The Last Collection by Jeanne Mackin

The Last Collection

“Set in 1938, THE LAST COLLECTION captures Paris between the wars: a brief golden spell of freedom, risk-taking, and wild delight. And while designers’ rivalry was rooted in business, it was inflamed by political tensions of the time: as France stood on the brink of war, Parisians looked with unease at German soldiers in their midst, and the dark, troubled times that loomed.”

The paragraph above pretty much sums up the times this novel is set in. For those of you who adore fashion and adornment this novel is for you. You’re going to  fall in love with the beauty of the amazing couture clothes.

Lily is teaching art at a school for girls in England when her brother Charlie invites her to stay with him in Paris.  Lily’s lost her husband and decides to step outside her comfort zone and go. Little does she know what she’s getting herself into.

It’s 1938 and Coco Chanel is the premiere fashion designer of the times. Her designs are understated and classic.  But there’s a new designer in town and she’s causing a rift in the fashion world. Elsa Shiaparelli is on her way up the fashion ladder and she’s a force to be dealt with.  Total opposites, Chanel and Schaip  are vicious enemies in more ways than one.

THE LAST COLLECTION is pumped full with research that is spot-on.  There’s even a scene at a ball where Coco lights Schaip’s dress on fire….. Hateful. And,  we get more than a small glimpse of something we’ve heard about for years. Coco is shown to have had an affair with a Nazi officer. And even collaborated with the enemy.

Shiaparelli hires Lily to work in her shop and that’s when we truly begin to get a look inside the fashion world, and the rivalry between the queens of fashion.

Over the years we’ve heard a lot about Coco Chanel. But not so much about her rival Elsa Shiaparelli. It’s fascinating to say the least. The descriptions of the clothes were bright and fun. Bold. Also the accessories.

There are so many novels out this  year about WW11. This one is not entirely set during the war. Still, there’s quite a bit of it….

Jeanne Mackin

Jeanne Mackin

is the author of THE BEAUTIFUL AMERICAN  ( loved it) as well as several historical novels. She lives with her husband in upstate New York.

My lovely finished  book arrived from Berkley, a division of Penguin Random House.  You historical fiction lovers are in for such a treat. And you fashionistas will be over the moon. Enjoy!

The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali

Marjan Kamali

The Stationery Shop

Lovely cover. And the story lives up to all  the loveliness!

It’s 1953 in Tehran. Roya is a smart young teenager who spends any free time she has  lingering in the neighborhood stationery shop owned by Mr. Fakhri.  Books and writing implements and fine papers. I can almost smell the  musty goodness of the pages in this antiquated  old shop.  Roya meets a young political activist  named Bahman and they fall deeply in love.  So much so that Bahman proposes marriage to Roya and she accepts. Bahman’s mother is wildly against the marriage.  But the wedding is set and the event will go on.

On the eve of the wedding day there is a coup in the city center where Bahman and Roya are set to meet. What happens then sets the tone for the future. Heartbreaking, devastating, and oh-so compellingly  readable, you will find yourself blowing through the pages of this fine new novel.  More than sixty years of not knowing.

Karmali tackles young love, family bonds, and devastating loss in a way that reminds me of THE NOTEBOOK by Nicolas Sparks, but with more of a literary tone.  Prepare yourself to be dazzled and deeply moved.

Now with such a focus once again on Iran, this is the perfect time to lose yourself in this gorgeous novel.

THE STATIONERY SHOP is being called evocative, devastating, and hauntingly beautiful by Whitney Scharer, author of THE AGE OF LIGHT.  This book broke her heart again and again.

Punta Gorda

Copperfish Books

We have copies of this stunningly beautiful novel in stock at Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda, Florida. They are on sale for 20% off as are all our new hardcover books.  We hope to see you soon.

My review copy of THE STATIONERY SHOP by Marjan Kamali came from Gallery Books in exchange for an honest review. Amazing!

