In this collection of eight short stories, author Carmen Maria Machado explores the lives of women through a journey into psychological realism, fantasy, horror, and more. In “The Husband Stitch”, a husband attempts to remove the green ribbon tied around his wife’s neck — her only secret. In “The Resident”, a writer has trouble reckoning with her childhood trauma while vacationing in isolation at an artists’ retreat. In “Especially Heinous”, the show Law and Order: SVU is reimagined with doppelgängers, insanity, and the ghosts of raped and murdered girls. Through the presentation of intensely
Circe by Madeline Miller is an epic that follows the trials and triumphs of the Witch of Aiaia and Daughter of Helios, Circe. Written from Circe’s perspective in the form of a flashback, the novel begins with Circe’s birth into an immortal family, one with which despises her and with which she doesn’t fit into. After discovering her talent for Pharmakeia--or witchcraft--and using it to transform her mortal love interest and a fellow nymph into different forms, Zeus and Helios exile Circe to the island of Aiaia. Being alone, Circe discovers more about herself and her talents than she could ever
The Girl with the Louding Voice, by Abi Dare, is a powerfully unforgettable story about Adunni, a 14-year-old Nigerian girl who wants nothing more than to go to school and become a teacher. Her mother encourages her to continue with her education and find not just her voice but her “louding voice”. Adunni’s life becomes hard and arduous after her mother’s death when her father, who is in need of money for himself and her brothers to survive, “sells” her to a much older man to be his third wife. What follows is a life of abuse and misery and a discontinuation of her schooling. Throughout her
The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather is the story of a seemingly ordinary person rising up achieving greatness. Born in the small town of Moonstone, Colorado, Thea Kronborg faces the realities of life and comes to know her true self as she fights for a place in the world of opera. As Thea grows from a precocious young child in the late 1800s to a true artist in the early 1900s, we see the effect that this transformation has on her and those who are closest to her. Cather’s beautiful prose captures not only the world around Thea, but also the wonder with which she views it. Cather shows the
Wench was a promising title that ultimately fell short for me. I loved the idea of following a tavern wench as she tried to get back her tavern and found it was really interesting. I was also pleasantly surprised by the role magic played in the story. However, the book ultimately failed to please me. Tanya was the only character who had a real arc. Other characters felt unimportant and under-developed. They had very little backstory and served no purpose beyond helping Tanya. They didn’t feel like real people. Relationships also suffered. Most of the relationships Tanya has by the end of the
As a teen invested in equal rights, I really enjoyed this book. I didn't know much history about this topic and because of that the most compelling aspect of the book is how it provided a new perspective. Lots of other teens like me will find this book informative and inspiring, and that is what makes it awesome. I also love books that have multiple POVs and make each person’s story come together in the end, and this book did a really good job with that. I think publishing novels like this one is really important to the current generation. We need books like this to empower us to do better
You know, sometimes you just need some escapist fantasy about self-discovery in women. McKinley's seventeen-year-old girl Lissar was just the ticket for me last night. Deesrkin is a beautiful, haunting, and sometimes painful coming-of-age story that ends with a message of hope. The first half of the fantasy fiction is really about the traumatic aftermath of a violent assault and rape by the heroine's own father. These dark themes are handled appropriately, realistically, and with great compassion but they do make for some hard reading in the gateway fantasy.
If you have any
Ruth Ware, a well established mystery author, created a captivating novel with The Woman in Cabin 10. I am not overly familiar with Ware’s writing style, as I have only read two (this one included) of her mysteries. The formula of this particular book reminded me of an Agatha Christie novel, as it followed the same “trapped with a group of people, one of whom is a murderer” formula as many of Christie’s own books. Lo Blacklock, a travel writer, is given the chance to report on a luxury cruise with a select few passengers, when she hears a splash in the
The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes is historical fiction at its very best! Set in 1939 Southern Kentucky, the lives of five strong female characters come together to form and operate the Packhorse Library, where they deliver by horseback, books, magazines and newspapers to those living in remote, rural areas.
