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Monday, June 27, 2016

WHAT THE LADY WANTS by Renee Rosen

WHAT THE LADY WANTS  by Renee Rosen
Marshall Field is not the main character , but he,  his iconic store and his love affair with socialite Delia Spencer are the reason and impetus for the book.   Opening with the Chicago Fire of 1871 that sets in motion the rebuilding of the city and meeting of Delia and Marshall, the novel continues through both of their marriages, the building and rebuilding of Marshall Field and Company and concludes with Delia’s death in 1937.
Lovers of the social leaders, business leaders, fashions and homes of the rich and famous during the Gilded Age will love this richly detailed book.  Rosen has done her research well and turned it into a fascinating portrayal of the Potters, Palmers, Fields, Pullmans and others of influence in Chicago society, the great department stores and the World’s Fair of 1893. The scandalous romance of Delia (married to Arthur Caton) and Field (married to Nannie Douglas Scott) serves as the basis for the “plot” of the book.

4 of 5 stars 

Sunday, June 26, 2016

THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF IVAN ISAENKO by Scott Stambach

THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF IVAN ISAENKO  by Scott Stambach
Did I enjoy this book? Hmmm, not so much. Was it compelling reading? Oh yes, absolutely!

Ivan is a teenage boy in a grotesquely deformed body, the result of radiation from a malfunctioning Russian nuclear plant.  His mind, however, functions perfectly. Trapped in a deformed body in a rundown hospital, Ivan entertains himself by being as obnoxious as possible until he meets Polina, a recently orphaned teenage  girl suffering from a rapidly advancing cancer.

We watch as Ivan and Polina react to each other, their suffocating community and their medical conditions in an unforgiving tale of self-worth, alienation, wonder, love, frustration, ineptness, caring, hope and resignation.

This is a tale that will stay with you, disturb you and,, perhaps, challenge you to change things.

5 of 5 stars

Saturday, June 25, 2016

ARROWOOD by Laura McHugh

ARROWOOD  by Laura McHugh
Arrowood is a gothic thriller that starts slowly with mounting eeriness as the main character, Arden Arrowood, is slowly revealed along with the tragedies in her life. Her twin sisters disappeared while she, only 8 years old, was supposed to be watching them. Arden has scars, both physical and mental, from this and other traumas in her past life.
Arrowood, the house, has been in her family for generations, but has stood empty since shortly after the twins disappeared. Arden returns to Arrowood twenty years later when her grandfather bequeaths her the long empty house. The tension mounts as her back story is revealed and various characters from her past, along with an amateur detective who is fascinated by the unsolved mystery of the twin’s disappearance, are introduced.
McHugh is a gifted writer who maintains a firm grip on a story that could easily become maudlin. Instead the eeriness and growing unease builds to a crescendo. The characters are slowly developed into rich, fully portrayed persons embodied in a horrifying story.

5 of 5 stars