by Donna Cain,
I have been enjoying my new mission of reading more and watching TV less. This past months reads included a historical novel by local writer Sally Gunny, a light and charming retake of Pride and Prejudice, a brave and heartwarming easy read novel and lastly a look into our ancient past.
Listing my favorite first- I loved, loved Sally Gunning’s new historical novel Monticello. Sally is such a talented writer, and we enjoy reading her novels as many take place in our historical little town of Brewster. In this book Sally explores the historical fiction between the brilliant and complex Founding Father Thomas Jefferson and his devoted and smart daughter Martha Jefferson Randolph. The story intertwines her relationship between the “great man” who was her father and her husband, Thomas Randolph, a man of ideas with few successes and problems with alcohol. The novel does a great job of understanding her life being pulled from both her successful father and her failing husband. It also deals with her ambivalence about slavery and her father’s relationship with Sally Hemings who was a slave at Monticello that mothered many children by Jefferson. The novel written through Martha’s eyes, follows Jefferson’s personal struggles through his presidency, tumultuous fights for power and the sadness of all the family not being able to sustain the plantation that was burdened by growing debt that could not survive without the labor of its slaves. I appreciated the author’s note at the end that clarified what was historical and what was fiction in the story along with some great historical threads of non-fiction works that she used. An easy read that can be read in a few days.
It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover. After reading this novel I was torn on how to review it as this author engaged me in the beginning with what I thought was an easy girlie read and then had me entrenched with the main character in a way that touched my soul. There are just not the right kind of words to describe this reading experience without giving away spoilers. It’s a novel that each reader needs to experience themselves. It is agreed that this novel is written in a way to appeal to female readers about a concerning social topic in our world, domestic violence.
The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman I loved this book as I felt connected to the characters, the setting, and the debates it caused in my own mind over history, faith and religion. Dove keepers “orbits around the real life events of the early 70s A.D. in ancient Judea. Rome was large and in charge and in the midst of shattering a Judean rebellion (seen commemorated in the famous Arch of Titus in the Roman Forum only a few hundred yards from the Colosseum in Italy). Several hundred Jews fled Jerusalem to the desert near the Dead Sea and moved into the former mountain fortress of King Herod at Masada. While the proud Jewish rebels held off a Roman legion for several years, Rome ultimately prevailed and all but two women and five children killed themselves rather than allow themselves to be overrun.” Hoffman’s novel follows the lives of four women who all find themselves on Masada and each life weaves in and out with the collective story of their mutual plight. A beautifully written book!
Last but not least this book still has me smiling……The Eligible by Curtis Littenfeld is a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice. I enjoyed the character development and complexities of the family lives but this book is no comparison to the classic! It was wittily written and had me smiling though many parts.