Beach House For Rent by Mary Alice Monroe

  • Title:  Beach House For Rent
  • Series:  Beach House #4
  • Author:  Mary Alice Monroe
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  416
  • Published:  June 2017 – Gallery Books
  • Source:  Publisher; Tandem Literary

Description:  New York Times bestselling author Mary Alice Monroe returns to her beloved Isle of Palms to tell the poignant, charming story of two women, one summer, and one very special beach house.

When Cara Rutledge rents out her quaint beach house on Isle of Palms to Heather Fordham for the entire summer, it’s a win-win by any standard: Cara’s generating income necessary to keep husband Brett’s ecotourism boat business afloat, and anxiety-prone Heather, a young artist who’s been given a commission to paint birds on postage stamps, has a quiet space in which to work and tend to her pet canaries uninterrupted.

It isn’t long, however, before both women’s idyllic summers are altered irrevocably: the alluring shorebirds—and the man who rescues them—begin to draw Heather out of the shell she’s cultivated toward a world of adventure, and maybe even love; at the same time, Cara’s life reels with sudden tragedy, and she wishes only to return to the beach house that had once been her port amidst life’s storms. When Heather refuses to budge from her newfound sanctuary, so begins the unlikeliest of rooming situations. While they start out as strangers, as everything around the women falls apart they learn that the only thing they can really rely on is each other.

And, like the migrating shorebirds that come to the island for the summer, these two women of different generations must rediscover their unique strengths so by summer’s end they, too, can take flight in ways they never imagined possible.  (publisher)

My take:  Beach House For Rent is the story of two women who find themselves at an unexpected crossroads in their respective lives. Heather is a gifted artist who also lives with an undercurrent of guilt and anxiety.  Cara has been knocked hard by a loss she didn’t see coming. Her calming, lovely beach cottage will play a part in the future of both women as each figures out a path to take. I love how Mary Alice Monroe weaves an environmental theme through her novels. In this book the shore birds take center stage, as well as the loggerhead turtle. The parallels drawn between the wildlife and the women drew me through the story to the promising conclusion. I’m hoping there will be another book to follow in the Beach House series. Recommended to fans of the author and novels with a gorgeous shore setting with a sweet romance.

Note:  Even though this is the fourth book in the Beach House series it’s the first book I’ve read. No worries – it can stand alone. That said, I’ll be sure to read the previous three books soon because the first book is now being adapted to a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie by the Hallmark Channel, starring three-time Golden Globe nominee Andie MacDowell, who is also an executive producer.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

MARY ALICE MONROE is the award-winning, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of twenty novels (A Lowcountry Wedding, A Lowcountry Christmas, The Summer Girls, The Summer Wind, The Summer’s End, The Beach House, Beach House Memories), and was recently named a 2018 inductee into the South Carolina Academy of Writers Literary Hall of Fame. She is an active conservationist and lives in the lowcountry of South Carolina. Learn more at maryalicemonroe.com.


Praise for BEACH HOUSE FOR RENT & Mary Alice Monroe 

“Mary Alice Monroe writes gorgeously, with authority and tenderness, about the natural world and its power to inspire, transport, and to heal. Readers will love this story of two unforgettable women—one reeling from an unexpected tragedy, the other drawn into a daring and passionate new love.”
Susan Wiggs, #1 New York Times bestselling author

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“Readers interested in environmental fiction highlighting endangered birds, turtles, and lands will delight in this latest novel featuring women who need the healing power of nature.” —Library Journal, starred review
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“Mary Alice Monroe understands that a house is never just a house. As we revisit The Beach House, we  are immersed in the heartbeat and pulse of her South Carolina Lowcountry as never before. Monroe’s singular ability to blend the natural world with the emotional world allows for a gorgeous novel, wondrously bittersweet and life-affirming. No one else tells an insightful and powerful story quite like Mary Alice Monroe—and in BEACH HOUSE FOR RENT, you won’t be able to stop reading—for even that glass of sweet tea.” —New York Times bestselling author Patti Callahan Henry
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“There is no way to describe Monroe’s writing style other than to say it is uniquely wonderful. She has a heart for the lowcountry and the talent to bring it to life.” —Huffington Post
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“Every book Mary Alice Monroe has written has felt like a homecoming to me.” —New York Times bestselling author Pat Conroy


