The After Party by Anton DiSclafani

Anton Disclafani

The After Party

THE AFTER PARTY by Anton DiSclafani, is  the author’s second novel, coming after THE YONAHLOSSEE RIDING CAMP (2013. This new novel is an intricate character study of two women and their friendship that begins in kindergarten. We follow their lives into adulthood. DiClafani writes sensuous prose.  She’s not afraid to put it on the page.

Joan is a sophisticated, blonde socialite from a well-to-do family in Houston, Texas. The time frame is the 1950’s. The air is rife with oil and big money. The men are in charge, of almost everything. What’s left for the wives to do? They do lunch, sit on the boards of various charities, and drink too much at cocktail parties in the evening.

Cece and Joan become like sisters when Cece’s mother dies and Cece moves in with Joan’s family.  But Cece begins acting more like Joan’s caretaker than her friend.  Joan is out of control.  Sex means nothing to Joan. She oozes sex. She’s not discerning about who she has it with,  or where she has it. And Cece is determined to save Joan from her own self. Mary, Joan’s mother, struggles to keep Joan’s wanton ways a secret. Cece can not even begin to comprehend Joan’s seemingly unlimited desires and uncensored  needs.

Then Cece marries Ray and has Tommy. They settle down. All this while Joan is missing in action. But once she returns it all begins again. Ray tires of sharing his wife with Joan. I will say that I got really tired of Cece’s obsession with all things Joan.  It all became almost too much for me. By the time the secret came out of the bag I was about done with it.

The writing is very, very good. I think the future is bright for DiSclafani. She did a bang up job with sense of place showing us all how the socialites lived in Texas during the oil boom.  She draws characters like fine wine. I only got tired of the obsession…

 

What’s Our Candidate Wyatt Up To This Summer?

president

Wyatt in the White House

For those of you who have been asking what our Wyatt is up to this summer… He’s napping a lot and dreaming of what life will be like when he’s ensconced in the big White House:) He’s gotten pretty darn tired of hearing all the silly accusations being hurled around on the platforms. After all, we all know that humans pontificate and promise all kinds of things they can not and do not ever come through with. He’s working on his platform over the summer, making sure he only promises “stuff” he can truly stand behind.

Wyatt has been getting acquainted with his new home. Moving was quite traumatic for him and his family members.  But he loves his new home and resting atop the highest portions of the house. For instance, here is Wyatt atop the armoire in our master bedroom. You can hear the “thump” when he lands on the top from anywhere in this big house.

on top

Wyatt’s Armoire

Wyatt is getting to  know the birds of Cape Coral. Every morning he can be found in the front window watching for the first bird sighting of the day. It is all about being first. Mimi is right there next to him. They are the first responders. This is what it takes to make a great candidate! And Wyatt and Mimi are making sure the great birds of the Cape have a good meal every day. Mimi reminds me to fill the bird feeder, and watches as I follow her directions:)

I will be posting more about Wyatt and Mimi throughout the summer. It’s called comic relief. Lord knows, we can use it.

Coming Soon!

Anton Disclafani

The After Party

Coming out Tuesday, May 17. THE AFTER PARTY by Anton Disclafani, is a sophomore effort from the author of THE YONAHLOSSEE RIDING CAMP FOR GIRLS. This one is set in Texas, 1950’s.

Betsy Lerner

The Bridge Ladies

THE BRIDGE LADIES by Betsy Lerner, is  a coming of age memoir written through the alchemy of a great game.  A starred review book.

Eleanor Brown

The Light of Paris

 

I’ve been waiting somewhat impatiently for THE LIGHT OF PARIS by Eleanor Brown.  She’s the best-selling author of THE WEIRD SISTERS. Yes, her.  Aaah, a Parisian summer. Count me in. Coming July 12.

Lionel Shriver

The Mandibles

Set in the future, America is in a debt crisis. The future; sounds like near future to me. I love Lionel Shriver.  Will I love this one? Coming in June

A Conversation With Stewart O’nan

Steward O'nan

City of Secrets

Stewart O’nan is one of my favorite authors. He writes about real people, family situations we can all relate to in one form or another. This novel is unique in that it is more historical and actually is more of a moral thriller taking place just after World War 11 Jerusalem.

author Pittsburgh

Stewart O’Nan

I was sent this conversation by Viking, the publisher, and think you might enjoy more insight into the how and why of this story.

