I haven’t read a ton of September releases yet (I’m on the library hold list for a couple), but I have two standouts for you!
Favorite Book of September 2019
Plot Summary: Danny and Maeve Conroy grew up wealthy in a castle-like house called the Dutch House, but their circumstances change when their father remarries a younger woman.
My Thoughts: Ann Patchett is one of my all-time favorite authors and she writes family dysfunction better than almost anyone (except maybe Pat Conroy?). And, she’s done it again in The Dutch House with a multi-generational story featuring a single father, neglected children, an evil stepmother, and a house that’s its own character. Maeve and Danny grew up mostly in the care of the housekeepers and they play an integral role in their lives moving forward. Patchett explores the ripple effects of a dysfunctional childhood, sibling dynamics, marriage, and letting go of the past. And, as she did in Commonwealth (still my all-time favorite Patchett novel), she’s concocted quite possibly the greatest step-parent revenge scheme of all time. Her signature writing shines through…showing she’s an astute observer of life. The cherry on top for me is calling the family the Conroys, which I hope is a nod to Pat. P.S. – I think the publisher’s blurb gives away too many plot details and I’ve been deliberately vague here…go into this one blind, especially if you already love Ann Patchett and/or dysfunctional family novels.
After years of living in response to the past, we had somehow become miraculously unstuck, moving forward in time just like everyone else.
Also Read This One
Plot Summary: In the 1950’s, two undercover members of the CIA typing pool are enlisted to help smuggle the novel Doctor Zhivago out of the USSR (where it had been banned) so it can be used as an anti-Communist propaganda tool.
My Thoughts: I’m not the biggest historical fiction reader, but I do love historical fiction about the Cold War. Doctor Zhivago was actually smuggled out of the USSR by the CIA, which came to light when CIA documents were declassified in 2014. Much of these documents were redacted and Prescott filled in those blanks for her novel. The novel alternates between the story of Sally and Irina (the two undercover CIA typists) and the story of Boris Pasternak and his mistress and muse, Olga, in the USSR. I don’t often call historical fiction page-turning, but this one is. The writing is highly readable and it’s the kind of book you could finish in a weekend. The publisher is calling it “Mad Men meets Hidden Figures” and I think that’s fairly accurate…and, I’d add Charlie Wilson’s War to that list. And, I loved that it has a bit of an undercover feminist spin. Bottom line, this is one helluva story!
Teddy wanted the Soviets to understand that their own government was hindering their ability to produce the next Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky – that art could thrive only in a free nation, that the West had become the king of letters. This message was akin to sticking a knife between the Red Monster’s ribs and twisting the blade.
Dominicana by Angie Cruz (September 3, 2019)
DNF at 21%
I really wanted to like this one, but I needed to feel closer to the characters and it kept not happening. I also didn’t love the writing style, which felt a bit abrupt.
What’s the best book you’ve read so far this month?
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