SUMMER 2017 TOUR DATES:

Thursday, June 15 — Spartanburg, SC
Friday, June 16-18 — Nantucket, MA
Monday, June 19 — Charleston, SC
Tuesday, June 20 — Charleston, SC
Tuesday, June 20 — Kiawah Island, SC
Wednesday, June 21 — St. Simon’s Island, GA
Wednesday, June 21 — Savannah, GA
Thursday, June 22 — Bluffton, SC
Thursday, June 22 — Florence, SC
Friday, June 23 — Pawleys Island, SC
Friday, June 23 — Ocean Isle Beach, NC
Saturday, June 24 — Mt. Pleasant, SC
Saturday, June 24 — Isle of Palms, SC
Sunday, June 25 — Summerville, SC
Tuesday, June 27 — Augusta, GA
Tuesday, June 27 — Decatur, GA
Wednesday, June 28 — Peachtree City, GA
Wednesday, June 28 — Woodstock, GA
Thursday, June 29 — Kingsport, TN
Thursday, June 29 — Knoxville, TN
Friday, June 30 — Chattanooga, TN
Saturday, July 1 — Vero Beach, FL
Sunday, July 2 — Wellington, FL
Tuesday, July 4 — Rehoboth Beach, DE
Wednesday, July 5 — Collegeville, PA
Thursday, July 6 — Brielle, NJ
Saturday, July 8 — Strongsville, OH
Thursday, July 13 — Westerville, OH
Saturday, July 15 — Mt. Pleasant, SC
Thursday, July 27 — Santa Clarita, CA
Friday, July 28 — Signal Hill, CA
Saturday, July 29 — Palos Verde, CA
Tuesday, August 1 — Huntington Beach, CA


The Bookshop At Water’s End by Patti Callahan Henry

  • Title:  The Bookshop At Water’s End
  • Author:  Patti Callahan Henry
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  352
  • Published:  July 2017 – Berkley
  • Source:  Publisher; Tandem Literary

My take:  When Bonny and Lainey were girls their families were summer friends in the small coastal town of Water’s End. They did everything together and were even called the “Summer Sisters” by some of the locals. The summer they were 13 something horrible happened and their families never returned to Water’s End. Bonny’s family owned the house where both families stayed and now Bonny was the owner. She’d fixed it up and rented it out over the years but now she was going to prepare to sell it. That was the plan but one night changed everything. Bonny, an ER doctor, makes an error that has devastating consequences. She decided to retreat to Water’s End and take her 19-year-old daughter Piper with her. Piper just flunked out of her first year of college and finds solace in a bottle of Jack Daniels. Mother and daughter need a change and Bonny hopes the river house will help. She also calls Lainey who promised to be there any time Bonny needed her. They’d both made that promise. The thing is, Lainey never wants to see Water’s End again. It holds so many bad memories. Like the true friend she is though she packs up her two young children and heads back to Bonny.

The three women will support and maybe even help each other find answers to large and small questions. I love novels like this – a lovely, lush setting, positive women, and relatable challenges. Patti Callahan Henry’s story pulled me in and I enjoyed every minute spent with her characters. I loved the words of wisdom shared by Mimi, the bookstore owner. “The soul needs story and meaning to help us endure this life… Books can be medicine for the heart...”  I know this to be true.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Patti Callahan Henry is a New York Times bestselling author whose novels include The Idea of Love, Driftwood Summer, and The Art of Keeping Secrets. She lives with her husband and three children in Mountain Brook, Alabama.

TOUR DATES:

Visit http://www.patticallahanhenry.com/events/ for the full tour details.

