Friday, May 9, 2014

A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy

image from LibraryThing
I am clearly in a nostalgic mood - this is another old favorite author!  Maeve Binchy is one of my very favorite!!! Her books are filled with the day to day life of everyday people. Her writing elevates their lives to simple poetry.  I know - that sounds a little ridiculously flowery - but she brings it out in me!

This book did not disappoint!  Chicky Starr is content to live her life out in the small Irish community of Stonybridge until a smiling yank sweeps her off her feet and carries her across the ocean to New York City. When that romance fades she can not tell her family what has happened - so she remains in New York creating a story of her life.  Over the years she settles in a boarding house and learns the trade and perfects her story - returning home now and again but maintaining the facade. When her favorite niece is ready to come to NY to see the glamorous life her aunt is leading Chicky makes a fateful decision - her husband is suddenly killed in a car accident and she decides to return home.  But - what will she do?  Refurbish an old genteel house on the coast and turn it in to a small hotel.

And that is where the story begins. Sort of. Binchy has a great way of layering different perspectives on top on one another.  As Chicky's story ends it is time to tell Rigger's story - the wayward son of Chicky's best friend.  And this story takes us a bit closer to the week in winter when Stone House will open.  Then it is Orla, Chicky's favorite niece's story.  And finally it is the stories of the guests who arrive that very first week in winter. Each arriving with their own lives of passion and boredom and intrigue and quiet.  Each a bit apprehensive, a bit concerned, a bit frazzled, and a bit overwhelmed at the healing sounds the ocean waves create.

Not all the stories end happily - or even end. Rather this feels like we have all been invited on a memorable week vacation - and it is time for us to pick up our own lives again.

I LOVE Binchy!!! Read this one!!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg

image from LibraryThing
A Fannie Flagg book is guaranteed to be a quick and interesting read and this one didn't let me down.  This story spans the years and the continent.

Sookie is the mother of 4 - a well settled southern woman with a mother who just won't quit!  I mean - really won't quit!!! We call her a battle ax around here! :)  She knows everything and everybody and he word and idea rule!  And poor Sookie she is at her mom's beck and call ALWAYS!

So - that is Sookie's life - complicated enough.  But, then it goes up another level.  There is a weird registered letter with a secret. . . Sookie was adopted. All her mom's pressure to be something, to follow the family way, to be more than she is.   

Sookie is blindsided!  Her entire life history is shuffled and twisted. She takes advice from some of her friends - some of the advice is better than others.  One of her friends, Malveern, suggests she join her naked drum circle to connect with her primal rage. That isn't really Sookie.  Instead, Sookie begins meeting with the town psychiatrist  - but not in his office right beside her mother's favorite beauty salon - instead they meet at the local waffle house for her counseling session.  

As Sookie's story slowly unfolds - another story is also unfolding.  Sookie's real mother according to the birth certificate is Fritzi, one of the bravest women alive!  She started her life as a wing-walker during barnstorming days and from there became a WASP - a group of women who transported planes during WWII across the country.  They were never really acknowledged but were amazing none the less.

As Sookie finds out more about her mother she slowly begins to understand herself.  This was a book about beginning again - no matter what the age or the past. It was just the story I needed. Fannie Flagg did it again!