Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner

Description (via NG)

An instant New York Times bestseller 

“A multigenerational narrative that’s nothing short of brilliant.” —People
“Simply unputdownable.” —Good Housekeeping
“The perfect book club pick.” —SheReads

Named a Best Book of Summer by Entertainment WeeklyCosmopolitanWoman’s DayPopSugarHelloGiggles, and Refinery29

From Jennifer Weiner, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Who Do You Love and In Her Shoes comes a smart, thoughtful, and timely exploration of two sisters’ lives from the 1950s to the present as they struggle to find their places—and be true to themselves—in a rapidly evolving world. 

Do we change or does the world change us?

Jo and Bethie Kaufman were born into a world full of promise.

Growing up in 1950s Detroit, they live in a perfect “Dick and Jane” house, where their roles in the family are clearly defined. Jo is the tomboy, the bookish rebel with a passion to make the world more fair; Bethie is the pretty, feminine good girl, a would-be star who enjoys the power her beauty confers and dreams of a traditional life.

But the truth ends up looking different from what the girls imagined. Jo and Bethie survive traumas and tragedies. As their lives unfold against the background of free love and Vietnam, Woodstock and women’s lib, Bethie becomes an adventure-loving wild child who dives headlong into the counterculture and is up for anything (except settling down). Meanwhile, Jo becomes a proper young mother in Connecticut, a witness to the changing world instead of a participant. Neither woman inhabits the world she dreams of, nor has a life that feels authentic or brings her joy. Is it too late for the women to finally stake a claim on happily ever after?

In her most ambitious novel yet, Jennifer Weiner tells a story of two sisters who, with their different dreams and different paths, offer answers to the question: How should a woman be in the world?

Oh – I really loved this lengthy but easy to read book! Reading novels that go over many years and have the characters grow up are some of my favorite reads, and this story of two very different but very connected sisters was a great one. Of course, the youngest is named “Bethie” and that was what my family called me, so it made it extra relatable for me. I had not read Ms. Weiner’s work before, though I know she is very popular. Her writing is solid and descriptive and captures those small moments of life that we all experience. This book is long but worth it. There is some sexual content and abuse that might be disturbing to some readers, but I did not find it graphic and it was integral to the story. This would be a great book club read, and it would be interesting to focus on the theme of women’s roles and how they have and have not changed in the past 50+ years.

Highly recommended!

Thank you to the publishers and Net Galley for my e-copy!

Island of the Mad by Laurie R. King

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I’m always thrilled when Net Galley offers a title in a series that I enjoy. Laurie R. King’s Mary Russell’s series are mysteries that feature the young, intelligent wife of Sherlock Holmes. While Holmes plays his part, Russell is the protagonist. They are cleverly plotted and I always find I learn a little something while reading them.

This latest one takes place in Venice. Holmes and Russell have gone there seeking a missing aunt of a friend. There are LOTS of themes in this book – women’s roles, depression and mental health, sexual abuse, sexuality, treatment in hospitals, rise of fascism, etc. I found it all rather compelling and fascinating. Adding to the mix were real characters, like Cole Porter and his wife Linda, along with Mussolini. I think this is my favorite Mary Russell mystery yet.

This would be a great book club book as there is much to discuss, too.

Thank you for my e-copy from Net Galley!

From Amazon:

Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes are back in Laurie R. King’s New York Times bestselling series—“the most sustained feat of imagination in mystery fiction today” (Lee Child).

With Mrs. Hudson gone from their lives and domestic chaos building, the last thing Mary Russell and her husband, Sherlock Holmes, need is to help an old friend with her mad and missing aunt.

Lady Vivian Beaconsfield has spent most of her adult life in one asylum after another, since the loss of her brother and father in the Great War. And although her mental state seemed to be improving, she’s now disappeared after an outing from Bethlem Royal Hospital . . . better known as Bedlam.

Russell wants nothing to do with the case—but she can’t say no. And at least it will get her away from the challenges of housework and back to the familiar business of investigation. To track down the vanished woman, she brings to the fore her deductive instincts and talent for subterfuge—and of course enlists her husband’s legendary prowess. Together, Russell and Holmes travel from the grim confines of Bedlam to the winding canals and sun-drenched Lido cabarets of Venice—only to find the foreboding shadow of Benito Mussolini darkening the fate of a city, an era, and a tormented English lady of privilege.