Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Tangled Lives by Hilary Boyd

Tangled Lives.  Hilary Boyd. Quercus Publishing PLC. July 2015. 336 pp.  ISBN#: 9781623658212.

Annie Delancy has spent years wondering what happened to the baby she gave up for adoption when she was a young girl, immature, unsure, and easily swayed by her family who didn’t want the disgrace.  So now when she is contacted by a Social Services agency, she discovers that her adult son wants to meet her.

This is the story of her rediscovery.  It begins with nothing but absolute joy and a sense that all will be well now that she has all of her family with her. At first her other children agree and cooperate with her every wish.  Her husband is stunned but realizes how important this reunion is to his cherished wife. 

The picture begins to gradually change as all Annie can think about is Daniel and sprigs of jealousy arise from each family member.  Add to the increasing tension a violent act that may or may not be true and one begins to experience the unraveling of Annie’s dreams.  Some aspects of Daniel’s life remain secret  until after a pivotal family conflict!

Hilary Boyd paces this all too real story, even though it’s in fictional form, very well.  She manages to include many issues about adopted children in a highly credible fashion.  While it’s not a happily-ever-after story, it is the account of a family who each has to navigate some tumultuous waters as this reunion of mother and son transforms the family connections.  Each discovers something about each other and his or her own self – mentally, emotionally and even physically.  Honesty isn’t always the best thing, especially when it arrives faster than the psyche can handle it.  Some questions and problems about this issue will remain forever while others will be healed in many expected and unexpected.

There are some stereotypical moments but the quality of each character engaging with the rest of the family keeps the plot moving and engaging the reader.  A positive contribution to a vulnerable topic for all too many family! Nicely done, indeed, Hilary Boyd!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Wild Dark Flowers: A Novel of Rutherford Park by Elizabeth Cooke

The Wild Dark Flowers: A Novel of Rutherford Park: A Novel.  Elizabeth Cooke. Random House Publishing Group. July 2014. 368 pp. pbk. ISBN #: 9780425262596.

Elizabeth Cooke has written a noble, admirable follow-up novel to Rutherford Park: A Novel.  The stereotypical characters and events of old are all about to be blown to bits!

Harry Cavendish has grown up as a Dad and now is about to serve as a member of the Royal Flying Corps fighting in World War I in 1915.  The world’s not a pretty place at all and aristocracy and servants are all expected to “do their part” in the war effort at home and abroad.  The dreams, the fantasies and the reality unfold in amazing, step-by-step scenes that grip the reader’s full attention and participation immediately, never flagging throughout the 300+ pages that follow.

Harry’s mother, Octavia, has dramatically changed.  She’s suffered a tremendous loss of her great love, lives amid the frozen shambles of a marriage and is trying to find purpose in her life. She’s a suffragette before her time and begins making a difference on the home front by forcing healthy and safe changes in those who work in the family business.  William, her husband, must face reality to recover from a broken heart, a truth previously hidden by the “stiff upper lip” so much part of the problem with the upper class in England at that time.

Servants and even the town’s chaplain join the military as well; their descriptions of before and after the “Great War” are brutally surrealistic but oh so real!

Octavia’s lover, John, writes letters to his love every day and is about to make the most pivotal journey of his life, a stunning portion of this powerful novel in so many ways.

The Wild Dark Flowers: A Novel of Rutherford Park is a very well-crafted story involving changes that force several conclusions about war and relationships but do so in a style full of tension and evolving progress.  The characters in this novel have depth as we share their brutal and tender reflections about this memorably turbulent time. One can’t stop turning the pages of this very engaging novel – loved every page of it and know readers will as well! Fine, fine historical fiction!

The House on Mermaid Point by Wendy Wax

The House on Mermaid Point.  Wendy Wax. Penguin Group (USA). July 2014. 416 pp.  ISBN#: 9780425263327.

Maddie, Avery, Nicki and other characters are back to renovate another broken-down home, this time in the Florida Keys.  William Hightower, a former rock star known as “William the Wild” is a recovering alcoholic who is forced by his son to agree to this renovation as there isn’t a penny left from all Will’s years of being a star.  What does one do with life when the fame, the booze and drugs aren’t there as one’s foundation?

Avery and her mother Deirdre are still at war with each other, payback for all the years in which Deirdre ran off and left her daughter alone.

Maddie is newly divorced from Steve who lost his job and his pride but who never allowed Maddie to have her own life and falsely believed she could not function without him. Is he in for a surprise!  With her daughter Kyra and her grandson Dustin, they say their goodbyes to what was their home for years, uncertain about what the future will bring.

Nicki, the former owner of a dating agency, like so many others who were bankrupted by a Ponzi scam, is also wondering how this latest venture will give her both security and some ideas for the future.  She also is bound for a life-changing point of view.

William is not exactly the most endearing of characters, that is until he meets Maddie.  But both are intriguing characters as they slowly warm up to each other and yet also have some major misunderstandings about their stereotypical ideas about romance and the roles of men and women.  All this occurs while they are doing back-breaking but marvelous work recreating William’s home into something that will indeed breed new life for many in future years!

Add to that the glorious descriptions of magnificent flora, fauna, ocean views, houseboats, architecture and the reader will relish this book as a sequel to Ten Beach Road but also as a stand-alone lovely novel.

Nicely done again, Wendy Wax!!!