44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith

44-scotland-street

↑ Reserve a copy ↑

44 Scotland Street is the first in a series by Alexander McCall Smith by the same name. The story takes place in Edinburgh in a neighborhood with very colorful residents.  You will meet Pat, a young woman taking her gap year in Edinburgh; Bruce, who shares the flat with Pat; Domenica, an interesting widow in another flat; Bernie and his mother on the floor below. Bernie is only five and already learning Italian and how to play the saxophone.  Pat finds a job working for Matthew in an art gallery but knows little about art.

You’ll find yourself turning pages and deep into the story before you know it. McCall Smith has a talent for giving many details but not getting bogged down in them.  He’s very insightful and develops deep characters.

March by Geraldine Brooks

march

↑ Reserve a copy ↑

Geraldine Brooks masterfully weaves a tale of life away from home for Mr. March after he leaves his “Little Women” to fend for themselves.  As the local young men are gathered together before leaving to join the fight to save the Union, Mr. March is asked to say a few words. As he speaks, he repeatedly uses the word “we.”  Looking up, he catches Marmee’s eye, and they both realize that he will be joining the boys.

In the course of the book, Mr. March returns to an area that he used to tour while selling goods door to door.  He serves as chaplain and then, after an indiscretion, he is reassigned to Oak Landing, an area where liberated slaves are supposed to be protected and offered wages as they toil to bring in the cotton crop.

This is an intriguing story that brings the reader fact to face with war, slavery, incest, and adultery.  What does Mr. March carry with him to remind him of his Little Women, who wait at home?  When he returns home, battered and ill, will Marmee still feel the same about him?  Will his LIttle Women?

Saving Faith by David Baldacci

saving-faith

↑ Reserve a copy ↑

If you are looking for a riveting mystery,  you don’t want to miss this author.  I haven’t found any books by David Baldacci I haven’t liked. The author ends each chapter in a way that you must read on to see what happens next.  Faith Lockhart is on the run and keeps the reader wondering what desperate moves she’ll be making next.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

a-man-called-ove

↑ Reserve a copy ↑

Have you ever had a neighbor who always seemed so cranky that you avoided getting to know him/her?  It has probably happened to all of us at some time.  Well, Ove is that kind of neighbor: very rigid, grumpy and set in his ways.  It took an unexpected encounter between Ove and new neighbors to change his character, and in fact the entire neighborhood.  You will be pleasantly surprised at the difference this incident made for all those concerned.  It may even change the way you approach a similar situation in the future.

The Red Garden by Alice Hoffman

the-red-garden

↑ Reserve a copy ↑

I just enjoy Alice Hoffman so much.  The way she can interweave characters and their stories is so enjoyable.  This book doesn’t disappoint.   It is a very quick read that refers to Albany and the Berkshires, and of course a little mysticism and magic.  I think you’ll like it,  and it may even lead you to Hoffman’s other works as well.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

me-and-earl-and-the-dying-girl

↑ Reserve a copy ↑

This was my end of summer book to read.  It didn’t take long at all to get through.  You would find it in the YA section of the library but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seek it out as an adult reader.  It deals with a serious subject matter with great humor.  I felt that the three main characters — Greg, Earl, and Rachel — were appropriately portrayed as teenaged.  They were not as unrealistic as the characters in The Fault In Our Stars.  I also felt that the author dealt with the relationship the kids had with their parents in a very mature and realistic manner.  I also appreciated that the demise of Rachel was not a long, drawn out affair.  For anyone who might not want to read the book, there is a movie that was made.

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

wide-sargasso-sea

↑ Reserve a copy ↑

My summer pick for a classic I’ve never read was Wide Sargasso Sea.  I’m surprised I hadn’t read it, as it’s the story of the woman that marries Mr. Rochester, yes, that Rochester from Jane Eyre.  The book tells the story of Antoinette, born in Jamaica to ex-slave owners.  Eventually her father drinks himself to death and her mother exhibits signs of insanity.  Antoinette is cared for by the nuns at her convent school and occasionally by her Aunt Cora.  Mr. Rochester, while never directly named in the book, arrives on the island and marries Antoinette without really knowing much about her past.  This book was a richly detailed story full of secrets and superstitions as well as deep-seated resentments, especially of the ex-slaves toward the white aristocracy.  So glad I picked this to read this summer.