Being Committed

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Being Committed

by Anna Maxted

May 2016

Being Committed was another book that grabbed me by its cover! I knew nothing about it, but in the end I really liked it. Being Committed is British literature, and other than the “classics,” I haven’t read anything like it. The vocabulary was very different, but it wasn’t a distraction, rather it was really interesting and engaging . I found Maxted to be quite hilarious, as well as deep and real. The story follows Hannah, a down and out P.I. who has a dysfunctional family and difficult personal life because of it. Hannah was married at twenty and divorced soon after. She has never been able to truly commit to anyone because of her past. (Spoiler: her mother had postnatal depression after having Hannah, which her father refused to recognize. As a result, Angela had an affair, making Robert so furious that he allowed Hannah to discover her mother in the act. Ever since, Hannah can’t open up and has a distant relationship with Angela.) Through a serious of events, Hannah is forced to delve into her past and learn what really happened and the truth of why she can’t commit. In the end, she grows as a person and changes for the better, helping her family (except her father) change as well. (Spoiler: she reconciles with her ex-husband, Jack, and they get back together. She revives her relationship with her mother and recognizes her father as the narcissist he truly is.)

I loved how Maxted was able to take heavy family issues and describe them in their ugly reality, but mold the issues into a heartwarming story filled with humor and heart. Hannah is the type of heroine that you want to see succeed and grow. It is a very satisfying story and my only complaint is that it seemed to drag on a bit at parts and feel like a “long” read. I really enjoyed it though and I will definitely read more of Maxted!

Summing it up: I definitely recommend this book! It was a fascinating book filled with humor and heart.

All the best, Abbey

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The Dressmaker

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The Dressmaker

by Kate Alcott

May 2016

I’m leading my MOMS club book club this month and I picked a book that caught my eye because of it’s pretty cover: The Dressmaker. I’ve always been drawn historic fashion, so it wasn’t surprising that I liked the cover! Well, this book was a quick, sweet read. There was nothing I really disliked or loved about the story, it was simply a nice book.

The book is set around the sinking of the Titanic and the famous fashion designer, Lady Duff Gordon who survived the sinking with her husband and secretary. It was quite a controversy because they had a lot of room in their life boat. The protagonist is the secretary, Tess, and the story is told through her eyes. She is unhappy as a maid in England and convinces Gordon to take her as a maid on the Titanic so she can live a better life. Tess is very proud and is a terrible servant, but Gordon sees a bit of herself in Tess and decides to give her a chance. The majority of the book takes place after the sinking and involves the trial that follows. Tess has to choose her loyalty: will she stand by Gordon who may have purposely pushed people away from her boat, or a young seaman who is honest and upfront? She is also torn between two loves: the same honest seaman who is a village boy at heart, and a wealthy American who wants to give Tess the world? Tess learns to follow her heart and figure out what she truly wants. (Spoiler: she backs the seaman and chooses him as her love.)

I think I never really connected with Tess. She is very haughty and while she grows a bit through the story, she still stays pretty self-centered. The book was engaging and a quick read. While I enjoyed the book, I did not love it and I wouldn’t rave about it.

Summing it up: I recommend this book if you’re interested in the Titanic, as it was an interesting, quick read.

All the best, Abbey

Defending Jacob

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Defending Jacob

by William Landay

May 2016

Oh boy! I have a love/hate relationship with this book. I loved the writing and the whole premise . . . Landay is brilliant. However (spoiler), you’re left wondering if Jacob is innocent or guilty at the end – what?! Gahh! Very annoying, and yet, I can’t say anything against it because it was brilliant. Thank you to my book club for suggesting this one.

The story is narrated by Andrew Barber, a DA in Massachusetts, living with his wife, Laurie, and 14 year old son, Jacob. Andrew has just picked up a murder case in his town. A school mate of Jacob’s is found stabbed to death in the woods leading to the school. There is at first no clear suspect, except one man, whom they can’t pin down. All of a sudden, rumors begin, saying that Jacob is the one who murdered the boy. Andrew gets taken off the case, but that doesn’t stop his insatiable drive to defend his son, whom he has no doubts is innocent. From there, you follow Jacob’s trial and aftermath. Andrew’s perspective never waivers – Jacob is innocent. However, there are piles of circumstantial evidence that points to Jacob as the killer. But it is solely circumstantial.

