Posts Tagged ‘American’

The Peach Keeper – Sarah Addison Allen

Posted in American Fiction on October 31st, 2011 by admin – 5 Comments

The Peach Keeper

Sarah Addison Allen is such a gifted storyteller and I have really enjoyed her previous novels, especially “Garden Spells”. “The Peach Keeper” is equally enchanting and delicious – a perfect antidote to dreary wintry weather.

Again, the female characters take centre stage – Willa and Paxton, on the surface successful, independent young woman but dig a little deeper and you’ll find palpable sadness. Their male counterparts, Colin and Stephen, are very easy on the eye but they also need a bit of a nudge/enchantment and there is plenty of magic at work in Wall of Waters.

Our diametrically opposed leading ladies are thrown together when a secret is unearthed, literally, threatening the aura of perfection propagated by local socialites.

Yes, at times it’s a tad predictable, but who cares when it’s written so beautifully and you’re momentarily drawn into such a bewitching world far from the mundanity of reality. Also, good news for my hips…there’s less talk of cake and more of coffee plus a delightful cameo appearance by Claire Waverly who we first met in “Garden Spells”.

With echoes of Fannie Flagg and Alice Hoffman, Sarah Addison Allen has served up another scrumptious dish which will satisfy readers with its homely, feel good vibe. I’m already looking forward to the next course!

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Don’t Let Me Go – Catherine Ryan Hyde

Posted in American Fiction, Contemporary Fiction on October 12th, 2011 by admin – 1 Comment

Don’t Let Me Go is set in LA, where 10 year old Grace lives with her drug addict mum in a run down area.  The inhabitants of her appartment block are folk who keep themselves to themselves, not wishing to engage in a neighbourly way (par for the course these days!).  When Grace is in danger of being taken into care, she decides to enlist the help of this motley crew to get her mum clean but how can she break down emotional barriers which her neighbours have taken a lifetime to build?

This book really surprised me as I initially thought I’d find it too saccharine – lilac coloured covers tend to influence me, in a negative way!   I also thought that Grace would be an overbearing, irritating character who would drive me mad.  So much for first impressions….within a few pages, I was hooked and dragged headfirst into the story.  Each and every character is fully fleshed and each one has their own foibles and flaws, just like the rest of us.  It’s more than the story of Grace and her crusade, it’s about their own personal battles.  Billy Shine, reclusive on a par with Howard Hughes, gradually emerges from his shell.   Rayleen, who has had her own history with child protection, knows that she and her neighbours are Grace’s last hope but it won’t be an easy ride.

Don’t Let Me Go is an extremely readable, colourful, feel-good tale which will give you a warm, fuzzy feeling inside without overdosing on the twee factor.  A perfect antidote to the dark Autumn evenings!

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Blessings – Anna Quindlen

Posted in American Fiction on September 13th, 2011 by admin – 2 Comments

Having read and thoroughly enjoyed “Every Last One” by Anna Quindlen earlier this year, I was keen to investigate her back catalogue and I began this week with “Blessings”, published in 2003. 

Blessings is the name of the estate where Lydia Blessing, an elderly widow, leads the life of a semi-recluse with occasional interruptions by her curmudgeonly cook, Nadine and ex-con caretaker, Skip Cuddy.  The status quo is broken by the unexpected arrival of an abandoned new-born baby girl, left on the steps of the garage where she is found by Skip. 

Anna Quindlen has a very sedate style of writing, quietly building up  the story, feeding the reader snippets from the past.  Her descriptions of the landscape are truly exquisite, focussing on every detail so you live and breathe the ambiance of Blessings, this once palatial home, now fading like its owner.  Lydia is the archetypal crabbid old woman, brought up with high standards but the hard edges are gradually softened with the arrival of baby Faith.  Likewise, Skip, the young handyman, discovers strengths and emotions he never knew he possessed.

Whilst it’s obvious that Anna Quindlen is a very fine writer, Blessings didn’t quite hit the spot for me – yes, I liked it but at times it didn’t fully engage me.  Lydia’s frequent mulling over past events in the midst of the present narrative was very distracting and it made the storyline clunky in the extreme.   3 stars from me for a quite enjoyable, relatively short read.

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The Homecoming of Samuel Lake – Jenny Wingfield

Posted in American Fiction on June 26th, 2011 by admin – 2 Comments

The Homecoming of Samuel Lake is the debut novel of Jenny Wingfield, an accomplished screenwriter, and it is evident from the very first pages that she is a very talented writer and storyteller.

Set in the 1950s in Arkansas in the deep South of the US, our story begins with the sudden death of John Moses and ends with another death with a good sprinkling of violent episodes in between.  Samuel Lake is a preacher without a congregation, his unique style not making him a favourite amongst traditional pastors, so he and his family return to the homestead of his wife, Willadee (nee Moses) hoping to start afresh.   What ensues is an intriguing tale of a family in a state of flux and it isn’t until the final page that the reader discovers if Samuel’s unswerving faith in God is indeed well placed.

I really enjoyed this family saga with its fast paced narrative and its varied canvas of characters.  Most of the characters have rather bizarre names including Swan Lake, Samuel’s feisty 12 year old daughter, his sons, Noble and Bienville, brother-in-law Toy (6 foot 4!), sister-in-law Nicey and neighbour’s children, Blade and Blue.   Amidst the tragedy of every day life there is bitter sweet comedy – the Moses house has a grocery store at the front porch, open from dawn to dusk and a bar at the back open from dusk to dawn.  You get a real feel for this quirky, rural setting where folk might not exactly break the law but they can certainly bend it!  If you enjoy novels from Fannie Flagg or Sue Monk Kidd you’ll feel right at home with Samuel Lake.

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