Birmingham, AL • July 10
Decatur, GA • July 11
Woodstock, GA • July 12
Charleston, SC • July 13
Florence, SC • July 13
Pawley’s Island, SC • July 14
Beaufort, SC • July 14
Bluffton, SC • July 15
Savannah, GA • July 15
Columbia, SC • July 16
Maryville, TN • July 17
Lake Lure, NC • July 18
Laurens, SC • July 18
Hochston, GA • July 19
Marietta, GA • July 19
Dothan, AL • July 20
Apalachicola, FL • July 20
Panama City, FL • July 21
Spartanburg, SC • July 22
Greenville, SC • July 23
Nashville, TN • July 27
Macon, GA • July 31
Fair Haven, NJ • August 2
Manasquan, NJ • August 3

PRAISE FOR THE BOOKSHOP AT WATER’S END

“With an eloquent and effective narrative, a realistic continuing theme of unbreakable relationship bonds, and a fantastic multilayered story line of secrets, regrets, and a good dose of teenage drama, this is a solid summer read.” Library Journal

The Bookshop at Water’s End carries us along the graceful curves and outwardly serene storyline of two childhood friends returning to their summer riverside home. But like the river she writes about, Patti’s plot roils with strong undercurrents of murky secrets, tragedy and the pulsing tides of self-discovery. No one writes about the power of family and friends like Patti Callahan Henry. The Bookshop at Water’s End is a must-read for your summer!” —Mary Alice MonroeNew York Times bestselling author of Beach House for Rent

“Patti Callahan Henry’s stories are always woven with magic and mystery, and The Bookshop at Water’s End knots these elements into a deeply satisfying and heartfelt tale of loss and betrayal, friendship and forgiveness. The sun is shining, the tide is turning, summer and Patti Henry’s latest masterpiece beckon. Resistance is futile!” —Mary Kay AndrewsNew York Times bestselling author of The Weekenders

“Patti Callahan Henry has written the best novel of her career with The Bookshop at Water’s End. I absolutely adored it and predict it will be one of the most loved books of the year.  In fact, it’s so good I wish I’d written it myself!” —Dorothea Benton FrankNew York Times bestselling author of Same Beach, Next Year

“I adore Patti Callahan Henry’s new novel. The Bookshop at Water’s End is a juicy summer read about family secrets, forgotten friendships, and the power of books to change our lives.” —Jane GreenNew York Times bestselling author of The Sunshine Sisters

“From the very first page, Patti Callahan Henry draws you in like the tide, revealing long simmering secrets that will test family and friendships and explores the question: do we tell our stories or do our stories tell us? In lush, lyrical prose, Henry explores the power of forgiveness, especially in ourselves. Every page was a treat.” —Laura Lane McNeal, bestselling author of Dollbaby


 

The Beach House Cookbook by Mary Kay Andrews

On Sale Date: May 2, 2017
Hardcover | 272 pages
St. Martin’s Press
Cooking / Courses & Dishes
$29.99 USD, $41.99 CAD
ISBN 9781250130440, 1250130441

Description:  Perennial New York Times bestselling novelist Mary Kay Andrews brings to your kitchen a gorgeous cookbook full of her favorite recipes that Publishers Weekly has called, “a true primer on Southern cuisine.” Presented with the breezy air that have made Andrews’ novels a summertime favorite, THE BEACH HOUSE COOKBOOK is sure to find a place at your kitchen table. From an early spring dinner of cherry balsamic pork medallions and braised Brussels sprouts with bacon, to Fourth of July buttermilk-brined fried chicken, to her New Year’s Day Open House menu of charcoal-grilled oysters, home-cured gravlax, grits n’ greens casserole, and lemon cream cheese pound cake, this cookbook will supply ideas for menus and recipes designed to put you in a permanently carefree coastal state of mind all year long.

You don’t need to own a beach house to enjoy Mary Kay Andrews’ recipes. All you need is a year-round appetite for delicious, casual dishes cooked with the best fresh, local ingredients. The book’s 16 carefree, crowd-pleasing menu plans are designed around holidays and occasions (“Low Country Boil,” “After a Day at the Beach,” “Game Day Dinner,” “Lazy Weekend Brunch,” “Easter Lunch”), but the 90+ delectable recipes can be mixed and matched to highlight your favorite apps, sides, mains, desserts, and beverages. (publisher)

My take:  One of my go-to authors is Mary Kay Andrews. Her novels are always entertaining and invariably land on my favorite beach reads list. That’s why I was so excited to receive a copy of The Beach House Cookbook. Andrews compiled her favorite recipes in a beautiful cookbook. The photos are gorgeous and will tempt the reader to try each recipe. Scroll down for one of those recipes. Lemon cake is my favorite and I can’t wait to try the Lemon Cream Cheese Pound Cake!

