Just Getting Started by Tony Bennett

I admit that this review is slanted because I LOVE Tony Bennett. How could you not love someone who left his heart in San Francisco , travelled on the boulevard of broken dreams and (my personal  favorite) wanting to be around when a woman’s heart is broken like his was by her. This is a loving look at the people and places that impacted Tony’s life and career. Interspersed throughout the book are reproductions of Tony’s amazing art work. As you read this you get a sense of Tony’s deep appreciation for the blessings and struggles he’s had in his life and the lessons he’s learned from them. I must also admit that I dropped everything else I was reading or watching(sorry other books and New York Rangers) to devour this.

The Barrowfields by Philip Lewis

A son recalls his brilliant fathers life and the house they lived in in a small North Carolina town a town the father so desperately wanted to forget. Prior to his sons birth (both father and son are Henrys) Henry and his wife move into a home with a horrifying past. A series of events with propelled Henry the son to witness his fathers estrangement from the family and the books and writing that so defined who he was. Is is beautifully written and an emotional  roller coaster right to the very end.

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

This is an outstanding read on a woman’s reflecting back on the most catastrophic event to happen in her lifetime- the slowing of the earths orbit around the sun. Days last longer, schedules are completely useless  and relationships are torn apart. The title also refers to that  difficult but exciting period as children developmentally move from being children to the (parentally dreaded) teen years  with the concerns over climate change this is thought provoking prompting one to think if the evens depicted in this novel could ever happen.

The Dinner by Herman Koch

Sibling rivalry is the main course served in this novel. The format is broken down into the various components of a meal( appetizer, main course , etc) and it is in the serving of these components that the story unfolds.  Mystery enters the story when the two brothers wives seemingly disappear during a visit to the ladies room and an unfamiliar cell phone is found in a jacket pocket. As the story continues it becomes evident that both families have issues that haven’t been addressed. This is a wonderful read that addresses  many topics not the least being class differences, parental relationships with their children and the lengths at which parents will go to protect their children.

While We Were Watching Downton Abbey by Wendy Wax

Come on- it’s ok to admit that you’re lost on Sunday nights  without the regal dowager countess verbally sparring with her cousin Isabel, the romantic entanglements of the Crawley daughters and the benevolent and kind Lord  and Lady Grantham trying to make sense of it all. Residents of a posh Atlanta condo building are invited by the buildings concierge to weekly screenings of this beloved series. Strangers become friends, secrets are revealed and relationships reevaluated over the course of the series run   This is a wonderful novel of women drawing strength from each other and discovering deeply buried talents

Whistling Past The Graveyard by Susan Crandall

Plucky 9 year old Starla runs away from home in search of her mother in Nashville. On her journey she meets Eula a woman with secrets of her own. Through their experiences Starla and Eula form a solid bond each being what the other sorely needs. There’s a lot of pain in this book but it’s balanced by a lot of laughter. This is funny , sad and thoroughly enjoyable

The Mothers by Brit Bennett

Wow!! In the first 1 1/2 pages of this novel the following topics are discussed:underage drinking, teen pregnancy and abortion and suicide and that’s just the beginning !! Narrated by an anonymous’mother'(one of the local church ladies) the story chronicles the lives of three teenage friends and how the decisions they made then affects and shadows their adult lives.  Reunited at a wedding, a long buried secret is revealed  causing further conflict. This is a wonderful telling of friendship, loss and new beginnings

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

This is a tale of how a kiss can destroy two marriages and families. A tragedy bonds step siblings together as they struggle to come to terms with their roles in the event . A novel based on their childhood is adapted into a movie which forces the family to look back at their past. This is very well written with all the emotions implicit in familial relationships: laughter, tears and a great deal of love.

The Lost Husband by Katherine Center

Libby is a young widow with two children struggling to put her life back on track following the unexpected death of her husband. She impulsively contacts her aunt and moves everyone to her aunts farm in Texas. Libby’s life changes dramatically as does the lives of her children. This is a wonderful story of loss, love and second chances

Close Your Eyes Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian

This is my favorite of Chris’ works. Emily is a troubled teenager whose parents are responsible for a nuclear meltdown. Emily struggles to find her place in the world and in the process discovers strengths and abilities she never knew she had. Chris is a wonderful writer and I’ve been a fan of his for a long, long time