Sometimes a novel sticks with you in surprising ways. It lingers. And years later you find yourself in a living room or a on back porch or a road trip reminiscing about that book. It’s a conversation I had with Marybeth and Kimberly this week. So we decided to take a step back from the New Release shelf and recommend three books that we wish we could read again for the first time.
HOUSE AND HOME by Kathleen McCleary
The story of a woman who loves her house so much that she’ll do just about anything to keep it.
Ellen Flanagan has two precious girls to raise, a cozy neighborhood coffee shop to run, terrific friends, and a sexy husband. She adores her house, a yellow Cape Cod filled with quirky antiques, beloved nooks and dents, and a million memories. But now, at forty-four, she’s about to lose it all.
After eighteen roller-coaster years of marriage, Ellen’s husband, Sam–who’s charismatic, spontaneous, and utterly irresponsible–has disappointed her in more ways than she can live with, and they’re getting divorced. Her daughters are miserable about losing their daddy. Worst of all, the house that Ellen loves with all her heart must now be sold.
Ellen’s life is further complicated by a lovely and unexpected relationship with the husband of the shrewish, social-climbing woman who has purchased the house. Add to that the confusion over how she really feels about her almost-ex-husband, and you have the makings of a delicious novel about what matters most in the end . . .
Set in the gorgeous surroundings of Portland, Oregon, Kathleen McCleary’s funny, poignant, curl-up-and-read debut strikes a deep emotional chord and explores the very notion of what makes a house a home.
THE LACE READER by Brunonia Barry
Every gift has a price…
Every piece of lace has a secret…
“My name is Towner Whitney, no, that’s not exactly true. My real first name is Sophya. Never believe me. I lie all the time…”
Towner Whitney, the self-confessed unreliable narrator of The Lace Reader, hails from a family of Salem women who can read the future in the patterns in lace, and who have guarded a history of secrets going back generations, but the disappearance of two women brings Towner home to Salem and the truth about the death of her twin sister to light. The Lace Reader is a mesmerizing, tale which spirals into a world of secrets, confused identities, lies and half-truths where the reader quickly finds it’s nearly impossible to separate fact from fiction, but as Towner Whitney points out early on in the novel, “There are no accidents.”
PEACE LIKE A RIVER by Leif Enger
Dead for 10 minutes before his father orders him to breathe in the name of the living God, Reuben Land is living proof that the world is full of miracles. But it’s the impassioned honesty of his quiet, measured narrative voice that gives weight and truth to the fantastic elements of this engrossing tale. From the vantage point of adulthood, Reuben tells how his father rescued his brother Davy’s girlfriend from two attackers, how that led to Davy being jailed for murder and how, once Davy escapes and heads south for the Badlands of North Dakota, 12-year-old Reuben, his younger sister Swede and their janitor father light out after him. But the FBI is following Davy as well, and Reuben has a part to play in the finale of that chase, just as he had a part to play in his brother’s trial. It’s the kind of story that used to be material for ballads, and Enger twines in numerous references to the Old West, chiefly through the rhymed poetry Swede writes about a hero called Sunny Sundown. That the story is set in the early ’60s in Minnesota gives it an archetypal feel, evoking a time when the possibility of getting lost in the country still existed. Enger has created a world of signs, where dead crows fall in a snowstorm and vagrants lie curled up in fields, in which everything is significant, everything has weight and comprehension is always fleeting. This is a stunning debut novel, one that sneaks up on you like a whisper and warms you like a quilt in a North Dakota winter, a novel about faith, miracles and family that is, ultimately, miraculous.
Have you read any of these novels? Did you enjoy them? Are there any that you think we absolutely MUST read?