The book is divided into theme meals such as Low Country Boil, Fourth of July Dinner; Full Moon Party, and Christmas Brunch. There are many more and each one looks amazing. I especially enjoyed the short description and credit that MKA included with each recipe.

With Mothers Day and Fathers Day coming up soon, The Beach House Cookbook would be a wonderful gift for the cook in your life. Highly recommended.


About the author:  MARY KAY ANDREWS is the New York Times bestselling author of 24 novels, including The WeekendersBeach Town, Save the Date, Ladies’ Night, Spring Fever, Summer Rental, The Fixer Upper, Deep Dish, Blue Christmas, Savannah Breeze, Hissy Fit, Little Bitty Lies, and Savannah Blues. A former features writer for The Atlanta Journal Constitution, she finds an outlet for her passion for cooking, entertaining, and decorating with vintage finds at the homes she shares in Atlanta and Tybee Island, Georgia, with her husband, Tom, and their two grown children, Katie and Andy, as well as grandchildren Molly and Griffin. THE BEACH HOUSE COOKBOOK is her first cookbook.

Connect with Mary Kay Andrews online:
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THE BEACH HOUSE COOKBOOK: Easy, Breezy Recipes with a Southern Accent
by Mary Kay Andrews
St. Martin’s Press (May 2, 2017)
Named one of Publishers Weekly‘s “Best Books of Summer 2017”

Lemon Cream Cheese Pound Cake
No Southern cook should be without a pound cake recipe in their repertoire. This recipe originated with my late sister Susie, who got it from her emergency room coworkers at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta. Later, on the advice of famed food chemist Shirley Corriher, I upped the moistness ante with the addition of extra egg yolks, vegetable oil, and sugar. Bake it low and slow, and you’ll have a triumph.
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Ingredients:
  • 7 large eggs, divided
  • 3 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) salted butter, softened
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. lemon extract
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • Powdered sugar, sweetened whipped cream, and lemon zest curls for garnish (optional)

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease and flour a Bundt pan; set aside.

2. Separate the eggs, reserving 5 egg whites and 7 egg yolks in separate bowls. (Save the extra whites for another use.) Beat the egg whites at high speed with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

3. Beat the sugar, butter, cream cheese, and oil with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating until the yellow disappears. Beat in the extracts.

4. Combine the flour and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in three additions. Gently fold in the whipped egg whites.

5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour and 25 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. Cut into slices, garnish with powdered sugar, whipped cream, and lemon zest, if desired, and serve.


Also from Mary Kay Andrews:

Praise for the New York Times bestseller The Weekenders – out in trade paperback May 2, 2017!
“Fast-forward to summer with this breezy mystery.” – RealSimple.com
“This book has all the makings of a beach read…The perfect blend of drama, humor, intrigue, and just a touch of murder.” – Bustle
“Atlanta’s prolific chick-lit queen returns to her roots as a mystery author with this frothy tale of divorce, shady real estate deals and murder…Venturing into plots a tad darker than usual, Andrews still finds room for humor, romance and zany characters worth spending a weekend with.” – Atlanta Journal Constitution

“Andrews’ novels, such as Save the Date and Beach Town, are the epitome of relaxing yet involving summer reads, and her latest is no exception…Andrews blends romance, intrigue, and soap-opera-like twists in this entertaining novel about a gossipy beach town.” – Booklist


A Million Little Things by Susan Mallery

  • a-million-little-things-feb17Title:  A Million Little Things
  • Series:  Mischief Bay #3
  • Author:  Susan Mallery
  • Pages:  368
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  February 2017 – MIRA
  • Source:  Publisher; Tandem Literary

Description:  From the bestselling author of The Girls of Mischief Bay and The Friends We Keep comes a twisty tale of family dynamics that explores what can go terribly, hysterically wrong when the line between friendship and family blurs…

Zoe Saldivar is more than just single – she’s ALONE. She recently broke up with her longtime boyfriend, she works from home and her best friend Jen is so obsessed with her baby that she has practically abandoned their friendship. The day Zoe accidentally traps herself in her attic with her hungry-looking cat, she realizes that it’s up to her to stop living in isolation.

