Category: Literary Fiction

“Ross Poldark” by Winston Graham

“Ross Poldark” by Winston Graham

Ross Poldark returns to Cornwall after fighting in the war in America. He finds his father dying and the house in disrepair. Jud and Prudie, the caretakers, have apparently spent more time drinking than maintaining. Ross also learns that Elizabeth, the young lady he was in love with and hoping to marry on his return, has become engaged to his childhood friend Francis. He retreats into his grief and focuses on restoring his home to a livable condition. His cousin Verity visits him on a regular basis during the first few months and is the only bright light in his life during the time. While at the fair one day he rescues a young girl from a mob of boys and upon finding out the dire circumstances of her life, takes her home to work for him as a kitchen maid. Demelza manages to charm her way into the good graces of Jud and Prudie and becomes invaluable to the household. Meanwhile, Ross is raising capital so that he can reopen one of the mines on his property and dealing with events that affect the safety of his tenants and the well-being of his extended family.

I found this book to be a glorious family saga. This one is first in a series and definitely starts it off well. I found Ross to be a bit on the dark side and the beginning and it took me a little time to really start to like him but as the story unfolds his true character begins to shine. Jud and Prudie are great as the supporting cast. They are the kind of characters that frustrate Ross frequently but for whom he has a great fondness because of their loyalty. Demelza is like a little firecracker in the family when she appears. She’s so full of life and everything is a new discovery to her once she moves into the Poldark house. This story is rich in characters and environment as well. It has the sense of being a real depiction of what life was like in Cornwall in the late 1700’s. This first book spans about 4 years in the life of Ross Poldark and I’m very excited to see what will come in book 2. I highly recommend this for lovers of good stories.

Alinefromabook’s rating:  5-star-rating 5 stars!!

Happy Reading!

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“Watch Me Disappear” by Janelle Brown

“Watch Me Disappear” by Janelle Brown

A captivating family drama! Olive and her father Jonathan are trying to come to terms with the death of Billie, their mother and wife. The 1-year anniversary is coming up and Jonathan is trying to get the courts to declare her legally dead so he and Olive can move on. The problem is no body was every found. Then, out of the blue, Olive starts seeing visions of her mother and becomes convinced that not only is she still alive but that she is in trouble and they must find her. Jonathan is writing a memoir of Billie and finds himself very conflicted when he discovers things about his wife that seem to indicate she may have just run off. At the same time, he needs the money from the sale of the book in order to keep going. When Olive starts skipping classes, and Billie’s best friend starts hitting on him, everything seems to be spinning out of control.

I wasn’t sure at the beginning if I was going to like this book but I ended up not being able to put it down. I confess I was the one at the 4th of July concert who was glued to the e-reader the whole time. The first couple of chapters seemed a bit slow to get going but when the story took off, it took off in a big way. I was totally sucked into Olive and Jonathan’s world and the emotional tug-of-war that each was going through as they learned more and more of Billie’s secrets. Olive is a very likable teenager, going through the usual teenage things when she starts having visions. She believes in her visions but at the same time tries to understand them in an adult way. Jonathan has lost the love of his life but is trying his best to carry on for the sake of his daughter. As he discovers the truth about Billie’s past he runs the gamut of emotions from betrayal to devotion. At the same time, he’s facing the possibility of financial ruin and must change his view of what it means to be a family. I found both of these characters to be very well written. Their internal and external dialogues are totally believable as are the circumstances they find themselves in. I also really enjoyed that the story is set in Berkeley, CA since I am familiar with the area. Overall, this is a great piece of fiction and a beautiful story.

Alinefromabook’s rating:  4-star-rating 4 stars!!

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“The Sound of Glass” by Karen White

“The Sound of Glass” by Karen White

Three lonely souls find themselves thrown together after 2 tragic deaths. They each must face the past and push through the hurt before they can move forward. Merritt has lost both her parents and her husband. When her husband’s grandmother dies, Merritt finds herself the owner of the family home in South Carolina. Her husband had never spoken of his family but Merritt knows deep down she needs a new start and so she leaves everything behind in Maine and heads south. Meanwhile, her father has died leaving a widow and a son. They too need a fresh start. Loralee picks up stakes and drops herself and her son Owen in Merritt’s lap. Loralee needs something from Merritt but they are like strangers and she knows she must gain her trust first, before she runs out of time. With the help of Merritt’s previously unknown brother-in-law, Gibbes, these three will unravel the mysteries of the past and set a new path for the future.

This is a beautiful story. It’s tragic and heartwarming, sad and uplifting all at the same time. I loved the South Carolina setting where life seems to move a little more gently, which is just what Merritt, Loralee, and Owen need. Merritt’s marriage was traumatizing for her but Loralee’s cheery outlook on life is just what she needs. I found Merritt and Loralee to be much more complex than they at first appeared and one of my favorite parts of the story was how the author gradually made the characters know to the reader. It was like watching a dying plant slowly come back to life. I think Owen was my favorite character though. He’s smart as a whip but he struggles to make friends. I especially loved how the author wrote the interactions between Owen and neighbor girl Maris, and how Maris was able to bring Owen out of his shell so he could be a kid again. Loralee turns out to be the wise one in the group and she has such an insight into what makes people tick and knows just what they need to hear and when they need to hear it. The story itself moves at a steady pace but without the feeling of plodding. Overall, I found “The Sound of Glass” to be a great story and a perfect pick for a summer read.