Q. How did you decide to center your new book on the bombing of the King David Hotel?

A. I’ve always wanted to know more about the bombing. Most Americans have never heard of it, which seems crazy, especially post 9/11, with our fixation on the uses and abuses of political violence. What kind of characters would consider bombing such a public place a desirable act–so desirable they would risk not only their own lives but those of the people around them to carry it off? In a way, it’s the same question Joseph Conrad tried to answer a hundred years ago in THE SECRET AGENT.  As usual, writing the book was a way of satisfying my curiosity.

Q. What made you choose to make Brand a Latvian Jew as opposed, to say, coming from a country with a larger Jewish population like Poland or Hungary?

A. A friend of mine from Lithuania wrote a novel about a family trying to get out in the late 30’s. Another friend came from Latvia after the Russians absorbed it, so I associate the Baltic States with complete upheaval. The combination of Russian and German persecution–the strange shift from Russian ( during the non-aggression pact) to German and then back to Russian control interested me. Bad enough you get caught up in one wave, but three–and then end up in Palestine under the British Mandate?

Q. The King David hotel bombing is often described as a pivotal act in the founding of the state of Israel and yet it is clearly an act of terrorism. How can we understand similar contemporary acts of terrorism now? Had the lens through which we view terrorist attacks shifted or have the nature of attacks themselves changed?

A. Certainly post 9-11, the lens through which we in the U.S. view political violence has changed, though it seems we also now recognize institutional political violence (apartheid, for example, or the Chinese occupation of Tibet, or the persecution of the Kurds and the Iraqi Shiite majority by the Baathist Sunnies). The question of what political violence-including war-is legitimate remains open, as do our ideas of what constitutes a soft or hard target, a notion which has become even more complicated with the advent of cyber attacks and cyber surveillance. From what root does an act of political violence come, and what ultimate effect does it have? The King David bombing, while widely decried, helped convince the British they should leave Palestine. It’s hard to imagine that response from a world power nowadays, and yet the U.S. recently pulled out of Iraq due, in part, to continued attacks by insurgents. If some of the elements have  changed, the frame of the problem remains essentially the same. In a world where there will always be contested territory, what constitutes a legitimate claim, what constitutes a legitimate protest, and is there hope of compromise?

As you can see O’nan is deeply into the history that surrounds his new novel, CITY OF SECRETS.  You can pick it up today. It’s a keeper!

Winner of City of Secrets is…..

Steward O'nan

City of Secrets

I have one winner for CITY OF SECRETS by Steward O’nan.  Kathy Simpson, you’ve won! Congrats. I’ll be sending you an email. Will need mailing address. Thanks for entering. You are going to love this one. O’nan has stepped it up several notches.

And a big thanks to my friends at Viking publishing for supplying this fabulous and unique novel!

Thanks as well to all of you who took the time to enter. More giveaways are on the way.

A Conversation with Thad Carhart, author of Finding Fontainebleau

Finding Fonainebleau

Thad Carhart

I was sent this conversation from Viking, the publisher. I think it will give you some insight about  Carhart and his journey from America to France.

Q. Many parts of FINDING FONTAINEBLEAU are written in the same vein as THE PIANO SHOP ON THE LEFT BANK. What do you feel are the similarities, and the differences?

I’ve been very lucky with THE PIANO SHOP ON THE LEFT BANK, an international bestseller that is still in print. A writer is never entirely sure why a book captures the public’s imagination, but I think a big part of PIANO SHOP’S appeal has been the look at French life away from the familiar tourist circuit. It’s not that easy to get below the surface of things in France, and readers seem to have been hungry for stories about a French approach to things in Paris. In this respect, FINDING FONTAINEBLEAU has a similar voice and scope, though the setting of the little Parisian shop is replaced by our family’s big old rented house in Fontainebleau and the adjacent Chậteau.

