Book List from Author Christina Clancy

When the independent bookstore Where the Sidewalk Ends sponsored a Zoom discussion recently of Christina Clancy’s new book, The Second Home, the author graciously  panned her camera to her pile of books, precariously tilting in a pile nearby.  She offered a few books to pre-order, and some now available in her stash.  I decided to find out more about each, to better decide if I wanted to read any.  I am still waiting for her book to arrive, but, in the meantime, her book list is full of good ideas.  Here are her recommendations and my notes on each:

Books to Pre-Order

  • Fifty Words for Rain by Asha Lemmie – publication September, 2020 – “coming-of-age novel about a young woman’s quest for acceptance in post-World War II Japan.”
  • The Kindest Lie by Nancy Johnson – publication February, 2021- “following the merging lives of Ruth, a black female engineer who seeks out the child she gave away, and Midnight, a young white boy struggling to find his place in the very poverty Ruth managed to escape.”
  • Better Luck Next Time by Julia Claiborne Johnson – publication January 2021  – from the publisher: “A novel about divorce, marriage, and everything that comes in between (money, class, ambition, and opportunity), Better Luck Next Time is a hilarious yet poignant examination of the ways friendship can save us, love can destroy us, and the family we create can be stronger than the family we come from.

Books Available Now

  • Be Frank with Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson  – Joanna Rakoff reviewed the book on the New York Times Sunday Book Review with the headline: Screwball Comedies.  “…set in 2009, (the story) begins with a nod to a real-life scandal: a Madoff-style swindler has worked his charm on Mimi Banning, a reclusive writer. She was on the brink of losing not just her house but also the copyright to her book. Mimi calls her editor, Isaac Vargas. She’s ready to write another novel, provided he supply her with “a huge advance and an assistant, bankrolled by the publisher.” Vargas sends Mimi his own girl Friday, Alice, a bossy, pragmatic Nebraskan, thinking she’ll keep his star writer on track to meet her deadline…High jinks ensue.”

 

  • The Grace Year  – thriller by Kim Liggett – “In Garner County, girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, to drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth;{consequently}, they are banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive.”

 

  • Remembrance – historical fiction by Rita Woods  – Denny Bryce in his review for NPR says: “Rita Woods’ debut Remembrance is a complex story of loss and survival told across 200 years by four women, united by the color of their skin and the supernatural powers they command. It’s an ambitious, absorbing novel…Woods creates memorable characters in all four settings, each with a distinct purpose that helps make the impossible relatable. Remembrance is a well-researched, epic historical fantasy that, despite its flaws, delivers upon the themes of pain and suffering, loss and survival — and how they can drive the creation of a safe place that by its very existence is timeless.”

 

  • Summer Longing – light beach read by Jamie Brenner – “Ruth Cooperman moves to Provincetown, Mass., hoping to slow down. She finds an abandoned baby on the front porch of her rented beach house. Couple Elise and Fern move back in to the cottage they rented to Ruth to care for the infant rather than call the authorities. Ruth’s quiet retirement becomes even more crowded after her estranged daughter, Olivia, agrees to visit, while Ruth continues her search for a house to buy…Elise and Fern bond with the baby and dream of making her their own. However, the mystery of the baby’s mother lurks in the background, and Ruth’s tenuous relationship with her daughter, as well as the connections created as the town comes together to support Elise, Fern, and the baby, will soon be tested.

And the Books I Plan to Read First

The Summer Book by Tove Jansson – from the New York Review of Books: “Tove Jansson distills the essence of the summer…into twenty-two crystalline vignettes. This brief novel tells the story of Sophia, a six-year-old girl awakening to existence, and Sophia’s grandmother, nearing the end of hers, as they spend the summer on a tiny unspoiled island in the Gulf of Finland. The grandmother is unsentimental and wise, if a little cranky; Sophia is impetuous and volatile, but she tends to her grandmother with the care of a new parent. Together they amble over coastline and forest in easy companionship…{and} discuss things that matter to young and old alike: life, death, the nature of God and of love…”

The Imperfects by Amy Myerson –  “The estranged Miller siblings Beck, Ashley and Jake find themselves together for the first time in years, forced to confront old resentments and betrayals, when they find a secret inheritance hidden among their dead grandmother’s possessions—the Florentine Diamond, a 137-carat yellow gemstone that went missing from the Austrian Empire a century ago. They begin investigating her past only to realize how little they know about their brave, resilient grandmother. As the Millers race to determine whether they are the rightful heirs to the diamond and the fortune it promises, they uncover a past more tragic and powerful than they ever could have imagined, forever changing their connection to their heritage and each other.  Inspired by the true story of the real, still-missing Florentine Diamond.”

I read Amy Myerson’s first book – The Bookshop of Yesterdays:  my review

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