After listening to Still Summer by Jacquelyn Mitchard, I was excited to listen to another audiobook by her and chose The Breakdown Lane recently. The Breakdown Lane tells the story of Julianne Gilles – wife of lawyer Leo Steiner, mother to three and advice columnist in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.
All is perfect in Julianne’s world until she sees the signs that her husband is in the midst of a mid-life crisis. Leo decides to leave for a seemingly idyllic life at a commune in update New York and it becomes increasingly clear that after a time he is not coming back to Julianne and his children. On top of the stress of becoming a newly single mother, Julianne receives more devastating news concerning her health. Shortly thereafter two of her children, Gabe and Caroline, set off on a quest to find their father and they are stunned when they find out how his life as changed. Thinking all is lost and feeling sorry for herself, Julianne gets an unexpected visitor that completely changes her life. The Breakdown Lane is a fabulous story of loss and the redemptive power of love – it is highly recommended.
In Heart of the Matter, the latest novel by the popular Emily Giffin, Tessa is a former professor turned stay-at-home mom. Her husband, Nick, is a renown pediatric surgeon, and in all appearances, the two seem to enjoy a charmed life. On an evening out to celebrate their anniversary, Nick is suddenly called away to attend to a six-year old burn victim. The boy’s mother, Valerie, is a high-powered attorney and a single parent, and though both families live in the same Boston suburb, the women seem to have little in common. In the course of caring for Charlie, through several skin grafts and other surgeries, Nick ‘s devotion to his work soon becomes complicated by his attraction to Valerie. Meanwhile, Tessa is left on the home front, trying to figure out why Nick is suddenly so distant, and imagining the worst scenario.
Giffin claims that she draws from her own personal experiences and this seems evident in the relationship the women have with their friends and other characters in the novel. For example, the subtle judgment and conflict often felt by both career women and their soccer-mom counterparts is realistically portrayed. Plus, one can’t help but wonder if Giffin used her own career days as an attorney in Manhattan to help flesh-out Valerie’s personality. In all, an enjoyable read, with believable characters caught in untenable circumstances.
Tara Parker-Pope decided to gather all the science and research about marriage and relationships into one book. Her impetus was the failure of her own marriage; she wanted to know if she could have done anything to prevent her divorce.
This self-help book is unusual in that the author isn’t spinning conjecture; her “advice” is all based on research. Some of the most interesting studies were about arguments; turns out the subject matter and frequency is less important than the level of scorn. She also warns that the first three minutes of an argument are critical. The outcome can be less damaging, the more open and less explosive you are.
For Better is full of practical advice about how differences in financial style, child rearing and household chores affect a relationship.
Often, commonly held wisdom was not found to be the case in real life. Very useful for long-married and newly married couples.
Odessa is a study of contrasts – a beautiful city situated on the Black Sea whose residents are fiercely proud of its history and culture, it is also wracked by poverty, corruption and the lingering effects of Soviet rule. People are forced to “do what they have to do” to survive such as a doctor that works a second job as a taxi driver, a marine biologist who becomes a mobster, and multiple generations of families living together in tiny, rundown apartments.
Moonlight in Odessa is Daria’s story. Trained as a mechanical engineer, she must take a job as a secretary to keep herself and her Boba (grandmother) alive. Fearing the sexual advances of her employer, she introduces him to her friend Olga who then turns on Daria in a jealous rage. Thinking she’ll soon be out of a job, she agrees to work for a matchmaking service, where lonely American men can meet Odessan women, most of whom are desperate to find a way out of poverty.
Daria is desperate too and, despite her better instincts, gets pulled into a match with an American. What she finds in America – and in herself, her friends and her family – changes her forever and sets her life on a course she could not have imagined.
This is a fascinating look not only at another country and it’s traditions and manners, but at how other countries see America. Daria is smart, witty and gutsy and following the twists and turns of her life choices makes this a real page turner and a wonderful story of a strong woman finding her way.
Long available only on VHS tape, Enchanted April has finally been released on DVD. Fans of beautiful scenery, charming stories and happy endings rejoice!
Two middle class English housewives, feeling downtrodden and forlorn, decide to rent an Italian villa for the month of April. To help with expenses they include two strangers – an elderly woman and a beautiful socialite. Leaving England in the rain, they are somewhat discouraged to find it still raining when they arrive in Italy, but the next morning reveals the countryside in all its beauty. Soon the sunshine, warmth and quiet solitude work their magic; friendships are forged, marriages healed, memories made.
This is a light – and yes, enchanting – movie filled with humor and heartfelt stories. It is beautifully made (filmed on location in Portofino) and the cast is stellar (Polly Walker, Joan Plowright, Miranda Richardson, Jim Broadbent, Alfred Molina, Josie Lawrence) This is the perfect ancedote to a hectic or rainy day, or any day that you just want to feel good.