Maria Lagana is an Italian immigrant working for one of the owners of Mercury Pictures during the 1940’s. She arrived in Hollywood with her mother and her three eccentric aunts. For a while she receives censored letters from her father who is still in Italy, but eventually she hears nothing from him. When Pearl Harbor is bombed, Mercury Pictures must change the type of movies it produces, and Maria and a group working for the company are forced to adapt.
There’s a lot going on in Mercury Pictures Presents. Marra introduces many characters, several subplots and a variety of settings. However, if you are willing to take your time, concentrate and read it through to the end, it is definitely worth the effort.
Tang Yitian is a college professor at a prestigious university in America. He was brought up in a rural Chinese village. One day he receives a call from his mother who he hasn’t seen in seven years. His elderly father has disappeared, and his mother needs Yitian’s help finding him. His return to China brings back memories of his father, his deceased brother and the girl he loved who helped him get to America.
Tang’s debut novel is a winner. She clearly describes the China of the 1970’s compared to the country in 1990. Her characters a well-drawn, and although the novel goes back and forth in time, it is never confusing.
Keefe’s latest work of nonfiction is a selection of articles from “The New Yorker” magazine. Some of his subjects are well known, such as El Chapo and Anthony Bourdain. Others are less famous but just as fascinating, like Astrid Hollendeer. Astrid informed the Dutch police about her brother who was the most powerful mobster in The Netherlands. She will probably live in hiding the rest of her life.
Patrick Radden Keefe’s twelve vignettes appear to be meticulously researched and all are as well written, interesting and informative as Say Nothing and Empire of Pain.
Eleanor Brown’s third novel is about three women who have become a family because they have adopted children from the same woman. Tabitha and her husband adopted Brianna’s twins. Tabitha has a good heart, lots of energy and wants everyone involved to feel a strong family connection. Elizabeth and her husband adopted Brianna’s youngest, Violet. Elizabeth is having doubts about her ability to mother. Ginger is single and adopted Phoebe, Brianna’s first born. For seven years Phoebe lived her grandmother, but when the grandmother died, Phoebe chose Ginger to raise her. Ginger likes peace and quiet and dislikes change. When Tabitha arranges a two week get together with everyone at a vacation home in Aspen, conflict and hurt feelings are bound to occur.
Any Other Family is an enjoyable read, but there is not much substance to it. It is not thought provoking, and although Brown presents several adoption issues, she tends to gloss over them.
It is the summer of 1999 and twelve year old Fe Fe Stevens is jumping rope outside The Robert Taylor Homes on the south side of Chicago with her friends Precious, Tonya and Stacia. This is the summer the high rise projects will be demolished. It is also the summer of police raids, gang violence and families and friendships torn apart. The summer of 1999 taught Fe Fe some valuable lessons which she will carry with her into adulthood.
Wolfe’s debut novel is a thoughtful work touching on the concepts of crime, poverty, race, friendship and family. It is an engrossing story with characters who feel true to life and prose that is clear, concise and sometimes poetic.
Lockwood’s first work of fiction is a bit difficult to summarize. It is divided into two parts. In the first section, the unnamed narrator is a well-known author of philosophical snippets which she sends out all over the world through a portal. In the second part, the narrator describes her family’s reactions before and after her sister gives birth to a child who has Proteus Syndrome(the Elephant Man disease).
Even though I knew this wasn’t my kind of book, I wanted to read No One Is Talking About This because it was given numerous accolades. Lockwood is a fabulous writer. On one page she can make her readers laugh, cry and be outraged. There are many subtle themes presented in this slim novel. However, some of Lockwood’s ideas and vivid descriptions are shocking and/or depressing, so this award winning work is not for everyone.
Every summer I read a “classic,” and this year it is Barchester Towers. I had never read Trollope and several sites said this was the author’s best. It takes place in the mid1800’s in a rural English town. When the Bishop of Barchester dies, there is much in fighting and conniving over who will be appointed to take his place. The factions are a highly religious, doctrinaire group led by Mr. Slope and Mrs. Proudie and the more liberal group led by Archdeacon Grantly. The subplot involves three men who wish to marry the widow Eleanor Bold.
Although written over 150 years ago, Barchester Towers, is quite timely. I couldn’t help comparing its plot the what is going on in our country today.
Brooks’s newest work of historical fiction centers on the racing horse, Lexington, and several famous paintings of him. She divides Horse into three eras. Kentucky and New Orleans in the 1850’s occupy the largest portion of the novel and describes Lexington, his trainer, Jarret, Thomas Scott, the artist who painted him, and the races and hardships the horse endured. The second era, the shortest of the three, takes place in 1954 and revolves around a New York art dealer and Scott’s painting. The final section is present day and involves an art student who finds the painting on a neighbor’s curb in Washington DC.
Once again Geraldine Brooks has written a multi-layered book of historical fiction. While not her best, Horse is still a good read, especially if you are a horse lover.
Harrison, Lewyn and Sally Oppenheimer are triplets who are a result of in vitro fertilization. They have little in common with the exception of their parents and the same last name, and they are not very fond of each other. When they are about to leave home for college, their mother becomes frightened at the thought of being an empty nester. She decides, without the support of her husband, to take the leftover embryo that has been frozen for seventeen years, find a surrogate mother, and have a fourth child.
This is a perfect summer read. The Latecomer is a great family saga with relatable characters and a plot that urges one to keep on reading.
There are four chapters in Trust, each with a different point of view about what occurs in New York before, during an after the crash of 1929. The first chapter is a novel by Harold Vanner. The second section are notes for Andrew Bevel’s memoir. Bevel is an aloof, almost anti-social millionaire. The third is his secretary’s descriptions of her relationship with Bevel and her father. And finally, the diary Mildred, Bevel’s wife, kept while she was dying.
For readers who feel it is important to become involved with a novel right away, do not read Trust. It is confusing up until chapter three. Also, there are a number paragraphs describing the way Bevel made money during the stock market crash that either I didn’t understand or found boring. It is cleverly constructed but that is about all I found entertaining about Trust.