when her husband makes a radical career change, Alice is ready to lean in—and she knows exactly how lucky she is to land a job at Scroll, a hip young start-up which promises to be the future of reading, with its chain of chic literary lounges and dedication to beloved classics. The Holy Grail of working mothers—an intellectually satisfying job and a happy personal life—seems suddenly within reach.

Despite the disapproval of her best friend, who owns the local bookstore, Alice is proud of her new “balancing act” (which is more like a three-ring circus) until her dad gets sick, her marriage flounders, her babysitter gets fed up, her kids start to grow up, and her work takes an unexpected turn. Fans of I Don’t Know How She Does It, Where’d You Go Bernadette, and The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry will cheer as Alice realizes the question is not whether it’s possible to have it all, but what does she—Alice Pearse—really want?  (publisher)

My take: When Alice Pearce’s husband quits his job after learning he won’t make partner Alice starts searching for a full-time job that will help make ends meet until Nicholas can get his private law practice up and running. She lands a job with a company that, while the income is wonderful, may require the sale of her soul.

Life as Alice knew it quickly changes. On top of the new job learning curve, Alice’s father is quite ill, Nicholas seems to be drinking more than she’s ever known him to, and their three kids need her more than ever before. Alice has to bring home a paycheck so she keeps trying to hold things together.

For as anxious as all that may make a reader feel I found Egan’s writing engaging to the point where I didn’t want to stop reading. My kids are raised and yet I find myself in the “sandwich generation” in that I help out by watching my grandchildren and have elderly parents who are dealing with health issues.

I enjoyed all the characters in the novel but most of all Alice. I could relate to her on a few levels. My heart went out to her because I understood her unenviable position. I loved that, from time to time, Alice remembered quotations from people such as Frost and Churchill. And I loved Alice’s relationship with her dad. Their scenes and exchanges made me tear up a few times.

A Window Opens is a wonderful debut and I look forward to Elisabeth Egan’s next book.

Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave

  • eight hundred grapesTitle:  Eight Hundred Grapes
  • Author:  Laura Dave
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  April 2015 – Simon & Schuster
  • Source:  Publisher – Vine program

Synopsis:  Growing up on her family’s Sonoma vineyard, Georgia Ford learned some important secrets. The secret number of grapes it takes to make a bottle of wine: eight hundred. The secret ingredient in her mother’s lasagna: chocolate. The secret behind ending a fight: hold hands.

But just a week before her wedding, thirty-year-old Georgia discovers her beloved fiancé has been keeping a secret so explosive, it will change their lives forever.

Georgia does what she’s always done: she returns to the family vineyard, expecting the comfort of her long-married parents, and her brothers, and everything familiar. But it turns out her fiancé is not the only one who’s been keeping secrets….  (publisher) 

My take:  This is the story of Georgia Ford, a young woman who can fix everyone else’s problems but her own it would seem. Georgia has a big problem – whether to marry her fiancé in a few days as planned or call the whole thing off. She’ll have to figure it out herself because none of her family is willing to tell her what to do. That may be because they all have big problems of their own.

Eight Hundred Grapes is about family dynamics and issues. I found all of the characters engaging. I loved how Laura Dave’s story developed and concluded and I turned the last page smiling and wishing for more.

Highly recommended to fans of the author and contemporary fiction.


Nest by Jorey Hurley


  • Title:  Nest
  • Author:  Jorey Hurley
  • Genre:  Children; Picture Book
  • Published:  February 2014 – Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
  • Source:  Publisher; Vine

My take:  What a delightful book! Follow a year (or more) in the life of the Robin family. Hurley uses few words to guide the reader but not many are needed. The gentle illustrations in pleasing colors tell the story.

Any young child and older reader will enjoy this book. I think it would be a perfect choice when looking for a book gift – I would give it as a “new baby” gift or to a new grandparent. Nest would be a great addition to any home library.

Three Good Things by Wendy Francis

three good things

  • Title:  Three Good Things
  • Author:  Wendy Francis
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  January 2013 – Simon & Schuster – 256 pages
  • Source:  Review copy from the publisher via Edelweiss

Synopsis (publisher): Ellen McClarety, a recent divorcée, has opened a new bake shop in her small Midwestern town, hoping to turn her life around by dedicating herself to the traditional Danish pastry called kringle. She is no longer saddled by her ne’er-do-well husband, but the past still haunts her—sometimes by showing up on her doorstep. Her younger sister, Lanie, is a successful divorce attorney with a baby at home. But Lanie is beginning to feel that her perfect life is not as perfect as it seems. Both women long for the guidance of their mother, who died years ago but left them with lasting memories of her love and a wonderful piece of advice: “At the end of every day, you can always think of three good things that happened.”

Ellen and Lanie are as close as two sisters can be, until one begins keeping a secret that could forever change both their lives. Wearing her big Midwestern heart proudly on her sleeve, Wendy Francis skillfully illuminates the emotional lives of two women with humor and compassion, weaving a story destined to be shared with a friend, a mother, or a sister.

My take:  I found Three Good Things to be a quiet novel about finding out and remembering what’s most important in life.

I think many readers will be able to relate to Ellen and Lanie and their circumstances but, that said, I wish each sister would have been even more fleshed out. At 256 pages it seemed there was room to do so.

There’s a little drama toward the end of the book that wrapped up a bit too conveniently but I still enjoyed the book. I liked the Midwest setting and I’m now craving some of Ellen’s kringle. There’s even a recipe at the end of the novel.