Her seemingly empty life takes a sudden turn for the complicated – her first new friend is Jen’s widowed mom, Pam. The only guy to give her butterflies in a very long time is Jen’s brother. And meanwhile, Pam is being very deliberately seduced by Zoe’s own smooth-as-tequila father. Pam’s flustered, Jen’s annoyed and Zoe is beginning to think “alone” doesn’t sound so bad, after all.

Friendship isn’t just one thing – it’s a million little things, and no one writes them with more heart and humor than book club sensation Susan Mallery!  (publisher)

My take:  A Million Little Things is the third book in the Mischief Bay trilogy but it can stand alone.

Zoe is frustrated with how she’s let others determine her life and happiness to this point. She’s not happy with her job and isn’t sure she made the right decision in buying a house. After all, she bought it because she hoped her boyfriend would want to get married and they could raise a family there. Then reality stepped in and she broke up with the boyfriend.

Zoe’s friend Jen is married and has a toddler. She also is filled with anxiety about almost everything in her life. Even though her husband, mother and Zoe try to convince her to get help she’s determined to get control of things herself. I really felt sorry for her. Anxiety is not an easy thing to live with and that’s what she tried to do.

Pam, Jen’s mom and a widow of two years, is learning how to live without her husband. She’d been doing a pretty good job of it until her loved ones started throwing challenges her way. They weren’t necessarily bad things but they challenged her idea of how things should be. She was starting to feel out of control. Lucky for her she has a tight-knit group of friends. But then they started to make her question how she was reacting to situations. An interesting predicament, for sure.

I liked this novel about people learning to make adjustments in life. Being able to do that means growth, I think. And don’t we all want to keep growing as we move forward in life? I read the second book in the trilogy and look forward to reading the first at some point. If you’re a fan of Susan Mallery and contemporary fiction I think you’ll enjoy A Million Little Things.


About the author:

#1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery has entertained millions of readers with her witty and emotional stories about women. Publishers Weekly calls Susan’s prose “luscious and provocative, ” and Booklist says, “Novels don’t get much better than Mallery’s expert blend of emotional nuance, humor, and superb storytelling.” Susan lives in Seattle with her husband and her tiny but intrepid toy poodle. Visit her at www.susanmallery.com.


PRAISE FOR THE MISCHIEF BAY SERIES

“Once again, Susan Mallery has created an inviting world that envelops her readers’ senses and sensibilities… Fans of Jodi Picoult, Debbie Macomber, and Elin Hilderbrand will assuredly fall for The Girls of Mischief Bay.” — Bookreporter on The Girls of Mischief Bay

“Mallery skillfully depicts three very different women in different stages of their romantic relationships who enter into unbreakable friendships… Will appeal to fans of women’s fiction, especially such friendship books as Karen Joy Fowler’s The Jane Austen Book Club.”
— Booklist on The Girls of Mischief Bay

“Fresh and engaging…the writing is strong, the dialogue genuine and believable. There’s a generational subtext that mirrors reality and the complexities of adult relationships…filled with promise of a new serial that’s worth following.” — Fort Worth Star-Telegram on The Girls of Mischief Bay

“Romance superstar Mallery begins a new women’s fiction series with a novel that is both heart-wrenching and warmhearted… A discerning, affecting look at three women facing surprising change and the powerful and uplifting impact of friends.”— Kirkus Reviews on The Girls of Mischief Bay

“You will become totally invested in each of these characters and their struggles and root for a happy ending. Can’t wait for the next installment from Ms. Mallery and The Girls of Mischief Bay!” — Fresh Fictionon The Girls of Mischief Bay

“Mallery’s series debut is an emotional lesson in triumphs and tragedies told in her iconic eloquent style… Her exceptional handling of the climactic hard knocks and joyful events, and her tiny canine co-star, rocked.” — RT Book Reviews on The Girls of Mischief Bay

“Highly original and fascinating page-turner… Mallery brings our inner lives to the surface and evokes deep emotions from her readers.” — RT Book Reviews on The Friends We Keep

“The characters will have you crying, laughing, and falling in love… another brilliantly well-written story.” — San Francisco Book Review on The Friends We Keep

