(Review) The Address by Fiona Davis

the addresss

Publisher and Publication Date: Dutton Books. August 1, 2017.
Genre: Fiction. Mystery.
Pages: 354.
Source: Library.
Rating: Good.

Amazon 

Summary:
Two stories from two different time periods. Both of the stories will connect.
1884. The story begins in London, England, and Sara Smythe, age 30, is given an opportunity to move to New York City. She will work as a lady managerette at a new apartment building, the Dakota. The architect of the Dakota is Theodore Camden. He and his wife have three small children. However, Theo and Sara build a relationship.
100 years later, 1985. Bailey Camden is an interior designer. She has just finished rehab and is looking to restart her career. Her nasty behavior while on drugs and alcohol has caused a bad reputation. Her cousin, Melinda, hires her to decorate the Dakota. Melinda is the direct heir of the Camden fortune. Bailey and her dad are not close. Their relationship is cool and hangs by a thread. Bailey’s mother died when she was 18.

My Thoughts:
I knew from the synopsis of the story on the inside book flap, somehow Sara and Bailey were connected, but did not know the details of the connection. The story is a mystery about the Camden family, but I didn’t find it too mysterious. I figured the storyline out early. I consider The Address to be a family saga with a small amount of mystery.
Sara and Bailey are women who have gumption. They are resilient and long-suffering. Bailey is mouthy, but her time period allows this. Sara’s time period is the constrained Victorian age.
Bailey’s new friend, Renzo, is an additional character she meets at the Dakota. He is an asset. He is a dependable character.
An aspect of the story that is not “enjoyable” but is interesting, is the history (in the 1800s) of the insane asylum. How people were treated and disposed of in this place. It is a horrifying aspect of The Address.
I love history. The Dakota is a famous apartment building in New York City. John Lennon was murdered outside the building (south entrance.) This is all I knew. Even though The Address is fiction, there are historical facts about the building weaved in the story. I enjoyed this aspect of the book.

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The Dakota in 1890.

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(Review) The Unquiet Grave

the unquiet grave

Publisher and Publication Date: Atria Books. September 12, 2017.
Genre: Fiction.
Pages: 368.
Source: Library.
Rating: Very Good.

Amazon

Summary:
The Unquiet Grave is three key people who share the same history. The setting is West Virginia. The two years of history are 1897 and 1930.
In 1897, a head-strong young woman named Zona Hester marries a blacksmith. Never mind he has been married before and those marriages ended strangely. Zona wants to marry a handsome man who will shower her with love. Mary Jane is Zona’s mother. Mary Jane is suspicious by nature. She and her husband have fretted over Zona’s behavior for years. They love their willful and defiant daughter, but never knew how to best manage Zona. After Zona marries, Mary Jane hears Zona has died. Mary Jane believes her son-in-law killed Zona. She tells the county prosecutor that the ghost of Zona visited her and told her she’d been murdered. The third key character of the book is the defense attorney, a black man named James P. D. Gardner. When he begins telling his story the year is 1930.

No, I did not plan to read two ghost stories in a row.

My Thoughts:
I like this story more than the previous story read: Grief Cottage.
Several points led me to give The Unquiet Grave a very good rating.
• The story of a black attorney at the turn of the twentieth century appealed to me. He had perseverance and fortitude to attend higher education to become an attorney in an age when blacks were severely oppressed.
• Mary Jane is a woman and mother with tenacity. She does not let things go. When she believes in something she finds a way to make “it” happen. She is a keen problem solver. She has had a life time to solve the after affects of Zona’s behavior. Mary Jane’s husband is meek. Mary Jane is the opposite.
• Zona is a mess. She leaves a wake of large waves behind her. After she marries, the household of her childhood home is quiet. After marriage, the spark of her personality is gone. She is a waif of her former self.
The Unquiet Grave is a descriptive story. Whether it is the scenery or a character’s face.
• I love the background for the writing of this story. It is a mix of folklore, based on the Greenbrier Ghost.

