Let’s face it in our world every season is a good season to read, but Fall seems to be prime reading time. There are so many fiction works released in the early Fall, we can barely keep up. And the books tend to be bigger and more complex than summer releases. Because those are just now being released, we have a few books today that will bridge the gap between the summer light reading and the more consuming Fall reading. And one of our picks is an older selection by Ann Patchett that will hold us over until we can get our hands on her new release, Commonwealth. Our three books are The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown, Truly, Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty and Bel Canto by Ann Patchett.
The Light of Paris is the miraculous new novel from New York Times–bestselling author Eleanor Brown, whose debut, The Weird Sisters, was a sensation beloved by critics and readers alike.
Madeleine is trapped—by her family’s expectations, by her controlling husband, and by her own fears—in an unhappy marriage and a life she never wanted. From the outside, it looks like she has everything, but on the inside, she fears she has nothing that matters.
In Madeleine’s memories, her grandmother Margie is the kind of woman she should have been—elegant, reserved, perfect. But when Madeleine finds a diary detailing Margie’s bold, romantic trip to Jazz Age Paris, she meets the grandmother she never knew: a dreamer who defied her strict, staid family and spent an exhilarating summer writing in cafés, living on her own, and falling for a charismatic artist.
Despite her unhappiness, when Madeleine’s marriage is threatened, she panics, escaping to her hometown and staying with her critical, disapproving mother. In that unlikely place, shaken by the revelation of a long-hidden family secret and inspired by her grandmother’s bravery, Madeleine creates her own Parisian summer—reconnecting to her love of painting, cultivating a vibrant circle of creative friends, and finding a kindred spirit in a down-to-earth chef who reminds her to feed both her body and her heart.
Margie and Madeleine’s stories intertwine to explore the joys and risks of living life on our own terms, of defying the rules that hold us back from our dreams, and of becoming the people we are meant to be.
May’s Review:I first heard about this book from June, who is familiar with Eleanor Brown’s previous novel. This was my first read by Eleanor Brown, and I really enjoyed the book. I loved that the characters in the book were dreamers, thinking about all the possibilities of what their future could be, even though at times they felt quite stuck. I really enjoyed the writing in this book, and look forward to the next one.
June’s Review: I was eagerly anticipating this book and it did not disappoint. Eleanor Brown’s previous novel, The Weird Sisters, was a favorite of mine with eccentric characters and the sisters all named after Shakespeare’s heroines. I really enjoyed this book. The characters in the book are caught between what is expected of them and what they had always dreamed to be, which I think is a theme many can relate to at certain times in their life. The setting of Jazz Age Paris is romantic until the real world comes crashing in on Margie. But who doesn’t dream of having lived a romantic summer in a foreign city? I always love a well written book that uses past stories as a comparison to a character’s modern time life. I highly recommend that you pick up this read.
Six responsible adults. Three cute kids. One small dog. It’s just a normal weekend. What could possibly go wrong?
In Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty turns her unique, razor-sharp eye towards three seemingly happy families.
Sam and Clementine have a wonderful, albeit, busy life: they have two little girls, Sam has just started a new dream job, and Clementine, a cellist, is busy preparing for the audition of a lifetime. If there’s anything they can count on, it’s each other.
Clementine and Erika are each other’s oldest friends. A single look between them can convey an entire conversation. But theirs is a complicated relationship, so when Erika mentions a last minute invitation to a barbecue with her neighbors, Tiffany and Vid, Clementine and Sam don’t hesitate. Having Tiffany and Vid’s larger than life personalities there will be a welcome respite.
Two months later, it won’t stop raining, and Clementine and Sam can’t stop asking themselves the question: What if we hadn’t gone?
In Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty takes on the foundations of our lives: marriage, sex, parenthood, and friendship. She shows how guilt can expose the fault lines in the most seemingly strong relationships, how what we don’t say can be more powerful than what we do, and how sometimes it is the most innocent of moments that can do the greatest harm.
