Good Reads for Year's End
There are many good novels available out there. Here are notes about a few that have crossed my desk this year.
"Heat Wave" (Ballantine, $25) is another great story by Nancy Thayer. Carley Winstead discovers after her husband's death that their financial situation may mean that they cannot remain in their Nantucket home.
Much to the dismay of her mother-in-law, Carley decides to turn the house into a bed-and-breakfast.
Carley's friend Maud shares a secret that puts Carley in an awkward situation, and she has to deal with whether or not she is willing to move on and start a relationship.
"Money Can't Buy Love" (Grand Central, $24.99) is by Connie Briscoe, author of the well-received "Sisters and Husbands." Ever wondered what would happen if you won big in the lottery? Lenora Stone discovers that money doesn't solve problems; it often makes them bigger.
Ellyn Bache's "The Art of Saying Goodbye" (William Morrow, $13.99) lets readers in on the lives of five women, neighbors for many years, who must come to terms with the imminent death of one of them. As each of them confronts the issues in their own lives, their thoughts of Paisley color their decisions. Bache's characters leap off the page.
Anne Rivers Siddons is the author of "Burnt Mountain" (Grand Central, $25.99). After Thayer Wentworth's marriage to an Irish professor many years later, they move into her late grandmother's Atlanta home, not far from Camp Edgewood. It was near there on Burnt Mountain that Thayer's father died in a car accident. Life seems to be going well for Thayer and Aengus until Aengus accepts an invitation to be a storyteller at camp. He spends more time at camp than at home, and Thayer finds herself discovering secrets she'd rather not know.
"Life Studies," by Nancy Gotter Gates (Gale Cengage, $25.95), tells the story of Liz Raynor, who at 55 is a widow. She decides to pursue her interest in painting and rents a small studio at an artists' center, where she enrolls in a life studies class taught by Jay Kadlacek.
For the first time since Peter's death, she finds herself attracted to another man, and he seems to like her as well. Life takes a strange turn, however, when a young woman comes to the door asking for her late husband. What is her connection to Peter? And can Liz and Jay get past all of the issues they are dealing with to become a couple?
Lovers of historical fiction will enjoy "The Queen's Governess" (NAL, $15), by Karen Harper. Katherine Ashley, daughter of a country beekeeper, becomes a member of the royal court when Thomas Cromwell comes across her on a visit. He wants her to spy on members of the court. When Anne Boleyn hires Kat to act as governess to her daughter Elizabeth, Kat's loyalties shift to her charge, for whom she will risk everything.
For a different look at the life of a pirate, try "Fire on Dark Water" (Berkley, $15), by Wendy K. Perriman. Lola Blaise is born a gypsy and eventually finds herself at the mercy of men of all sorts. She manages to get herself to Nassau, where she earns her living as a prostitute until she finds a place on Blackbeard's ship, hoping that piracy will lead to personal freedom.
"The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt," by Caroline Preston (Ecco, $26), is a novel in an unusual format. I wondered when I began reading it if it could hold my attention, since it's presented in little bits of typewritten notes, old postcards and other memorabilia, but found it easy going.
Frankie Pratt graduates from high school in 1920 and hopes to head to college. She enters Vassar on scholarship, where she meets people of all kinds, and eventually takes a trip to Paris. The ups and downs of love and other relationships are evident through Frankie's scrapbook. The author has collected antique scrapbooks since she was in high school.
Contact Faye Dasen at email@example.com.
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