Blog

Jennifer

How to Start a Fire by Lisa Lutz (2015)

startafireIn a departure from her Spellman mysteries, Lisa Lutz explores the friendship between three women over a twenty-year span. Anna, Kate, and George meet in college. Through heartbreak and triumph, their lives are revealed in an engaging story with multiple perspectives and a non-linear timeline.

While this is women's fiction and not mystery, How to Start a Fire has the signature Lutz quirky characters and quick wit. A clever yet reflective look at the ebbs and flows of lifelong friendships.
IPPL Staff

Man at the Helm by Nina Stibbe (2015)

manatthehelmIn the early 1970s, a woman from a wealthy background suddenly finds herself divorced and living in a small English village, where divorced women are suspect (it would seem for good reason). The book is told in the first person by ten-year-old Lizzie (looking back as an adult) and has quite a funny tone and wonderfully set pieces. Nina Stibbe’s Man at the Helm is very funny, but sad too.
Lora

A Place for Us by Harriet Evans (2015)

placeforusMartha Winter is turning eighty and having a big family party, at which she plans on revealing a secret. Martha and her husband, David (a famous cartoonist) have built what looks like, from the outside, an idyllic life at Winterfold, their home in Surrey. Their granddaughters, Lucy and Cat, now grown, remember it that way too. For Martha and David's three children, however, there was conflict between Daisy (the middle child) and her siblings--eldest Bill and youngest Florence.

In Harriet Evans’ novel, the reader explores the family's lives both past and present from many points of view. A Place for Us is an exploration of family relationships and is a real treat for people who enjoy the novels of Joanna Trollope, Rosamunde Pilcher, and early Jojo Moyes.
Elizabeth

Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf (2014)

littlemerciesEllen is an overworked social worker with three children of her own. After a tragic accident occurs in her own family, she finds herself on the other side of the system she works for.

Ten-year-old Jenny, alone in Iowa, must rely on her street smarts to help herself.

When their lives intersect, the pair finds some unique ways to help each other. Little Mercies is a really good page turner, with characters you come to care about. Check out the latest from Heather Gudenkauf.
Joan

Trains & Lovers by Alexander McCall Smith (2013)

trainsloversThree men and a woman share a train compartment between Edinburgh and London. From different age groups, backgrounds, and even countries, they prove it is sometimes easier to bare your soul to strangers, except for one coveted secret of an old love that is revealed only to readers. The travelers share their personal or family love stories and, oddly enough, they all involve trains. Diverse anecdotes take the reader all over England, Scotland, Australia, and the eastern part of the U.S., past and present day. The stories of Trains & Lovers get at the heart of human emotions. By the last chapter, Alexander McCall Smith may convince you to book a rail journey.
Jennifer

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes (2014)

oneplusoneJoin an unlikely group on this wacky road trip across England. In One Plus One, Ed drives Jess and her two kids Tanzie (10) and Nicky (16) and their dog Norman to a math tournament in Scotland. Single mother Jess is juggling two jobs, two kids, and too many bills. Tanzie is a math whiz, and this tournament is her shot at earning enough money to attend an exclusive school. Nicky’s differences make him a target of the neighborhood bullies. Tech geek Ed encounters a slew of problems relating to his business dealings, and without knowing quite how it happened, offers to transport the stranded family across the country. What should be a quick trip turns into an unexpected adventure.

The story is told from multiple points of view. Jojo Moyes’ novel is quirky, sweet, and memorable with endearing characters. Though it has moments of sadness, you’ll finish with a smile on your face.
Elizabeth

The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks (2011)

bestofmeSome of Nicholas Sparks’ novels are just really sad, but I still loved this one and have to recommend it. The character development and the plot have just the right amount of suspense thrown in to keep the reader turning pages.

Dawson and Amanda were lovers 25 years ago and are reunited in their North Carolina hometown after the death of a mutual friend. Neither has lived the life they had hoped to live, nor can they forget the special love that they shared.