Summer of ’69 by Elin Hilderbrand

Summer of 69

Love the cover of Elin Hilderbrand’s upcoming brand new novel, SUMMER OF 69!  This cover screams take me to the beach like nothing else.

I’ve  read every single one of Hilderbrand’s novels over the years. I have loved them all. The title completely won me over even before the first page was turned. This was my time. I remember that summer so well. And such a historical summer at that.

All of Hilderbrand’s novels take place on Nantucket. Once in a while she sets part  of a novel on Martha’s Vineyard. And this is one of them. It’s perfect.  And adds some angst to the story.

The Levin family always look forward to spending their summers at their grandmother’s historical home in downtown Nantucket.  This year Blair, the oldest sister, is hugely pregnant with twins and is spending her summer lying around on a couch eating bon bons in front of a tv in Boston while her astrophysicist husband is working to prepare for the upcoming moon landing. Kirby, the middle sister, has bucked the system and is spending the summer on Martha’s Vineyard with a friend.  She’s been involved in protests and has been in trouble with a capital T.  That leaves youngest sister, Jessie, to spend time with her cantankerous grandmother and their mom Kate who has taken to the bottle most of the day as she struggles with the deployment of her only son Tiger who is Jessie’s step-brother.  Lots of stress going on. And I haven’t even mentioned the men.

This summer is filled with so much news. The moon landing. Nixon’s presidency.  Ted Kennedy’s dive off the bridge in Chappaquiddick with Mary Jo Kopechne left to drown in the car.  Civil rights protests.  And this is the summer the country is preparing for the now infamous Woodstock. OMG!

Hilderbrand brings a lot to the table. Jessie is growing up.  It’s all coming to a head this summer.   Jessie falls for a gorgeous young man named Pick.  Who is Pick and what is the secret Kate knows about him?  Jessie’s grandmother is harboring a big secret and maybe she isn’t the ogre we thought.  A summer that should be filled with sand and swimming and fun is also  filled with family crisis and worries.

Elin Hilderbrand

If you’re looking for a perfect beach read, well, this is your book. Elin Hilderbrand has done it all over again as she has for over ten years now. Cheers!

Of course we will have plenty of copies of SUMMER OF ’69 at Copperfish Books.

Punta Gorda

Copperfish Books

They will be discounted 20% as all our new hardcovers are. Hope to see you soon.

My lovely finished hard copy of SUMMER OF ’69 arrived from Little Brown Publishers in exchange for an honest review. It’s super. Just perfect for summer!

 

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

Ask Again, Yes

This cover did not especially draw me in, shall we say. But all the blurbs by authors I admire sure did! Then, while reading the acknowledgments, I saw that  Mary Beth thanks Jeanine Cummins( author of upcoming AMERICAN DIRT) for all her encouragement. Well, that did it. I was all in.

The first thing I will say is that the writing is brilliant. This was not an easy novel to write. Keane dishes out mental illness and substance abuse with keen sensitivity.  After all, these are tough subjects to tackle. But she’s done it in a way that keeps everything in perspective even the violence.

The year is 1973. The place is NYC, the Bronx.  Two rookie cops begin their careers together and even though they end up moving to homes next door from one another outside the city, they never become close friends. Francis came over from Ireland and married Lena. Brian Stanhope married Anne who was Irish like Francis and right off the boat. Neither women became friends at all.  Lena and Francis went on to have three daughters. Anne and Brian lost their first son who was still born. They went on to have one more son, Peter.  Sounds like a pretty normal place, huh? Not so much. Lots of underlying angst.

Anne Stanhope began a slow decent into what we now know was madness.  Back in those days it was not spoken of above a whisper. So everyone tip-toed around Anne’s oddness.  Then, one day, it reared its ugly head and  the violence that spewed from it changed the world for two families.

Peter and Kate have been close friends for as long as anyone can remember. Kate is Francis and Lena’s youngest daughter. Anne hates Kate.  And one day when the two kids are in eighth grade  the violence erupts.