(Review) Grief Cottage by Gail Godwin

grief cottage

Publisher and Publication Date: Bloomsbury. June 6, 2017.
Genre: Fiction.
Pages: 336.
Source: Library.
Rating: Good.

Amazon

Summary:
Marcus Harshaw, after the death of his mother, moves in with his Aunt Charlotte. She has a small house on an island off the coast of South Carolina. Aunt Charlotte is a painter. She is a loner. Marcus is 11 years old. At the beginning of the story, the first sentence of chapter two:

Whenever I try to crawl back into the skin of that boy Aunt Charlotte suddenly found invading her precious solitude, a boy who was neither a charming child nor a promising young man, I am surprised that after living alone by choice for so long she was able to tolerate my company as well as she did. Page 6.

Marcus is telling us his story as an adult, he is reflecting back on this period in life. He is the narrator. —-Don’t forget this point as I will refer to it in the “My Thoughts” section.
It is early summer when Marcus begins living with Aunt Charlotte. She is kind to him but with an awkwardness. She never had children, and he has never met her before, he has only “heard” stories about the reclusive Aunt Charlotte.
Aunt Charlotte tells Marcus about a battered old cottage “at the south end of the beach.” It has been nicknamed “grief cottage.” Aunt Charlotte has painted this cottage several times. She encourages Marcus to go have a look.
Marcus’s visits to the cottage become his primary focus; and he meets a ghostly friend who may or may not be a good influence.

My Thoughts:
One of the points I do not like about the book is whether Marcus is telling us his story from the perspective of an 11 year old or from the perspective of an adult? If the perspective is age 11, Marcus is an old soul, very old soul. He is not the typical boy of 11. He spends a great deal of time thinking (obsessing) about people. People from his past or present. He is also a loner. He does not mention sadness, but his actions show sadness, anger, and a mental instability. He does not seek out kids his own age to hang around. He often thinks of the one friend he had and their violent ending. This point about the perspective leads me to believe this is not a believable story. I feel this is fiction a bit too far.

A second point about the story is whether the ghost is really a ghost or is this a fixation for Marcus? Marcus is grieving the death of his mother. He has no other family but Aunt Charlotte. He has lived a difficult life. Is this a ghost or is it all in Marcus’s mind?

Marcus has a history of violence. This is apart of the story but not in a way that helps him, it is another aspect of who he is.

The story is slow. It has few characters. The spotlight holds bright on Marcus.

What kept me reading till the end is I felt sorry for Marcus. I wanted to know what became of this strange and sad boy.

 

(Review) Christy by Catherine Marshall

35644588Publisher and Publication Date: Evergreen Farm. October 17, 2017. Originally published 1967.
Genre: Fiction.
Pages: 512.
Source: Complimentary hardcover copy from Evergreen Farm and Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to leave a positive review.
Rating: Excellent.

Litfuse Publicity Group is closed and any links will be broken.

Some stories are evergreen, their themes and lessons standing the test of time and connecting with readers generation after generation. Reconnect with Catherine Marshall’s beloved Christy as it celebrates its 50th anniversary with a new edition! As nineteen-year-old teacher Christy struggles to find acceptance in her new home of Cutter Gap, some see her-and her one-room school-as a threat to their way of life. Her faith is challenged and her heart is torn between two strong men with conflicting views about how to care for the families of the Cove. Yearning to make a difference, will Christy’s determination and devotion be enough?

Celebrate the new 50th anniversary edition of Christy by entering to win one of TWO $50 Visa cash cards (details below) and by attending a Facebook Live party on December 5!

TWO grand prize winners will receive:

  • One copy of Christy
  • One $50 Visa Cash Card

Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on December 5. The winner will be announced at the Christy Facebook Live Party. RSVP for a chance to connect with authors who’ve been impacted by Christy and other readers, as well as for a chance to win other prizes!

 

RSVP today and spread the word-tell your friends about the giveaway and Facebook Live party via social media and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 5th!

