It always comes back to Paris. I’m not going to lie. It is truly one of my favorite cities and I often catch myself daydreaming of going back there one day. Cappuccino scented cafes and cobblestone streets were the backdrop for so many stories, so many glorious works of art in the1920s. A time when an artistic vibe pulsed through the veins of all the young dreamers. You and your “Lost Generation” were some of those dreamers during Paris’ sweet time, between the Wars. The Wars of course cast a dark cloud over the City of Lights for many years. It wasn’t until the late 1940s, when legendary French fashion designer, Christian Dior designed a new line of women clothing that put the dazzle back into post war-stricken Paris. Alexandra Joel takes on this time in history in her debut novel, The Paris Model. A strong woman discovering her family secrets, passionate affairs and some always needed Parisian flair fill the pages of this historical fiction delight. Plan on falling in love with this gem. Let’s take a look.
In 1948, Grace Woods leaves Australia and farm life, hits pause on her loveless marriage and travels to post-war Paris to work as a glamorous mannequin for THE Christian Dior. Her journey to a new country isn’t all work though. Grace is taking time to re-evaluate her role as a “dutiful” wife, with dutiful roles in the kitchen and her passionless bedroom. As she enjoys her time modeling the clothes of a fashion guru and discovering that fiery love most definitely exists, she gets herself tangled in her lover’s political endeavors, while discovering the depth of her family’s secrets.
What I loved about Joel’s book is that it is based on a true story. She did a fantastic job depicting a woman “stuck” in her role as a wife and desperately questioning her own hopes and dreams, while taking on the politically charged streets of Paris Because of this book, I have been feverishly googling the life and times of Christian Dior. From his abundant use of luscious fabric, to the revival of fashion in the most glamorous city in the world, this French gentleman was anything but ordinary. I adored all of the modeling and designer clothes in Joel’s novel, but especially loved the family component. Grace’s self-discovery was a journey that I took pleasure in as a reader. Layers of love, loss and sacrifice filled the pages of Joel’s book. I was extremely fulfilled with the ending as so many questions were answered and loose ends tied up. That always makes me happy.
I hope you enjoy this exquisite read as much as I did!
Until next time my friend!
Your Biggest Fan,
P.S. Catherine, Christian Dior’s sister, worked for the French Resistance during WWII. She was arrested by the Nazis and sent to Ravensbruck, a concentration camp for women until her liberation in 1945. In 1947, Dior named his first perfume Miss Dior, in honor of her.
I can’t believe it is September! Where did summer go? Well, summer may be on its lasts legs, but we are still going strong over here on Dear Mr. Hemingway. I am happy to announce our September 2020 “Ernest”Chitter-Chatter Book Pick. This month, we will be reading and discussing Fiona Davis’ latest historical fiction book, The Lions of Fifth Avenue.
There are two ways to join in. The first is to participate in a private instagram chat (spoilers and all) with me and the book group after reading the book. The second option is to read the book, then join in on an EXCLUSIVE ZOOM with me and Fiona Davis! You can also participate in both options. Check out the details below….
October 1, 2020 7PM EST~ Zoom with me, Fiona Davis and YOU!
The Lions of Fifth Avenue Synopsis
“It’s 1913, and on the surface, Laura Lyons couldn’t ask for more out of life—her husband is the superintendent of the New York Public Library, allowing their family to live in an apartment within the grand building, and they are blessed with two children. But headstrong, passionate Laura wants more, and when she takes a leap of faith and applies to the Columbia Journalism School, her world is cracked wide open. As her studies take her all over the city, she is drawn to Greenwich Village’s new bohemia, where she discovers the Heterodoxy Club—a radical, all-female group in which women are encouraged to loudly share their opinions on suffrage, birth control, and women’s rights. Soon, Laura finds herself questioning her traditional role as wife and mother. But when valuable books are stolen back at the library, threatening the home and institution she loves, she’s forced to confront her shifting priorities head on . . . and may just lose everything in the process. Eighty years later, in 1993, Sadie Donovan struggles with the legacy of her grandmother, the famous essayist Laura Lyons, especially after she’s wrangled her dream job as a curator at the New York Public Library. But the job quickly becomes a nightmare when rare manuscripts, notes, and books for the exhibit Sadie’s running begin disappearing from the library’s famous Berg Collection. Determined to save both the exhibit and her career, the typically risk-adverse Sadie teams up with a private security expert to uncover the culprit. However, things unexpectedly become personal when the investigation leads Sadie to some unwelcome truths about her own family heritage—truths that shed new light on the biggest tragedy in the library’s history.”
The Dear Mr. Hemingway Book Discussion Group You All Have Been Waiting For…
July 10, 2020
Dear Lovely Readers,
I am excited to announce The Dear Mr. Hemingway Book Discussion Group….”Ernest” Chitter-Chatter With Kelly & Friends. My goal is to connect all of my readers (and me too) with a wide variety of fabulous books and incredible authors. Not only will you have the chance to discuss a monthly book with other book lovers from around the world, but you also will have the opportunity to connect with the author as well. All your burning questions can finally be answered by authors you know and love. Not too shabby.