One of the main characters, Alice, an Englishwoman, marries an American and is brought to Kentucky where she hopes to start a new, dazzling life with her husband. That is not to be the case. Alice finds living with her husband and her father-in-law to be stifling and oppressive. Alice
The Atonement Child had me in its grips from the beginning and held me until the last word. The story centers around three women from the same family. Dynah Carey, a college student at a Christian university; her mother Hannah; and her grandmother, Eve. Dynah becomes pregnant through a rape and must decide if she will keep or terminate the pregnancy. As the novel progresses, each woman tells her unique story around the charged topic of abortion. This is the first Christian fiction that I have read, and I was a little unprepared for the emphasis on Christian doctrines of faith. However
In the late 1800s and early-mid 1900s, the Harvey Girls were considered to be elite hostesses and servers for entrepreneur and businessman Fred Harvey. Harvey developed the concept of the ‘Harvey House’ dining areas along various railways across the United States, including the Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe. These hospitality restaurants worked in tandem with the railways in order to provide first class service to passengers and railroad employees. Meals were served promptly on a strict schedule and all Harvey Girls were expected to follow a strict code of conduct that included a
The Help, the debut novel by Kathryn Stockett, published nearly ten years ago, has the remarkable ability to remain relevant in today’s polarized climate of questions and the search for truth and justice. Here we meet three different women: Skeeter Phelan, Aibileen Clark, and Minny Jackson, all wanting to change the status quo without knowing how or when to start. Set in 1960s Jackson, Mississippi, there is a strong divide between the races that results in violence and fear among the residents as the Civil Rights Movement continues throughout the nation. The power struggle exists in the
I absolutely love this book and consider it one of my "top 10" favorites! I did not expect to like it when a friend lent me her copy to read, but it blew me away.
Alice Hoffman's writing is so rich in detail that it's mesmerizing. The Marriage of Opposites is historical fiction set during the 19th century, based on the real life of Rachel Pomie', the mother of Camille Pissarro who became a famous artist and one of the fathers of impressionism. Most of the story is set on the island of St. Thomas, and then ultimately in Paris. Rachel Pomie' is a girl that does not like rules and is
I loved this book! Clare is a recent college graduate engaged to be married but is starting to have second thoughts. The weekend of her wedding, Clare has several chance encounters with a stranger named Edith, an elderly woman who happens to be staying at Clare's wedding venue. Clare's conversations with Edith change the trajectory of Clare's life. Without giving away any plot details, the book alternates between Clare's present and Edith's past. As Clare searches to uncover the mystery of Edith's past, she learns more about herself and what's important in life.
The Natural Way of Things opens dramatically as Yolanda discovers she is being held captive in the Australian Outback. She is one of a small group of women who all have a curious, not immediately obvious, connection: they have all been part of public sex scandals. While the story leaves a lot unanswered and is incredibly dark in content and description, the beautiful writing was enough to keep me engaged until the end.
The story follows Yolanda and another captive, Verla, as they try to navigate survival in the extreme conditions they awoke to after being drugged and kidnapped. They sleep
If you love dogs (and I sincerely hope you do), you'll love this heart warming story of a woman finding her place in the world and a dog finding a home. Gina Bellamy suddenly finds herself trying to figure it all out on her own after her recent divorce. As she struggles to find herself in all the clutter of life she decides to keep only one hundred essential things. Little does she know, she will find that Buzz, a neglected and anxious greyhound, fits perfectly in her new life and happy moments.
More on Lucy Dillon:
I have read all three books by Lucy Dillon that Johnson County
The Atomic Weight of Love is an outstanding debut novel. Meridian Wallace puts her dreams of a Masters and PhD. on hold and follows her husband, Alden Whetstone, to Los Alamos, New Mexico where he helps develop the atomic bomb. Meridian’s unfinished scholarly work in ornithology leads her to question her life with Alden, who becomes more interested in his work and must lead a rather secretive life. Clay Griffin, a Vietnam veteran, changes the course of Meridian’s life when he teaches her the value of an equal relationship and following her own path. Meridian’s growing interest in women’s
Eligible is a retelling of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Set in modern day, the five Bennet sisters are all back at home after Mr. Bennet has health issues--though some of the sisters have never left. CrossFit, reality shows, fertility treatments, and dating make for some humorous situations. I found the plot enjoyable, funny, and sometimes refreshingly real when dealing with more serious situations. Unfortunately, I did not like our main character, Liz, very much. Liz is important as the glue that hold the Bennets together, but her modern-day past was a bit disappointing for me
Georgia Ford runs away from problems in her own life and goes straight to her place of comfort: home. Unfortunately for Georgia, with her parents heading in different directions, her brothers not on speaking terms, and the uncertain future of the family vineyard, life at home is not what she was expecting. Georgia finds that among all her family's issues, she is still unable to escape her own.
