Strangers with the Same Dream,
Alison Pick, Knoph Canada 2017

Strangers with the Same Dream
Alison Pick

I’d read the phone book if Alison Pick wrote it – that’s how captivated I am by her writing style. She’s one of those innately readable writers those words, however pure and simple are uniquely compelling and even when the tale has a certain innocence of frail humanity, there is a subtly conveyed veiled threat throughout the narrative. Such is the tone in Strangers with the Same Dream (Knopf, Canada 2017) which explores a 1921 settlement of Jewish pioneers (a nucleus that assumedly would become modern day Israel), fresh from the horrors of a violent European homeland. Despite the utopian dream, the group is haunted by old and new transgressions; some brought with them and some spawned in the new land, fed by hardship, vision, hope, disillusionment, love and ambition.  A great summer read.



The Imposter Bride, Harper Collins 2012

In the tradition of great Richlter legacy story-telling, a character driven narrative of relationships and life in Montreal's historical days. A quietly building, interwoven story of characters, playing out their role in a family drama.

Face it - the appeal of Jane Austen is not just the wonderful classic romances but holding a great edition of Pride and Prejudice in your hand. You could go Kindle (electronic device to read Jane? I daresay ...not!). Or you could indulge and by it (or a whole set) of Jane Austen in this gorgeous, real scarlet fabric covered Winchester Edition of Austen.
Available at the famed Jane Austen Center in Bath, UIK, the book lies flat, but happily (if you can tear yourself away), features a red ribbon to as a built in bookmark.

Pemberly Ranch, Jack Caldwell Sourcebooks Landmark 2010
This is an ingenious mash up of Pride and Prejudice meets Dallas - in other words - a Western spin on Jane Austen's classic. It has all the romance of P&P but there are fiery Yankees, upstart carpetbaggers, a haughty (Darcy?) Confederate soldier and crossed purposes, misgivings and good intentions. Great period language and another look at upturned petticoats but on the other side of the Atlantic with another cast of misdirected but lovable characters.

Love’s Long Journey (complete set)
Janette Oke, Bethany House

If you can imagine Little House on the Prairie but with some adult romance thrown in, this wonderful series of life on the Prairie (U.S. and Canada) by Janet Oke will be a heartwarming surprise. Oke writes with love and historical accuracy about love, life, farming, herding, and frontiering and recreates a world that was.  Some of the books have become Hallmark movies, coincidentally produced by Michael Landon Jr. These are not complex books but somehow they are a lovely read of a time gone by and the characters are timeless for their integrity and fine spirits that leaps beyond the fiction that birthed them.

Persuasion – Jane Austen
Not as popular as Sense and Sensibility nor Pride and Prejudice, nevertheless, Jane still delivers a sumptuous literary feast and tender tale of love that lasts over time until its time has arrived. This one is about faith, pining and patience, proving when the time is right, it just happens.

La Cucina, A Novel of Rapture, Lily Prior 2002, Ecco, a Division of Harper Collins An Italian version of Like Water For Chocolate and Chocolat and yet something altogether different. Sumptuous, sensual, bold and ribald with food and desire, this is a treasure of a book you will want to read and then buy two for friends. The ending is a mystery and that makes for great discussion but the parallels of food, the main character and the appetite for life itself is what makes this book fascinating. Gentle, funny, ironic and unexpected.

Mr. Gilfil’s Love Story, George Eliot, Hesperus 2006
A sweet little novel by an author best known for her other major works, this is a collion of Brontes and Austen

Breakable You, Brian Morton, Harcourt 2006
At first, I found the voice of this book a bit too close to home – descriptions and character observations are so acute and contemporary, you might squirm a bit for Morton captures exactly how many of us think, talk, and perceive. There is a love story that is doomed from the get-go and yet you still find yourself surprised that such an unlikely romance evolves as it does. Some of the characters are less than inspiring (Adam Weller, for instance) but this is a good weekend read.

A Window Across the River, Brian Morton, Harcourt 2007
Brian Morton has a penchant for New York and writers and small stories of characters you loathe to see go onc ehte book is done. This one is a gem - exploring the boundaries of intimacy, love, and art and managing, this time around, to keep romance in the room. It is starkly honest but remains tender  - you root for this characters, you appreciate the find lines between personal live and artistic vitality and trying to balance the two - under the scrutiny of a relationship. Morton manages to make what is minimalist more than enough canvas to keep you spell bound.

About A Boy (Nick Hornsby, Riverhead Books)
A great story (Hugh Grant movie notwithstanding). Horsby captures a credible portrait of a shallow man who is transformed.

Man And Boy (Tony Parsons, Scribner)
Almost a year in the life of a married man who becomes a contemporary Kramer (as in Kramer vs. Kramer) and learns how to bond with his son and his father. Almost curt. Unexpectedly good.

Love, Food, and Prayer - Fabulous, funny, interesting and mostly - honest. 

The Zohar - Paul Coelhco

Getting Rid of Matthew, Jane Fallon 2007, Voice
A arch romance of modern day proportions....This is sharp chick lit that is plausible fiction. What to do you do when your lover's wife turns out to be 'nice folks' and the lover (the strayed husband) becomes paunchy, boring and too available. Not your average love story but then - it also has a real edginess that makes you like the unlikeable protagonist. How many stories can do that?