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Ladies First! July 8, 2010

Posted by stacey in Genre Book Discussion, Women's Fiction.

How exciting! And How sad! This was our last (first time around) genre in the list and it was …Women’s Fiction! Women’s Fiction are books that feature women as the main, ultimately triumphant, characters and focus on their relationships with family and friends in romantic or suspenseful storylines. Newer entries in this category can also have a wittier edge to them. Sounds interesting, right? And there’s a nice variety in what everyone chose to discuss too:

Donna: The Season of Second Chances: A Novel by Diane Meier is the author’s first fiction novel. At 48, single Columbia University professor Joy Harkness leaves her comfortable life to start over again with a new teaching position at Amherst College in Massachusetts. Always a content loner, Joy reluctantly becomes involved with the close-knit college community. As she adjusts to her new life, Joy realizes that she is getting a second chance at life to do something different with her life. This is a pleasant, “feel-good” novel to enjoy and treasure.

Janet: The Red Thread by Ann Hood. Following the freak accident that kills her baby daughter Maya Lange starts an adoption agency that brings together Chinese baby girls with American Families. Although her agency brings Maya comfort, it is her work with a set of six couples that forces her to step beyond her current comfort zone.

Evelyn: True Colors by Kristin Hannah. After their mother’s death, the three Grey sisters, nicknamed Bean, Sprout, and Pea by their deceased mother, do the best they can to take care of their father, their ranch, and each other, but they encounter many stumbling blocks along the way. The eldest, Winona, is a lawyer and very smart, but hindered by weight problems. Aurora, the middle daughter, is married, comfortably wealthy and the peacemaker. And Vivi Ann, the youngest, is beautiful, a champion rider, and loved by everyone. This is a wonderful story about sisters, family relationships, and determining what’s most important in your life. I highly recommend it.

Carol: In Lori Lansen’s novel, The Wife’s Tale, Mary Gooch waits for her husband to arrive home on the eve of their silver anniversary. Morbidly obese, Mary met Jimmy when she was at her lightest weight, and has grown proportionately during their 25 years together. When Jimmy does not come home at all, Mary sets out on a road trip across North America to find him. Instead, she finds herself, and realizes that it is life that she has been missing out on while hiding behind her weight and food obsession. This novel will have readers cheering for Mary all along her journey of self (& muscle) discovery. Lansen’s prose sparkles as she treats topics of eating disorders and failed marriages with the seriousness they deserve, while at the same time allowing readers to laugh at along the way.

Megan: Her by Laura Zigman. Elise and Donald are happily planning their wedding when Donald’s absolutely perfect ex-fiance suddenly reappears. Elise’s jealousy and suspicion eventually leads to stalkerish behavior that threatens her sanity and her relationship.

Emma: The Diary of a Shirtwaist Striker by Theresa Serber Malkiel was written in 1910. It’s the fictional diary of a young woman, Mary, who went on strike in November 1909 with fellow shirtwaist makers who were seeking a 52-hour workweek, 4 paid holidays, employer-furnished supplies, safer work conditions, etc. When Mary’s dad forces her out of the family home for joining the strike, she better understands the plight of her coworkers who support their families and are destitute even with the wages they earn.

Dori: The Last Time I Saw You by Elizabeth Berg. A diverse group of men and women attending their 40th and final high school reunion anticipate revisiting their past and reinventing their futures. Some are looking for new or rekindled love, some for simple recognition, but all find something that they need. Both funny and touching, Berg’s latest is a charming look at the hopes as well as the realities of middle age.

Rosemary: The Other Family by Joanna Trollope explores the conflicted feelings of two women and their adult children after the sudden death of pianist Richie Rossiter. More than twenty years ago, he left Margaret and their young son for Chrissie, a woman almost half his age. Richie never divorced Margaret, even though he and Chrissie had three lively daughters together. Now that Richie’s will has left a considerable part of his estate to Margaret, Chrissie must tell her daughters that they were never married and that they have a half-brother living not far away. Trollope relates an emotional story filled with longing, sadness, and transformation.

Ann: While I’m Falling by Laura Moriarty. Veronica’s life is in a downward spin as is her mother’s life. The two intersect near the bottom and each helps the other back on her feet. In this book and in her two other previous books, Moriarty takes a good look at mother-daughter relationships. Moriarty is an insightful writer.

Stacey: Seven Year Switch by Claire Cook has all the elements you ever want in a great women’s fiction title. Seven years after Jill’s husband Seth took off for parts unknown, leaving her with their three-year-old girl, things have settled into a fairly decent routine for mom and daughter. There’s even the possibility Jill might start dating when Seth reappears as suddenly as he disappeared. Now Jill needs to figure out what’s best for her, and for her daughter, and choose what she wants her future to become.

It was a good note to end on and a lovely group to discuss books with but even better? Well, that’s knowing that we’re not done! We’re going to start all over again! So, next time? We’ll be reading books for children and teens, which means anything written for an audience under the age of 18! Ready? Set? Read!

— Stacey



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