It’s Ladies Day! -in Women’s Fiction

We recently spent some time thinking about the lives of women and focusing on their relationships with family, friends, and loves -or- we talked about Women’s Fiction! Either way you think about it?It’s true! I think it was a pretty successful discussion with positive responses all around, why not see what you think of what we read?

Maureen: The Magician’s Lie by Greer Macallister is an absorbing historical debut that takes readers into the world of traveling magic shows in America around 1900. The main character, known as the Amazing Arden, has just been apprehended after a dead man is discovered beneath the stage of her show. The story unfolds backwards as Arden tells her life story to the deputy that catches her and explains how she came to be one of the only female illusionists of her time. Her life is full of heartbreak, love, suspense, and the thrill of performing. Will it turn out that Arden is the perpetrator of the murder? Just who is the mysterious man found dead beneath the stage? A compelling historical novel with a very strong female character that perseveres in the face of many obstacles and learns what she is really made of in the process.

Megan: The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters is the story of Olivia Mead, a headstrong teen living in Oregon in 1900. While Olivia is drawn to the suffragist movement and dreams of going to college, her father wants his daughter to be a docile wife and mother. He attempts to silence her by hiring a stage illusionist to hypnotize the rebellion out of her. The experiment has unexpected results. While Olivia is no longer able to speak her mind, she is able to see people’s true natures. The horrifying visions lead her back to the mysterious mesmerist and boost her resolve to fight for women’s rights. A captivating historical fiction with a hint of romance and a touch of the supernatural.

Beth: God Help the Child by Toni Morrison is a beautifully written story about a resilient female character who overcomes her past and finds the courage to take on her future. The story delves into some of the most sensitive, often disturbing, issues we face as a culture, including racism, pedophilia, and rape, all of which play some role in the main character’s life, shaping her into a strong female icon.

Carol: In The Precious One by Marisa de los Santos, Taisy has been estranged from her father Wilson, ever since he left their family to start a new one when she was a high school senior. Sixteen years later, she can’t seem to say ‘no’ when the unabashedly conceited Wilson asks her to write her memoir. The by-product of Wilson’s second marriage is his spoiled and beloved teenage daughter, the precocious Willow. Willow adores their father, but is less than thrilled when Taisy moves into the pool house to begin her research. Worse still is that Willow, who’s been homeschooled all her life, has been enrolled in public school. Desperate for some help with navigating through unchartered waters, Willow might just find that she’s glad Taisy is there after all. This novel about sisterhood, family, love and second chances is a quick read with a happy ending that would make for great beach reading.

Emma: In The Glass Kitchen by Linda Francis Lee, Portia has a magical way with food. Just like her grandmother, she knows exactly what to cook/bake to help people. Portia and her two sisters inherited a dilapidated brownstone in Manhattan. Her sisters quickly sold their apartments to wealthy widow Gabriel Kane who renovates the apartments and lives there with his two teenage daughters. Newly divorced Portia decides to leave Texas and move into her portion of the brownstone, the garden apartment. Gabriel’s daughters initially latch on to Portia because she’s a good cook, but eventually Portia becomes close with the girls and their father. Her goal is to open a Texas style restaurant like her grandmother’s “Glass Kitchen” in Manhattan. A mixture of families, romance, family secrets, and tasty recipes.

Steve: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows is a splendid book about author Juliet Ashton and her group of unexpected pen pals from Guernsey, who share their stories of life under Nazi occupation during World War II. Juliet ultimately meets her new circle of friends in person and her life undergoes major changes. Although this is a fictional account told in the form of letters, you would swear that these are real people.

Ann: The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain is the latest in a long string of the author’s books featuring strong women struggling with relationships and with life. Riley MacPherson returns home to New Bern, North Carolina after her father dies. As she sorts through the house and talks to people who knew her dad, she finds she not only didn’t know him as well as she thought, but unearths layer upon layer of family secrets and questions. There is a startling revelation about her sister. Riley finds her life spiraling almost out of control as she realizes that the family members she thought she knew had hidden so much from her. The story and the characters pull you in and keep you reading late into the night.

Dori: Ani FaNelli is a woman that seems to have it all – she’s clawed her way to a successful career in New York City and is about to marry a handsome, wealthy man. She’s also shallow, mean and deeply unhappy. She’s crafted a persona to hide a traumatic adolescence that involved a news making violent event at her prestigious high school. When she agrees to be interviewed for a documentary about the event, her past unravels and flashbacks reveal the painful truth, but what will Ani do with it? Entrancing the reader from the first page, Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll is a twisty, dark, surprising debut novel.

Lauren: The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen features two women facing the ups and downs of family, relationships, and the wounds of the past. Generations ago, Willa’s family was the height of Southern society in their small North Carolina town before being struck by financial ruin. During their heyday they built the Blue Ridge Madam, the town’s grandest mansion, which was subsequently sold and fell into disrepair. Paxton Osgood, Willa’s former classmate and still the quintessential “little Miss Perfect” is the President of the local women’s club and her family has purchased the Madam and Paxton is overseeing it’s restoration in time for the gala of the year. When a body is uncovered during renovations a decades-old mystery is brought to light and the two women are drawn together in delving into their pasts to uncover the truth.

Stacey: Lawyer for the Dog by Lee Robinson had a little romance, a super sweet dog named Sherman, and a powerful main character Sally Barnard. Sally is caring for her mother, who has advanced Alzheimer’s, while managing her own law practice and dealing with a little bit of relationship baggage from the past, which seems unavoidable as Sally’s in her fifties. This would be a good choice for a little light reading on the porch in summertime.

Next time we’re going to be sharing -mysteries! This is one genre I’m pretty sure no one here has any reluctance to read a mystery book and as a bonus feature -they’re really easy to define: a crime has been committed and someone tries to figure out who dunnit! -wa-lah!


— Stacey


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