Tag Archives: Jojo Moyes

The Stars are Fire … and More

To not forget some of the books I read last month, I’m listing them with short reminders.  What have you been reading?  Send me your comments.

9780385350907_p0_v2_s192x300   The Stars Are Fire by Anita Shreve

I eagerly anticipate each new Anita Shreve novel and The Stars Are Fire did not disappoint.  Although the fire in Maine begins the story with horror, Shreve wisely introduces two romantic leads to replace the uptight authoritarian husband who conveniently disappears fighting the fire.  The relief brings romance and a career to the heroine, but her reprieve is not longlasting.  The husband returns, scarred and needy, and more demanding – dangerously vindictive.  Her solution requires courage to save herself  – perhaps the small children motivate her to act.  Happily, all ends well, incluidng the opportune reappearance of a lover, but I’m not sure many women would take the path she did in the nineteen forties.  I cheered her on, thinking how lucky she was to have the haven of a good friend.

9780143130628_p0_v3_s118x184  The Horse Dancer by Jojo Moyes

Horses and girls – always a good formula..  News of the Kentucky Derby and a documentary on the  Maryland Hunt Cup with Senior Senator, the winning horse given a second chance, inspired me to read The Horse Dancer. (The horse named Boo in the book reminded me of Senior Senator. )

Like all Moyes’ stories, this one has problems and romance, connecting unlikely lives for a happy ending.  When Sarah’s grandfather, a master horseman, has a stroke, the teenager tries to continue caring for herself and her horse Boo, but she is caught one night stealing fishsticks for her dinner.  Natasha, a lawyer recently separated from Mac, a photographer, saves her from jail and eventually offers her the safety of her house.  Although the story has a slow start, when the main characters finally  intersect, the drama improves.  Thrown back together by their mutual concern for Sarah, Natasha and Mac work through a series of obscure and unlikely issues but after a dramatic chase across the English Channel to a French riding school, all ends well, with everyone living happily ever after – even the horse.

Always by Sarah Jio

A quirky romance with a shaky love triangle –  I admit I did skip through and bypass most of the hand wringing episodes. But Jio’s love story kept me reading to find out who the heroine would pick – her first love who reappears as a homeless man twenty years after abandoning a successful career or the old monied handsome swain with a penchant for real estate.  Although most of the incidents seemed unrealistic, Always was a nice distraction.

Follow Your Heart by Susanna Tamaro

Olga is a dying Italian grandmother’s giving advice to her granddaughter through twelve letters, talking about her childhood, her marriage, her secrets, her lovers, her mistakes.  As she relives her experiences, Olga makes peace with herself and leaves her granddaughter with a story explaining who she is and why she acted as she did.  You need to be in the frame of mind for philosophy and a little angst, but this short epistolary gave me some interesting quotes.  Here is one from the last page:

Every time you feel lost, confused, think about trees, remember how they grow.  Remember that a tree with lots of branches and few roots will get toppled  by the first strong wind, while the sap hardy moves in a tree with many roots and few branches.  Roots and branches must grow in equal measure, you have to stand both inside of things and above them, because only then will you be able to offer shade and shelter, only then will you be able to cover yourself with leaves and fruit at the proper season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A List of Fluff to Feel Better

Although heavy tomes can be thought provoking and force analytic thinking in our dusty brains, sometimes a book needs to be a mindless diversion.  When we need an escape from reality, award winning books forcing us to acknowledge the dire consequences of the greenhouse effect or the misery of our fellow man can only drop us deeper into the abyss.  Every now and then, a happy, fluffy, even ridiculous, book is the needed antidote.

images   In the spirit of the list giving season, here are a few authors I turn to for solace, smiles, and silliness:

  • Maria Semple (Today Will Be Different)
  • Sophie Kinsella (Remember Me?)
  • Alan Bradley (The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie)
  • Sarah Addison Allen (Garden Spells)
  • Jojo Moyes (One Plus One)
  • Mitch Albom (The Time Keeper)
  • Louise Miller (A City Baker’s Guide to Country Living)

What books can you recommend to brighten a day?

