Tuesday, July 2, 2013

My Long Weekend Read

Island Girls by Nancy Thayer

It really feels like summer has arrived when I read my first Nantucket set beach novel by Thayer or Elin Hilderbrand.  This was not Thayer's best but it was a fun easy read.  It dealt with the death of Rory Randall who, in his will, insisted his three daughters from different women spend the summer together in his Nantucket cottage if they wished to inherit a piece of it.  So we spend the summer with Arden, a television host who has sacrificed everything for the job that's now it jeopardy, Meg, a straight laced college professor who is being pursued by a younger colleague but avoids it for fear of getting hurt, and Jenny, Rory's only adopted daughter whose mother got the other girls banished from the cottage when they were teenagers and who is still paying the price for her suspected involvement in the matter.  We watch as they slowly learn to trust each other, survive visits from their mothers (and a surprise other woman in Rory's life) and, of course, since this is a Nancy Thayer book, struggle with romance.

The Smart One by Jennifer Close

Weezy's parents always said she was the smart one while her sister was the pretty one who would marry well (we meet her mother Babs, in her old age, and she has not grown any more charming).  Instead Weezy's sister is divorced while Weezy married well and has three grown children.  Unfortunately the children are still finding their way and end up living back home with Weezy and her husband.  The eldest, Martha, is a 30 year old socially awkward former nurse who now works and J. Crew.  She decides to get back into nursing and find her own apartment but it takes her a long time to figure out how to put the plan into action - especially since she spends so much time contemplating the next disaster that lurks around the corner.  Claire, is living in New York but when she breaks off her engagement she maxes out her credit cards and has to return home broke.  She finds a temporary job and picks up with a loser she pined after in high school while she tries to earn enough money to get back on track.  The youngest, Max, is still in college but he gets his girlfriend pregnant in senior year and they both move into his house to have the baby.  So Weezy, who has been accused of babying her children, must learn to live with them as adults again.  It leads to some humorous and some pathetic scenes.  In all the book is a decent way to pass some warm summer hours by the pool.

A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea by Dina Nayeri

This is the first book of substance I've read in a while and I really enjoyed it.  The book is written from the perspective of Saba Hafezi, the daughter of Muslims who converted to Christianity in pre-Revolutionary Iran and must figure out how to go forward following the revolution.  It starts when Saba is 11 years old - we see her recovering from illness and on the way to the airport in Tehran to leave Iran with her mother and her twin sister.  Saba tells us she sees her mother and sister board the plane without her but others (in interspersed chapters) tell us her sister drowned before ever going to the airport and her mother has disappeared.  So Saba spends her teenaged years with her wealthy father, pretending to cater to the Mullahs, raised by old village women as surrogate mothers and dreaming of the life her mother and sister must be living in the US.  We follow Saba through two ill fated marriages, the deaths of several characters and her coming to terms with what really happened on that day when she was 11 years old.  The prose is fantastic - I was drawn into Saba's world right from the start and could not wait to find out the truth.  The weaving in of Persian village traditional story telling was also fascinating.  I highly recommend this book.

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