Our very own Judy DeFreitas has read and reviewed three S&S titles. Read on to hear what she thought of upcoming The Distant Hours by Kate Morton (Nov 9/10), and Lisa Genova’s Left Neglected (Jan 4/11), as well as A Happy Marriage by Rafael Yglesias’s, currently available in stores.
The first is A Happy Marriage by Rafael Yglesias. The book, loosely based on the authors own life, is the story of Enrique Sabas and his wife Margaret. Margaret is dying and Enrique, a proud and passionate man who wrote his first and only successful novel at 18, recalls how they first met and fell in love. In alternating chapters he depicts the heart wrenching last two weeks of Margaret’s life. It is both funny, poignant and beautiful as the author opens his heart and soul to describe his perfectly imperfect marriage of 30 years to this complex, controlling and witty woman. Rafael Yglesias is stunningly candid about the insecurities of young love and the wrenching pain of losing someone who has shared your life for so long. I laughed with the young Enrique as he stumbles and bumbles his way into Margaret’s heart and I cried when in the end he finally faces her death and prepares to live his life without her.. It is a beautifully written account of marriage, love and ultimately death.
The second book is Left Neglected by Lisa Genova. After Still Alice this second book is a solid, readable story about Sarah Nickerson, her accident and a little known medical condition known as Left Neglect. Left Neglect occurs in patients who have had some kind of trauma, such as a stroke or a head injury. They are totally unaware they have a left side! Sarah is a high-powered executive, V.P. of Human Resources of an international consultant firm. She, her husband and her three children live in the best neighbourhood, her kids go to the best schools and both she and her husband are highly ambitious people who juggle family and work with the agility of high wire performers. Rushing to make it to a meeting on a rainy morning, Sarah is using her cell phone and looks away for just a moment. In that moment the traffic stops and Sarah’s world changes dramatically. When she wakes up in the hospital, she doesn’t realize what has happened, but slowly everyone comes to realize she is completely ignoring her left side…she cannot see to the left, can’t control her left arm or leg but worse isn’t aware that she is not using her left side. Her brain is just not registering anything to do with the left part of her body. We witness Sarah’s struggle with this affliction and with her feelings of uselessness, and fear that her life will never again be what she thought it should be. An easy and enjoyable read you will not want to put down.
I am just returned from the wonderful world of Kate Morton. On Friday, I was given the ARC for Distant Hours to read…could I put it down? ….NO! I always worry when I love an author so much that her/his next book will not live up to expectation..well I was not let down.
Milderhurst Castle and the Sisters Blythe’s story will grab you from the first page. Told by Edie, the daughter of Meredith who as a young girl was evacuated to Milderhurst in Kent, England during the Second World War…the author follows her usual format of telling the story through generational eyes. When Edie’s mom receives a letter that was lost for 50 years Edie is shocked by her mother’s reaction. Meredith is a stoic woman whose relationship with her daughter is loving, but formal…to see her Mom breakdown is something Edie has never experienced. She is drawn into this mysterious story further when, quite by accident, she ends up in Milderhurst, tours the Castle and meets the Sisters Blythe, Percy, Saffy and Juniper. These three unusual women are the daughters of Raymond Blythe author of The True History of the Mud Man a book that had significantly influenced Edie as a child. From there you follow Edie as she researches the lives of her Mom, Percy, Saffy and Juniper and you travel back in time to relive with them the events that culminate in madness.
There are so many layers to this wonderful story. The characters are beautifully rendered and they become dear friends by the end of the book. The mystery behind the whole story kept calling me back and played on my mind when I wasn’t lost in the story of Milderhurst Castle and all the people who lived there or all the people who came within its boundaries. Kate Morton weaves stories that carry you along with great momentum until you reach the end. Late last night…when I read the last words on the last page…I was sad to leave Milderhurst, but closed the book with a great sigh, a smile on my face and a feeling that again I had read a great story.
Thanks Judy and keep on reading!