Filgate, Michele (editor). What My Mother and I Don’t Talk About: Fifteen Writers Break the Silence. Simon & Schuster, 2019. ISBN 978-1982107345 288 pp. $
Essays about navigating the points of disagreement in mother/child relationships: mothers who share everything, mothers who don’t share anything, and everything in between.
Orwell, George. 1984. Signet, 1961. ISBN 978-0451524935 382 pp. $9.99
The first thing that struck me upon re-reading this 30 years later was the anti-Semitism–someone referred to as a jewess, and the focus of Party’s hate on a Jew. The next thing that struck me was the constant rewriting of history to form a preferred narrative. The next was the utter boredom and darkness of a scheduled existence, the utterly colorless utilitarian life, the drudgery of the every day. The propaganda. The feeling that I had in 1991 that this could never happen here, paired with the horror of our divided USA and the gross divide between the haves and have-nots as the middle class continues to shrink.
I slogged through the manifesto, rolled my eyes at the “romance” and shuddered at the torture. And drained, I shelved the book and turned back to romance novels. 1984 is no longer a science fiction novel for me–it is horror.
Maher, Kerri. The Girl in White Gloves: A Novel of Grace Kelly. Berkley, 2020. ISBN 978-0451492074 384 pp. $26
BioFic about the life and loves of Grace Kelly, b. 1929, American actress who married the Prince of Monaco in 1956–who promptly made her quit her film career. Lots of history, travel, drama and romance in this historical fictionalized biography.
Ashley, Phillipa. Twelve Men for Christmas. Sourcebooks Casablanca, 2020. ISBN 978-1728212500 208 pp. $14.99
Once I heard there was going to be a holiday-themed Hallmark movie based on this novel, I kept picturing Kristin Chenowith as the lead in this story about a jilted woman who distances herself from her ex by taking a PR job in a remote location. Emma’s main task is to organize a (tasteful!) nude man of the month calendar featuring the local search and rescue team. She develops a love-hate relationship with a wealthy investor Will, who is slated to be Mr. July.
The single star is due to his character portrayal–Will is nasty and inconsistent–and what I perceived as lack of consent, which is not sexy in contemporary romance novels.
Callihan, Kristen. The Friend Zone (Game Day #2). CreateSpace, 2015. ISBN 978-1517687854 296 pp. $15.95
Football player (and great cook!) Gray gets a pink car as a perk from an agent, and falls for the owner of the car–the agent’s daughter Ivy–over a series of text messages. When she returns home from London, they fall into a great friendship with a simmering sexual awareness. She is familiar with players and doesn’t want to date one, especially not one of her father’s clients, but Gray is sweet and sexy irresistable.
For a self-published book, this is a solid read–well written and without serious errors, and good enough to warrant seeking out the other books in the Game Day series.
Cousens, Sophie. This Time Next Year. Avon, 2020. ISBN 978-1787464940 pp. $16
I have this fantasy that my fiance, who has lived in proximity to me for half his life, and I have been doing a slow spiral towards one another our whole lives. I love the idea that when I was grooving to Bauhaus on goth night at Club Man-Ray in college, he was there, too; that while I was on the MBTA at 1am on NYE eve, he was a car away and caught my eye; that we were at the Science Museum or Boston Public Library on the same day. This feels a little like the novel I wish I’d written.
Baker Minnie and businessman Quinn’s lives have been intertwined since their mothers met while in labor New Year’s Eve. Minnie grows up thinking her lifelong streak of bad luck on NYE is related to Quinn being born a moment before her, claiming both her name and a financial prize for being the first child born in the New Year. When they finally met at age 30, Minnie is sure that Quinn has led a charmed life, but it turns out not to be true in spite of his career success. Their worlds collide in ways they never imagined.
Told in alternating points of view and moving back and forth in time with a very satisfying ending, this was a great novel to read at the end of one year and into the next.