In The Best of Me, you really come to care about the main characters as they struggle to accept and live with the choices they’ve made. After you read the book, check out the movie adaptation.
Joan

Mrs. Hemingway by Naomi Wood (2014)

mrshemingwayThe incredible talent, the struggles with mental health, the madcap adventures around the globe, the drinking, the recklessness, and the many loves of the original party animal – Ernest Hemingway told through the eyes of his four wives is a revealing piece of historical fiction. Fans of The Paris Wife may be disappointed at first when the Hadley they have grown to love is pushed into the background and each new wife in turn takes over the narration of the literary genius' life story.

Naomi Wood endears the reader to the many qualities that made Hemingway fall for the other three women over the years. In Mrs. Hemingway, Wood drives the point home that all the great loves of his life could not quench his inherent loneliness.
Mimi

Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani (2003)

lucialuciaWhen Kit Anaetti, a budding playwright, is invited to tea by her elderly neighbor, she hears her neighbor’s life story. Lucia was a young girl living in Greenwich Village in the 1950s and working in a custom dress designer’s shop. After meeting her future in-laws, she suddenly calls off her engagement. Instead, she chooses her work and a dashing and exciting suitor. Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani is a tragic love story with vivid Italian characters.
Joan

China Dolls by Lisa See (2014)

chinadollsThree young Asian American women meet at the Golden Gate International Exhibit in 1938. They forge immediate friendships and end up entertaining in the San Francisco nightclub scene. Each woman holds dark secrets that are slowly revealed as they struggle to survive during the war years. Friendship, family, love, and betrayal are examined from their diverse points of view in Lisa See’s China Dolls.

Join our Novel Idea discussion group on Wednesday, May 13 at 7pm to talk about China Dolls. Get your copy of the book at the front checkout desk.
Elizabeth

Summerland by Elin Hilderbrand (2012)

summerlandOn the island of Nantucket, an entire community must learn how to come to grips, and attempt to deal with their sorrow, after a tragic car accident claims the life of a 17-year-old girl and seriously injures her twin brother.

Summerland is the first Elin Hilderbrand novel I have read, and it sure won’t be the last. She has a definite knack for delving into the lives of the major characters. By the end of the story, you really care and feel as though you actually know them. This was a very enjoyable novel – now I see why Hilderbrand is such a popular author!
IPPL Staff

That Summer by Lauren Willig (2014)

thatsummerThe story is set in London and goes back and forth between 2009 and 1849. In the modern thread, Julia inherits a house and travels from New York to London to clean out the house before selling it. The story switches to 1849, where Imogen lives in the house with her dispassionate husband. Imogen has an affair with the artist painting her portrait – a painting that still hangs in the house in 2009. Modern day Julia pieces together Imogen’s life and finds love in Nicholas, an antiques dealer who helps her with the research.

I really enjoyed That Summer and loved the switching of the characters and the years. Very entertaining – I hope that a movie is made from Lauren Willig’s novel.
Mary P.

Hissy Fit by Mary Kay Andrews (2004)

hissyfitAfter calling off her high-society wedding after discovery her fiancé’s infidelity (with the maid of honor), Kelly Murdock faces financial ruin before receiving assistance – and an opportunity for revenge – from the new owner of a local bra company. Mary Kay Andrews has written a great, light, funny story guaranteed to make you laugh out loud! Check out Hissy Fit today.
Elizabeth

Heart Like Mine by Amy Hatvany (2013)

heartlikemineGrace, a career woman in her mid-thirties, enters into a relationship with Victor, a divorced workaholic with two children. After Victor’s ex-wife passes away suddenly under mysterious circumstances, Grace is thrown into all the turmoil that unfolds. Heart Like Mine is narrated by three different females. The character development is really good. I’m looking forward to reading more books by Amy Hatvany.
Mary

Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead (2014)

astonishmeThe world of professional ballet is the centerpiece of this character-driven novel. To dance for a professional New York ballet company is no small feat, but for Joan her role as a member of the ballet corps does meet her aspirations. She becomes romantically involved with Arslan, a Soviet ballet star whom she helped defect to the U.S. Arslan takes the U.S. ballet scene by storm while Joan’s career declines. She leaves the ballet company, marries her best friend from high school, and has a son. Her son Harry becomes the ballet star which Joan had hoped to become, and it is through his success that Arslan reenters her life. Maggie Shipstead’s Astonish Me rekindled memories of Baryshnikov’s defection to the West in 1974, and his impact on American ballet.