As of right now, there are two parts to this group. You can choose to be in one or both parts. Part one is a private group chat on instagram with our DMH community on a specific date about one of the monthly book choices. The second part is a ZOOM with you, me and the author. Talk about fun!!!!!
𝐇𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐢𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐞-𝐮𝐩 𝐡𝐞𝐚𝐝𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐟𝐚𝐥𝐥:
𝐉𝐮𝐥𝐲 𝟐𝟎𝟐𝟎 (Still time to join for final conversation and ZOOM)
𝘊𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘔𝘦 𝘈𝘮𝘦𝘳𝘪𝘤𝘢𝘯 by Abdi Nor Iftin
Private Instagram Chat on July 9th & July 23rd
ZOOM~End of July…TBA
𝘛𝘪𝘯𝘺 𝘐𝘮𝘱𝘦𝘳𝘧𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘴 by Alli Frank and Asha Youmans
Happy Wednesday! I am thrilled to have Guest Writer Whitney Scharer on the blog today sharing one of her favorite books. Whitney’s debut historical fiction novel, The Age of Light (Little, Brown & Company), follows real-life Lee Miller, Vogue model turned renowned photographer/war correspondent. Click here to read what I had to say about this book.Whitney’s book was a 2019 Book of the Month Club pick and an IndieNext and Boston Globe bestseller. Parade, Glamour Magazine, and Real Simple Magazine all named The Age of Light, one of the best books of 2019. Pretty impressive, right?
I was so excited last year when I found out that Whitney was coming to Maine to talk about her book. The day before her event, I quickly discovered that my kids’ schedules trumped mine (always the way), and I was unable to make her reading. I decided to message Whitney explaining my dilemma and asked her to meet me over coffee to chat about her book (mind you, I am a complete stranger with a new blog and like two followers). I was pleasantly surprised when Whitney agreed to meet. Instead of coffee, we ended up having a spectacular brunch at The Press Hotel’s restaurant, Union in Portland, Maine. Whitney and I had a lovely meal and chatted all about her book, her writing process and the historical fiction genre. She is an absolute doll and wonderful to spend time with. I actually felt “cool 😎😎”” that day (hanging with an important author). It was such a pleasure and one I will always cherish.
I hope you enjoy her letter today to Mr. H.
P.S. Literary Whitney plays Scrabble EVERYDAY (wicked smart)! When she was in 5th grade, she won 5th place in the Colorado State Spelling Bee (😮😮). When Whitney isn’t spending time with her husband and daughter, she is snuggling with her 3-month-old pup, Clementine. Let’s face it, she is probably snuggling all the time with this fluff ball. Clementine is also a fellow “Book Lover”…chewing books is love too❤️❤️❤️❤️!!!
Dear Mr. Hemingway,
I’ve always loved reading historical fiction based on real people. There’s something so wonderful about falling into the world of a book and then being able to go to the library or online and learn the “story behind the story.” I loved reading Wolf Hall and getting a new, intimate perspective on Thomas Cromwell, or devouring Nancy Horan’s Loving Frank and reacquainting myself with the architecture and genius of Frank Lloyd Wright. But the book that changed my thinking about what historical novels could do and how we make fiction out of fact was Lily King’s Euphoria.
Euphoria is loosely based on the life of anthropologist Margaret Mead. King happened across a biography of Mead in a small used bookstore and was captivated by her entire life and story, yet her novel is based on a slim twelve-page section of the biography that centers around a 1933 research trip to the Sepik River, in New Guinea, where Mead (called Nell in the novel) and her second husband briefly worked with a man who would become Mead’s third husband. The relationship between the three anthropologists is passionate, both physically and intellectually, and King’s meticulous research and incredible scene-setting bring the world and love affair to vivid life. From the very first page of the book, when an angry tribe member tosses a dead baby at Nell’s head, and we learn that her husband may have intentionally broken her glasses, I felt completely immersed in this intense, violent world.
As a reader—and perhaps even more as a writer—the book blew me away. You could…do this? You could take a small slice of a real person’s life, fictionalize her name, infuse the story with your many hours of research, and make something that manages to capture a person’s essence while also feeling wholly, imaginatively invented? This, I realized, this is why I read historical fiction. To see how a modern writer’s brain can reinterpret history and make something that feels truer than fact.
Euphoria is a novel I can’t quit. I’ve read it seven or eight times. I’ve broken it down, outlined the structure, tried to understand the virtuosic way King tells the story. I’ve taught the first few pages in fiction writing workshops. I’ve recommended it at readings and given copies as gifts to more people than I can count. And just the other day, I received a delicious package in the mail: a galley of King’s new novel, Writers and Lovers, which comes out later this year. I can’t wait to read it.
