Sunday, October 28, 2018

A Well-Behaved Woman: a Novel of the Vanderbilts by Therese Anne Fowler

Alva Smith's family's declining fortunes have ruled out marrying for love. With the help of friend Consuelo Yznaga, Alva settles on rich William Vanderbilt and they soon marry. The Vanderbilts are happy for the union, because the Smith's standing in society is long-established and could help elevate the Vanderbilt name. A Well-Behaved Woman chronicles Alva's life over thirty-five years, from newlywed and mother as she navigates upper-class hierarchy in  New York, through her efforts to find a good marriage match for her daughter, ultimately showing how Alva finds love and happiness for herself.  A fascinating novel that had me intrigued and researching the Vanderbilt family.

Monday, October 22, 2018

The Witch Elm by Tana French

Toby Hennessy lives a charmed life. He's wealthy with a great girlfriend, Melissa, and everything has always gone his way. But one evening he's attacked in his home by two men and suffers a brain injury. He has a hard time remembering things from the past and also physically isn't the same. Not able to go back to work, Toby decides to go live at Ivy House, the Hennessy family house for many generations--now occupied by Toby's Uncle Hugo, who dying from cancer, with only months to live. Since Toby and his cousins, Susanna and Leon, have spent a lot of time with Hugo since they were very young, Toby figures it would be a good diversion from his own issues. When a skull is found in an old tree on the Ivy House property, Toby's life is thrown even more into disarray...

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Goodnight from London by Jennifer Robson

When journalist Ruby Sutton is offered a job in London working at Picture Weekly, she jumps at the chance. Having no family or close friends tying her down, leaving New York City even while the war is heating up in Europe in the summer of 1940 seems like a great opportunity.  Ruby fits in great with editor, Kaz, and photographer Mary, but a few others are not happy about her being in the position. She also finds herself developing a bond with Captain Bennett who is doing secret work for the English government. Bennett also introduces her to his godmother, Vanessa, and her two daughters, Viola and Beatrice, who become like family to Ruby. Goodnight from London traces Ruby's journey through World War II in England. Filled with details of daily life and real historical events happening throughout the country, the novel is an engaging read.

Friday, October 5, 2018

To Die But Once by Jacqueline Winspear

In the spring of 1940, London pub owner Phil Coombes asks Maisie Dobbs to look into the whereabouts of his youngest son, Joe. Joe has been travelling around the country with a painting company fireproofing buildings for the Royal Air Force. Phil reports that Joe has been feeling sick lately and has headaches, so Maisie wonders if the paint might have been making him ill. On a personal front, Maisie's best friend (Priscilla) and Billy (Maisie's long-time employee) worry about their sons who have already gone off to war or aching to enlist. Maisie, too, has heartache of her own as she attempts to adopt Anna, the young girl who has been entrusted to her care. To Die But Once is another satisfying mystery in the Maisie Dobbs series.