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The Obituary Writer by Ann Hood (2013)

In Ann Hood’s novel, a clever storyline follows two women's lives some fifty years apart against a backdrop of significant events in American history: the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco and its aftermath, and the 1960 presidential election and inauguration of JFK. At one point in The Obituary Writer, their two storylines merge into one. Vivien and Claire are not contemporaries, yet they share certain struggles and dreams. Can one woman's regrets bring closure and happiness to another woman? With the women's movement and all the changes of the 20th century, did individual women's lives change that much? Even in the 21st century, do women continue to feel trapped in traditional roles?

Leave Me by Gayle Forman (2016)

leavemeWhen 44-year-old New Yorker Maribeth Klein has a heart attack, she realizes she needs to slow down—but with working full-time and being the mother to preschool-aged twins, she is finding it hard to do. Her husband, Jason, and mother, Evelyn, seem unable to take over most of the tasks of running a household so Maribeth can rest and get better. Fed up, Maribeth, leaves her family and moves to Pittsburgh to recover. Pittsburgh is also the city she was born in, and Maribeth, an adoptee, would like to find her birth mother. Will living there anonymously help her find her way home?

Leave Me is very enjoyable novel full of heart and memorable characters. Gayle Forman’s book is a perfect read-alike for readers of Katherine Center and Mouse-Proof Kitchen by Saira Shah. O Magazine compared the book to Anne Tyler...a good match.

The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan (2016)

cornerbookshopWhen librarian Nina is made redundant, she decides to follow her dream of owning a bookstore. With a gift for connecting people to the right book, she buys a van, which she christens "Little Shop of Happy-Ever-After." However, making her business work is not an easy task. With limited resources, she moves from where she lives in Birmingham to northern Scotland, because it seems that the people there have a real need for a bookstore and her mobile one is even a better idea, because she can travel to lots of small towns. Soon, she finds herself becoming part of a community--and maybe even finding love.

Jenny Colgan’s The Bookshop on the Corner is a charming novel filled with quirky characters, friendship, and romance.

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty (2013)

husbandssecretThe title intrigued me and I was not disappointed. Although Liane Moriarty cleverly interweaves the stories of three women, the husband's secret is the thread that ties them all together. Cecilia accidentally found the letter her husband wrote to be read after his death. John-Paul didn't die, but Cecilia's decision to open it anyway set into motion a series of events that profoundly affect the lives of three families in the St. Angela's School community in Sydney.

In The Husband’s Secret, twists and turns in the plot and characters' reactions leave the reader questioning the outcome until the very end.

The Children by Ann Leary (2016)

childrenA rambling Connecticut lake house is the refuge for widowed Joan and her two grown daughters, bipolar concert violinist Sally and near-recluse Charlotte. Charlotte spends her days in the attic working on her very popular, but thoroughly fictional, mommy blog and hooking up with neighbor Everett whenever she can. Into this sheltered environment comes beloved stepbrother Spin with his too-good-to-be-true fiancée, Laurel. Is Laurel all she says she is, or do her lies rival the stories fabricated by Charlotte about her completely adorable but fictional children? A little quirky and humorous, Ann Leary’s The Children provides a glimpse into how the “other half” lives.

Sit! Stay! Speak! by Annie England Noblin (2015)

sitstayspeakNeeding a change, Addie decides to move from Chicago to the small town of Eunice, Arkansas, after inheriting her Aunt Tilda's house. Addie used to spend time each summer as a child with Tilda, but it's been many years since she visited. Addie's plan is to stay a few months to fix her aunt's house up so she can sell it.

However, after rescuing an abandoned dog she names Felix, becoming friends with Wanda Carter (who is the queen of sassy southern sayings), and falling for lawyer/farmer Jasper Floyd, she just might find it too hard to leave. Despite all this, Addie finds herself in trouble after she refuses ignore the fact that someone in Eunice is abusing dogs. Sit! Stay! Speak! by Annie England Noblin is a cozy first novel full of charm, romance and quirky characters.

At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen (2015)

watersedgeMaddie, Ellis, and Hank are part of the idle rich in World War II Philadelphia. Life is just one big party until Ellis falls out of his father's graces and embarks on a journey to find the Loch Ness monster. Maddie learns the truth about her husband, the war, and life itself in a small village in the Scottish Highlands. There she meets two women and a man who change her path. Sara Gruen's vivid descriptions and characters will transport the reader to a different time and place in At the Water’s Edge.