Q. In FINDING FONTAINEBLEAU you recall events that took place when you were a very young boy living in France and America. How did you preserve and access these boyhood memories in order to write the book?

The clearest answer I can give is that it had to do with the intensity and focus that came with learning a new language at a young age. It wasn’t a matter of choice-I had to learn French in order to function in my new school, and so I did. This happens frequently in our world, but it’s still something of a miracle The immediate consequence for me, who learned to read and write French before English, is that I paid very close attention to just about everything: words, of course, but also clothes and games and food. Since we spoke English at home and French at school, it was as if everything was filtered in two languages, every day, as I learned to name the world around me. The effect on memory was direct and abiding.

An American Boy In France

Finding Fontainebleu

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The interview goes on to speak of most of the great chậteaux of France which Carhart has visited. And asks why one is more popular with visitors than another. And to say that if a visitor to France wishes to understand the richness and breadth of French history, no structure tells the story better than the multiple winds and courtyards of Fontainebleau. Carhart does not regard himself as a missionary for things French, but he does enjoy telling stories that allow others to appreciate the human qualities that still set France apart.

I’ve long been interested in France. I’m not sure I know why. It just intrigues me. Greatly. I read a lot about France.  And feel like I’m a sponge when it comes to all things French. I find I am not alone. The past few years have seemed to bring a renewed interest to France, and mostly to Paris. If you are one of the many people who love to read and learn about French history and the amazing people and their heritage, this book comes highly recommended. Not only informative, it’s witty and fun to read. You can live vicariously through the life of Thad Carhart and learn as you immerse yourself in this vivid world of Carhart’s making. Enjoy!

The Weekenders by Mary Kay Andrews

Mary Kay Andrews

The Weekenders

You know it’s officially summertime when a novel from best-selling author Mary Kay Andrews arrives on the scene. You also know she’s going to set the story somewhere in the south. I love that about her. And it’s going to be at a beach. Another thing to love.

This time the scene is an island off the coast of North Carolina. Belle Isle is loosely taken from an actual island called Bald Head Island. Both islands can only be accessed by private boat or ferry from the mainland.  Belle Isle is home to a certain group of people: the people who live there year round, and the ones called weekenders who only arrive for the weekends during the summer season.

Real boat

Ferry Bald Head Island

Riley Griggs is a little of both. Her family has lived on Belle Isle for generations, and they have owned property and run a business forever. The story beings on the Friday of Labor Day weekend. Riley’s about to board the ferry with her twelve-year-old daughter Maggie and Maggie’s pug puppy. They’re waiting rather impatiently for Maggie’s dad, and Riley’s estranged husband.  The man does not show up. Maggie is bereft. Riley is fuming. While crossing to the island Riley is served with paperwork.  Thinking it’s just divorce papers, she doesn’t even give it a glance. Is just really madder than a hornet that her soon-to-be ex would have her served in front of their daughter. But, low and behold, when they get to the island and try to enter their home, there is an eviction notice on the door. This paperwork is a foreclosure notice for the house they built with Riley’s family money. And, so, the story begins to truly heat up.

On this island paradise lives Riley’s very meddling mother and her aunt and her alcoholic brother.  Off Riley goes to unwillingly stay overnight until this “house” misunderstanding gets straightened out. When the sheriff shows up to tell Riley her husband has been found murdered down at the marina, the story shifts into even higher gear, and we have a mystery.

Mary Kay Andrews gives us not only a good summer beach read, but she’s thrown in a murder mystery as well. Clues are tossed around as to who the guilty one is, throughout. But I did not guess. Surprise.

Author

Mary Kay Andrews

Mostly, I think the characters are believable. A bit much with Maggie, but girls at this age can be intolerable. Throw in a love interest, which there is. Can you say dot, com billionaire? And you have a satisfying read. Highly recommended.

I met Mary Kay Andrews many years ago when she was writing cozy mysteries. We were at Yellow Spring, Ohio at a writer’s conference. She was using her real name,  Kathy Hogan Trocheck.  She said her wish was to write a  best seller. She’s gone on to do it over and over again!

My review copy came from St. Martin’s press in exchange for an honest review. I think it’s one of her best yet!