The title of this novel should be Long Dark River instead of Long
Bright River. There is hardly a bright moment in the 500 pages. (It could be
cut to about 300 without losing anything.) But it’s well written, enough to
keep me reading through the whole book.
There are two plots. One is a family story about two sisters, a cop, Mickey, and an addict, Kacey. They haven’t been on speaking terms for years, but Mickey keeps an eye out for her sister. When she doesn’t see Kacey on the streets for several weeks, she assumes her sister is missing, possibly dead from an overdose or a serial killer who is loose in the neighborhood.
The serial killer is the second plot, the mystery. I think
it’s supposed to be the main plot since the book is classified as a mystery/thriller
(I’d call it “women’s fiction” or a family novel), but the serial killer thread
takes a backseat to Mickey’s search for her sister. She’s not a very good cop.
She neglects her duties, breaks rules, believes and follows up rumors, and finally
The first person narrator, Mickey, isn’t likable. She’s
depressed, insecure, terrible decision-maker, and she doesn’t connect with
people. The author spends far too much time in Mickey’s head and switches to
her past in some chapters, which probably isn’t necessary. I wanted to like her
but never connected.
One thing that irritates me about the writing is the use of
the M-dash instead of quotes for dialog. It’s distracting. I don’t know what
the author is trying to prove.
There’s not an ounce of humor in this story.
Helen Clapp (first-person POV) is a physics professor at MIT
and a single mother with a seven-year-old son, Jack, by an anonymous donor. Her
best friend, Charlotte (Charlie), has died, but Helen is receiving text
messages from her phone. I believe this is the plotline, but the author touches
on it only occasionally throughout the story.
Billed as a ghost story, it’s more about Helen’s disbelieve
in the afterlife or ghosts. I would classify the novel as women’s fiction or
literary. It’s mostly about friendship and relationships.
Charlie’s husband and daughter (Terrence and Simmi) come to
Boston from California to be closer to Charlie’s parents after her death, and
they move into an apartment in Helen’s house. Their children, Jack and Simmi,
become friends. Neel, an old flame and research partner of Helen’s returns to
MIT. Much of the book is Helen remembering times spent with Charlie or Neel.
Freudenberger covers a lot of science, which I found
interesting but much too detailed, even though I enjoy physics. As a successful
woman in the male-dominated world of science, Helen spends too much time
worrying about what others think of her.
I enjoyed the book, although it didn’t have much of a plot.
The characters were interesting, if not always likable.
The story follows a growing friendship between two women—Lexie, an FBI agent on her first undercover assignment, and Savannah, a young, naïve animal-rights activist. As the tagline on the back cover says, “You build relationships to betray relationships.” But is Lexie ready to betray her newfound friend to her bosses at the FBI?
Amazon lists this novel as a (Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Mystery > Cozy > Animals), but there is no mystery to solve and it doesn’t even come close to what I consider a cozy. Thriller & suspense—maybe. More of a crime novel. It’s also listed a women’s fiction, which is probably closer. Not that it matters; it was a good read.
Lisa Geneva captures your mind and your emotions. This is a sad, sad story. It’s a different kind of “horror” story, but the monsters aren’t aliens, werewolves, or ghosts. Instead they are a disabling disease and a dysfunctional family.
Richard and Karina are both talented pianists who met and married when they were studying classical piano in NYC. They were competitive, with Karina probably the more talented, until Karina fell in love with jazz. Early in their marriage Richard took a job in Boston where the jazz world was almost nonexistent. Karina followed and lost her connection to her new love—jazz. Then their daughter Grace was born. Karina gave up her career as a pianist to become wife, mother, and piano teacher at home. Richard became a renowned pianist, touring the world. Richard wanted more children; Karina wanted no more.
Resentment grew between them from early in the marriage. Deception and blame ruled. They divorced when Grace was a teenager.
Now, at the age of forty-five, Richard develops ALS. His arms and hands go first, leaving him divorced from his one true love, the piano.
Genova takes you on a trip through every emotion; there is even a little humor thrown in. She follows Richard’s thoughts and details of the disease as the ALS progresses. She gives us the emotional upheavals of ex-wife Karina as she takes Richard back into her home to care for him. She examines the disconnection between father and daughter and the regret that he wasn’t there for her as she grew up.
Every Note Played is a powerful and exquisitely written novel.
The Nightingale grabs you in the gut—powerful writing!
Hannah takes you on an emotional journey through the German occupation of France in World War II. She follows two sisters with contrasting personalities through horrible events and upheavals in their lives and the world around them. Vianne tries to accept the hardships and follow the rules to protect her daughter. Isabelle resists in every way that she can. She creates an escape route through the Pyrenees, leading numerous downed Allied airmen to safety in Spain.
