Rebecca

20170624_094456-1

Rebecca

by Daphne du Maurier

June 2017

Rebecca is my latest book club book. I’d never heard of it, even though it’s a classic. I dove in not knowing what to expect, and ended up loving this creepy, intense thriller. Daphne du Maurier is one the best authors I have read. Her descriptions were spot on and incredibly vivid. I was swept up in her imagery by the first sentence. The book started fairly slow and steady and for a while I really wondered where it was going (I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t fast-paced), but then it took a sharp turn and I couldn’t put it down. This is a book where you end up kind of rooting for the “bad guy” (I couldn’t help it), who is rather endearing. This book is brilliant, thrilling and exquisitely written. It is reminiscent of gothic novels such as Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights.

 

Rebecca follows the story of a young unnamed woman who is the companion to a wealthy lady before meeting Maxim de Winter, a mysterious widower in mourning. Their romance is rapid and Maxim soon proposes and marries the new Mrs. de Winter (she is never named in the whole book). They have a blissful honeymoon before returning to Maxim’s home, Manderley. It is stately, grand, and beautiful and has been in Maxim’s family for years. He quickly returns to his routine of running the manor, while Mrs. de Winter struggles to find her place. She feels hopelessly overshadowed by the former Mrs. de Winter: Rebecca. She is despised by the housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, who was devoted to Rebecca. Mrs. Danvers is determined to undermine and destroy the new Mrs. de Winter. She succeeds in part at a grand ball where she tricks Mrs. de Winter into wearing the same outfit Rebecca did at her last ball before she died. Danvers succeeds in hurting Maxim and Mrs. de Winter and causing a bit of a rift between them. Mrs. de Winter is convinced that Maxim is not over Rebecca; that he is still in love with her. She is surrounded by Rebecca everywhere she turns and she cannot compare to her. She is at the point of realizing that her marriage has failed and that it’s all her fault for believing that Maxim could love her and she could help him. Spoilers: But that is when the plot twists and as she declares all of that to Maxim, he insists that it couldn’t be further from the truth. Instead, he tells her, he hated Rebecca. Once he was married to her, she revealed her true nature of malice and hate. She agreed to make Manderley hugely popular (she is extremely likeable on the outside), but made Maxim agree to let her have her own love/social life away from him. She was manipulative and vile. After a while, Maxim couldn’t take it any longer, so he killed her. He shot her and then sunk her in her own boat. Maxim never loved Rebecca, but he does love Mrs. de Winter. They are finally communicating and truly happy. Mrs. de Winter is thrilled to be loved by the man she loves and they are ready to start afresh (even though she knows her husband is a murderer). But then it all comes crashing down. A boat crashes in the cove where Rebecca was drowned and divers try to help it. In the process they find Rebecca’s boat and her body locked in the cabin. To make matters more complicated, a year earlier, Maxim identified another body as Rebecca’s. There is an inquisition and with the evidence (including holes poked in the boat), they determine that Rebecca committed suicide. Rebecca’s cousin (whom she was also sleeping with) doesn’t believe it and sets about to prove that Maxim is the murderer. After a lot of angst, travel and close calls, nothing comes of the accusations, and Maxim and Mrs. de Winter are free to go. They feel an urgency to return to Manderley and head there straight away. It’s too late though, Manderley is burning (Mrs. Danvers figures out the truth and sets Manderley on fire).

 

Summing it up: this book was creepy, intense, thrilling and good. I highly recommend it!

 

All the best, Abbey

Advertisements

Raindrops Roll

20170512_090006-1

Raindrops Roll

by April Pulley Sayre

April 2017

Another April Pulley Sayre book! I loved Best in Snow (which I reviewed here: ). And then I found this one, Raindrops Roll, which was perfect for Spring with all the rain we get in New England. Once again, the pictures are vivid and the words simple.

20170512_090052-1

It is a sweet, delightful book, full of images that evoke all the feelings of what it’s like to be in the rain and what the earth looks like when it rains.

20170512_090034-1

Summing it up: this book is beautiful and simple. I highly recommend it!

All the best, Abbey

My (not so) Perfect Life

Screenshot_2017-06-28-10-58-43-1-1

My (not so) Perfect Life

by Sophie Kinsella

Spring 2017

I was so excited when I saw My (not so) Perfect Life on the new shelf (because I had recently added it to my Goodreads TBR list), so of course I grabbed it. And then I read it in two sittings. It was so good – heartfelt, funny, and brilliant. I loved every second and laughed out loud on multiple occasions. Kinsella is amazing. I want to read more of her books and thankfully I have plenty to choose from.