 

Jojo Moyes – the Modern O. Henry

9780735221079_p0_v6_s192x300 While reading Jojo Moyes Paris for One and Other Stories, I could not help thinking of William Sidney Porter’s short stories.  Better know as O. Henry, Porter’s romantic tales always ended with a surprise, whether in the selfless romance of The Gift of the Magi or in the story of a sick woman hanging on with The Last Leaf.  In this collection, Moyes offers her wry outlook and, like O.Henry, ends each with a jolt.

The title story, “Paris for One,” is the longest – all 150 pages – and could easily be an hour long Christmas special.  When Nell’s boyfriend is not at the London station, she gets on the train anyway, hoping he is just late for their romantic weekend in Paris. Feeling alone in a strange city, Nell receives his message that he is not coming and decides to return to London. In a series of serendipitous occurrences, the story evolves into Nell’s emergence as a determined woman who finds true love in Paris.  Only Moyes could transform a melodramatic interlude into a funny and heart-warming story, leaving the reader satisfied and smiling at the ending.

The “Other Stories” include brief tales, peeking into the windows of familiar lives: the has-been actor who is being tortured with racy tweets, the frumpy mother who finds a pair of expensive shoes that change her outlook, the taxi driver who gives a harried woman the courage to live her own life, the jewelry store clerk who saves a burglar, the husband who buys his wife a coat they cannot afford, the couple who find their afternoon delight again after years of marriage, the woman who meets her old lover at a party, and the secret communication of a woman with a stranger’s phone.

If you enjoyed Moyes’ novels (see my reviews below), you will be delighted with this collection.  Not all the stories have happy endings but each has the author’s trademark wit and charm.

Reviews of Other Moyes Books:

 

One Plus One by JoJo Moyes

9780698152007_p0_v2_s260x420JoJo Moyes’s latest novel  – One Plus One – reminds me of a favorite old movie with Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert – “It Happened One Night.”  Two lives intersecting, at first sparring with one another, later joining forces, and eventually romantically intertwined – with a road trip to cement their attraction.  Of course, modern day demands that the sex is more obvious, and the obstacles in Moyes’ book include more than the difference in class.  The tale plummets into despair several times when misfortune seems to keep thwarting the two main characters.  But JoJo Moyes knows how to weave a tale like a roller coaster, and land happily and safely back on the landing.  She has become my go-to author for a satisfying romance adventure that I know will turn out well eventually.

This story has a cast of characters worthy of a soap opera: Jess (Claudette), the feisty housekeeper with a penchant for plumbing, with a sunny disposition despite a litany of woes including a recalcitrant ex-husband who has left her with no money and two children; Ed (Clark Gable), the handsome newly rich geek with a beach house and an expensive flat in London, who inadvertently whispers inside information to a pandering lover to buy her off, and finds himself arrested for insider trading; Tanzie, the little girl math whiz who would rather solve math problems that watch TV; Nicky, the Gothic teenager who wears mascara, does drugs, and begins a blog to find his “tribe.”   Moyes alternates the chapters with the voice of each, as the plot steadily climbs into assorted issues that resolve and dissolve into a happy ending.

“…in a little more than five days…illness, distraught children, sick relatives, unexpected acts of violence, busted feet, police, and car accidents.  I’d say that was quite enough real life for anyone…”

Lots of fun – a great quick read for summer.

 

Looking Forward to Reading in 2014

Finding a favorite author can lead to fervent stalking of their next publication.  Writers do not always churn out stories quickly enough to appease the appetites of their anxious readers, but expectations run high when a new book is coming.  Here are a few I am looking forward to reading in 2014:

From Favorite Authors:

Sarah Addison Allen: Lost Lake  {January}

JoJo Moyes: The One Plus One {February|}

Jeffrey Archer: Be Careful What You Wish For (Clifton Chronicles cont.) – {March}

Emma Donoghue: Frog Music {April}

Harriet Lane (author of Alys Always) – Her   {June}

Deborah Harkness: The Book of Life (continues story of witch Diana Bishop) – {July}

And from a new author:    Vivien Shotwell:  Vienna Nocturne  {February}

Do you have any books on your 2014 reading list?  happy_new_year_background_vector_illustration_267362

Have a Happy New Year of  reading!