Catherine Marshall

Catherine Marshall (1914-1983), The New York Times best-selling author of 30 books, is best known for her novel Christy. Based on the life of her mother, Christy captured the hearts of millions and became a popular CBS television series. Around the kitchen table at Evergreen Farm, as her mother reminisced, Catherine probed for details and insights into the rugged lives of these Appalachian highlanders. Catherine shared the story of her husband, Dr. Peter Marshall, Chaplain of the United States Senate, in A Man Called Peter. A decade after Dr. Marshall’s untimely death, Catherine married Leonard LeSourd, Executive Editor of Guideposts, forging a dynamic writer-editor partnership. A beloved inspirational writer and speaker, Catherine’s enduring career spanned four decades and reached over 30 million readers.
Find out more about Catherine at

http://gileadpublishing.com/christy/. 
Litfuse Publicity Group is closed. They ended their business and any links will be broken.

My Thoughts:
I first read Christy as a teenage girl. Although we had books in my childhood home, nonfiction were usually the books on the shelf. My mother had been given a copy of Christy to read. Then, she passed the book on to me. It is a book I quickly became attached to. And, it is a book that became memorable.

In 1912, Christy Huddleston, left her home in Asheville, Tennessee, at age 19, and traveled by train to rural eastern Tennessee to be a teacher.

    1. Several things I love about Christy’s character: steadfastness, perseverance, wanted to make a difference, adventurous, stoic, strong-willed, unselfish, patient, ambitious, a born leader, level-headed, a deep thinker, intelligent, honest, and loyal. There are moments in the story where I saw her positive traits, and there are moments when I saw her negative traits. She is a heroine but not an over-the-top type heroine. She is a young woman who has a strong character and a boldness many women her age do not possess. She is a character I admired many years ago and still admire. She left the security of home and family, and traveled to a strange place and culture. She had to learn to adapt to the people of Cutter Gap, Tennessee. This last aspect is something all people should learn. We may not agree with another culture group. We may not like how the other culture group lives. But it is a very good thing to listen and not judge. Just to clarify. If the other culture group wants to abuse, break the law or incite a war-I’m not referring to them. I am referring to people of race, religion, economic status, education level, and political views. There is a big difference between disagreeing and hate.
      Christy’s character and her story is the main aspect of why I love this book.
      2. A second aspect of why I love this story is something that can easily be missed. I have read many books where the story tries too hard to make an impression. Christy is a fluid story. It reminds me of a river. The water moves but not always fast, sometimes it turns at a bend, and sometimes it moves rapid. The story takes its time to reveal itself and at different paces. For example, Christy makes a point to visit in the homes of the people who live in Cutter Gap. She is an observant girl. Some of the observations will pop-up in secondary stories. Christy gets an education in how the people live, their superstitions, and their isolated existence; and she is shown an innocence of the people yet they can also be violent.
      3. Another aspect of why I love this story is the descriptions of eastern Tennessee. All the seasons are described in vividness. The homes of where the people live are described in such detail I felt I too was there.
      4. The women of Cutter Gap. A reference is made of the women having an intuition about some things. These women depend on one another. They understand the culture of men and women and what is expected. They live a hard life, and not just a life of toil, but of living with heart-wrenching secrets.
      5. Secondary characters. Fairlight Spencer is ethereal. She is like a character in a poem. She does not seem to be apart of this earth but of heavenly origin. Christy taught Fairlight to read. They have a strong and immediate bond. Fairlight is an interesting secondary character because she is “different.” Another character is Alice. She has a strong perception of people. She is wise, observant, and patient. She has a way of saying a few words that causes Christy to ponder. Dr. MacNeil is the country doctor who understands the people. He is a large man and yet he has a gentle quality. He is a person who hold many thoughts and secrets behind his curious hazel eyes.

Several quotes I love:

So many people never pause long enough to make up their minds about basic issues of life and death. It’s quiet possible to go through your whole life, making the mechanical motions of living, adopting as your own sets of ideas you’ve picked up some place or other, and die-never having come to any conclusion for yourself as you what life is all about. Page 314.

