Accidents of Marriage by Randy Susan Myers

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Accidents of Marriage

by Randy Susan Meyers

published by Atria Books

2014

I received this book from the publisher through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

My Review

This is a very well written story of the ugliness of life.  Maddy and Ben are married and raising three children in Boston.   Maddy works full time as a social worker, while also raising the children.  Ben is a public defender who worked long hours.  He is also a very angry person, who regularly explodes at his wife and children.  One day, Ben is running late when Maddy calls him for a ride after her car is towed.  His anger and frustration grows so out of control on the ride into the city and his road rage leads to a devastating accident.  Maddy suffers a serious brain injury and a very long recovery is in her future.  The story then focuses on the aftermath of the accident and the impact it has on the whole family, especially Ben, Maddy, and their teenage daughter Emma.  Ben fears he will be brought up on charges and does his best to convince himself and everyone around him that he was not at fault.  Emma is left to care for her two younger siblings and Maddy is understandably frustrated at her slow and painful recovery.

While I was frustrated at times with the story, it was captivating.  I felt terrible for Maddy, yet wondered why she would allow herself and her children to be continually abused emotionally by Ben.  Emma had most of my sympathy, as the teenager who has way too much thrust on her all at once, without any adult guidance.  This was a very good story of a dysfunctional family doing its best to heal.  The author shows us how damaging words can really be.

Summary

Accidents of Marriage explores a topic rarely shown in fiction: the destruction left in the wake of spouse’s verbal fury. Ben never meant to hurt Maddy. He never imagined his recklessness would lead to tragedy. 

Maddy is a social worker trying to balance her career and three children. Years ago, she fell in love with Ben, a public defender, drawn to his fiery passion, but now he’s lashing out at her during his periodic verbal furies. She vacillates between tiptoeing around him and asserting herself for the sake of their kids – which works to keep a fragile peace – until the rainy day when they’re together in the car and Ben’s volatile temper gets the best of him, leaving Maddy in the hospital fighting for her life.

Randy Susan Meyers takes us inside the hearts and minds of her characters, alternating among the perspectives of Maddy, Ben, and their fourteen-year-old daughter. Accidents of Marriage is a provocative and stunning novel that will resonate deeply with women from all walks of life, ultimately revealing the challenges of family, faith, and forgiveness.

The Children Act by Ian McEwan

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The Children Act

by Ian McEwan

published by Nan A. Talese

2014

I received this book from the publisher through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

My Review

I am not sure why I wanted to read this book, other than the subject really interested me.  I have strange feelings toward the author.  I respect his talent immensely, but can not help but feel very bad after I read a book by him.  Atonement, maybe his best known novel, is wonderfully written, but I can’t say I enjoyed it.  I think I feel the same about this book.  The part of the book that deals with law is fascinating, as is the main character Fiona, when she is dealing with a case, or thinking on others.  It is her personal life that is a mess, and just gets messier.  As the story unfolds, I cheer Fiona along.  I sort of wish she would go all crazy on her idiot husband when he asks for an open marriage, but totally credit her for not breaking down and being all weepy- why cry your eyes out for a total jerk.  I loved the case of the 17 year old Jehovah’s Witness, who is choosing to follow his religion rather than accept a blood transfusion that will save his life.  As Fiona delves into the law behind this case- The Children Act- we see not only her intelligence, but also her humanity.  Unfortunately, Mr. McEwan  doesn’t like to wrap thing up in nice little packages, but prefers to show  the harsh realities of life.  Even the best characters have flaws, and they always come out.  I would definitely recommend this book.  It is a very well written story that left me feeling sad.

Summary

Fiona Maye is a High Court judge in London presiding over cases in family court. She is fiercely intelligent, well respected, and deeply immersed in the nuances of her particular field of law. Often the outcome of a case seems simple from the outside, the course of action to ensure a child’s welfare obvious. But the law requires more rigor than mere pragmatism, and Fiona is expert in considering the sensitivities of culture and religion when handing down her verdicts. 
But Fiona’s professional success belies domestic strife. Her husband, Jack, asks her to consider an open marriage and, after an argument, moves out of their house. His departure leaves her adrift, wondering whether it was not love she had lost so much as a modern form of respectability; whether it was not contempt and ostracism she really fears. She decides to throw herself into her work, especially a complex case involving a seventeen-year-old boy whose parents will not permit a lifesaving blood transfusion because it conflicts with their beliefs as Jehovah’s Witnesses. But Jack doesn’t leave her thoughts, and the pressure to resolve the case—as well as her crumbling marriage—tests Fiona in ways that will keep readers thoroughly enthralled until the last stunning page.