“Gabby, Haley, and Nicole are down-to-earth real women with whom readers will be able to identify, and Mallery successfully balances each story line. The women’s stories and the depth of support they provide one another make this an engaging read to be savored all the way through.” — Publishers Weekly on The Friends We Keep

“[A]n intersecting tale of the ties that bind and strangle…a novel about the relationships among women, friends, sisters, mothers, daughters, and stepchildren, with a strongly woven romantic subplot.” — Library Journal on The Friends We Keep

the-girls-of-mischief-bay  the friends we keep (2:23)  a-million-little-things-feb17

A Lowcountry Christmas by Mary Alice Monroe

  • a-lowcountry-christmas-tandem-litTitle:  A Lowcountry Christmas
  • Series:  Lowcountry Summer #5
  • Author:  Mary Alice Monroe
  • Genre:  Fiction; Christmas
  • Pages:  384
  • Published:  October 2016 – Gallery Books
  • Source:  Publisher; Tandem Literary

Description:  As far as ten-year-old Miller McClellan is concerned, it’s the worst Christmas ever. His father’s shrimp boat is docked, his mother is working two jobs, and with finances strained, Miller is told they can’t afford the dog he desperately wants. “Your brother’s return from war is our family’s gift,” his parents tell him. But when Taylor returns with PTSD, family tensions darken the holidays.

Heartbreak and financial stress threaten to destroy the spirit of the season until the miraculous gift of a service dog leads Taylor, his family, and their community on a healing journey to discover the true meaning of Christmas.  (publisher)

My take:  A Lowcountry Christmas is the first of Mary Alice Monroe’s books I’ve read. I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend it to anyone looking for a special Christmas book to read this year. It’s the fifth book in a series but I can say, not having read the previous books, it can stand alone.

The McClellan family has welcomed home their son, a veteran with PTSD, and are all getting used to a new normal. On top of that, finances are strained which adds tension to the relationships between parents and children, spouses, and siblings. I loved how Monroe took her characters through their challenges and brought them to a satisfying result: mainly the true meaning of Christmas and what matters most.

A Lowcountry Christmas is truly lovely and I can see it becoming an annual read for me. I can think of a few people on my gift list who will love it. Highly recommended!


About the author:

Known for her intimate portrayals of women’s lives, Mary Alice Monroe is the New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen novels, including The Summer Girls, The Summer Wind, The Summer’s  End, Last Light Over Carolina, Time is a River, Sweetgrass, Skyward, The Beach House, Beach House Memories, Swimming Lessons, The Four Seasons, and The Book Club. Her books have received numerous awards, including the 2008 South Carolina Center for the Book Award for Writing, the 2014 South Carolina Award for Literary Excellence, the 2015 SW Florida Author of Distinction Award, the RT Lifetime Achievement Award, and the International Book Award for Green Fiction.

An active conservationist, Monroe draws themes for her novels from nature and the parallels with human nature, thus drawing attention to various endangered species and the human connection to the natural world. Mary Alice is involved with several environmental groups and is on the board of the South Carolina Aquarium, the Leatherback Trust, and Charleston Volunteers for Literacy. She lives in the lowcountry of South Carolina. Visit her at MaryAliceMonroe.com and at Facebook.com/MaryAliceMonroe.

The Velvet Hours by Alyson Richman

  • the velvet hours (9:6)Title:  The Velvet Hours
  • Author:  Alyson Richman
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction
  • Pages:  384
  • Published:  September 2016 – Berkley
  • Source:  Publisher; Tandem Literary

Description:  As Paris teeters on the edge of the German occupation, a young French woman closes the door to her late grandmother’s treasure-filled apartment, unsure if she’ll ever return. 

An elusive courtesan, Marthe de Florian cultivated a life of art and beauty, casting out all recollections of her impoverished childhood in the dark alleys of Montmartre. With Europe on the brink of war, she shares her story with her granddaughter Solange Beaugiron, using her prized possessions to reveal her innermost secrets. Most striking of all are a beautiful string of pearls and a magnificent portrait of Marthe painted by the Italian artist Giovanni Boldini. As Marthe’s tale unfolds, like velvet itself, stitched with its own shadow and light, it helps to guide Solange on her own path.