The thing I loved most about My (not so) Perfect Life was how Kinsella deals with the concept of “perfection” and how it doesn’t really exist. Katie’s stepmom, Biddy, tells it straight to Katie: “Don’t put so much pressure on yourself, love. Whoever started the rumor that life has to be perfect is a very wicked person, if you ask me. Of course it’s not!” I love her enthusiasm. Later, Katie puts it together. She says, “I think I’ve finally worked out how to feel good about life. Every time you see someone’s bright-and-shiny, remember: They have their own crappy truths too. Of course they do. And every time you see your own crappy truth and feel despair and think, Is this my life, remember: It’s not. Everyone’s got a bright-and-shiny, even if it’s hard to find sometimes.” There’s so much truth in these quotes and I love that Kinsella brings it out in her novel, along with all the humor and laughs.

Katie is an aspiring branding associate. She’s worked hard to become a research associate at a major London branding firm, but is not quite living the life. Her apartment is small, roommates are weird, commute long, and budget small. Her boss, Demeter, has it all: perfect husband and kids, clothes, job, lifestyle, etc. All Katie wants is to be given a chance. She wants Demeter to see her and recognize her work, but Demeter is oblivious. On top of it all, Katie feels pressure to display the perfect life to everyone around her, including her dad and stepmom. She has a great relationship with them, but she knows how badly her father wants her to come home, and that is a lot of pressure. Spoilers: Just when Katie starts feeling like she might be making headway, she gets fired, and the worst of it is that Demeter thought she had already fired her before she actually did. Katie is crushed, but determined to find another job before telling her parents. At the same time, her dad and stepmom inform her that they are opening up a B&B of sorts, using fancy tents on their gorgeous country property. Katie’s stepmom has a talent for hospitality and baking (including the most delicious jam), and her dad has a knack for drawing people in and giving them a fun time. Their business takes off and they ask Katie to help them with branding and a focus. Katie agrees to “take an extended holiday from work” to help out, not telling them the truth that she’s jobless. Hilarity ensues as she changes her sleek city look into a softer country style, causing her to be unrecognizable as the business takes off (due to her branding skills) and her old boss comes for a stay with her family. Katie takes the opportunity to get revenge, making Demeter do awful things in the name of getting closer to nature, etc. She slowly softens though as Demeter’s shell cracks and Katie sees that her “perfect life” is actually a life of difficulty and challenges with her family. Demeter’s biggest struggle is at work where she is repeatedly forgetting things and messing things up with customers (very unlike her), to the point where she thinks she’s going crazy and is about to be fired. Her boss, Alex, is a young man who previously hit it off with Katie in the city. He comes to the B&B to fire Demeter, but Katie steps in to help Demeter keep her job. They continue to hit it off and he decides to listen to Katie, who has realized that Demeter is being undermined and set up by a younger, jealous colleague (her assistant who has been using her access to destroy Demeter’s career). They form a plan to get proof, using Katie, who is able to get on record that Demeter’s assistant was ruining Demeter’s reputation. The truth comes out and Katie is given her dream branding job with Demeter. Alex and Katie fall in love as well and officially get together. Her parents’ business continues to thrive and it’s the happiest ending!

Summing it up: this book was light, funny, heartwarming and awesome! I loved it and I highly recommend it!

All the best, Abbey

Happy Father’s Day!

IMG_1258

This Father’s Day is the fifth we’ve celebrated and it’s crazy to realize. Lemon is five years old and Lime is three. (Side note, in case you don’t know, Lemon and Lime are our codes names for the boys . . .heaven help us when they figure it out!) We had a lot of fun today celebrating and taking it easy. This last week has been a little rough as the boys had fevers, so we really needed the family time.

IMG_1270

We did some organizing, including moving a bookshelf. I’d already organized it by color, which made it easy to unload and reload. This bookshelf is one of my favorite things. I love seeing the colors blend into each other and it just makes me happy. Thank you Pinterest for the inspiration!

IMG_1268

We finished the day with making homemade whole wheat pizza. Our toppings were yummy veggies: broccoli, peppers, mushrooms and marinated artichoke hearts.

IMG_1276

IMG_1283

img_1287.jpg

My current parenting read is this gem: How to Talk to Little Kids Will Listen. Oh. My. Goodness. It is spot on and hilarious so far. I’ve only just started, but I have a feeling it’s a good one.

img_1288.jpg

I hope it’s been a happy Father’s Day for you. I’d love to hear about it!

All the best, Abbey

Firefly Lane

20170615_144436-1

Firefly Lane

by Kristin Hannah

June 2017

Firefly Lane is the second Kristen Hannah book I’ve read and I really wanted to like it. I liked Home Front (even though it made me cry like a baby) and expected to enjoy this one as well. However, I was disappointed. One of the main characters was a totally narcissist and it basically ruined the book for me. She never changes, which was so unfortunate! The story is of two girls, Kate and Tully, who become best friends in high school and stay friends through ups and downs over the years. The book chronicles their years by the decade. Tully is always only concerned about herself and puts what she wants above everything and everyone. Spoilers: in the end Kate dies of breast cancer and still, Tully is so concerned about herself that she doesn’t even go into the church for the funeral!