Alinefromabook’s rating: 4-star-rating  4 stars!!

Happy Reading!

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“Saving Abby” by Steena Holmes

“Saving Abby” by Steena Holmes

Claire and Josh and trying to come to terms with their infertility. After years of trying everything, they have been told that they just won’t be able to get pregnant. Now they are near the end of a European tour and Claire is nervous about rejoining her everyday life. Her emotions still feel so raw. Back home, they throw themselves into the next series of the children’s books that they write and illustrate, but Claire starts having crippling headaches and spending much of the day sleeping. Her best friend Abby is also her doctor and when Abby gives her a diagnosis, it will rock their world to the core.

Well, I just loved this couple. The author has created two beautiful people in Claire and Josh and you can’t help but be drawn into their little world and cheer for them. I also really enjoyed how the storybook character, Jack, that they have created is incorporated into the larger story of their lives. The whole story just feels very natural and flows beautifully. The story progresses at a very comfortable pace and I liked how different chapters relate the story from the perspective of the characters. Some are narrated by Claire, some by Josh, and some by Claire’s mother, Millie. I really appreciated the way that Josh supports Claire during the story and never makes her feel like she is a burden. That being said, they do have some friction which they each handle in a very mature way. There is some marriage guidance hidden in the pages of this one. This one has romance and daily life, happiness and sorrow, and it’s a really good story. The setting is contemporary, if that’s something you look for. This would be a great summer read.

Alinefromabook’s rating: 4-star-rating  4 stars!

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“Lilli De Jong” by Janet Benton

“Lilli De Jong” by Janet Benton

Genre: Literary Fiction

Publisher: Random House

This is a powerful story that you won’t want to miss. Lilli is a young Quaker woman in 19th century Philadelphia. A night alone with her fiancé leaves her pregnant, and his departure to Pittsburgh to find work leaves her a shamed woman. After being rejected by her father and stepmother, she finds herself in a charity for unmarried pregnant women. The charity expects that the girls will give their babies up for adoption, but Lilli cannot bear to do so. This decision leads her on a circuitous route just to survive.

I found this story very moving. The circumstances Lilli faces are gut-wrenching to read about but her determination is an inspiration. The author has carefully crafted Lilli’s story and her research and attention to detail shows through as she presents the way of life and the culture of the period. I highly recommend this story to all lovers of fiction.

Alinefromabook’s rating: 5-star-rating

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Book Review: “The Eternal Wonder” by Pearl S. Buck

Book Review: “The Eternal Wonder” by Pearl S. Buck

My love affair with Pearl Buck’s books began when I was in high school and had to write my first term paper. We had a list of authors to choose from and when it came my turn to pick, she was the only female author left on the list so I picked her. I then had to read one of her books and at the time I found her writing to be very dense and difficult for me to get through. On the other hand, the images she painted and the characters she developed stayed with me for years until as an adult I came back to her writings and discovered the richness her stories contained. I have by no means read her entire canon of work and the books that I have read have all been set in China or Japan, which made this book, set in the U.S. a bit of a surprise.

“The Eternal Wonder” is Pearl Buck’s final book, written not too long before she died. The manuscript had been lost for 40 years after her death and was rediscovered in an abandoned storage unit. The family was finally able to publish it in 2013. I found this story fascinating because she takes the reader through the life of the boy Rann starting when he is in the womb. In the first part of the book we follow him as he grows and develops into a young man. What I enjoyed the most about this part is the way she was able to portray not just the incidents of his life but how they affected the development of this thinking. I have always been curious about how the mind works and I just thoroughly enjoyed, in this case, observing Rann’s mind from his perspective. Rann’s life takes an interesting turn when he is about 17 and Part II covers the next 4 years or so as he begins to find his place in the world, where he fits, how he will support himself, what role relationships will play in his life.

In this book there is much reference to people who are on the outside looking in, either because they are being discriminated against, or by choice, or by circumstances. I think one of Ms. Buck’s gifts as a writer is her ability to incorporate into a fictional story, an analysis of the culture in which the characters exist and she has done a marvelous job of pointing out cultural missteps in this book. I think her themes were relevant at the time she wrote them but they are still relevant today. Many of the cultural norms she exposes are still present in our current society and the thoughtful reader will use this book as an opportunity to evaluate their own perspective and how they relate to those that are different. In my opinion, “The Eternal Wonder” is another masterpiece from this Nobel winning author and should be read by everybody.

Alinefromabook’s rating: TWO THUMBS-UP!!

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