Usually when I enjoy a book, I read into the wee, small hours of the night. With The Nightingale, I found I needed to stop often to escape the pull of this story. Hannah is an excellent storyteller. She does everything right—the historical research, the characters, the setting, the reactions of the women living through this terrifying time.
Hannah’s novel is probably the best writing I’ve found in a very long time.
An interview with Kristin Hannah about The Nightingale.
During an excavation in London to upgrade an old neighborhood, the skeleton of a newborn baby is found. The police estimate the burial to be thirty to forty years ago. This grabs newspaper reporter Kate Waters’ attention, and she starts digging to find people who lived on the street at the time. She finds an old story about a baby stolen from the hospital, but as the date of the burial becomes clearer some things don’t match. The missing child was kidnapped a decade earlier and in a different neighborhood. Working the story, Kate finds more information and secrets, plus some unexpected surprises.
Trying to figure out what had happened, the book held my interest from the beginning, but it didn’t really grab me until the latter part of the story, keeping me up late the last night to finish it.
I guess the novel would be women’s fiction, mystery, maybe literary, maybe psychological thriller. I know that I say I’m not into women’s fiction, but there are some very talented writers in that genre. Author Barton kept me reading and kept me guessing. I would definitely read another of her novels.
Thirteen-year-old Julie is abducted from her home in the middle of the night as her ten-year-old sister Jane looks on in fear from the closet. Eight years later, Julie shows up at her family’s door. That’s the beginning and the end of two stories. The current story moves forward through mother Anna’s eyes as she begins to doubt that the girl who appeared on her doorstep is her daughter. And the story of Julie moves backward through the eight years as Julie takes on one persona then another to the time when she left her home.
This thriller is about the two women and how they deal with tragedy. A mother who drinks and hides from life, ignoring the daughter and husband who are still with her, cannot except that the returning daughter is lying and might not be who she says. The daughter who does whatever it takes to survive—changing names and life stories as she moves from one situation to another— is always running, always lying to herself as well as others.
As a writer, I found the point of view (POV) in this novel interesting, The Prologue is the only place the author uses sister Jane’s POV—third person past. In Chapter 1 we jump to the mother Anna’s POV—first person present. When the story shifts to Julie and her various role’s POV it’s third person past, until the last part of the book where it’s Julie’s POV—first person past. It sounds confusing but it works.
The book grabbed my attention and held it to the end.
This author drills into the minds and hearts of her characters. She crafted a story that kept me reading until three o’clock this morning.
The book is built around two characters from diverse cultures and backgrounds. One woman is a professional (psychologist) in a comfortable almost idyllic marriage. The other is an immigrant wife, unappreciated by her husband, who works her hard and gives her nothing (emotionally or materially). The two women’s lives come together and they become friends.
Ms. Umrigar looks into the best and the worst of both women—their desire to help others, their hopes and dreams, passions, and ambitions. She also shows us their mistakes or “sins” as one of the women classifies them, despair, guilt, loneliness…
Whew! I make it sound dark and depressing, but it’s not. It’s a delightful story with all the three H’s I talk about other places in my blog—head, heart, and humor—and a new “H” for hope.
It’s also in the women’s fiction (or literary) genre I claim to not like. Yet I keep finding good books in that category. Another thing this novel has in common with others I like and have reviewed is the switching back and forth between two main characters.
All I can say is this book is a good read. Remember it kept me reading until 3 a.m.
I am impressed. Cassella is an amazing writer! Gemini is a captivating story switching between two main characters with very different stories and lives.
A doctor becomes involved, against her better judgment, with discovering the identity of a “Jane Doe” in her care. “Jane” lies in a coma in the hospital after she is found alongside the road almost dead from a hit-and-run.
The author also follows a young artist growing up with her grandfather in a backwoods small town. We see her first love, marriage, motherhood, her frustrations, struggles to survive, her spirit, her connection to grandfather, son, husband, to the land.
The genre is medical mystery, but I think it could also be classified as women’s fiction or literary. There is so much to grab you and keep you reading—hopes and fears, love and loss, heartbreak and joy, family, communication, morality, medicine, genetics…
I’m going to find Cassella’s two earlier novels, Oxygen and Healer, and spend more sleepless nights reading her work.
The Language of Flowers. Isn’t that an intriguing name for a book? Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s first novel is superb. She tells the story of a young women coming out into the world from foster care with no family, no home, no education, no job… She has a love and knowledge of flowers, which finds her a job and connects her to people. The story swings between her current life and a past life with a foster mother who wanted to adopt her.
The novel is probably classified as literary or women’s fiction. Not my first choice for reading, but this book is exceptional. Diffenbaugh grabs your attention (and your heart) and holds it from beginning to end.