I definitely am reading more than 50 pages a day. Or at least averaging better than that. This month was 6 books at 2,868 pages. Here we go!
The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty (440 pages). Ellen is a hypnotherapist in Sydney. She loves her job and is really good at it. The only thing that has been missing from her life is someone to share it with. And then she meets Patrick. He’s perfect for her- a loving man, a widower with a young son, a ready made family. Then Patrick tells her that he’s got a stalker- an ex girlfriend named Saskia. Turns out Ellen is actually pretty familiar with her. She’s one of Ellen’s patients! Ellen runs the gamut of emotions during her whirlwind romance- feeling like she’ll never measure up to the dead wife, understanding Saskia’s obsession, fear about her future with a man she loves. Everything culminates in one evening at their house. It was a typically enjoyable Moriarty novel. I finished in 5 days.
Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan (541 pages). The final novel in the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy. Loved the first one, didn’t like the second, this one was somewhere in the middle. Nick and Rachel are happily married and living in NY, despite his estrangement from his beloved grandmother. In fact, everyone in the family seems to be doing well. Then grandmother Su Yi has a heart attack. Family members begin descending on Tyersall Park, the amazing family estate in the heart of Singapore. The family dynamics of this massively wealthy family is amazing. The outer ring characters, with their wealth and their desire to rise in the social ranks, are fascinating. And the ending was quite satisfying. Who will inherit Tyersall? And what can be done with such a massive and historically significant estate anyway? I finished in 5 days.
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (564 pages). This book was amazing! Sisters Vianne and Isabelle have lived very different lives from the moment their mother passed away. Their father came home from WWI a different man. And the loss of his wife decimates him. He sends the girls off to be raised at a school. With 10 years between them, they drift apart. Vianne falls in love and gets married, Isabelle flounders. Then WWII happens. The sisters find their own ways to make a difference in the war. This book mentioned several events from other books I’ve read- the Vel d’Hiv roundup, Ravenbruck. All heartbreaking stories of events from WWII. I found myself in tears for the entire last chapter. I loved loved loved it! Turns out Hannah was inspired by the actions of women during WWII and used them as inspiration for the sisters. As Vianne said, “men tell stories. Women get on with it...We did what we had to during the war, and when it was over, we picked up the pieces and started our lives over.” A gorgeous book about the unspoken heroes of wars- the women. I finished in 7 days.
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult (458 pages). Possibly one of the simplest stories I’ve read from Picoult. But one of the most chock full ones as well. Ruth is a labor and delivery nurse with 20 years of experience. One day she comes in to work and goes to help with a newborn. Whose parents are white supremacists. They demand that Ruth, who is black, not be allowed to touch their son. But when Ruth is left alone in the nursery and the baby goes into cardiac arrest, what is she supposed to do- what she’s trained to do or what she’s been told to do? When the baby dies, she is charged with murder. This is one of the most racially charged novels I have ever read. But it unpacks it in such a way that I found fascinating. The story, in typical Picoult fashion, is told from 3 perspectives- Ruth’s, Kennedy’s (the white public defender on Ruth’s case) and Turk’s (the white supremacist). I could not put this book down. Between the courtroom drama and the amazing story of love, hate, and race, it was beyond a page turner. Of course, sitting by the pool and lots of rain probably helped with having the time to read it quickly.... I finished in 3 days.
Sis, Empress on Her Own by Allison Pataki (438 pages). The sequel to An Accidental Empress. This historical fiction (yes, I went back to my absolute favorite) is the second half of Empress Elisabeth of Austria-Hungry life story. Better known as Sisi, she never had the disposition to be a ruler. She found court life constricting and found every excuse to travel the world. She also was a woman with profound loss in her life. She lost her eldest daughter when the child was a toddler. Her son, the crown prince, was lost to her from childhood but eventually died in a murder-suicide pact with his mistress. Her cousin, Mad King Ludwig, also committed suicide. After her son’s death, her nephew Franz Ferdinand became the heir apparent. Yes, the Franz Ferdinand who’s assassination led to WWI. And Sisi herself was assassinated. As the author said, it sounds like a soap opera. But it was all real. As always, I did additional research on my own. What a life the Fairy Queen lived! I finished in 7 days.
The Woman in the Window by AJ Finn (427 pages). Kind of Rear Window meets Girl on a Train. Anna, a child psychologist who now suffers from crippling agoraphobia, lives alone in her NYC home after her husband left her and took their daughter with him. Anna now fills her days with online therapy sessions (she’s the doctor), online chess games, black and white movies, watching her neighbors through her camera lens, and meds and merlot. Long story short- she thinks she sees one of her neighbors being stabbed. And of course, in my least favorite popular trope, she’s been drinking while on her meds. So what did she really see? If I say anymore, I’m going to give away the whole story. I finished in 5 days (because that’s how many days I had left in the month!)
And this month’s favorite goes to......The Nightingale and Small Great Thins. They were both phenomenal. But in entirely different ways. I love something historical (or at least inspired by history) and I also love a novel that makes me think about current events.