Man at the Helm by Nina Stibbe (2015)

manatthehelmIn the early 1970s, a woman from a wealthy background suddenly finds herself divorced and living in a small English village, where divorced women are suspect (it would seem for good reason). The book is told in the first person by ten-year-old Lizzie (looking back as an adult) and has quite a funny tone and wonderfully set pieces. Nina Stibbe’s Man at the Helm is very funny, but sad too.

A Place for Us by Harriet Evans (2015)

placeforusMartha Winter is turning eighty and having a big family party, at which she plans on revealing a secret. Martha and her husband, David (a famous cartoonist) have built what looks like, from the outside, an idyllic life at Winterfold, their home in Surrey. Their granddaughters, Lucy and Cat, now grown, remember it that way too. For Martha and David's three children, however, there was conflict between Daisy (the middle child) and her siblings--eldest Bill and youngest Florence.

In Harriet Evans’ novel, the reader explores the family's lives both past and present from many points of view. A Place for Us is an exploration of family relationships and is a real treat for people who enjoy the novels of Joanna Trollope, Rosamunde Pilcher, and early Jojo Moyes.

Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf (2014)

littlemerciesEllen is an overworked social worker with three children of her own. After a tragic accident occurs in her own family, she finds herself on the other side of the system she works for.

Ten-year-old Jenny, alone in Iowa, must rely on her street smarts to help herself.

When their lives intersect, the pair finds some unique ways to help each other. Little Mercies is a really good page turner, with characters you come to care about. Check out the latest from Heather Gudenkauf.

Trains & Lovers by Alexander McCall Smith (2013)

trainsloversThree men and a woman share a train compartment between Edinburgh and London. From different age groups, backgrounds, and even countries, they prove it is sometimes easier to bare your soul to strangers, except for one coveted secret of an old love that is revealed only to readers. The travelers share their personal or family love stories and, oddly enough, they all involve trains. Diverse anecdotes take the reader all over England, Scotland, Australia, and the eastern part of the U.S., past and present day. The stories of Trains & Lovers get at the heart of human emotions. By the last chapter, Alexander McCall Smith may convince you to book a rail journey.

The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks (2011)

bestofmeSome of Nicholas Sparks’ novels are just really sad, but I still loved this one and have to recommend it. The character development and the plot have just the right amount of suspense thrown in to keep the reader turning pages.

Dawson and Amanda were lovers 25 years ago and are reunited in their North Carolina hometown after the death of a mutual friend. Neither has lived the life they had hoped to live, nor can they forget the special love that they shared.

In The Best of Me, you really come to care about the main characters as they struggle to accept and live with the choices they’ve made. After you read the book, check out the movie adaptation.

Mrs. Hemingway by Naomi Wood (2014)

mrshemingwayThe incredible talent, the struggles with mental health, the madcap adventures around the globe, the drinking, the recklessness, and the many loves of the original party animal – Ernest Hemingway told through the eyes of his four wives is a revealing piece of historical fiction. Fans of The Paris Wife may be disappointed at first when the Hadley they have grown to love is pushed into the background and each new wife in turn takes over the narration of the literary genius' life story.

Naomi Wood endears the reader to the many qualities that made Hemingway fall for the other three women over the years. In Mrs. Hemingway, Wood drives the point home that all the great loves of his life could not quench his inherent loneliness.

Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani (2003)

lucialuciaWhen Kit Anaetti, a budding playwright, is invited to tea by her elderly neighbor, she hears her neighbor’s life story. Lucia was a young girl living in Greenwich Village in the 1950s and working in a custom dress designer’s shop. After meeting her future in-laws, she suddenly calls off her engagement. Instead, she chooses her work and a dashing and exciting suitor. Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani is a tragic love story with vivid Italian characters.

China Dolls by Lisa See (2014)

chinadollsThree young Asian American women meet at the Golden Gate International Exhibit in 1938. They forge immediate friendships and end up entertaining in the San Francisco nightclub scene. Each woman holds dark secrets that are slowly revealed as they struggle to survive during the war years. Friendship, family, love, and betrayal are examined from their diverse points of view in Lisa See’s China Dolls.

Join our Novel Idea discussion group on Wednesday, May 13 at 7pm to talk about China Dolls. Get your copy of the book at the front checkout desk.