Posts Tagged ‘Abraham Lincoln’

may books 3

The Weird Sisters, Eleanor Brown
I love the story of the Andreas sisters, Rosalind, Bianca and Cordelia (daughters of a Shakespeare professor), who converge on their childhood home as their mother battles cancer. The first-person-plural voice is brilliant, the sleepy Ohio college town appealing, the characters richly layered. I spent a blissful weekend sinking into this story for the third time. (My book club had a great Skype discussion with the author last year.)

Sight Reading, Daphne Kalotay
A subtle, complicated story of love and classical music, following violinist Remy, composer Nicholas and several other people as their lives intertwine over two decades. It frustrated me that the characters were not always held responsible for their actions (Nicholas almost never), but I loved the descriptions of music, which is difficult to capture on the page (Kalotay is a trained musician). I also loved Kalotay’s debut, Russian Winter. (I received a copy of this book from the publisher, but was not compensated for this review.)

A Death in the Small Hours, Charles Finch
Charles Lenox, M.P., new father and erstwhile detective, escapes to his uncle’s Somerset estate to work on an important parliamentary speech. But a series of crimes in the nearby village tugs at his attention. With his protege, John Dallington, Lenox attempts to solve the case, write his speech, and also play in the village cricket match. A fun mystery, though I agree with Lenox that Parliament can get a little dull.

The Lucy Variations, Sara Zarr
Classical pianist Lucy Beck-Moreau achieved international fame by age 14. Then she abandoned her career, much to her family’s disappointment and her own confusion. But when her brother’s new piano teacher befriends Lucy, she starts wondering if she could return to music – for herself. Zarr brilliantly evokes the complications of following a vocation: family and personal pressure, burnout, a longing to create without strictures. She also sensitively explores Lucy’s relationship with Will, the (married) piano teacher. A wonderful read for creatives and young people.

The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln, Stephen L. Carter
What if Abraham Lincoln had survived the assassination attempt at Ford’s Theatre? This alternate history, set in 1867, shows a country still reeling from the Civil War and arguing over how to treat the Southern states. Abigail Canner, young, ambitious and black, lands a job as a clerk in the law firm representing Lincoln at his impeachment trial. But when Lincoln’s lawyer is murdered, she finds herself drawn into a web of secrets and conspiracy theories. Tightly drawn courtroom scenes and an intriguing mystery, though I found the ending unsatisfying. (Reminded me of the film Lincoln – I saw and heard Daniel Day-Lewis in my head every time Lincoln himself appeared.)

Dinner: A Love Story: It all begins at the family table, Jenny Rosenstrach
I love Jenny’s blog and had heard rave reviews of this cookbook, and I wasn’t disappointed. Jenny traces her journey of family dinners (she has kept a dinner diary since 1998), from the pre-kid years to the baby/toddler years to “the years the angels began to sing” (read: when her daughters were finally able to hold both a fork and a conversation). Her essays are funny and relatable (I am also fanatical about family dinner), and the recipes look delicious. We’ve already made the Curried Chicken with Apples. Delectable.

Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted: And All the Brilliant Minds Who Made The Mary Tyler Moore Show a Classic, Jennifer Keishin Armstrong
I rediscovered Mary Tyler Moore about two years ago, and fell deeply in love with the show. So I relished this behind-the-scenes peek into its conception and evolution, focusing mostly on its writers and producers. MTM hired many women writers (groundbreaking in the 1970s) and dealt with issues (divorce, the Pill, homosexuality) previously eschewed on TV. And as its fans know, it was also inspiring, smart, and a heck of a lot of fun. I loved the details of the show’s day-to-day workings and the relationships of its cast. (I’ve been re-watching a few episodes, which made the book even more enjoyable.)

How to Bake a Perfect Life, Barbara O’Neal
Ramona Gallagher has worked hard to raise a daughter on her own and run a successful bakery. But when her son-in-law is injured in Afghanistan, her daughter’s teenage stepdaughter ends up at Ramona’s house because she has nowhere else to go. Ramona must also deal with a series of maintenance issues and the reappearance of a lost love. An enjoyable family story, with a hint of magical realism and a few bread recipes. Fluffy but fun.

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