Posts Tagged ‘Maisie’

Messenger of Truth, Jacqueline Winspear
Maisie Dobbs’ fourth adventure takes her into the world of fine art – when a popular artist falls to his death from the gallery scaffolding as he puts up a new exhibit. Maisie delves into his past (as an artist and a propagandist during the war), the intricacies of his family life, and the nuances of art dealing. Well-written and fascinating, as always. (I grow more “mad for Maisie” with every book.)

An Incomplete Revenge, Jacqueline Winspear
It’s hop-picking time in Kent, and Maisie investigates a village plagued by mysterious fires, while befriending a band of gypsies and letting go of her beloved Simon, whose health is declining (he’s been in a near-catatonic state since 1916). Maisie’s gypsy heritage comes to the fore here, and I’m amazed at her skill and compassion in divining the secrets of a village long haunted by its own shame. Stunningly well done.

Juliet, Anne Fortier
A fun, intricate, richly detailed re-imagining of the story of Romeo and Juliet – with a modern twist. Julie Jacobs is shocked to find out she’s descended from the real Juliet – and even more shocked to discover that “a plague on both your houses” might still be an active curse. She travels to Italy to find out the truth, and in the process finds out more about her family – and herself – than she ever knew. (Her story alternates with historical flashbacks.) An enjoyable, engrossing read.

A Homemade Life, Molly Wizenberg
I’ve read a few cookbook-cum-memoirs in my day, and I think this one is my favorite. Molly’s tone is engaging and funny, her family is endearingly quirky and her love affairs – with Paris, food, and Brandon, who is now her husband – are sweet. And her recipes are delicious – my favorites include the pesto and the Scottish scones. (I also love Molly’s blog. Deliciously entertaining.)

The Heretic’s Daughter, Kathleen Kent
Another story of the Salem witch trials, this time from the perspective of a child also imprisoned, whose mother is condemned to die. I actually didn’t like this one much; I didn’t find any of the characters very sympathetic. The history is fascinating, but perhaps I’ve read too many Puritan narratives since arriving here. And in the long grey of February, I wanted something brighter.

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, Beth Hoffman
I loved this story. Splashed with color from huge flower gardens and lush with the scent of magnolia blossoms and cinnamon rolls, this was a real Southern treat in the middle of a cold northern winter. I loved watching CeeCee, transplanted from Ohio to Savannah when her mother dies, slowly find her way in this new, “perfumed world that seemed to be run entirely by women.” She eventually makes her peace with her tough childhood and begins to embrace her new friends – wise, kind, quirky women one and all. I cried several times, but I think I laughed more.

As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto, ed. Joan Reardon
What a literary treat these letters are. Highly political, sharp, hilarious, foodish and written “in haste” amid their busy lives, this collection provides fascinating glimpses into – well, all sorts of things. Life in France, Germany, Norway and the U.S. during the 1950s and early 1960s; the evolution of a friendship; French cooking and the making of Julia’s cooking career; life in the U.S. Foreign Service; McCarthyism; the role of smart, independent women. After Julie and Julia (the film and the book) and My Life in France, these letters are the perfect dessert.

Devotion, Dani Shapiro
I’d been hearing about this book for months, and I love Dani’s lyrical blog. I enjoyed her honest, thoughtful reflections on what it means to be a person of faith, and to be a part of a family chain of faith. She doesn’t shy away from the tough questions. I was a little disappointed in the ending – it seemed a bit abrupt, and her strategy of cherry-picking bits of various faiths is quite different from my own. Still, I appreciate her courage in facing these big questions.

Rococo, Adriana Trigiani
I love Trigiani’s work – she draws perfect portraits of crazy, big, loud, loving Italian-American families. And she has such an eye for color and detail, expressed here in the main character’s love of interior design. The cast of characters in this small New Jersey town are all searching for transformation of some kind – and it goes hand in hand with the renovation of their beloved church. Hilarious, entertaining and satisfying.

Among the Mad, Jacqueline Winspear
Maisie’s sixth adventure unnerved me – stories of mental illness give me the creeps, and this one was no different. Still, Maisie and her colleagues at Scotland Yard do some brilliant work in tracing an unbalanced ex-soldier who issues a series of death threats. Winspear is probing deeper and deeper into the scars left on England and its people by the Great War.

The Queen of the Big Time, Adriana Trigiani
This was the only Trigiani novel I hadn’t yet read – so I grabbed it at the library one night. And flew through it, of course – her books are so fun, and compulsively readable. The only thing I don’t like about them is that they’re over too soon. But this tale of an Italian-American family in a mill town in Pennsylvania was funny, heartwarming and satisfying, like her others.

Julie, Catherine Marshall
I needed something to read on the T, so grabbed this old favorite. And I found the story just as compelling as ever. Julie Wallace and her father – indeed their entire family – struggle with faith, tight finances, fitting into a new town and standing up for what’s right in Depression-era Pennsylvania. Julie is one of my literary heroines, who scribbles as compulsively as I do, and I admire her sense of justice and her father’s quiet integrity. I love this book.

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