Critic’s Choice-Elaine Newton 2017-18 Lecture Series Announced

Here it is! This is what you’ve been waiting for! Elaine’s chosen the six books for the lectures for the upcoming season. Enjoy!

Great American Novel

The Nix


Nathan Hill ( Michael Lionstar)

“The Nix” by Nathan Hill will be on Thursday, November 30, 2017, 10 am. Saturday, December 2, 2017, 10 am. Published by Knopf.

Author Nathan Hill will join Elaine on-stage both mornings.

Jessica Shattuck

The Women In The Castle

“The Women In The Castle” by Jessica Shattuck , will be on Thursday,  January 4, 2018, 10 am.  Also Saturday, January 6, 10 am. Published by William Morrow.

Colson Whitehead

The Underground Railroad


” The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead, will be on Thursday, January 25, 10 am. Also Saturday, January 27, 10 am. Published by Doubleday.

Amor Towles

A Gentleman In Moscow




Amor Towles

” A Gentleman In Moscow” by Amor Towles,  will be on Thursday, February 15, 10 am. Also on Saturday, February 17, 10am. Published by Viking.

Author Amor Towles will be on-stage with Elaine both mornings. What a treat we are in for. I’m so excited about this one. I have been a huge advocate for this title, as many of you already know,  for a year now!

Ann Patchett


“Commonwealth” by Ann Patchett, will be on Thursday, March 8, 10 am. Also Saturday, March 10, 10 am. Published by Harper Collins.

Elizabeth Strout

Anything Is Possible

Last but certainly not least is “Anything is Possible” by Elizabeth Strout. Thursday, April 12, 10 am. And Saturday, April 14, 10 am. Published by Random House.

Even though the single tickets for the lectures will not go on sale until July, you can pour over this list right now.

Elaine had a hard time narrowing down the list to only six titles this year. She hated passing up ” The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane” by Lisa See,  “An American War” by Omar El Akkad, and “News of The World” by Paulette Jiles.

So mark your calendars, get set, and begin reading if you haven’t already!

The Sunshine Sisters by Jane Green

Jane Green

The Sunshine Sisters

Mother and daughter relationships are complicated. So are the relationships between sisters. Put them all together and you have Jane Green’s newest novel called “The Sunshine Sisters.”

When aging and fading screen star Ronni Sunshine finds herself on her deathbed, she calls her three daughters home to her Westport, Connecticut  bedside. They’ve all been estranged for sometime now. And they were never close. Ronni wasn’t the kind of mom to make cookies, go to PTA, or even to just be there for her kids. She was mean and rude and caused all sort of angst through the years.

Nell, the oldest, escaped home and became a teenage unwed mom. She found work on a farm and thrived finding not just a place to live but, a woman who mentored her and her son.

Meredith, the middle daughter, moved to London to follow her dream and escape the mother who constantly shot her down.

And Lizzy is the spoiled youngest child. The one who mostly stayed under the radar from mom. Troubled and toying with drugs, alcohol and bad choices in men, she may finally be getting to the sweet spot.

Told in all four voices, THE SUNSHINE SISTERS, is a good beach read for sisters. However, I am an only child, and I still enjoyed it. It’s about women and their choices, both good and bad. And family, whatever kind you have.


Jane Green

My review copy arrived via the generous publishing people at Berkley, a division of PenguinRandomHouse. Thanks so much.

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Lisa Wingate

Before We Were Yours

Just look at this picture. A picture is worth a thousand words.  And “Before We Were Yours” by Lisa Wingate speaks for all the orphans who were stolen by the Tennessee Children’s Home Society.

Just when you think you’ve heard of every atrocity against children there possibly could be, along comes a book about something that actually happened in this country in the 1930’s and 40’s. There truly was a woman who ran a home that is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of children.  Children were rounded up illegally and brought to this home. She abused them and then adopted them out for outrageous fees. We now know that film stars such as Joan Crawford and June Allyson   adopted were duped by this woman.

Our story begins with a prologue showing a woman in agonizing labor with twins. She is in trouble.  She has five children already. She lives with her husband on a  boat in the river. The birth is not going well. So the husband has to leave the children and take his wife to the hospital nowhere nearby. And things go very wrong.  People come and take the children away. They say the parents have signed the kids over to them. They are police.

Forward to  present day in South Carolina. Avery Stafford is a lawyer who’s come home to the south to help her mother care for her ailing father. And she becomes embroiled in an affair of the past. While visiting her grandmother who’s in a memory care home she meets another woman who has a photo in her room of several women and it includes her grandmother. Avery has never heard of this woman. And the mystery deepens.

The names of the children were immediately changed once they became wards at the home. And they were mostly separated and never knew were their sisters and brothers had ended up.  Rill is the young girl who tells most of the story, and her name was changed to May early on. So many secrets. Very twisted plot. At times hard to follow. With the change in names and separation of families I had a hard time keeping up at times. But catch up, I did.

Avery meets a man on Edisto Island when she goes to check out her grandmother’s summer cottage. This man’s grandfather knew her grandmother in some fashion. But how? This totally caught my attention. Also made me want to visit Edisto.  I know of a famous author who made this island his home. Intriguing.

