Monday, July 9, 2018

Two Books by Jamie Brenner

I had never read anything by this author, but the first one caught my eye and when I finished it I had no other books on hand so I ordered the second and enjoyed it just as much.  They were both well written, light, had engaging characters and were just a pleasurable easy read.

The Husband Hour
Lauren Adelman marries her high school sweetheart, Rory Kincaid, just as he is breaking into the NHL.  As he plays for the LA Kings she moves across the country after completing college in DC, essentially putting her dreams of a journalism career on hold for him.  After a couple of years in the NHL Rory surprises everyone and enlists in the US Army where he is killed by an IED in Iraq.  After his death Lauren sequesters herself in her grandparents' summer home on the Jersey Shore where she lives alone and works in a diner - trying to keep herself busy to keep the memories at bay.

Almost five summers later her parents decide she should move on, and for personal reasons that are not originally revealed to Lauren, so they move in with her at the beach house, bringing along her sister and her six year old son.  Lauren and her sister Stephanie have had a troubled relationship since shortly before her nephew's birth and they are not happy to be forced together.

Lauren is also troubled by the arrival of Matt Brio, a documentary film maker who is making a film about Rory - and in particular the impacts of concussions sustained in the NHL on his behaviour in the year or so leading up to his death.  Worn down, Lauren agrees to give him one hour of her time to make sure the world sees Rory the way she did.

This hour stretches into several meetings where we learn more about Lauren's past and her relationship with Rory.  There are several surprises which I did not see coming, but which kept the narrative interesting.  By coming to terms with the past, Lauren finally seems ready to contemplate a future.

The Wedding Sisters
Though similar in style, I found this book somewhat more humorous.  There were a lot of entertaining characters!

Merle Becker is a middle aged woman in New York who is thrilled to learn her eldest daughter, Meg, is engaged to a wealthy man from a prominent political family.  She wants to plan and throw her daughter the wedding of her dreams - without financial input from her in-laws.  The problem is within mere weeks her two younger daughters become engaged, also to wealthy men whose families have high expectations for the type of weddings they should have.  And Merle and her husband cannot afford to throw three lavish weddings in the same year - especially since her husband is having issues at work that make their financial situation even more precarious.

So, with a little bit of pressure from the gossip media that begins to take an interest in the family, they decide to throw a triple wedding.  This might be financially viable but creates an organizational circus.

To add to Merle's stress, her elderly mother begins to have psychological issues and is forced to move in with the family.

As the narrative moves toward the wedding we get great insights into all three daughters, their fianc├ęs, their in-laws, Merle and her husband, Merle's mother and a few other characters along the way.  I wouldn't say everyone lived happily ever after, but the book did come to a satisfying conclusion.

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