…I saw for the first time that we have to accept people the way they are and not be shocked about anything. In my idealism, that had been hard for me. Page 382.

The words were like understanding hands reaching out for me across the centuries. Their cry and mind, those others whom I had never known in the flesh, was the cry of the vulnerable human heart. There was comfort in the knowledge of our common humanity. Page 436.

And the last line in the book, which I will not share, is one of the most beautiful last lines in fiction.

Final Thoughts:
Although religion is discussed in Christy. I do not consider this story to be a genre of Christian fiction. There are characters who are believers in Jesus. There are characters who take a bit of this and a bit of that. There are characters who do not believe in Jesus.
The book has a romantic element but this is not strong until the end.
The strength of the story is the character Christy, the people of Cutter Gap, the Great Smoky Mountains, and the wisdom and love that is learned.

(Review) News Of The World by Paulette Jiles

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Publisher and Publication Date: William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins. October 4, 2016.
Genre: Historical fiction, western, Texas history.
Pages: 209.
Source: Self-purchase.
Rating: Excellent.

Paulette Jiles website

News Of The World is a 2016 National Book Award finalist

Amazon

New of the World is a phenomenal story. Don’t be put off by its western or Texas setting. Consider this book on your next visit to the bookstore or library!

Summary:
The year is 1870. The Civil War ended just 5 years before. Texas is suffering under the weight of the war and political climate.
Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, age 71, is a traveling newspaper reader. He travels to various towns in north Texas reading newspapers. The readings are held in a town hall type meeting. People pay a dime to hear him tell stories of “polar exploration and scientific experiments. Captain knows what kind of reading material to read at the beginning of the event, and what to read to make the people bored and leave. In Wichita Falls, he is asked to take a young girl, Johanna, back to her nearest kin in central Texas. The girl is 10. She spent the past 4 years with the Kiowa people. Her parents and sister were killed. She was abducted and taken in by the tribe to become one of their own. She assimilated as a Kiowa, and does not remember the English language and culture. Captain has already lived a lifetime of wars, adventure, marriage, and family. He enjoys his current life. It is for the most part predictable.

Favorite quotes:

He always recalled those two years with a kind of wonder. As when one is granted the life and the task for which one was meant. No matter how odd, no matter how out of the ordinary. When it came to an end he was not surprised. It was too good, too perfect to last. Page 24.

The Rangers smoked and waited in silence in the shadow of their hats. Their beards were silky because they were young but when you looked at their faces it seemed they were artificially aged in some way. Page 29.

Her faultless silence made her seem strangely not present. Page 33.

My  Thoughts:

What I loved about News OF The World:

1. News Of The World is my kind of story. It is the kind of story to read aloud. It is the kind of story to curl up in my favorite chair with a cozy blanket. It is the kind of story I can’t wait to tell my best reader friends.
2. I loved reading this story aloud. The rhythm of the words and the rich expressions brought a nostalgia to me. I remembered those childhood stories where I was entranced by the descriptive language and larger than life characters.
3. The story creates just the right amount of tension to keep reading.
4. Jiles captures both Captain and Johanna perfectly. While reading the story I pictured both of them so clearly I swear they lived and breathed.
5. The unfolding relationship between Johanna and Captain. Captain has the ability to be firm and yet tender. He seems to understand her unusual ways. He has patience with humor. Both accept each other. If anything, he wants what is best for her, he wants to protect her, and he wants to make sure her future is secure.
6. I loved the dry wit from the characters. Some of the wit is so dry I had to pause and think if maybe they really weren’t trying to be funny.
7. I enjoyed reading the secondary stories. Stories of other people who’d been captured by Indians and later had to assimilate back with current culture standards. Stories of how people responded and treated Johanna, her different ways that seem odd and uncouth. I enjoyed reading about the people who lived in Texas during this era. Whether it was freed black men, young pioneer families, simple town folk, or a widow with a heart of gold.
8. It is rare for me to tear up while reading a story. The last few pages I had eyes filled with tears.