Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney

 

Dear Fellow Reader,

How are you today? Have you been busy reading? I have been. I am, once again behind. I need to stop looking at bookish things so that new books aren’t added to my reading pile. Do you ever feel that way? I have a list in a drawer of books that sound interesting and I never get to that list. There is always so much in front of me. I had read about this week’s book and then the author came to my local library. It was very interesting to hear the author talk about the book. So between seeing the author and reading the description, I was hooked. To my husband’s surprise, I waited until I got the book from the library to read it.

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk is (of course) about Lillian Boxfish taking a walk on December 31, 1984. Lillian lives in New York City and is 85 years old. She is quite sharp for 85 and does not actually set out to take a walk. As the book opens she discovers, much to her dismay that while talking to her son, Gian, on the phone, she has consumed a package of Oreos. She isn’t even sure why there were Oreos in her apartment. But she has a dinner reservation and now she isn’t hungry. She sets out to walk to dinner with the hopes of being hungry by the time of her reservation. While walking, she reminisces about her life. Lillian was, in the 1930s, the highest paid woman copywriter in the world. And while she was working for R.H. Macy’s, she was also a published poet. She was a very accomplished woman. She was sure that she would never marry because to marry would mean that she would have to leave work. And why would she want to do that?

Since the book opens with her talking to her son, we know that she must have had to leave at some point. Lillian walks through New York City on the evening of New Year’s Eve and tells the story of her life. She has had a long full life. She was a well-respected author and businesswoman but she had bad times also. Fortunately, she also made friends along the way. So now at 85 …

“No one survives the future, of course. Over the years I have rushed it, run from it, tried to shunt myself from its track. That these efforts did not succeed does not mean the I regret them.

Now? The future and I are just about even, our quarrel all but resolved. I welcome its coming, and I resolve to be attentive to the details of its arrival. I plan to meet it at the station in my best white dress, violet corsage in hand. Waving as it comes into view, borne toward the present on its road of anthracite.”

The story is well paced and keeps your interest. Lillian is a very interesting person. Even more interesting is that the story is inspired by a real person. Margaret Fishback was really the highest paid female advertising copywriter in the world during the 1930s. And she did publish poetry books. Knowing that, makes the book just a little more interesting. Don’t skip reading the Author’s Notes and Sources at the end of the book for more information.

I think you should take the walk with Lillian!

Thanks for reading!

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Second Chance at Two Love Lane by Kieran Kramer

Dear Fellow Reader,

Before I forget, which I seem to tend to do with this, I received this book in exchange for my honest review. I guess I am always supposed to tell you that but half the time I don’t remember where I got the book I’m reviewing. Especially if it is an eBook. I don’t pay enough attention when I am reading an eBook as to whether I own it, borrowed it from the library, or received it to review. And yes, there is a big backlog of books on my eReader. I might be embarrassed but no one sees it but me. Okay, my husband sees it but he is generally immune to it by now. (Except he made a comment about the growing stack of actual books.) As they say, so many books, so little time.

Getting back to the book. I just finished Second Chance at Two Love Lane. It is not the first in the series. I didn’t know that before I started reading the book. It did not make any difference. The book tells the story of Ella Mancini who lives in Charleston, SC. She co-owns a business, Two Love Lane, which is a matchmaking business. She also loves to act in community theater.

Ella grew up in New York City. She adored her father and he had completely supported her dream to be an actress. Her father told her many times that she should not let any man get in the way of her dreams. Then she met Hank. They were both struggling actors and she made a mistake. She passed up a movie role to stay in New York with Hank. On her birthday, the night she thought that he would ask her to marry him, he broke up with her instead because he had received a role in a movie and was leaving town.

Ten years have passed and she and her family are settled in Charleston. She suddenly receives flowers from Hank and on the card, he asks her to call him. She doesn’t know what to do. The next day when she is visiting her Mother, Pammy arrives. Pammy is Hank’s cousin, who is new to Charleston. She doesn’t know anyone and wants Ella’s help in meeting people. Ella assumes that helping Pammy is the favor that Hank was looking for and she doesn’t call him back.

In the meantime, Hank is in New York with his family and he is feeling down. He finally starts to admit to himself that he misses Ella and that she is the only one who truly knows him. Then he is offered a role in a movie filming in Charleston. He has turned down the role before even though it is a good role because he doesn’t want to see Ella. When the role is offered again, his father urges him to go to Charleston and find out if the relationship is what he thinks it is.

It wouldn’t be very romantic if Hank didn’t take the role. Does the relationship work? Can Ella forgive Hank for dumping her? Would she even be willing to leave Charleston and her company?

This is a fine book if you need something light to read. Even the title gives the indication that it is a romance and it is light and fluffy. There are no huge surprises but it is pleasant.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

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Bob by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead

 

Hello Fellow Reader!

It is summer and time to take it easy and read some lighter fare. This week’s choice is certainly lighter fare. I had heard a lot of buzz about this book and it sounded interesting, so I had to read it. Okay, it is a children’s book. From what I can tell, it is for third to fifth graders. The book is classified by Amazon in the Friendship and the Fantasy sections. (Who knew there was a Friendship section?)

Yes, I read the book even though it is classified as a children’s book. A story is a story. There can be interesting stories of all lengths.

Livy has not been to Australia to visit her Grandmother for five years. At 10, she doesn’t remember a lot about her prior visit. Her Grandmother has some of the things that were precious to her on her last visit out for her when she arrives. She doesn’t remember any of them. There was a baggie with all the black chess pieces, a toy elephant, and a tape recorder. This cache means nothing to Livy. Her Grandmother seems very disappointed the Livy doesn’t remember her visit and the things that she loved when she was 5.

