Review: Serendipity by Louise Shaffer

On a recent trip to California, I was searching for a good book to read on the plane and purchased Serendipity  by Louise Shaffer. This novel tells the story of three strong, Italian-American women and the trials and tribulations they have with their lives and each other – with the protagonist being a young woman from their fourth generation. Carrie Manning feels she cannot move forward with her own life until she better understands her roots and the reason for her recently deceased mother’s alienation from her own mother. A lot of this story is told in flashback as Carrie visits places and people to understand the mystery of her mother and grandmother’s falling out. By the end, Carrie has come to understand not only her mother, but herself, and the reader has come to know four unique and interesting women.

I really enjoyed this story. It read quickly and was engrossing. I must confess, being Italian-American I felt I had an affinity for the characters as well. I stayed up after midnight reading it to the finish, then wished I hadn’t so that it wouldn’t be over! Overall, it’s a great book and one I would recommend to my friends.

I’d give it 4 1/2 Stars!

Quick Review: Where Are You Now? by Mary Higgins Clark

I like nothing better when I travel than a quick and easy read, and MHC’s thriller Where Are You Now? was just that. Typical of her stories, the protagonist is a young and intelligent lawyer in NYC searching for her brother who has been missing for ten years – yet calls home each Mother’s Day. If you read a lot of MHC – and I’ve read them all – this is pretty regular fare: lots of suspects, exciting turns of events, some predictability, some too-good-to-be-true unbelievability, and a happy ending. To be honest, it’s not my favorite of hers, but it did make for an easy airport read (where I purchased mine).

I’d give it  3 stars!

Coming Soon: a review of Louise Shaffer’s Serendipity.

Review: The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir

I’m a big fan of Alison Weir’s non-fiction books of British history, so I was excited to see she had written a historical fiction novel of the early life of Elizabeth I. The Lady Elizabeth spans Elizabeth’s life from toddlerhood to the point when she discovers that Queen Mary is dead, and she will be queen. (I am assuming a sequel is in the works).

I have to say, I had my ups and downs with this book. At some points, I was completely intrigued and couldn’t put it down. At other points, I felt it dragged and way too many pages were being devoted to one point in time. There is a subplot in this book (SPOILER ALERT!) of Elizabeth being taken advantage of by her stepfather and then becoming pregnant. Weir herself states that she does not believe that this is true, but is using speculation and artistic license, however, I felt far too much of the book was devoted to this and that it will be something that readers will take away far more easily than any of the truth that is portrayed and woven into the story.

Several readers in my book group found the depiction of young Elizabeth as overly precocious, to the point that she seemed unnatural or incredible. However, much of what I’ve read has stated that Elizabeth was highly precocious as a child and had a great affinity for learning. She was regarded as a fine scholar as a child and young adult. So it is possible that her precociousness was not inadequately portrayed.

Overall, I was somewhat disappointed in this story as I felt it at times was heavier on the “fiction” than the “historical”. However, I do like Weir’s writing style and do respect her as a scholar. I did enjoy her depictions of  the other historical characters in this novel, such as Henry VIII and Queen Mary.

I would give this book 3 1/2 stars! I got mine from the library.