You’ll be caught up in the mystery. You will find yourself having to hold on tight while the secret is so slowly revealed. And it is slow. I would say this is very compelling but, it’s hard to explain. I loved the story, but not always the journey. Having said that, this is a great book for summer.  And since it’s based on truth, it’s a must-read.

My copy came from Ballantine Books, a division of PenguinRandomHouse. It’s a keeper.

A French Wedding by Hannah Tunnicliffe

Hannah Tunnicliffe

A French Wedding

Okay, the cover is magnificent. We all want to be there. Right now. And, after all, it’s summer. We should be there celebrating with food and wine and good friends. Shouldn’t we?

We’re in Brittany in the south of France. A once famous rocker has a wish for his fortieth birthday: for his six life-long best friends to get together at his French country house to celebrate for a weekend like no other. He also has a big surprise planned. He’s going to ask his best friend Helen to marry him. Gulp. They’ve been nothing more than that all these years as he’s kept secret his deep and abiding love for this woman.

“Together for the first time in years, it’s not long before love triangles, abandoned dreams, and long-held resentments bubble over, culminating in a wedding none of them ever expected?

Max is the aging rocker. Juliette is his personal chef. She’s recently taken the job because she had to sell her dream restaurant in Paris to  help care for her ailing parents in Brittany.

I loved the scenery and the delightful meals.  I felt totally transfixed to this luscious place on earth. Meandering through the markets. The scents of the flowers and trees. And the aroma of the local wines. All very much a summertime treat. Summer is a pinch away here in North America. And we are all ready to start experiencing novels that enhance the few months of heady warm weather.

You can only imagine how many secrets are revealed and how many fights break out when people get together after so long apart. After all, we don’t all remember the past exactly as it was.  You may even see some of yourself or your family or friends in these characters.

Hannah Tunnicliffe is the author of two previous novels, “The Color of Tea” and “Season of Salt and Honey.” She currently lives in New Zealand with her husband and three daughters.

Another novel to stick in the beach bag! My gorgeous finished hardcover came from Doubleday books in exchange for an honest review.  You’d be so silly to miss out on this one.


Jimmy Buffett A Good Life All The Way by Ryan White

Ryan White

Jimmy Buffett A Good Life All The Way

My heart actually skipped a beat when I heard this bio was coming out this spring. Very excited. I’m a big fan.  I love Key West.  And I love what Jimmy and his music stand for. I think that especially now with all the crazy meanness  in the world, there’s plenty of room for Jimmy’s laid -back lifestyle, songs, and margaritas.

Years ago when I visited Key West I enjoyed slipping into the original Margaritaville store. It was small and unique back then. Often, you would arrive to find a hastily written sign on the door saying “be back soon, gone fishing” or something to that affect.  That’s how laid -back Key West was in those days. That was way before there was a restaurant, let alone the huge casinos and resorts that sport Buffett’s name now.  Just the idea of the place makes me happy.

Jimmy Buffett’s been playing “Margaritaville” for forty years. It’s allowed him to become someone he would only have dreamed of being. Millions dream of being like him. It’s bought him everything he’s ever wanted and allowed him to move with siyle around the globe in much the same way Hemingway did after his myth-defining years in Key West.

If you love Jimmy Buffett you’re going to love reading this book. White takes you behind the scenes in  Jimmy’s albums and many of his gigs in famous places. Buffett’s earlier years make for an entertaining story. And the comments from people who know him are authentic. I will say that this book is no tell-all. There are aspects of Buffett’s life that are never mentioned here. Things like his separation from his wife, Jane. I was working at a famous restaurant on Captiva Island many, many years ago called The Bubbleroom,  when Jimmy came in for dinner, late. He was with someone not his then wife…. I remember like it was last night as we packed up a container of homemade whipped cream for them to take back to their rooms….. Oh boy. I was happy to hear that he eventually got back with his wife and family.

Tom Corcoran says,” Finally–a full-length Jimmy Buffett bio that’s accurate and entertaining…Great writing makes for great reading, and this book outshines all earlier looks at Buffett’s career and lifestyle.”  Tom writes a series of novels set in Key West that are dynamite.  If anyone knows Jimmy Buffett and Key West it’s him.

Parrot Head nation. The Coral Reefer band.  CEO of $1.5 billion-per-year Margaritaville industrial complex, a vast network of merchandise, chain restaurants, and a soon-to-be Broadway musical: all this because one man wrote a song about wasting away in Margaritaville and a lost shaker of salt. Wow, anything is possible.

Young Jimmy Buffett

I’ve looked at the picture of Jimmy as a young man. And I’ve looked over the ones that are more recent. There is just something about the man that oozes laid-backness. He’s got a kind soul, I think. And he’s probably helped more people relax than even he knows.

I would recommend a trip to Key West for anyone in need of a change; whether it’s attitude or latitude or both. Jimmy Buffett’s

Jimmy Buffett

Key West has changed, for sure. But it’s still a place to become whoever you wish to be, if even for a day, or a weekend, or a week.  Take that drive down the overseas highway.  Check out the little dives on the way down. And then check into one of the most unique and welcoming places in this country.  And, at five o’clock, well, it’s always five o’clock somewhere….

