That’s What She Read: Novel explores questions of personhood, survivor’s guilt

“Little Sister” by Barbara Gowdy is definitely one of the weirdest novels I’ve read lately. Rose Bowan owns and runs the local movie hall with her mother. She has a placid, uneventful life and a placid, uneventful boyfriend. Her mother is in the early stages of dementia, but that is the only cloud on Rose’s horizon. […]

That’s What She Read: Novel explores sexuality, gender and class

“Mrs. Fletcher” by Tom Perrotta. Poor Mrs. Fletcher. After her husband leaves her for a younger woman and her only son goes off to college, she’s feeling a bit lost and lonely. Mrs. Fletcher runs into time for reevaluating her life and ponders how she will spend her newfound free time now that she is not shuttling her son […]

That’s What She Read: Books to fall for

The summer reading round-up continues with “Grief Cottage” by Gail Godwin. Eleven-year-old Marcus goes to live with his reclusive Aunt Charlotte after the sudden death of his mother. Aunt Charlotte is a painter who lives on a small island off the coast of South Carolina. Fiercely independent, prickly and secretive, she nonetheless steps up to shelter […]

Novel centers on struggles of family grief

“Rabbit Cake” went from being a book that I almost didn’t read to one I’m pestering my friends to give a try. While I was not initially intrigued by the story – it centers around a young and precocious protagonist and deals with a tragic death among a quirky family and community – I was hooked immediately after reading an excerpt. The […]

Murder mystery ties in messages of opportunity and class privilege

Disturbing. Compelling. Upsetting. Masterful. I could go on and on about how amazing this novel, “So Much Pretty” by Cara Hoffman, is. The plot is deceptively simple. Wendy White, a cheerful, well-liked young woman disappears in rural upstate New York. Months later, her remains are found and a drifter is accused of her abduction and […]

Chef captures culture of Harlem in cookbook: ‘The Red Rooster Cookbook’

Chef Marcus Samuelsson’s new cookbook “The Red Rooster Cookbook: The Story of Food and Hustle in Harlem” is a delightful mélange of recipes, essays, history and photographs celebrating Harlem, a neighborhood in New York City long associated with black culture.  Owner of Red Rooster in Harlem and best-selling author of “Yes, Chef: A Memoir” and other books, Samuelsson takes […]

‘Good as Gone’ doesn’t live up to ‘Gone Girl’

Thirteen year-old Julie was abducted from her home at knifepoint. She was never found and there were no suspects for her abductor. Police suspected that Julie knew her abductor, because there were also no signs of forced entry in her home. Eight long years later, Julie’s parents, Anna and Tom Whitaker, and younger sister Jane have rebuilt […]

From journalism to carpentery: “Hammer Head” shows it’s never to late to make a change

Nina MacLaughlin’s engaging memoir about her decision to quit journalism and become a carpenter is honest, informative and thought provoking. “Hammer Head: The Making of Carpenter” is MacLaughlin’s account of her at first fumbling attempts to master the entirely new skill set of carpentering is interspersed with meditations on the origins of the hand tools […]

A Curious, Charming Read: The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper is a delightful if predictable story

In “The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper,” sixty-nine year old widower Arthur Pepper is reluctantly sorting through his late wife Miriam’s belongings and happens upon a hidden charm bracelet, jewelry he’d never seen her wear during their 40 years together. The bracelet is lovely old gold, and the charms – an elephant, a book, an artist’s […]

Ceaseless drama: ‘All Things Cease to Appear’ is one of the best novels of the year

Good luck forgetting “All Things Cease to Appear” after you read it. Elizabeth Brundage’s tale of two interrelated families who first intersect in the 1970s is compulsively readable and almost hypnotic in its slow build to the tragedy described in the first chapter. Professor George Clare comes home to find his young wife Catherine brutally murdered in their upstairs bedroom. […]