Happy Monday, everyone! It’s the best kind of week here at Southern BelleView — a week of totally bookish chatter. Is there really anything better than the stories we love so much we can’t wait to share them with friends? Even in this speed-of-light era, the truth is that books still travel mostly by old-fashioned word of mouth.
To kick off our READ THIS! week, here’s a little bric-a-brac about recent books I’ve loved:
The Astronauts Wives Club — Lily Koppel
The Official Book Description: As America’s Mercury Seven astronauts were launched on death-defying missions, television cameras focused on the brave smiles of their young wives. Overnight, these women were transformed from military spouses into American royalty. They had tea with Jackie Kennedy, appeared on the cover of Life magazine, and quickly grew into fashion icons.
Annie Glenn, with her picture-perfect marriage, was the envy of the other wives; platinum-blonde Rene Carpenter was proclaimed JFK’s favorite; and licensed pilot Trudy Cooper arrived on base with a secret. Together with the other wives they formed the Astronaut Wives Club, meeting regularly to provide support and friendship. Many became next-door neighbors and helped to raise each other’s children by day, while going to glam parties at night as the country raced to land a man on the Moon.
As their celebrity rose-and as divorce and tragic death began to touch their lives-they continued to rally together, and the wives have now been friends for more than fifty years. THE ASTRONAUT WIVES CLUB tells the real story of the women who stood beside some of the biggest heroes in American history.
The unofficial scoop from me: First, let me admit that this is a time period and subject that always captures my attention. Some of my earliest memories are of sitting on my dad’s shoulders outside low-roofed Florida houses, and rubbing my chin on his flat-top haircut as the Apollo moon shots streaked overhead. In Florida, in the late sixties and early seventies, the space race was both an object of fascination and a source of pride. I loved reading this inside story of the struggles, sacrifices, and lifestyles of the wives who waited earthbound as their husbands made history.
Genre: Women’s fiction
The Official Book Description: Orphan Train is a gripping story of friendship and second chances from Christina Baker Kline, author of Bird in Hand and The Way Life Should Be.
Penobscot Indian Molly Ayer is close to “aging out” out of the foster care system. A community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping Molly out of juvie and worse…
As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly learns that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance.
Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life – answers that will ultimately free them both.
Rich in detail and epic in scope, Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline is a powerful novel of upheaval and resilience, of unexpected friendship, and of the secrets we carry that keep us from finding out who we are.
The unofficial scoop from me: I literally could not put this book down. I’m such a fan of the interweaving of historical and contemporary storylines and the combining of characters from different generations. As Molly, the present-day foster child in the story, slowly uncovers the tale of Vivian’s life on the orphan trains of the 1920′s, so many similarities between these two women are revealed. Orphan Train reminded me that everyone has a story — that struggle and resilience are neither old nor new concepts, but part of life. It reminded me that within the time-withered bodies we often pass by without noticing, wonderful human stories wait to be discovered. Those stories can enrich us, teach us, ultimately change us, and help us give meaning to the challenges in our own lives.
The ending of this story left me in tears… but I won’t give it away. Grab a copy and read it for yourself ;o)
Genre: Christian Romance
The Official Book Description: In the years since her twin brother’s drowning, Madison McKinley has struggled to put it behind her. Despite the support of her close-knit family and her gratifying job as a veterinarian in their riverside town, the loss still haunts her.
To find closure, Madison sets out to fulfill her brother’s dream of winning the town’s annual regatta. But first she has to learn to sail, and fast.
Beckett O’Reilly knows Madison is out of his league, but someone neglected to tell his heart. Now she needs his help—and he’ll give it, because he owes her far more than she’ll ever know.
Madison will do anything—even work with the infamous Beckett O’Reilly—to reach her goal. And as much as she’d like to deny it, the chemistry between them is electrifying. As summer wanes, her feelings for him grow and a fledgling faith takes root in her heart.
But Beckett harbors a secret that will test the limits of their new love. Can their romance survive summer’s challenges? And will achieving her brother’s dream give Madison the peace she desperately seeks?
The unofficial scoop from me: I read an early copy of Denise’s latest novel and enjoyed it very much. It’s good, clean romance with a nice waterside feel. The strong family relationships and small-town flavor were an added bonus. If you’re a lover of romance and books that leave you feeling good, this is a story you’ll savor.
What about you? What have you read lately that you’ve enjoyed? I’m always up for new recommendations!