My finished hardcopy of “Jimmy Buffett A Good Life All The Way by Ryan White was sent to me in exchange for an honest review by Touchstone Publishers, a division of Simon and Schuster. I loved it, guys.  It sure brings back lots of great memories. Thanks a bunch!

Ryan White is the author of “Springsteen: Album by Album.  He’s written for numerous publications. He lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and daughter.

Maurice’s Favorite Summer Reads!


Do Not Become Alarmed

OMG! This compelling dark thriller is screaming to be put inside your beach bag, or your carry-on, or even on your nightstand. Run, do not walk, to buy this one! Published by Riverhead Books!


Saints For All Occasions


“Saints For All Occasions” by J. Courtney Sullivan should be on every reader’s list for this summer. Just add it. Two Irish girls in Boston and a tragic secret that is kept for almost a lifetime. Knopf Publishing.

Donia Bijan

The Last Days of Cafe Leila


“The Last Days of Cafe Leila” by Donia Bijan belongs on every reading list. Period. Coming of age. Iran and exquisite prose. Read it. I promise you’ll love it! Published by Algonquin Books.


Lisa See

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane


There’s not a better time than this summer to take in the intoxicating aroma of the ancient tea trees of China.  See has outdone herself with this dazzling novel.  Stellar characters  you will never forget. Published by Scribner, a division of Simon&Schuster.

Lisa Wingate

Before We Were Yours

Based on a true story, “Before We Were Yours”tells the tale of children wrongly removed from their families. Ballantine Books, a division of PenuinRandomHouse is the publisher.

Eleanor Brown

A Paris All Your Own


This delicious book of personal essays, all written by women writers on the City of Light, most definitely  belongs in your beach bag!( July 4) Published by Putnam, a division of PenguinRandomHouse.

Dorothea Benton Frank

Same Beach, Next Year

“Same Beach, Next Year” will transport you to Isle of Palms where you will sip cocktails and read books by the sea or pool. Published by William Morrow, a division of Harper Collins.

Daniel Silva

House of Spies




Daniel Silva is bringing Gabriel Allon back. I can hardly wait.  This one is taking off where last year’s “Black Widow” left off. OMG! ( July 11 ) Harper Collins.

Jane Green

The Sunshine Sisters

“The Sunshine Sisters” reeks of secrets and going home.  Perfect for the beach and beyond. Berkley publishers, a division of PenguinRandomHouse.



Elin Hilderbrand


I’m really looking forward to this one. It’s not officially summertime until Hilderbrand’s new novel on Nantucket arrives. Little Brown publishers.

Adriana Trigiani

Kiss Carlo

Who doesn’t love Trigiani! She’s at her best writing about Italy. Can’t wait to read this one. (June 20)Harper Collins Publishiers.

Kate Quinn

The Alice Network



This one is on my nightstand now. Love the cover. Female espionage during The Great War. Based on a true story. William Morrow publishers, a division of Harper Collins.

Mary Alice Monroe

Beach House for Rent

Last but certainly not least is Mary Alice Monroe’s upcoming “Beach House for Rent.” It’s the end of the series and is very poignant and beachy. The perfect summer beach read! (June 27) Published by Gallery Books)

This list is by no means all  the books I’ll be recommending this summer. I will be posting another list in about a month or so. I will call it the Mid Summer Vacation Reads! Meanwhile, I’m reading like a crazy person so I can bring you the good stuff….

Siracusa by Delia Ephron

Delia Ephron


Maybe this psychological thriller should be titled FALLING APART. Because they all truly are falling apart by the end of the story.

SIRACUSA, by Delia Ephron, is a sophisticated psychological novel filled with two marriages gone wrong, deceit, hate, then ending with a shock.


Delia Ephron

Finn and Taylor hale from Maine where Finn has a restaurant.  They have a precocious ten-year-old daughter named Snow. Michael and Lizzy are from NYC where Michael is a famous writer and Lizzy a journalist.  When they decide to travel to Italy together on vacation it seems like a great idea. What’s not to love about Rome and Sicily? But, oh the drama, and the lies…

The edgy and sophisticated writing sets the tone for the unraveling that begins, slowly…

The time spent in Rome was magical for me. It took me back to one of our trips; spending a week in Rome before hitting the Amalfi Coast. The scents, the street scenes, the Pantheon. It all came back to me so strongly. I almost felt as I were there, again. I loved this part of the story.

Just imagine two couples one with a child along, spending so much time together in a foreign country. You can almost picture trouble brewing. But who knew that Snow would become so much of the actual trouble. The ten-year-old beauty was almost constantly a mommy’s girl. They looked uncannily alike. Her mother Taylor was clingy. And Snow was subjected to an adult world too much. Something not so good was bound to occur.

The story is told in two time frames. And in two voices. The couples are both involved in bad marriages. And then there is an extra person in the mix. And she shows up in Siracusa while they are visiting. Mysterious, devious, and filled with hate.

My finished trade paperback edition arrived via Blue Rider Press, a division of penguin random house.  What a great book for summer. Available in trade paper on June 6.