Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen
Anna Quindlen captured the heart and soul of every woman who has ever tasted the bitter fruit of abuse: “It’s like he stole my soul.” (page 219) She deftly navigated the undercurrents of domestic violence. She powerfully demonstrated how our society and legal system enable both the abuser and his/her victim to continue destructive behavior patterns.
She turned a bright spotlight on the Patty Bancrofts of the world who seek to control rather than empower women. She threw down the gauntlet to families everywhere who rear women to be helpless doormats and condone the vicious conduct of men through their silence. She painted a sensitive portrait of the shattered innocence of a child caught in the crossfire.
In short, Anna Quindlen turned over every rock and examined the mass of maggots hiding underneath.
The Persian Pickle Club by Sandra Dallas
Marilyn Stanton, my guardian angel at the Watseka, IL Public Library, recommended this book to me. It is one of my favorites. I hope y’all will read it and decide to make lots of quilts for Shalom Bayit’s clients. “Persian pickle” is an old-fashioned term for paisley scraps used in making quilts, and the Persian Pickle Club is the name of the quilting bee at the heart of the story.
A Bad Day for Sorry by Sophie Littlefield
I’m an absolute sucker for books of the Persian Pickle Club genre ~ Olivia Goldsmith’s First Wives Club ~ Fern Michael’s sisterhood series ~ Janet Evanovich’s irreverent sass ~ Candace Bushnell’s One Fifth Avenue. In A Bad Day for Sorry, the limo is Stella’s late husband’s beloved Jeep. The heroine is a blend of menopausal Cagney and Lacey and Stephanie Plum with a soundtrack nod to Saffire: the Uppity Blues Women:
If widowhood had given Stella license to explore her authentic self, menopause stood under the window yelling at the bitch to come out and rumble.
Book Review: A BAD DAY FOR PRETTY by Sophie Littlefield
Susan Wiggs’ review of the sequel to A Bad Day for Sorry is accurate:
“Stella Hardesty is back to kicking ass and taking names in A Bad Day for Pretty. She’s funny, profane, brave passionate, and honest in this new story of crime and punishment in rural Missouri.”
If you can’t wait for Janet Evanovich’s Sizzling Sixteento be released on June 22, Ms. Littlefield’s Bad Day series will make your day at the beach. If Stephanie Plum had an aunt living in the Show Me State, it would be Stella Hardesty. Stella’s a younger version of Grandma Mazur and gets herself into as much trouble.
PUSH/Precious: Nominated for Six Oscars!
Claireece Precious Jones doesn’t have rational reason to hope. PUSH begins with an intentionally illiterate style to convey her despair and rage:
I was left back when I was twelve because I had a baby for my fahver. That was in 1983. . .This gonna be my second baby. My daughter got Down Sinder [Syndrome]. She’s retarded. I had got left back in second grade too, when I was seven, ’cause I couldn’t read (and I still peed on myself). . .
I got suspended from school ’cause I’m pregnant which I don’t think is fair. I ain’ did nothin’!
My name is Claireece Precious Jones. . .
Precious was sexually molested by both her parents.
Great Books by Susan Wiggs: Enchanted Afternoon, Fireside, and Just Breathe
When life hands me lemons, I go on a search for someone good at making lemonade or margaritas at a profit. This is why Susan Wiggs is my favorite author. She’s brilliant ~ she’s got a degree in math from Harvard. She’s funny, gorgeous, and sexy. She’s independent and super-successful in her personal life as well as her professional life. Like the heroines in her books, she’s resourceful, resilient, and generous. She’s better than Oprah at surrounding herself with terrific friends and colleagues. All her books are great escapes that teach me something important.
- Calling All Foodies & Susan Wiggs Fans: Win a KitchenAid Stand Mixer on 9/23 [photos and details of her daughter Elizabeth’s wedding]
- Happy Birthday, Susan Wiggs!
- Marrying Daisy Bellamy by Susan Wiggs
- Review: The Goodbye Quilt by Susan Wiggs (fictionalized account of Ms. Wigg’s daughter Elizabeth’s departure for college)
- Book Review: How I Planned Your Wedding (non-fiction about Ms. Wiggs’ only daughter Elizabeth’s wedding)
- Artist’s Date: Susan Wiggs and Elizabeth Wiggs Maas on New Day Northwest
Pat Conroy: “I write for the people who can’t speak.” The Lords of Discipline, The Great Santini, Prince of Tides, Beach Music, The Boo, The Water Is Wide, South of Broad
Pat Conroy is a champion for social justice. He’s done more to break down the walls of silence surrounding domestic violence and child abuse than anyone. He summarized his quest early on in The Lords of Discipline (1980) in a passage that chills my soul every time I read it.
Fern Michaels: What You Wish For, Pretty Woman, The Jury, Under the Radar
Mary Ruth Kuczkir, a domestic violence survivor, created the perennially best-selling Fern Michaels brand, and the rest is history. Ms. Kuczkir’s books have been so successful that she was able to put all five of her children through college, and she’s set up the Fern Michaels Foundation to fund scholarships and help single mothers. She lives in a 300 year-old plantation house in South Carolina.
Steps and Exes by Laura Kalpakian
Laura Kalpakian wrote my all-time favorite line in Steps and Exes:
The book is set at Useless Point on Isadora Island, a fictional artistic enclave in the San Juan Islands of the Pacific Northwest. The heroine, Celia Henry, became a young widow before she realized her late husband was not Henry West ~ she had married Henry Westervelt, the scion of a lumber baron family. Her life is unconventional and filled with a tribe of step children and ex-spouses and lovers. She runs a bed and breakfast on property that belonged to Henry’s great aunt Sophia. (See Educating Waverly by Laura Kalpakian.)
To read more, click here.
Book Review: Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy
(The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl who Played with Fire, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest)
Celebrating Barbara Delinsky’s Birthday: A Woman’s Place, A Woman Betrayed, Flirting with Pete
Barbara Delinsky is one of my favorite writers. Her birthday was yesterday. Sixteen of her books are on my shelves. I’ve loved every one and have read several more than once.
Her life is rich with experiences that I believe have informed her writing. I was amused to learn that she got kicked out of high school Honors English and that her first pen name was Bonnie Drake.
Book Review: Body of Evidence by Stella Cameron
Body of Evidence by Stella Cameron has been gathering dust on my TBR (to be read) shelf for five years. Big mistake!
I love, love, loved this book. I was having a PTSD episode from hell this weekend, and Body of Evidence was wicked escape. It is a rich and complex blend of mystery, romance, and humor. Read more. . .
One of the most amazing books I’ve ever read on domestic and family violence is Shot In the Heart by Mikal Gilmore, the younger brother of Gary Gilmore. Mikal had a front row seat to the violence they all grew up with and writes powerfully about how that violence warped Gary and his older brothers. He describes the brutality that his mother endured with unsparing clarity and outrage. He paints a clear and horrendous picture of the tragedy of violence in the home, committed in the name of family. Amazing, amazing book….
I’ve ordered it from the library. It sounds compelling ~ like The Glass Castle ~ which I loved.
I’m taking my vacation seriously and will connect with you and Julie when it is time to get back to work.