It’s time again for some book picks. For some reason, the two of us have gotten a little out of sync on our reading this past month. There have been a lot of new releases in the last month that are on our “to read” lists, but library hold times vary which means that May and June have not been able to read many of the same books. So of the three books we listed below, two are old favorites while the third is a newer release.
From the New York Times best-selling author of The Dovekeepers…
For more than two hundred years, the Owens women had been blamed for everything that went wrong in their Massachusetts town. And Gillian and Sally endured that fate as well; as children, the sisters were outsiders. Their elderly aunts almost seemed to encourage the whispers of witchery, but all Gillian and Sally wanted was to escape. One would do so by marrying, the other by running away. But the bonds they shared brought them back-almost as if by magic..
May’s Review: June and I have been so excited for the latest Alice Hoffman release, Faithful: A Novel. I am happy to say that I don’t have to reserve this one at the library, because I won it on Goodreads giveaway! I have always loved Alice Hoffman’s novels, but Practical Magic is a little more special since it was the first novel I read by this author. This book was turned into a movie, but the book is so much better. As always, Alice Hoffman lays a blanket of magic over her works of fiction and her descriptive writing has a way of making you feel like you’re in the room with the story’s characters. I also enjoyed the humor in this novel. I definitely recommend Practical Magic, a tale about the Owen’s sisters who are part of a lineage of witches. A great read for the season!
June’s Review: I was reviewing our past book picks and realized how many Alice Hoffman books we have selected. Obviously, we are huge fans and are anxiously awaiting her newest release on November 1, Faithful: A Novel. Despite my fangirl status of Alice Hoffman, I realized I had never read Practical Magic which was published in 1995. I blame the movie. This book was adapted into a movie starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman and was not all that great. Let me tell you, this is one of those typical situations where the book is so much better than the movie. Alice Hoffman has a way with words that let you smell the plants in the garden that she is describing and feel the evil emanating from Gillian’s former boyfriend. The intuitive world is believable and rich. It is a true love story of family and sisters. If you have not read it or have only seen the movie, I highly recommend this as a time to get transported into a world that will fill your senses and make you fall in love with the characters.
From the #1 internationally bestselling author of The House at Riverton, a novel that takes the reader on an unforgettable journey through generations and across continents as two women try to uncover their family’s secret past
A tiny girl is abandoned on a ship headed for Australia in 1913. She arrives completely alone with nothing but a small suitcase containing a few clothes and a single book—a beautiful volume of fairy tales. She is taken in by the dockmaster and his wife and raised as their own. On her twenty-first birthday, they tell her the truth, and with her sense of self shattered and very little to go on, “Nell” sets out to trace her real identity. Her quest leads her to Blackhurst Manor on the Cornish coast and the secrets of the doomed Mountrachet family. But it is not until her granddaughter, Cassandra, takes up the search after Nell’s death that all the pieces of the puzzle are assembled. A spellbinding tale of mystery and self-discovery, The Forgotten Garden will take hold of your imagination and never let go.
May’s Review: This was the novel that made me fall hopelessly in love with Kate Morton. As a lover of historical fiction, this book had the feel of fairy tale, wrapped in a mystery. It is a bit complex with several stories tied into one and it is a bit long at 560 pages, but it reads quickly. I took my time with it because I wanted to savor every chapter and was a little sad when it was over. This is my favorite Kate Morton novel.
June’s Review: This is easily one of my all time favorite books. And I think I mentioned it when we picked another of Kate Morton’s books a few months ago. I love historical fiction that is tied up in a bit of a mystery. And if it has kind of a gothic feel to it, that is even better. Not only that but if you loved The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett when you were young, this book will remind you a bit of the experience of reading that book for the first time. Do not be intimidated by the length of this book. You quickly get lost in the story and despite its 560 pages it will end too soon for you.
A beautiful, powerful new novel from the bestselling, award-winning author of Sister of My Heart and The Mistress of Spices about three generations of mothers and daughters who must discover their greatest source of strength in one another—a masterful, brilliant tale of a family both united and torn apart by ambition and love.
The daughter of a poor baker in rural Bengal, India, Sabitri yearns to get an education, but her family’s situation means college is an impossible dream. Then an influential woman from Kolkata takes Sabitri under her wing, but her generosity soon proves dangerous after the girl makes a single, unforgiveable misstep. Years later, Sabitri’s own daughter, Bela, haunted by her mother’s choices, flees abroad with her political refugee lover—but the America she finds is vastly different from the country she’d imagined. As the marriage crumbles and Bela is forced to forge her own path, she unwittingly imprints her own child, Tara, with indelible lessons about freedom, heartbreak, and loyalty that will take a lifetime to unravel.
In her latest novel, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni explores the complex relationships between mothers and daughters, and the different kinds of love that bind us across generations. Before We Visit the Goddess captures the gorgeous complexity of these multi-generational and transcontinental bonds, sweeping across the twentieth century from the countryside of Bengal, India, to the streets of Houston, Texas—an extraordinary journey told through a sparkling symphony of voices.
May’s Review: June turned me on to this one, a first for me by Chitra Banerjee Divaruni. This story takes place in India, as well as the United States and I enjoyed learning a bit more about the Indian culture and customs. It’s a book about the complex relationships between mothers and daughters and how they are bound together through generations, even though they are a great distance from each other. This was a difficult book to put down and I look forward to reading more of her novels.
June’s Review: This was a new to me author and after reading this novel I am excited to check out some of her previous works. This book is partially set in India and partially set in the United States. I find the Indian culture to be very rich and fascinating so that was what first turned me on to this novel. The story is full of a rich and complex relationship between the matriarch, her daughter and then her daughter. The story shows that no matter how much we want to turn our back on the place we come from, we ultimately return to who we really are. I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to reading others by the same author.
Have a good weekend. We hope you find some time to kick back and read. –May and June