Honestly, if it weren’t for Tully’s extreme selfishness, I would have enjoyed this book. I like Hannah’s writing and her plot was moving. I appreciated her drawing awareness to cancer and how that was an incredibly personal aspect to her story. I really wanted to like this one, so I’m sad I didn’t.

Summing it up: As much as I enjoy Hannah’s writing, I don’t recommend this book. The one “friend” was too self-obsessed and that was challenging to read. Did anyone else feel the same, or did that not bother you? I’d love to know!!

All the best, Abbey

Life On Mars

20170615_133012-1

Life On Mars

by Jon Agee

June 2017

This. Book. It’s amazing, hilarious and clever. My older son, Lemon (side note, that’s not his real name, but I wanted to preserve some privacy for the boy, and my husband and I actually use it as a code name), picked this book out at the library. I’d never heard of it and didn’t read it before checking it out, so I got the best surprise when I read it. This book is a must read. It is fun for children and downright hilarious for the adult reading it. I’m an instant fan of Agee and I really hope he’s written other books (just looked it up . . .he’s written a ton . . .awesome). The illustrations are simple and pleasing, yet dynamic, enhancing the story and giving it a layer of complexity which adds to it’s humor.

Life On Mars is about an adventurous little boy who flies to Mars hoping to find life. He knows he’s right and he’s determined to prove it.

20170615_133047-1

Before long he realizes he was wrong after all and that there is no life on Mars. And even worse, he’s lost his spaceship. But is he wrong?

20170615_133142

There is life (more than he thinks)! He happily returns to earth to show the flower as proof of life on Mars. There’s also a clever side story about a chocolate cupcake which is amazing!

20170615_133216-1

Summing it up: I highly recommend this book for young and old and hope you can get a copy to read really soon!

All the best, Abbey

Letters from Paris

20170311_164151-1.jpg

Letters from Paris

by Juliet Blackwell

March 2017

I was beside myself with excitement when I saw Blackwell’s second book, Letters From Paris, on the bookshelf! I adored her first book, The Paris Key (my review here – https://twentyninewillowlane.wordpress.com/2016/11/02/the-paris-key/). Seriously, anything French draws me in and this one was just spectacular. I love Blackwell’s writing and her plots. Once again, I got swept up in Blackwell’s story; wrapped up in her characters’ journeys.

Claire is a successful business woman, but returns home when her grandmother gets sick. There she finds a beautiful plaster mask that she adored as a child. Her mother died in a tragic accident, so her grandmother raised her. Her grandmother’s dying wish is that Claire would go to Paris to find out about the woman behind the mask. Claire agrees and after her grandmother’s passing, she makes plans to go. Once in Paris, Claire quickly finds the shop where the mask, L’Inconnue, was made. She is overwhelmed by the quantity of plaster masks and the abrupt nature the of rugged man running the shop. There’s a young woman translating who helps Claire. When she realizes Claire speaks French, she begs her to stay at the shop and translate while she runs out (since her brother is rather abrupt with customers). Claire agrees as she has nothing else to do and quickly gets caught up in shop life, as well as life in Paris. Spoilers: Claire ends up moving to the shop where Armand, the plasterer, also lives. They start off with a turbulent relationship, which slowly evolves into love as they get to know each other and spend more time together. They share loss of loved ones; Claire, her mother and grandmother and Armand, his daughter. By the end of the book they are a solid couple, strong and secure, not just infatuated with each other. The story of L’Inconnue is woven throughout the book. Sabine is a young girl whose only hope of survival in Paris is by becoming a model for artists (and becoming their lovers). The one artist she models for turns violent over time. She is unhappy, but has some hope as she has fallen in love with another artist, a plasterer. He is determined to free her, so they concoct a crazy plan: Sabine fakes her death and her lover makes her death mask. She is unclaimed, so is forever known as L’Inconnue and is remembered in mystery. In fact, she runs off with her lover, changes her name, and lives a long, respected life as the wife of the plasterer (and that same family has run the shop Claire is working in for years). When Claire discovers that Sabine drowned and later figures out that she faked her death, a few things click into place about her own mother’s death and she finds out that her mother faked her death to get out of a violent relationship. Claire is crushed that her mother would leave her and disappointed that her mother continues to keep her distance. She’s found her new home though and is able to work through the emotional side of things and find happiness!

Summing it up: I adored this book and I absolutely recommend it! I hope you read Blackwell’s books and then tell me what you think!

All the best, Abbey