Currently Reading…We Are Not Ourselves

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Hello all and a big SORRY  I have been away from the blog for so long.  It was a crazy summer and I am hoping to be able to put a lot more time and effort into posting!  I figured I would start with a quick FYI of what I am just now starting to read.  I was lucky enough to receive a copy of We Are Not Ourselves through  Librarything’s Early Reviewer program.  I just got it last week and am very excited to crack it open.  Here is a summary-

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Born in 1941, Eileen Tumulty is raised by her Irish immigrant parents in Woodside, Queens, in an apartment where the mood swings between heartbreak and hilarity, depending on whether guests are over and how much alcohol has been consumed.

When Eileen meets Ed Leary, a scientist whose bearing is nothing like those of the men she grew up with, she thinks she’s found the perfect partner to deliver her to the cosmopolitan world she longs to inhabit. They marry, and Eileen quickly discovers Ed doesn’t aspire to the same, ever bigger, stakes in the American Dream.

Eileen encourages her husband to want more: a better job, better friends, a better house, but as years pass it becomes clear that his growing reluctance is part of a deeper psychological shift. An inescapable darkness enters their lives, and Eileen and Ed and their son Connell try desperately to hold together a semblance of the reality they have known, and to preserve, against long odds, an idea they have cherished of the future.

Through the Learys, novelist Matthew Thomas charts the story of the American Century, particularly the promise of domestic bliss and economic prosperity that captured hearts and minds after WWII. The result is a riveting and affecting work of art; one that reminds us that life is more than a tally of victories and defeats, that we live to love and be loved, and that we should tell each other so before the moment slips away. 

Epic in scope, heroic in character, masterful in prose, We Are Not Ourselves heralds the arrival of a major new talent in contemporary fiction.

I am half Irish and cannot wait to get into this story!  Have you read it yet?

The Tumble Inn- a review

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The Tumble Inn

by William Loizeaux

published by Syracuse University Press

2014

I received this book from the publisher through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

My Review

I admit it- I chose this book TOTALLY based on the cover.  Look at it- so peaceful, adirondack chair right on the lake, a little sepia tone.  The summary intrigued me too- pretty much turning in your boring life to do something so different and challenging- so exciting.  I loved journeying through the first few years at the Tumble Inn with Mark and Fran.  This was the fasted and lightest part of the book.  When their child, Nat, becomes a teenager, the story slows down and becomes a little deeper.  Then tragedy strikes this small family and the pain and sadness seeps through to the reader.  I finished this book quickly, as the story moves fast at first, and the writing is very smooth.  Though not exactly what I was expecting- something a little lighter, like an early Tom Hanks movie?-I would definitely recommend this.  Have you read this book?  What were your thoughts?

Summary

Tired of their high school teaching jobs and discouraged by their failed attempts at conceiving a child, Mark and Fran Finley decide they need a change in their lives. Abruptly, they leave their friends and family in suburban New Jersey to begin anew as innkeepers on a secluded lake in the Adirondack Mountains. There they muddle through their first season at the inn, serving barely edible dinners to guests, stranding themselves in chest-deep snowdrifts, and somehow, miraculously, amid swarms of ravenous black flies, conceiving a child, a girl they name Nat. Years later, when Mark and Fran are nearing middle age and Nat is a troubled teenager, Mark’s life is ripped apart, forever changed, and he must choose between returning to his old home in New Jersey or trying to rebuild what is left of his life and family in the place of his greatest joy and deepest sorrow.

The Tumble Inn is a moving drama about home and about the fragility and resilience of love

A Wedding in Provence by Ellen Sussman

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A Wedding in Provence

by Ellen Sussman

published by Balantine Books

2014

I received this book from the publisher through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

My Review

I was very excited to read this book, but about half way in I lost a little.  I love the premise of a family gathering in France for a wedding- must be so many interesting characters and scenes!  Olivia is marrying Brody at her best friends’ inn in Provence, and is expecting her two adult daughters and Brody’s mother to attend.  Her daughters Nell and Carly as as different as night and day and really don’t get along that well.  As the weekend unfolds there are many tears and revelations.

This was a fun book to read and it went very quickly. At first, I really didn’t like any of the characters- Olivia and Brady weren’t really fleshed out, and Carley and Nell just annoyed me.  As the story moved on, I found the characters of the sisters develop and open up and this made the book worth reading.

