Four Must-Read Books of the Year!
WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE by Maria Semple
This may be my favorite book of the year, and Bernadette – a bright Seattle mom who hates leaving the house and dealing with actual human beings – is one of the most original literary characters ever. I was hooked from the first page when eighth grader Bee reveals that her father has explained her mother’s disappearance as “complicated.” By page nine, when I read Bernadette’s email to the virtual assistant she hired in India to help her with everyday errands like making reservations at the restaurant down the street, I was enamored. Semple’s writing is so sharp, her social commentary dead-on and her tone compassionate. I laughed out loud during much of this book, which rings so true. I really want to be Bernadette’s friend. Or at least Maria’s!
THE AGE OF DESIRE by Jennie Fields
I’ve been a huge Edith Wharton fan since I studied her books in college and wrote in-depth papers on The Age of Innocence and The House of Mirth. In this page-turner of a novel, Jennie Fields intersperses real letters and diary entries to create a vivid and personal portrait of an author who is beloved by so many readers. The book takes us to the turn of the twentieth century and pulls back the velvet curtains to show us a side of Edith Wharton rarely examined: her sexless marriage and scandalous affair, and her close friendship with Anna Bahlmann, the governess-turned-secretary who acted as a sounding board for her writing. I tried to read this book slowly because the story is so beautifully told and I really wanted to savor every scene. I may have to send a Facebook friend request to my former literature professor to share this gem with her.
ACCELERATED by Bronwen Hruska
The debut novel by journalist and screenwriter Bronwen Hruska is a fast-paced, important book about a timely subject. Focusing on a single dad – a dad, not a mom! – and his son, who attends an elite Manhattan private school, the story is about the overmedicating of children for what is diagnosed as ADD. It reads like a thriller but is as potent as the drugs themselves. Having seen this firsthand when my own kids attended preschool in New York, I can tell you there’s nothing far-fetched about this cautionary tale. It sends an empowering message to parents to trust their own instincts and know that love can be the most effective medicine.
THE TENNIS PLAYER FROM BERMUDA by Fiona Hodgkin
There is so much I loved about this book, especially the delightful heroine who got to play at Wimbledon — as an amateur — half a century ago. I play tennis at least three mornings a week, so it was exciting to read the play-by-play of Fiona’s matches as well as the technical aspects of her lessons. Even if you’ve never set foot on a court, you will be charmed by the book’s conversational tone, the gorgeous descriptions of Bermuda, the friendships and relationships, and the strong mentorship Fiona is blessed with. This is historical fiction at its best. Love, indeed.