Not In Jersey: What I’ve Been Reading #154 What I’ve Been Reading #154 - Not In Jersey

What I’ve Been Reading #154

Friday, May 5, 2017


Today I have 3 books to share. 

I was contacted directly by Maria Murnane and she asked me if I would read and review her book, Bridges, which takes place a year after this book, Wait For The Rain. When she sent me both books, I read Wait For The Rain first, since it takes place first! I am currently reading Bridges, but I will have to review that one next time! I will say that I’m excited to reunite with the characters that were introduced in Wait For The Rain!

“Daphne White is staring down the barrel of forty—and is distraught at what she sees. Her ex-husband is getting remarried, her teenage daughter hardly needs her anymore, and the career she once dreamed about has somehow slipped from her grasp. She’s almost lost sight of the spirited and optimistic young woman she used to be. As she heads off to a Caribbean island to mark the new decade with her best friends from college, Daphne’s in anything but the mood to celebrate. But when she meets Clay Hanson, a much younger man, she ignores her inner voice warning her that she’s too old for a fling. In fact, this tropical getaway might be the perfect opportunity to picture her future in a new sun-drenched light. With the help of her friends, Daphne rediscovers her enthusiasm for life, as well as her love for herself—and realizes that her best years are still ahead.”

There were a lot of things I loved about this book, but I think what I loved the most was the three main characters and their friendship. Daphne is the main character and the one who tells the story, but her two college friends have a lot of personality and insight between them. KC is described as tiny but fierce, as she loves to work out and makes Daphne do a beach workout with her. Skyler is the busy working woman who has made a success of her life, though she is constantly on the phone even from the Caribbean island. Daphne herself is dealing with turning 40, her ex-husband getting re-married, and the feeling that her life has gotten away from her. She seems to envy her two friends, but at the same time, she admires them and learns from them. The island itself is another thing I loved about the book – the setting is so calming and the descriptions really made it real. I loved the dialogue between the characters – it is very well written and feels real. And I love the lesson imparted by the older couple that the friends meet on the beach. The secret to a long lasting marriage is laughter. Finally, I loved the imagery of the cleansing rain on the island. Daphne even got to impart this secret to another person she met who was also left reeling after a divorce. She found herself tired of living in the past and realized that just as the rain signified a fresh start on the island, she could get a fresh start on life, even after the age of 40.

Maria Murnane’s fans planned a Virtual Launch Party for Bridges, which will be held on facebook on the evening of Monday the 15th! There will be chats with the author and prizes!

It took me a long time to reach Hidden by Catherine McKenzie in my pile of to-be-read books, but once I started it, it was a quick finish! The sad story of a man who is struck by a car, this book is told from the viewpoints of him, his wife, and another woman – his friend? Or co-worker? Or was it something else?

“While walking home from work one evening, Jeff Manning is struck by a car and killed. Two women fall to pieces at the news: his wife, Claire, and his co-worker Tish. Reeling from her loss, Claire must comfort her grieving son as well as contend with funeral arrangements, well-meaning family members, and the arrival of Jeff’s estranged brother, who was her ex-boyfriend. Tish volunteers to attend the funeral on her company’s behalf, but only she knows the true risk of inserting herself into the wreckage of Jeff’s life. Told through the three voices of Jeff, Tish, and Claire, Hidden explores the complexity of relationships, the repercussions of our personal choices, and the responsibilities we have to the ones we love.”

This book raised questions about what is acceptable in a marriage. Can a man and a woman just be friends? And should the secrets of a dead man be shared or kept hidden? I really enjoy Catherine McKenzie’s books. This was probably not my favorite due to the subject matter, but it was as well-written and entertaining as her other books that I have read.

Finally, I recently finished reading The Last Painting of Sara De Vos by Dominic Smith, which is my book group’s pick for this month. Unfortunately, I’m going to be missing the book group meeting due to a last minute change of plans! I would really have liked to discuss this book with the group, because I felt like I did not get as much out of it as I could have when I was reading it.

“Amsterdam, 1631: Sara de Vos becomes the first woman to be admitted as a master painter to the city’s Guild of St. Luke. Though women do not paint landscapes (they are generally restricted to indoor subjects), a wintry outdoor scene haunts Sara: She cannot shake the image of a young girl from a nearby village, standing alone beside a silver birch at dusk, staring out at a group of skaters on the frozen river below. Defying the expectations of her time, she decides to paint it.

New York City, 1957: The only known surviving work of Sara de Vos, At the Edge of a Wood, hangs in the bedroom of a wealthy Manhattan lawyer, Marty de Groot, a descendant of the original owner. It is a beautiful but comfortless landscape. The lawyer’s marriage is prominent but comfortless, too. When a struggling art history grad student, Ellie Shipley, agrees to forge the painting for a dubious art dealer, she finds herself entangled with its owner in ways no one could predict.

Sydney, 2000: Now a celebrated art historian and curator, Ellie Shipley is mounting an exhibition in her field of specialization: female painters of the Dutch Golden Age. When it becomes apparent that both the original At the Edge of a Wood and her forgery are en route to her museum, the life she has carefully constructed threatens to unravel entirely and irrevocably.”

I am definitely not well-versed in art or art history, and I don’t consider myself a historical fiction fan, with some exceptions. Unfortunately, this book didn’t change my mind on either of these facts. Every time I tried to read it, I fell asleep. there was a bit towards the end that kept my attention better, but in general I found it slow-paced and not all that interesting. One thing I did like about the book was the description of the painting that the story is based around. If I was more interested in the subject matter, I probably would have gotten a lot more out of this book.

What have you been reading lately?

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