Review: The Body in the Boudoir by Katherine Hall Page

If you read my blog, you know I love, love, love the Faith Fairchild mysteries! The latest came out in May – The Body in the Boudoir – and I read it this rainy Hurricane Sandy weekend. In this installment, Faith is preparing for her wedding when her uncle’s housekeeper is mysteriously murdered. At the same time, Faith’s sister, Hope, is being blacklisted at work. All the while Faith is dealing with the emotions and chaos that are involved in moving from NYC to Massachusetts and marrying her beloved.

I just love this series! I have read them all and particularly enjoy how they take place near to where I live. I also like how several of Faith’s recipes are included in the back. It was an interesting take for Page to jump back twenty years for this story, and I really enjoyed it. I recommend it to those who are fans of the series, or even if it’s your first time!

I got mine from the library, where you can get yours!

Review: “Fever” by Mary Beth Keane

Through Net Galley I received an ARC of “Fever”, the biography of “Typhoid Mary” by Mary Beth Keane. I had heard of Typhoid Mary, but didn’t know her true story. This novel, appropriate for YA or adults, gave an interesting and sensitive account of Mary Mallon’s life and experience as a healthy carrier of typhoid in New York in the early 1900’s.

Mary Mallon came to America from Ireland and worked her way from being a laundress to being a cook. She loved cooking and had a talent for it. At times she cooked for wealthy and prestigious families in New York and New England, but death followed Mary and she was accused of being a healthy carrier of typhoid fever. “Fever” follows Mary’s journey from New York to her confinement on North Brother Island in New York. Mary fights for her life back and her job and reputation. A large part of the story is Mary’s relationship with her significant other, Alfred, with whom she had lived for over twenty years before she was taken away.

I really enjoyed reading this historical biography. Turn of the century New York comes alive as Keane creates a compelling and sympathetic protagonist  in Mary Mallon.

Review: “Wild – from Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail” by Cheryl Strayed

My friend Alison suggested I read Cheryl Strayed’s new book “Wild” (thanks, Al!). I tend to stay away from Oprah book club suggestions (purely because I find EVERYONE is reading them and talking about them) but this one looked so intriguing that I purchased it from Amazon.

You probably have already heard about this book, but in case you haven’t, “Wild” follows Cheryl Strayed’s trek along 1,100 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail (the western cousin to the East’s Appalachian Trail) as she seeks to heal and redefine her life. At the start of the book we find Cheryl as a lost soul. Her mother has died (which devastates her), her relationship with her family of origin is shaky, her biological father is out of the picture, and she’s recently divorced her husband (who seems like he’s still a steady “beacon” in the mire her life has become). She’s been dating a guy who gets her into heroine. She’s openly honest about her sexual promiscuity. In a word, Cheryl is a bit of a mess. Then she decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail as a way to save and heal herself. It’s a classic “journey to find oneself” story, but it’s Strayed’s own memoir.

I have to say when I started reading this novel, I did not relate to or care for our protagonist. She seemed incredibly self-centered, to the point of hedonistic. She was drifting around her in her life, making bad decisions. She was suffering but dealing with her suffering through self-indulgence. Then she almost randomly decides to hike the PCT with little to no preparation or experience. I actually found that part funny. It was then that I started to connect with Cheryl as her first hiking days were basically bumbling and mishaps. I’d think to myself: “Gee, that would probably be my experience, too: blisters, rattlesnakes, a too-heavy pack, and band-aids that blow away”. By the time Cheryl got to Northern California I was rooting for her to finish. I was hoping she stayed safe (personally, the thought of trekking 1,100 miles alone is terrifying). I was hoping she figured out that her drug use and abuse and her sexual behaviors were not the way to deal with her pain and grief. I was hoping she would come through the journey stronger and wiser and healed.

I’ll leave it to you readers to discover how Cheryl makes out!