When Peter moves away from the neighborhood it doesn’t change how the two kids feel about each other. Over the years, these feelings burst into a fierce love that will not be denied.

Mary Beth Keane says that this is a contemporary saga of two suburban NY families.  She spoke in the New York Times about how her own husband has been estranged from his parents for years. And it was one of the seeds that this story grew from.

Each one of these characters are flawed, deeply. The story is told in multiple voices giving you great insight into their thoughts and feelings.  Most of us have known families who have dealt with mental illness or substance abuse, or both. No one is completely unscathed these days. Even though this is a tough subject, Keane makes you care about these people. You want them to push through, not to fail.

This is not a happy-go-lucky summer read. But it’s uplifting and satisfying in the end.

My review copy arrived from Simon and Schuster Publishers in exchange for an honest review. It’s quite simply superb. I look forward to Keane’s next novel!

Mary Beth Keane

The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo

The Most Fun We Ever Had

Humorous, witty and wise, THE MOST FUN WE EVER HAD, is a gorgeously written tale of a family living authentically in the center of America.

David Sorenson married Marilyn in the 1970’s. He in medical school, she  leaving her studies shortly after their marriage when she finds she is pregnant with the first of their four daughters. Another daughter quickly follows. In fact, what is called  Irish twins. Their lives become exhausting and challenging.

The thing about David and Marilyn has always been the crazy, wild love they have for each other.  This love is so intense that it seemingly leaves no room for anything or anyone else.  At least that’s what we are led to believe. Two more daughters arrive and complicate things even farther.

Wendy, the oldest daughter, is a wild child.  And her life is always going to be just a bit beyond her. Everything is just out of reach. And she resents everyone.

Violet harbors a shocking secret from her youth.  And yet, she seems to be the sister who always falls on her feet.

Liza becomes pregnant with a man she is not sure she loves.  A man who she’s lived with for three years but he  has been depressed and unavailable emotionally for sometime now.

And then there is Grace, the youngest girl. Grace has been living a lie. Her family has no idea.

And who is Jonah Bendt? A teenager given up for adoption fifteen years ago by one of the daughters, in secret.

This is so much more than a story about sibling rivalry. This novel vibrates  with tension, yet glows with wit.  There are scenes that will make you laugh out loud. Other scenes may have you in tears. It’s wrought with overwhelming love and yet filled with powerful undercurrents of resentment.  In Lombardo’s very capable hands the reader quickly becomes enmeshed in this family saga, and settles in for the long haul.

David and Marilyn’s four daughters share one fear; that they will never find love like their parents. Probably rightly so.

THE MOST FUN WE EVER HAD takes place in and around Chicago. What better place in America to set this story of a very American family.

Claire Lombardo

I loved the prose.  When I read that Lombardo had earned her MFA in fiction from Iowa Writers’ Workshop, I had to still my beating heart.  That, to me, is usually a strong indication of greatness.  I was certainly not disappointed.

My review copy arrived via Doubleday Books, a division of Penguin Random House. It’s one of the greats of the season. A wonderful debut.

 

Those People by Louise Candlish

Those People

I loved OUR HOUSE last year by Louise Candlish so you can imagine how happy I was to see THOSE PEOPLE coming out today!

This new novel of domestic suspense is set in an upscale London neighborhood that becomes like a war zone for a certain group of seemingly civilized parents and their children. Written with acidic wit and a lot of angst, and even touted as much like Moriarty’s BIG LITTLE LIES,  THOSE PEOPLE will have you in its grip immediately.

A safe neighborhood begins falling apart when a young couple move into a vacant house that they’ve inherited. They begin creating havoc and invading everyone’s privacy by using their property to conduct a disturbing and  highly disruptive business. Everything is turned upside down and the place starts going to the dogs. And then there’s the murder….

While reading this novel I contemplated what it would mean to me if this happened in my very quiet neighborhood. Total disruption. Life turned upside down.  Ugh.

