I always anticipate new novels from Jamie Brenner. Her writing is always the best and her stories seek out and hit the mark.
Drawing Home has a steady and persistent level of tension that grows greater with each chapter. I began to feel ambivalent support or each side of the Emma and Bea equation but never truly losing my distain for the actions of Bea. I felt completely and happily satisfied with the results when it all came to a head. It is excellent reading!
This novel has all the elements that, for me, create a great women’s lit book. There is tension among characters, a lurking past covered by family secrets, and many erroneous assumptions. There is consistency in the relationships and in their unfolding troubles.
It is a very well executed novel and I hope to see more of its kind from Ms. Fader.
Painful at times, heartbreaking at others, Pieces of You and Me is the story of Jesse and Rupert, torn apart and reunited with many years, relationships and pain between them. They were friends since birth, lovers since sixteen. They fall apart when his demanding father sends him from the UK to Harvard. Each of them suffers later from debilitating diseases that neither wants to bring up or discuss. When they meet again, the lack of openness and honesty threatens to tear them apart again but the strong desire to be a loving unit at last stands frim as they slowly, painfully navigate the chance for a future.
I found What Happens in France to be an OK novel. I liked the premise of a woman using her status as a game show contestant as a platform to try and find her long, lost, runaway sister to be an interesting idea. The novel tended to be a tad slow and repetitious. I am, honestly, not a fan of the same details being written about over and over. I can see how this tendency would be used to drive home the desire of Bryony to contact her sister.
The real depth of the story comes from the budding relationship between Bryony and Lewis, her show partner. He carries pain from a recent breakup that tempers Bryony’s thoughts about their chances. When the ex intrudes, it all blows up for them and she is certain all is lost.
Everything is Just Fine is a whirlwind cyclone of crazy events, situations and mess ups that happen to the parents of a Beverly Hills youth soccer team. As you move through the pages, things get messier and wilder than imaginable. People struggling with their true failures. Messy remains of divorces. Cheating spouses. All the while, they root for and encourage the kids on the soccer team.
Families and Other Enemies is the perfect short story compliment to What Doesn’t Kill Her released January 19, 2019. It is the story of what happens to Kellen Adams after all the chaotic events in What Doesn’t Kill Her. I loved the way this short story combines Kellen’s distress with that of Ralph Bellingar, a veteran who suffered from PTSD and left his young family because of all the PTSD was doing to him. Their interactions and situations make an impression on the lost Kellen which lead her to life altering conclusions.
The Flatshare is an engaging, fun and very often serious novel telling of the oddball relationship that forms between flatmates Tiffy and Leon. Oddball because they only communicate through Post-it notes and do not meet until late into the relationship. Serious because Tiffy’s ex-boyfriend has emotionally abused her and will not let her go even though he is the one who dumped her. Serious because Leon’s brother is in prison innocent of charges and dealing with a lax lawyer. What Tiffy does for Leon is wonderful. What Tiffy’s ex does to her is awful. How Tiffy rebounds and stands up for herself is what makes it all worthwhile.
The Language of Love is a reissue of 1983 novel and what I found fascinating were the differences between romance of the ‘80s and today, especially in terms of the male advances. Most of the seductive behavior of the male character, Pieter Van Ness, would be viewed as predatory rather than sexy or desirable. His only saving grace was that he would back off if he was told, “No,” but he would bide his time until he felt the female (Annette Granger) would be more receptive of his advances. Annette struck me as being fickle rather than the strong, independent woman she sees herself as. The entire romance felt built upon his advances, her advances & her retreats. It is genuinely a novel from the ‘80s.
Unprepared is the best word to describe Agnes in this terrific novel set in one very tumultuous year of her life. Unprepared for her husband, Jack’s, actions that leave her and her baby daughter on the brink of destitute. Unprepared when he sends her to work across the country at a Bronx middle school. Unprepared to deal with five testing, misbehaving middle school boys.
But, Agnes has the wherewithal to see beyond the confines of her new life and to see the quickly depleting but still present value in each of the boys. All the while she, herself, is struggling to make sense of Jack’s actions and hoping they will reunite.
The novel really draws you in with each chapter. You will find yourself rooting for Agnes and for her boys.
Good Man, Dalton is a thoroughly enjoyable novel with two storylines that unite. First, is the story of Greta Hansen who receives the opportunity of a lifetime. She is interning with her mother’s cousin’s ultra rich family in Manhattan and is to be part of her cousin’s glamorous life on social media. Second, is the story of Dalton Bishop, a rich man intent on proving his father wrong on his opinion of Dalton. Dalton decides to leave all the riches behind for a two week experiment of living as a homeless person in Manhattan. How Greta and Dalton meet and mingle is fateful and fun.