Summary

What could be more idyllic than a wedding in Provence? That’s what Olivia and Brody think when they invite their closest friends and family to spend their wedding weekend with them. But when Olivia’s older daughter from her first marriage invites a man she met on the plane to join her, the delicate balance of the entire weekend is upset. Soon Olivia’s best friend, the owner of the inn who is hosting the wedding, discovers that her husband has cheated on her. Then Brody’s mother shows up without his father, who has gone into hiding. How can one choose love in the midst of chaos? Told from the point of view of Olivia and her two daughters, A Wedding in Provence is a moving novel about love, trust, secrets and family.

The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell

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The House We Grew Up In

by Lisa Jewell

published by Atria Books

2014

I received this book from the publisher through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

My Review

This is the story of the Bird family that live in a beautiful cottage in Cotswolds- Lorelei and Colin, and their four children.  We begin on Easter Sunday, 1981 and when life seemed perfect and the following 30 years.  The story is told in flashbacks from the perspectives of different characters and always at the heart is tragic Lorelei.  Death, trauma, and mental illness plague the family and the different relationships that make it up are show to the reader in glaring honesty.

When I started reading this book, I thought it would be like many others I have come across- odd family, tragedy, and growth- but it was SO much more.  Lisa Jewell has woven a fascinating story here and I didn’t want it to end.  This is definitely a book to read.

Summary

Meet the Bird family. They live in a honey-colored house in a picture-perfect Cotswolds village, with rambling, unkempt gardens stretching beyond. Pragmatic Meg, dreamy Beth, and tow-headed twins Rory and Rhys all attend the village school and eat home-cooked meals together every night. Their father is a sweet gangly man named Colin, who still looks like a teenager with floppy hair and owlish, round-framed glasses. Their mother is a beautiful hippy named Lorelei, who exists entirely in the moment. And she makes every moment sparkle in her children’s lives.

Then one Easter weekend, tragedy comes to call. The event is so devastating that, almost imperceptibly, it begins to tear the family apart. Years pass as the children become adults, find new relationships, and develop their own separate lives. Soon it seems as though they’ve never been a family at all. But then something happens that calls them back to the house they grew up in — and to what really happened that Easter weekend so many years ago.

Told in gorgeous, insightful prose that delves deeply into the hearts and minds of its characters, The House We Grew Up In is the captivating story of one family’s desire to restore long-forgotten peace and to unearth the many secrets hidden within the nooks and crannies of home

Bookish (& Not So Bookish) Thoughts

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Bookish & Not So Bookish Thoughts

is a weekly meme hosted by Christine over at Bookishly Boisterous, where we post things that are on our minds.  Head over there and check it out!

Haven’t been able to join in for so long!!

1.  I finally cave and bought my own Kindle.  Teen daughter was not very keen on sharing any longer, and I cracked my iPad trying to kill a fly.  I had about 5 ebooks waiting to be reviewed, so I gave in and bought a refurbed paperwhite.  I REALLy wish I didn’t like it.

2.  On the same topic, I actually got my mom to start using a Kindle.  I gave her my daughter’s old one (while I was happy with my as yet uncracked iPad) and loaded tons of books on there for her.  This was on Mother’s Day, and she just now read a book on it.  Mind you, she reads about 4-6 books a week.  She hates change.  Now I know where I get it from.

3.  My yellow Lab,Katie, is getting on in years (11+) and has started showing signs of advanced arthritis in her back legs, so at the last vet visit, we put her on Glucosamine and Prevacox (an NSAID).  Now she is a BAD BAD dog again.  She ran away from us while we were vacationing in Maryland (sorry grumpy farmer who was not happy she came to visit) and just last night she got into a pretty nasty fight with a raccoon.  No blood was drawn, but there was lots of hissing and plenty of hurt feelings.  I think we were better off when she wasn’t so spry.  This is the dog I thought Marley was based on, only a little worse behaved and not as cute.

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4.  I know I am about a year behind, but I am finally reading The Cuckoo’s Calling and I love it!  I had my doubts about Rowling’s future after The Casual Vacancy :-0, but this is great.  What is the sequel called??

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5.  I am thinking about signing up for Bout of Books this August.   The dates work very much in my favor, as that is the week that practice starts for fall sports at the kids’ high school, and they are playing field hockey and football.  Their practices are over 3 hours each and the school is about 45 minutes away, so I see myself with LOTS of time to kill.

6.  I thought the polar vortex was only supposed to happen in the winter!  Yesterday there high only reached 75 here, and it went down to 53 at night!  This is supposed to be the hottest part of the summer.  Upside is of course the lower electric bill-love open windows!!

7.  We recently vacationed in a small town in Maryland called Cambridge, where we happened upon a little shop called A Few of My Favorite Things.  They sell wine, gourmet cheese, and gourmet chocolates.  Heaven!  We went back almost every day.  Now if  only they sold books too, I would never have left.

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