Louise Candlish

My review copy of THOSE PEOPLE by Louise Candlish arrived from Berkley a division of Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review. It’s another great suspenseful novel from an English author I’ve come to love.  Super for summer.

The Summer Guests by Mary Alice Monroe

The Summer Guests

A new novel by Mary Alice Monroe is always a big deal.  This year the novel is THE SUMMER GUESTS.  As I scanned for information about the story, I expected to see it taking place along the coast of South Carolina where most of her other novels are set. Yes, this one actually begins on Isle of Palm on the coast of South Carolina, but it quickly moves away from the coast and up into the gorgeous mountains of North Carolina. Why? EVACUATION! A monster hurricane has just rolled off the coast of Africa and is headed that way.

When I began reading the prologue the hair actually stood up on the back of my neck. I kid you not. Those of you who have known the horrors of a hurricane coming straight for you know what I’m talking about.  Residents in Florida and along the Southern Eastern coast need to leave their home; evacuate, now. That’s where this story begins. A couple years ago we had hurricane Irma come so close to our home that it scared the bejesus out of all of us. I know what the day by day waiting is like. I know what it’s like to hear the hour by hour reporting as the storm gets ready to blow through your community. So, my heart was already pounding.

Mary Alice

Mary Alice Monroe is now famous for bringing us the very best in environmental fiction.  I have learned so much about endangered species that live in my own backyard and nearby. I love her writing and I love how involved she is with protecting the animals and wildlife.  This time her main concern is the equestrian world of horses and handlers. I fell hard for this novel. I just think it’s super. Her best yet!

Cara Rutledge just did not think the tropical wave the newscasters were talking about would come to amount to much. After all, she’d been through plenty of storms through the  years. You don’t live on Isle of Palm  and not feel scathed. But she was preparing to take her young daughter to visit friends in the mountains in North Carolina. Surely, it would just be fine.  So, she turned her back on the storm and went her way.

In Palm Beach, Florida, Hannah McLain was flitting between her boyfriend Angel’s creepy dog Max, and trying to shove all Angel’s Olympic medals in a suitcase per his instructions.  Hannah is a make-up artist and Angel is a famous equestrian.

In Kiawah, South Carolina, Moira Stevens is packed and ready to evacuate to her  parent’s horse farm Freehold Farm in the mountains of North Carolina.  Her husband Thom was away on business.  Their marriage could easily be in trouble.

In Wellington, Florida, Elise Klug and her mother are struggling to get their prize horses into their trailers and ready to begin the long drive to the mountains.  Elise’s mother is a no-nonsense German woman  who is determined that her daughter become an award-winning  equestrian whether she wants it or not.

Each chapter begins with a weather update that will keep you on the edge of your seat.  My neck is getting tight just contemplating it all.  It adds to the tension.

So, the question arrises: what would you take with you if  you had to evacuate your home not knowing if you would ever return?

All these people are thrown together with a couple dogs and some very important horses. They are in close quarters for a week. They are forced to confront issues, come to terms with important life-changing events, and question love and devotion. Tempers bristle and even the animals question the many changes.

“Mary Alice Monroe is a passionate conservationist who uses novels to bring public awareness to the plight of the world’s endangered, undervalued, and sometimes obscure creatures. ”  This is why I love Mary Alice Monroe.

Let’s just say that these people will leave this mountain different than when they arrived. All good.

” But as the storm passes, they realize that what really matters isn’t what they brought with them to the mountains. Rather, it’s what they’ll take with them when they leave.”

My review copy arrived via Gallery Books, a division of Simon & Schuster publishers in exchange for an honest review. Well, folks, I absolutely LOVE it. I believe it’s her best novel yet. And that’s saying a lot!

Punta Gorda

Copperfish Books

Copperfish Books loves Mary Alice Monroe. We will have copies of THE SUMMER GUESTS. We’ll be offering a 20% discount. You do not want to miss this one!