Spoiler for the rest of the plot and ending. 😉 Some of the evidence includes Jacob’s thumb print on the boy’s jacket, the boy (Ben) was bullying Jacob, Jacob reads disturbing stories about torture and may have written a story of Ben’s death from the point of view of the murderer, he is a loner who has a bit of a violent past, he owns a knife that matches the stab wounds, and he could have been at the murder scene. Another plot line is Andrew’s family history: he comes from a line of violent murderers, including his father who is in jail. While Jacob is on trial, before a verdict can be made, the original suspect is found dead with a suicide note and a full confession (it’s implied that Andrew’s father had a “fixer” take care of things for Jacob). Jacob is free, and the family tries to settle into a new normal. They decide to get away and book a trip to a Jamaican resort. There, Andrew and Laurie rekindle a relationship that was disrupted by the trial and the fact that Andrew didn’t tell Laurie about his violent past until the trial began. All is going well and Jacob even gets a girlfriend. Then one day his girlfriend goes missing, only to be found weeks later washed up onshore. Once again, it looks like Jacob might have done it. He often went off alone with her and the day she went missing, he had splatters (likely blood) on his shorts. They all return home, shattered, even though Jacob was never accused. Super Spoiler: in the end, Andrew never loses faith in his son and never even entertains the possibility of his son being a murderer. However, Laurie does at least entertain the possibility and ultimately decides on her own that Jacob is a killer. She takes it into her own hands and purposely drives herself and Jacob into a bridge support, killing him and landing herself in the hospital. Andrew is a witness in her trial, and his retelling of these events is how the book ends. And that is seriously how it ends. My jaw literally was on the floor when I didn’t have any more pages to read. I still don’t know how to process it. Reading the book from Andrew’s perspective, I really believed Jacob was innocent, but looking back after finishing, I have serious doubts.

Has anyone else read this one? I’d love to know your perspective as to whether Jacob was innocent or guilty! 🙂

Summing it up: I absolutely recommend this book! It was a quick, intense, brilliant read.

All the best, Abbey

The Little Paris Bookshop

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The Little Paris Bookshop

by Nina George

May 2016

I initially had mixed feelings when I started The Little Paris Bookshop. But as I fell further and further into the story, I was swept away with it’s beauty and depth. The story opens with an introduction to Jean Perdu, a book seller on a barge in Paris named the Literary Apothecary. He believes that books can heal any ailment and “prescribes” them to his customers. He says at one point,Screenshot_2016-05-03-00-16-28However, he is struggling with his own inner grief over a love lost twenty years ago. This initially annoyed me because she was referred to as “–” instead of her name, Manon. He soon discovers a letter from her, written twenty years earlier, and it moves him deeply because he discovers she left him all those years ago because she was dying of cancer. Around this same time Perdu meets a young author, Max, who is experiencing writers block after his first book’s huge success. They form a sort of bond when Perdu drops everything to take his barge to Manon’s place of death and meet her husband (Jean and Manon were having an affair). The rest of the book follows his story of grief and how he deals with grief and loss and finding love and peace. One of the characters says the following to Jean about grief:

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I loved the story and his journey. I haven’t read a book dealing with loss and grief and I found it moving and enlightening. I got completely invested in the characters and lost in their story. The things I didn’t love were the intro and not naming __, it made it hard to follow. I also found some of the language a little too flowery and some of the men’s emotions were a little hard to believe at times. That being said, there was so much beauty and depth and truth that I was swept away.

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Summing it up: I recommend this book. While there were aspects that were annoying or hard to believe while reading, overall my lasting impression was moving and beautiful. I especially loved reading the interview with George at the end of the book. At one point she talks about “the readers’ club” and it resonated with me: Screenshot_2016-05-06-21-11-09

All the best, Abbey

Wanderlust

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Wanderlust

by Chris Dyer

May 2016

Wanderlust fell into my hands while perusing the library. As is my usual tendency, I was intrigued by the cover which prompted me to bring it home! What a cute, fun little book. It was like reading a chick flick. You had the basic premise of ‘girl can’t find love,’ combined with the usual characters, ‘mother, boss, best friend, and love interest times 2,’ concluding with a ‘happy ending.’ The whole story was very clever, if not a little predictable (which is saying something because I rarely see things coming, so perhaps it was very predictable). The entire book was a series of emails between the protagonist, Kate, and the above mentioned list of characters. There was a lot of humor and it was a quick read. I found it a little silly, but in a fun, easy-to-read way (not a downside for me, but if you dislike “fluff” then you probably wouldn’t enjoy it). All, in all, it was fun, light reading and a thoroughly enjoyable story! I really liked it and I loved having a happy story to get caught up in.

Spoiler: Kate has never had luck in love and with the help of her gambling mother and best friend, she gets caught up with two lovers – her ex-husband and a British reporter. Kate herself is a travel writer and while traveling around the world, has to figure out love and where her life is going. In the end, she chooses Maxwell the reporter, and they are the perfect fit. She has many humorous encounters along they way, including loosing her cat to the downstairs shut-in, and watching her mother and boss fall in love. In the end, she is helped by those who love her and is able to follow her heart. 🙂

Summing it up: I definitely recommend Wanderlust if you enjoy light, quick, fun books!

All the best, Abbey