Inspired by the true account of an abandoned Parisian apartment, Alyson Richman brings to life Solange, the young woman forced to leave her fabled grandmother’s legacy behind to save all that she loved.

My take:  In 2010 a Paris apartment that had been closed for seventy years was opened to reveal a time capsule of sorts. Found inside were objets d’art from the Belle Epoch and earlier eras as well as many other valuable items. The Velvet Hours is the imagined story of the woman who owned the apartment and her granddaughter.

Alyson Richman’s story of Marthe de Florian and Solange Beaugiron captured me from the start. The descriptions of, well, everything was gorgeous and gave me the feeling I was sitting in the room with the characters.

Solange didn’t know she had a grandmother until she was nineteen and her father took her to meet Marthe. Upon their introduction they met a few days each week and Marthe told Solange about her life. It’s a remarkable story about a remarkable time and involves art, books and romance. I loved it all. Equally intriguing but less developed than Marthe’s story was the story of a book passed down on Solange’s mother’s side of the family. I’d love to read more about it in a separate novel.

Until The Velvet Hours I’d never read one of Alyson Richman’s novels. I was happy to discover she has six other books that are now on my to-be-read list. I can easily recommend The Velvet Hours to fans of the author and historical fiction.

Note:  You can search online for Marthe de Florian and you’ll find photos of her apartment as well as the portrait highlighted in the novel. 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Alyson Richman is the internationally bestselling author of the The Garden of LettersThe Lost Wife, The Last Van GoghThe Rhythm of Memory (previously published as Swedish Tango) and The Mask Carver’s Son. Her novels have been translated into eighteen languages and are known for their rich historical and artistic detail. She lives in Long Island, New York, with her husband and two children.


PRAISE FOR THE VELVET HOURS:
“Alyson Richman’s writing sings in her evocative new novel set in Paris at the dawn of World War II. The Velvet Hours is a beautiful and compelling portrait of two women facing their unknown past and an unimaginable future as their world begins to crumble.”
— Kristin Hannah, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Nightingale

“Alyson Richman deftly weaves fact and fiction to create an enthralling tale of love and sacrifice in The Velvet Hours. Richman slips flawlessly between time periods, her sense of place in depicting Paris in the 1880’s and 1940’s spot on. The reader navigates the streets of the City of Light alongside Solange and Marthe, two carefully crafted and worthy heroines. The author does a superb job of creating a Paris apartment full of exquisite treasures and a priceless painting, a world of light and shadow, beauty and darkness. Ultimately, this is a carefully wrought story of love, of what the heart chooses to give up, and what it chooses to keep. Highly recommended to readers who enjoyed Kristen Hannah’s The Nightingale.”
—Karen WhiteNew York Times bestselling author

“A masterful mix of the glamour of the Belle Epoque and the shadows of impending war as the stories of two generations twist and twine together in delightful, heart-wrenching, and sometimes unexpected ways.”
— Lauren WilligNew York Times bestselling author

“Staggeringly evocative, romantic, heartrending, sensual, and beautifully written.”
—John LescroartNew York Times bestselling author

“Tragedy and hope, love and loss, and the strength to endure are examined through Richman’s graceful writing and powerful characters.”
Booklist

“If you love graceful, mellifluous writing, you should read this book.”
—Jenna BlumNew York Times bestselling author

You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott

  • you will know me (7:26)Title:  You Will Know Me: A Novel
  • Author:  Megan Abbott
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  352
  • Published:  July 2016 – Little Brown
  • Source:  Publisher; Tandem Literary

My take:  You Will Know Me is the story of a family dedicated to the success of one of their children. Devon is a talented gymnast on track to make elite level and ultimately the Olympic team. The hopes of her family, coaches, and other families connected to the gym rest on her shoulders. She seems to take it all in stride until the dynamics of the gym are shaken by the death of someone close to everyone. What follows this event has everyone questioning their relationships and loyalty to each other.

I imagine there are some similarities in what it takes to become an actual elite gymnast – and how entire families are affected by the necessary sacrifices in favor of the gymnast – to the characters in this novel. I found it to be a compelling read that was difficult to put down – especially since I’d just watched most of the Rio Olympic gymnastics competition. Although I figured out the whodunit early on I thought it was an interesting novel all around.