Monday, December 12, 2011

The Legacy by Katherine Webb

This is the first novel I have read by Webb, and  won't be the last. The story kept me interested right to the very twisted ending ! This is the story of the Calcott family, who were to the manor born. There are so many skeletons in their closets, you would think it was Halloween everyday ! The story is in two parts, really: the story of Caroline Fitzpatrick-Massey in the American West at the turn of the century and Erika & Beth Calcott, who have come to empty out their family's house, which just happens to be an English castle.
Caroline, born & brought up in NYC, marries and then follows her new husband to his ranch out west. She has a very hard time adjusting to life out there and is hoping that once she has children, she will be so busy that she will not notice how miserable she is. But after two years of trying, no children. Fast forward almost one hundred years, Erica Calcott is going through her grandmother's things and finds her great-grandmother Caroline's letters and a picture of her with a baby sitting on her lap. Whose baby is it? A hundred year old mystery. And how about a present day bonus:  what happened to her 10 year old cousin Henry who disappeared one summer from the manor?
If you told me this book was a mystery, I would say no thanks, not  a mystery reader. But tell me it is about a dysfunctional family and I am all over it. I guess this is the best of both worlds. Interesting how both parts of the story come together and what a twist at the end !
A good read.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Once Upon A Time There Was You by Elizabeth Berg

I like Elizabeth Berg novels. They are really packed with the compexities of real lives. In this novel,  Berg tells of John & Irene's marriage.... maybe more of their divorced life that followed the marriage. They have an eighteen year old daughter, Sadie, who is much loved by both parents. John lives in Minnesota and Irene & Sadie live on the West Coast. Irene is a quirky lady, she works for an eccentric caterer in San Fran. John is a conservative architect, who seldom dates. Irene is finding her many "loves" on the internet dating sites and  writes very long and "out there" introductions. John decides to attend a group session of divorced people and ends up in the grief group session and is attracted to Amy.
Sadie has met a great guy in school but doesn't want to introduce him to her mom, for fear the craziness will drive him away. She lies to her mom about a weekend get away, and ends up being kidnapped by a deranged killer. Fortunately, she does get rescued but for the few days she was missing, John flies to San Fran to stay with Irene while the search is on.
Irene & John do a dance of emotions: Didn't they once love each other? Are the feelings still there? What about Amy , who John may be falling in love with? All of the past baggage is right there for the two of them to deal with.
I have to say that this is one of the weaker novels by Berg. At any time while I was reading it, I could have put it down and walked away. If you are an avid Elizabeth Berg reader, then you will want to read it. If you aren't a follower, then you can definitely pass on this one.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Emily Alone by Stewart O'Nan

I picked this book up at the library because I recognized the name of the writer, Stewart O'Nan. He wrote Faithful, along with his pal Stephen King. It chronicled the winning season of the Red Sox a few years back when they won the World Series after a long drought. So, when I got home, as I picked the book up to read, I noticed that it was a sequel. But I started it anyway, hoping it would stand alone.
Emily Maxwwell is a widow, living in the same neighborhood that she had for years, when her husband was alive and the children were growing up. She hasn't driven for years and her husband's old boat of a car is locked away in the garage, gathering dust. She has two kids and four grandchildren that she doesn't see very often. Her daughter is a recovering alcoholic that Emily helps financially. Her son is distant and rarely needs anything from her.
She has a very close friend, Arlene, whose driving skills leave alot to be desired, but who gets her to the club once in a while, to lunch once a week and out to pick up groceries. 
When Arlene passes out at a restaurant, Emily is forced to drive Arlene's car home. Then back & forth to the hospital running errands for Arlene. When Arlene takes her car back, Emily gets her old car out of mothballs and with the help of her neighbors, gets it running again. And gets Emily running again, as well. She runs errands with Arlene, gets to visit the graves she hasn't been to in years, drives back to her home town. Emily is back  living a life again. Coming to terms with her kids and her own past.

This was a very easy book to read and quite enjoyable. You can definitely read this without reading the first volume.  I really now must locate the first book , called Wish  You Were Here,  just to get a deeper look into the past of Emily Maxwell.