When Livy goes up to her bedroom, she has a surprise waiting for her. When she opens the closet door, besides seeing a tutu, some old clothes, a Lego pirate ship, and a dictionary, there is a small zombie wearing a chicken suit. The zombie (Whose name is Bob.) looks at her and says “You’re back. Took you long enough.”

“Here are some of the things I did while I awaited Livy’s return:

Counted to 987,654, 321. Six times.

Built a Lego pirate ship. Sixty-three times. In the dark

Played chess against a Lego pirate monkey and still lost most of the time.

Tried to do the hokey pokey like Livy had taught me but there’s not much room to turn oneself around.

Cried. But only once.

Okay twice. Each day. But only for the first year.

Thought of all the reasons that might explain why Livy didn’t come back for me.”

The chapters in the book alternate between  Livy and Bob’s perspectives. Livy and Bob each have some pieces of the puzzle as to what Bob is and together they figure it out. It is a very sweet little book about old friends reuniting and finding their friendship is still strong. (Even If one doesn’t remember the other too well.) (But there is a reason for that and they find that out too.)

Okay, so I am recommending a Children’s book this week. I usually give away books after I read them, but this is one that I will keep. I look forward to sharing it with my grandson.

Thanks for reading!

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The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer

 

Dear Fellow Reader,

I don’t often say this but GO READ THIS BOOK NOW.  I did not expect to like this book as much as I did. Yes, it has been on many “favorites” lists for the year. Yes, I know there is a lot of buzz about it. I read the description of the book and was not especially drawn to read it.  I put it on hold at the local library and I got it faster than I ever would have expected.  I was still a bit ambivalent about reading it but I started it and then…

Okay, I will tell you that I love it when a book has a plot twist that you could never have seen coming. When it is such a shock that you gasp out loud while you are reading it.  That happens in this book. There was no way to see this coming and it totally affects the rest of the story.  I bow before Meg Wolitzer.  It was so good.  For the first time in a long time, I would like to talk to her about her writing process and where this came from.

Let me say right now that I think that the description of the book leaves it a little flat. It is so much better than the description. I’m not sure if I can do better than those paid to tell you the description but I will make an attempt.  The book tells the story of four characters. Two of the characters are the center of the story. Greer and Cory are high school sweethearts. They are both very bright and often referred to as the “twin rocket ships”. They look like they will be able to be very successful and they have big plans. Greer is very quiet and needs to learn to use her “outside voice” to be able to stick up for herself. She meets Zee in college and they become fast friends. Zee is a feminist and introduces Greer to the movement. They both go to see the famous feminist, Faith Frank, talk and Greer becomes a dedicated follower of Faith Frank.  While she knows that there are more zealous feminist movements, she continues to be in awe of Faith and her role.

The story tells us about Greer, Cory, Zee, and Faith and how their lives come together and then separate and how some come back together.  It is about friendship and growing and finding or accepting your place in the world.

And I loved this book. I want you to read it and love it.

Thanks for reading!

 

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The Bookshop of Yesterdays by Amy Meyerson

Dear Fellow Reader,

The Bookshop of Yesterdays is classified as fiction but it also contains a mystery. Or, I guess it could be said that it contains a quest.

Miranda Brooks is doing well. She is living in Philadelphia with her boyfriend, Jay. She teaches eighth-grade history in a private school and she loves it. The school year has come to an end and she is getting ready for a party she and her boyfriend are having to celebrate. She sees that there is a package that obviously contains a book in her mail. The book in the package is the play, The Tempest. Since Miranda is named after the character in the play, she knows the play well. The enclosed card has the message “Understanding prepares us for the future.”  Then she notices that there are some passages highlighted in the play. She didn’t understand but she had a party to prepare for so she put the book and card away.

During the party, Miranda receives a call from her mother. Since she and her mother were very close, she was surprised that her mother called during the time she knew that Miranda was hosting a party. Her mother was calling to tell Miranda that her Uncle Billy had died.

Miranda had not seen her uncle in sixteen years. She knew that Billy and her mother had had an argument, but she never knew why they argued. She saw her uncle one time after the night of the argument and then he left and never returned. She tried to find him at the bookstore that he owned, Prospero Books, but he was not there.

Miranda’s relationship with her uncle had been special and one of the special parts was that he would create scavenger hunts for her whenever they were together. She would have to solve clues to move on to the next step of the hunt. She loved the time she spent with her Uncle Billy.

Upon hearing of his death, Miranda went back to California to attend the funeral. Her mother would not go with her. She went by herself and felt very strange among the group of people who were at the funeral. They all seemed to know each other, and she was the outsider. Uncle Billy’s lawyer came up to her at the cemetery and asked her to come and see him the next day about Billy’s will.

Her mother decided that she had to go with Miranda to the lawyer’s office. The lawyer informed them that Billy had left the bookstore to Miranda. There was also a copy of Jane Eyre. There were highlighted passages in that book also and a name in the front cover. Evelyn Weston. Miranda’s mother was upset about Billy leaving the bookstore to Miranda and even more upset when Miranda brought up the name Evelyn Weston. When prodded, she told Miranda that Billy had been married to Evelyn Weston before Miranda had been born.

The clues from the highlighted sections of The Tempest and Jane Eyre set Miranda on a quest to find out what Billy wants her to know. The process leads her to question her relationship with her parents and others. There are times she is ready to give up when suddenly things become clear and she moves ahead.

The Bookshop of Yesterdays is Amy Meyerson’s first book and it is very good. I enjoyed seeing how the story unfolded. The book has many literary references, which always make a reader’s heart beat a bit faster. An altogether good read.

Thanks for reading!

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