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By Margaret Dilloway

$26.95 Putnam

From award-winning author, Margaret Dilloway, comes SISTERS OF HEART AND SNOW, an engrossing story of family drama, secrets and the ties that bind us close even when they seem to be unravelling before our very eyes.

Rachel and Drew are sisters who have been separated by miles and experience for most of their adult lives. Rachel, the eldest at 38, is happily married and living in San Diego with her doting husband and two teenaged children, while 34 year old Drew, a Violist, is single and living a hard-scrabble life in LA. Rachel has been estranged for years from her parents, Killian, a tyrannical American businessman, and his demur Japanese wife, Hikari, who suffers from dementia. So when Hikari gives Rachel power of attorney, an outraged Killian files a lawsuit against her. And as Drew gets caught in the middle of the family firestorm, she and Rachel are thrown together, enabling them to re-discover a relationship that is all at once loving and fraught with difficulty.

During a rare moment of lucidity, Hikari tells Rachel about a book she kept in her sewing room, so Rachel enlists Drew’s help in retrieving it. But what they find is much more than an ordinary book. A reproduction of an ancient text, it tells the story of Tomoe Gozen, a real-life female samurai whose epic life of love and loss takes place in 12th century Japan. While trying to work out the meaning of the ancient story, the sisters come to identify with the struggles of this phenomenal warrior. Despite the centuries that divide them from her, the sisters begin to identify with Tomoe, a process which helps them unearth truths about themselves, their relationship and the jagged and fractured family history that had, up until now, been cloaked in deception and mystery.

Unforgettable and impossible to put down, this well-researched and historically fascinating novel is one you should add to your must-read list. Dilloway is a born story-teller who’s rich and intricately imagined characters will stay with you, even between readings. Her lush-yet-conversational prose will sweep you up from page one and won’t release you until you have finished the final sentence.

THE LIAR by Nora RobertsTHE LIAR
By Nora Roberts

$27.95 Putnam

From New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts comes her latest novel, THE LIAR, a story of deception, hard truths and the redemption that only love can bring.

Shelby Foxworth is in a world of hurt. Her slick and domineering husband Richard has died suddenly in a boating accident, leaving her millions of dollars in debt. Not only that, but after stumbling upon his safe-deposit box, she finds a handful of fake IDs and passports, a large sum of cash and a loaded gun which leads her to realize that she was married to a man she really knew nothing about. Putting her enormous home in Pennsylvania and its contents up for sale, Shelby and her four year old daughter Callie hi-tail it back to Rendezvous Ridge, her idyllic home-town in the Smoky Mountains, where her family waits for her return with open arms.

Shelby jumps back into small-town life with both feet, taking a job at her grandmother’s salon-turned-day spa and hooking up with handsome contractor, Griff Lott, despite the fact that she has reservations about doing so after having been so recently widowed. But just as she’s starting to put her life with Richard behind her, Shelby is confronted by some unsavory characters, including a private detective, who turns up in The Ridge, asking questions about Richard and the millions of dollars worth of jewelry and cash he stole. Although Shelby knows nothing about this, when people start dying, she begins to realize that there’s more at stake than she could ever have imagined and she has to fight to protect, not only her own life, but that of her daughter and those she holds dear.

After penning over 210 novels, it’s no wonder that Nora Roberts is a master storyteller, but she’s really at her finest here in this suspenseful and beautifully written book. Impossible to put down and filled with characters that are so real, you can almost hear them breathing, this is one of her best yet and a read that’s not to be missed.

By Alexandra Petri

$25.95 New American Library

How many times have you done something you regret that kept you up half the night in the form of torturous, instant replays? If you ever have done this, it’s likely something you don’t care to repeat. Not so with author and Washington Post columnist Alexandra Petri, who strives not only to create awkward moments, but to re-live them in print. And she does so with aplomb in her new memoir, A Field Guide To Awkward Silences.

Whether Ms. Petri is posing as a Civil War reenactor in order to realize her high school crush is Robert E. Lee, portraying Jesus in her church’s youth group pageant, complete with penciled on beard and moustache or allowing herself to be baptized by members of a cult just to be polite, this woman will stop at nothing to push the envelope of normalcy. Stand by and watch as she attempts to make a love connection while wearing a Jabba the Hutt costume at a Star wars convention or while she crashes a party where people have gathered to celebrate the publication of the International Textbook On Geriatric Care, a book she has absolutely nothing to do with. Perhaps she’s losing a whistling contest or auditioning for America’s Got Talent, despite the fact that she has none; no matter what Petri does, it’s crystal clear that she will stop at nothing to embarrass herself while enjoying the hell out of each and every experience, which makes this one-of-a-kind memoir a sensational read.  

Petri is truly one of the funniest voices of her generation, with the writing chops to match her outrageous acts of defiance. Each of the essays in this collection is funnier than the last, making this a must-read for anyone who likes a really good laugh and can relate to the awkwardness of the human experience.  

By Robin Oliveira

$16.00 Penguin

If you are a fan of Impressionist painting and historical fiction, than look no further for your next read than I Always Loved You, the story of artists Mary Cassatt and Edgar Degas and the love affair that shook both of their worlds.

Mary Cassatt is at a crossroads. Having moved to Paris after the American Civil War, she has tried and failed to be admitted to the prestigious Paris Salon, which can make or break the career of any artist. Just as she is about to heed her father’s advice and return to America in order to find a husband, she happens to meet the brilliant and successful painter and sculptor, Edgar Degas, whom, she later comes to find, is an admirer of her work. Taking her under his wing, Degas invites her to show with a handful of other Impressionist painters who are defying the gravitas of The Salon and she accepts without hesitation, believing in her heart and soul that she has chosen the right path.

Before long, her family, which includes her parents and sister Lydia whose failing health seems to be getting worse, move to Paris, not only to support her but to keep an eye on her and her progress. Through much trial and error, Cassatt begins to find her way in the marketplace. And while Degas is of enormous help to her, both as a mentor and a friend, an unconventional relationship begins to take shape between them that leaves each of these brilliant artists to question the validity of their feelings and the path that will lead them to some of the greatest work of their careers.

This well-researched and beautifully written book is certain to carry you away from page one. Oliveira has a way of making the past come alive by breathing life into these visionary artists who, alongside the host of other characters who populate this extraordinary book, rocked the art world at the turn of the 20th century. Exquisite prose and a story that just keeps on coming make this a novel you won’t want to put down or soon forget. / Issue 169 - September 2018
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