This novel is all about the complexity of life's interruptions and how they affect relationships. I was hooked by the end of the first chapter when I found out why people out for a drink were staring
Miller’s Valley is a coming of age novel about Mimi Miller, a girl growing up in the 1960s in rural Pennsylvania. Mimi and her family live on the same farm their family has lived on contentedly for generations. But things in Miller's Valley are beginning to change. Mimi’s dad is a farmer, but he’s really the fix-it man for the entire town. Mimi’s mom is a nurse who still manages to be around to raise Mimi and her two brothers. Mimi’s aunt, Ruth, also lives in a little house on their farm. In fact, she hasn’t left the inside of her house for many years. Over the years, their valley has been
Denver neurosurgeon Maggie Sullivan has reached a low point and needs a break. After being named in a wrongful death lawsuit, her medical partners being indited for fraud, and a miscarriage and break up with her boyfriend, Maggie is yearning for the peace of the mountains where her father's country store and campground on the Continental Divide Trail reminds her of less complicated times. Cal Jones is an early arrival to the campground and is there for a specific purpose; letting go and moving on after his wife's prolonged illness and passing. Of course, he doesn't share that right away and
It's September 1939 and as Hitler invades Poland with his sight set on France, the paths of Caroline, Kasia and Herta are set on a course that will change their lives forever. Socialite Caroline Ferriday lives in New York City and volunteers at the French Consulate, helping French nationals visiting the United States. She also organizes aide for French orphanages. Kasia Kuzmerick is a Polish teenager who sees her way of life disappearing with the occupation of Hitler and she works as a courier for the resistance movement in Poland. Meanwhile, German physician, Herta Oberheuser, frustrated at
A quick read with a poignant message, Our Souls at Night is a moving story of two elderly neighbors who find themselves lonely after both their spouses have gone, one by choice and one by death. In an act of bravery, Addie visits her longtime neighbor, Louis, and propositions him to be her sleeping partner. Addie has no hidden agenda or sordid intent; just a desire to sleep next to another person again. Taking her up on her offer, Louis and Addie get to know each other all while sharing their nights together. A wrench is thrown into their arrangement when Addie’s six-year-old grandson needs to
The Boston Girl is a classic tale of a first generation American woman in the early 1900s trying to start a better life. Addie Baum, an ambitious and likeable Jewish woman now in her eighties, tells the story of her youth to her twenty-two year old granddaughter. Her misadventures in a world unimaginable to her family are touching and amusing, though a little too familiar. At its core, this is a historically based coming of age novel intended for adults about the search for knowledge, love and self.
I rate this book a seven out of ten mostly due to its predictability. I had high
My Name Is Lucy Barton by Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout is a novel to be read slowly and savored for its richness of story. At less than 200 pages, it is a novel with a simple plot: a woman, Lucy, is in the hospital for a prolonged stay, and her mother is visiting her. Lucy has been estranged from her mother since her marriage. She is grateful for her mother's presence, while at the same time she wants more than her mother is capable of giving her. In other words, the novel is rich in family dynamics and the complexities of the human heart.
What we as readers learn over the course
Leanne and Nichole are unlikely friends and confidants. When Leanne learns that her son Jake is cheating on his wife Nichole, she is sorely disappointed to find her son following in his father's footsteps. Sean, Leanne's husband has been cheating on her for years and up to this point she has just accepted and ignored his infidelity. After telling Nichole of Jake's indiscretion she admires the way Nichole instantly refuses to accept Jake's behavior and immediately moves to dissolve their marriage. Leanne draws courage from Nichole and leaves her cheating husband of thirty years. The two women
The science fiction aspect to this book is both obvious and subtle. The major plot point of the book is pure science fiction - parallel universes. The main character, Patricia Cowen, experiences two separate lives, stemming from a decision she makes shortly after college.
Once we reach the divergent paths, the chapters alternate between the two realities. From there, the story is pretty straightforward domestic fiction – the daily trials, tribulations, and joys of the main character.
What I found fascinating was how world events differed between these two lifelines. It makes me wonder
In 1931, Lily Dane is dragged along to a college football game by her best friend Budgie Byrne, where Lily instantly becomes smitten with Nick Greenwald. Despite the fact that Budgie is generally the popular one, Nick quickly falls for Lily as well. There is one major stumbling block to their happily-ever-after, however--Nick is Jewish, and while Budgie warns Lily that this will be unacceptable to their high society friends and family, Lily refuses to believe it. She concedes that her mother might be a problem, but Lily is convinced that even she can eventually be brought around. It is
I’m not sure Ellison’s family drama with its slow reveal shouldn’t be called A Series of Significant Indiscretions, as there are so many. Both past and present. The true title, A Small Indiscretion, leads a reader to believe that our protagonist, Annie Black’s happiness is at risk by the revelation of a past mistake. But really, she and her family might have overcome any part of her past, if only she will behave as the adult she’s grown into instead of the nineteen year old self she fled from twenty years ago.
When we first meet Annie she is a young, single American working in a London
The Waverley family, Claire and Sydney, both have the gift of helpful magic. They live in the charming town of Bascom, North Carolina where it’s autumn and as temperatures fall, everyone and everything grows restless and problems flourish.
Claire runs Waverley’s Candies out of her kitchen, making handcrafted confections. Business is so good she can’t keep up with demand on her own. When someone offers to buy the business, Claire is stuck in a quandary.
Sydney owns a successful hair salon and knows what hairstyle will look best on anyone. But she’s reluctant to fire a new hire who isn’t