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October 9, 2020

4 Books About Strong Women

by Susan Roberts


I enjoy reading books with a strong woman as the lead character.  I have reviews of three fiction books and one nonfiction book that all show how strong women really are.
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When Enemies Offend Thee by Sally Whitney

When Enemies Offend Thee
March 2020; Pen-L Publishing; 978-1683132110
ebook, print (327 pages); domestic thriller
Viciousness can lurk beneath even the most serene of surfaces.

Sally is a widow with two grown children who live in other states.  She decided to move back to the small town where she grew up in North Carolina and open an antique store.  Right before the opening of her store, an old acquaintance from high school came into the store and raped her.  She called her best friend who took her to the hospital and reported it to the police.  The problem is that the person who raped her had an alibi and was a well-liked person in town.  Without evidence, they had to wait for the DNA from the rape kit but unfortunately, it did not have the man's DNA on it.  As the police refuse to arrest him without evidence, Sally realizes that she needs to punish him on her own.  Her first attempt at making him pay for what he did to her isn't successful so she escalates it to a higher level.  She is so convinced that she needs to exact justice from him, that she doesn't know who she is anymore - she never thought that she'd resort to this level of vengeance.  This book makes you wonder what you would do in the same situation and how far you'd take your plans for retribution.


Paris Never Leaves You by Ellen Feldman

Paris Never Leaves You
August 2020; Griffin; 978-1250759894
audio, ebook, print (368 pages); historical fiction
She doesn’t know if she blames him or pities him, hates him or loves him. All she knows is there is enough shame to go around.

Paris Never Leaves You by Ellen Feldman is a bit different than most WWII fiction novels.  Instead of just looking at the main character during the war, the book is set in 1954 in NYC and the main character is remembering her life in Paris during the war and also feeling survivor's guilt that she lived and so many others didn't.  

Charlotte and her daughter ViVi live in New York City.  They managed to get out of France right after the war and Charlotte is now an editor at a very important book publisher.  She doesn't tell her colleagues anything about her past life and the only person that knows anything is Horace who sponsored her and is the owner of the publishing house that she works at.  As Charlotte goes through her days, there are many reminders of being in Paris during the war. Her daughter has continuing questions about what life was like in Paris and what happened to her father.   Charlotte worked at a bookshop in Paris and loved it but business was slow and food was scarce and she could barely find enough food to keep her daughter alive.  She met a German doctor in the bookstore and he began to help her.  The thing she is wondering about as she remembers this time is how much a person has to give of themselves to help their children survive?

Charlotte is happy with her life in New York - she loves her daughter and her work and is happy that she managed to get out of Europe.  However, she is keeping secrets - both from her daughter, from the couple who sponsored her to get to the US, and even from herself.  Will her memories convince her that she did the right thing or will she continue to feel guilty about how she survived?

This is a story of the lengths that a mother will go to protect her child.  It's a story about love, guilt and survival.  Many WWII books only give the story of the person during the war but this one went much further and told us the story of how the war affected life after the war.

 

The Key to Love by Betsy St. Amant

The Key to Love
October 2020; Revell; 978-0800738891
ebook, print (336 pages); romance
"The only thing Bri Duval loved more than romance was a perfectly executed French macaroon."
(p 9)

This is a light romance with two not very likable main characters falling in love and living happily ever after.

Bri is a baker in Story, Kansas working at The Pastry Puff, a French-themed bakery.  It's owned by two older ladies who like to matchmake and have been successful.  When Bri makes a video of their love lock gate in the garden and talks about all of the successful romances, it goes viral and is seen by the editor at Trek magazine who sends Gerard, one of the hardened reports to write a story about it.  Bi and Gerard dislike each other at first sight.  They keep spending time together as he is writing his story and their strong dislike starts to turn into tender feels for each other.  There are two main problems - Bri believes that love should be full of hearts and romance and happiness just like her parents' marriage.  Gerard believes that love doesn't exist and that marriage is always a loss.  Can they get past their initial feeling and have a happily ever after?

What I liked -- The book cover is beautiful.  I liked the two meddling old ladies at the bakery - they made me laugh out loud. I also liked the descriptions of all of the rich French deserts -- macaroons and petits fours,  yummy!

What I didn't like -- Bri was too naive for her age in her beliefs about love.  I wanted to shake her and tell her to open her eyes and see that a successful marriage isn't all hearts and flowers and that there was a lot of hard involved in a happy marriage.  I didn't like Gerard at first - he was so cynical and unlikable that he was easy to dislike.  However, they both changed as the story progresses and I always like stories that show growth in the characters.

Overall, this was a light fun romance with lots of French deserts to read about.

Buy The Key to Love at Amazon

Throwing It All Away by Nina Owen 

Throwing It All Away
Sept. 2020;  Southern Fried Karma; 978-1970137026
ebook, print (267 pages); nonfiction
"So sorry to be leaving in such an abrupt manner, but it really is time that I got going.  I've greatly overstayed my welcome on this world.  Whether or not you agree with me, I find a serene beauty in throwing it all away."

This is a raw emotional look about how suicide affects those who are left behind. Sam was 20 years old when he ended his life. This book was written by his mother and it's a heart-wrenching look at Sam as he was growing up as an almost perfect kid and how when he started suffering from depression in his teens, his parents worked hard to help him get better through doctors, hospitalizations and understanding. It's also a look at the author's initial shock and depression after his suicide as well as how she coped with it by reading all of his papers and journals, talking to his friends, seeing spiritualists and finally writing this book to put her feelings into words and hope that her words will help others who have lost people they love to suicide.

Suicides by young people are increasing dramatically and this book will speak to anyone with a person in their life who is threatening suicide as well as those who have lost someone they love to suicide. It was a difficult book to read because it was so sad and emotional and I applaud Nina Owen for having the strength to write it.

Buy Throwing It All Away at Amazon

Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina with her husband of over 50 years.  She grew up in Michigan but now calls North Carolina home. Since her travel plans had to be canceled for this year, she is starting to make plans for travel in 2021. She reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction, and historical fiction. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on FacebookGoodreads, or Twitter


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1 comments:

  1. Paris Never Leaves You sounds like a book I would read. Love that cover too!

    ReplyDelete

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