May’s Review:I have always been a fan of Liane Moriarty, and always look forward to her new releases. I was number 46 on the library waiting list when this book came out, eagerly anticipating my email letting me know that it was finally my turn to read the book. I dug into it expecting it to be her like her previous novels, and really struggled to finish it. It was a long book too (432 pages), which made it even more challenging. This story centers around three couples and their children, who are attending a neighborhood barbecue where something unforeseen happens that forever changes all their lives. I thought I had solved the secret, but was told by June that I was wrong. Anyway, the secret of what happens could have been wrapped up very quickly, but unfortunately goes on and on and on. This definitely was not one of my favorite books by this author. I would check out some of her earlier works which are very good.
June’s Review: I have enjoyed many of Liane Moriarty’s books in the past. She usually has a way to write about a somewhat serious topic and add some quirky and humorous moments that give some levity and entertainment to the story. Unfortunately, in this book any attempts at that fall flat. This is a long book (432 pages) and the story centers around an event that happens at a barbecue attended by three couples and one of the couple’s two young children. The book spends at least two-thirds of those pages building up to the event that occurred at the barbecue. As the reader you think you know what that big secretive event is going to be. I was almost finished with the book when May was about a third of the way through it. She texted me about what she thought the secret was going to be and I told her that sadly she was wrong. However, I had thought the same thing and that the secret was going to be a 1970s-era spouse swapping key game. After the secret is revealed and while what happened was scary it seems that many of the characters are way to overwrought but what occurred considering the outcome. This was not my favorite book by this author and I found it hard to get through which was disappointing because there was a lot of buzz around her having a new release. If you have not read What Alice Forgot or The Husband’s Secret by this author I would pick those up and pass on this one.
Somewhere in South America, at the home of the country’s vice president, a lavish birthday party is being held in honor of Mr. Hosokawa, a powerful Japanese businessman. Roxanne Coss, opera’s most revered soprano, has mesmerized the international guests with her singing. It is a perfect evening-until a band of gun-wielding terrorists breaks in through the air-conditioning vents and takes the entire party hostage. But what begins as a panicked, life-threatening scenario slowly evolves into something quite different, as terrorists and hostages forge unexpected bonds and people from different countries and continents become compatriots. Without the demands of the world to shape their days, life on the inside becomes more beautiful than anything they had known before. At once riveting and impassioned, the narrative becomes a moving exploration of how people communicate when music is the only common language. Friendship, compassion, and the chance for great love lead the characters to forget the real danger that has been set in motion and cannot be stopped. Ann Patchett has written a novel that is as lyrical and profound as it is unforgettable. Bel Canto engenders in the reader the very passion for art and the language of music that its characters discover. As a reader, you find yourself fervently wanting this captivity to continue forever, even though you know that real life waits on the other side of the garden wall. A virtuoso performance by one of our best and most important writers, Bel Canto is a novel to be cherished.
May’s Review:I was given this book by a friend years ago, and it was my introduction to Ann Patchett. I have been a fan of hers ever since. I have read the same novels that June has listed below, loving all of them. Bel Canto was one of my favorites about a birthday party gone wrong, and how it forever changes the lives of those in attendance. Like all her novels, Bel Canto is beautifully written and still sits on my book shelf. I am eagerly awaiting to read her newest release, Commonwealth. Unfortunately, I am going to be out of town when she is in Chicago for a book signing, but if you are in the area, I highly recommend you attend!
June’s Review: I am a huge Ann Patchett fan and I think this was the first book I ever read by her. After reading this one, I immediately went back and read her previously read novels The Patron Saint of Liars, The Magician’s Assistant and her beautiful and at times heartbreaking memoir, Truth and Beauty: A Friendship and fell even more in love. I think so far Bel Canto is by far my favorite of her novels although I would recommend any of those I mention and her later novels. Plus she owns a bookstore in Nashville called Parnassus Books which maybe I can work at someday? (jk) Ann Patchett has a new novel that just released called Commonwealth that I made sure I was one of the first on the reserve list at the library. However, I just got tickets to hear her speak on October 20 in Chicago so now I am conflicted do I read the library copy before going or wait until I have very my very own signed copy from the talk and reading? But back to Bel Canto, it is a beautiful story about a very scary, and in this world, an all too real situation. The characters are interesting and the story is compelling. Ann Patchett is an author where not only do you get lost in the story but also her use of language and syntax of writing. I have not read this book in awhile but after writing about it here, I think I may add it to “my read pile” to be revisited.
Have a good weekend! We hope you find some time for some good reading. –May and June