Nice chatting with you, dear Mr. H—
P.S. Click on my book below to purchase from my local book store.
Click on the book picture below to purchase Euphoria (Grove Press)by Lily King.
Today is another fabulous day on the blog. It is the fourth week of the Dear Mr. Hemingway Guest Writer~Author Edition series. I am so thrilled to tell you about today’s author, Fiona Davis. Let me first start off by saying that Fiona is the National Best Selling author of The Dollhouse (Dutton),The Address (Dutton), The Masterpiece (Dutton), and most recently, The Chelsea Girls (Dutton). Whether she takes you through Grand Central Terminal, the Chelsea Hotel, a famous New York residence, or the glamorous Barbizon Hotel for Women, New York City is the heartbeat of her stories. Her books are filled to the brim with vibrant characters, stunning time periods, and very satisfying storylines. With sprinkles of glamour, hints of mystery, and a dollop of dazzle, Fiona’s books will not disappoint you. Be on the lookout for her upcoming historical fiction novel staring the iconic New York Public Library. The Lion’s of Fifth Avenue (Dutton) hits book stores in July 2020 🤗🤗🤗.
Before you read what Fiona has written to Mr. H., I want to thank her for participating in this project. I can’t tell you how much it means to me that she took time out of her very busy schedule to contribute to this Blog. I personally enjoy getting to know my favorite authors and what books they enjoy when they are not writing their own. Who doesn’t love a great book recommendation from a magnificent author!!!!!!!
I hope you enjoy Fiona’s letter. It is a good one!
Happy Reading Friends,
P.S. Did you know that before Fiona Davis began her writing career, she was an actress off-Broadway, in regional theaters, and on BROADWAY 😮😮😮!!! The cool factor here is pretty high.
Dear Mr. Hemingway,
What if you learned as a child that you were descended from a long line of witches, and had powers to envision the future? That’s how Augusten Burroughs’s memoir begins when as a young boy on a school bus he experiences a dark premonition about his grandmother. He arrives home just as his mother is getting the news that the grandmother has been in a car accident (luckily, she recovers). Augusten has a gift, explains his mother, just as she does, and as did many of their ancestors.
But Toil & Trouble is more than a witching tale, it’s also a love story about the relationship between Augusten and his agent/husband Christopher, as they move out of the city and settle in an ancient house where Augusten is certain that the towering maple tree in the front yard is out to get him (he’s not wrong). It’s a beautiful story of two men maneuvering through sickness and health, all while raising a trio of oversized dogs and putting down roots in the community. It’s about Eddie – a handyman who is as personally offensive as he is good as his job – and who winds up unexpectedly becoming one of Augusten’s favorite people.
One of the reasons I connected so strongly with this book was that I’d recently made a similar purchase, and was struck by the ways a house becomes almost like another member of the family. My home also has its own special quirks and demands and every so often groans like the Dowager from Downton Abbey after she’s had too much sherry. Is it a ghost from its past life as a farmhouse? Or just normal settling? Either way, I’m not going anywhere.
Toil & Trouble reminded me to listen to my intuition and made me laugh out loud with Burroughs’s twisted turns of phrase. The ending is astonishing, wrapping up the themes and plotlines with breathless abandon. This memoir won’t disappoint.
Yours in spirit,
P.S. To find out why I have such an affinity with buildings, check out my latest novel, The Chelsea Girls, which is set in New York’s iconic Chelsea Hotel.
Dear Fellow Book Lovers, Today is a great day. Kicking off the GUEST WRITER~AUTHOR EDITION is none other than the New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of Historical Fiction, KATE QUINN. Yes, you heard me correctly, Kate Quinn has written a letter to Mr. Hemingway. Of course, you already know that Kate Quinn is the author of The Alice Network (A Reese’s Book Clubpic for July 2017) and most recently, The Huntress. Did you also know that she has written four books in the Empress of Rome series, two books in the Italian Renaissance series, and a host of other publications? With more books in the works, this author is on fire. I hope you enjoy her post today! I thank Kate from the bottom of my heart for participating in this project.
P.S. Rumor has it that Kate Quinn is a ROCKIN good singer! Check out all of Kate’s fabulousness over on her Website… http://www.katequinnauthor.com —————————– Dear Mr. Hemingway, You never forget your first, do you? The book that hooks you forever. I was ten. My librarian mother put a hefty tome into my hands: “Jubilee Trail,” by Gwen Bristow. “Historical fiction set in early California,” she said. Being a California girl, I was intrigued enough to curl up on the sofa and start reading. I fell through the pages into a new world: this was my first adult historical novel, the book that converted me into a passionate, lifelong lover of stories set in the past.
Everything in it spoke to me. I loved learning about pre-Gold Rush California’s three-tiered society, where proud Spanish rancheros existed side by side with Yankee traders and Mexican citizens, and US statehood was just a glimmer on the horizon. My guide to this new world is Bristow’s heroine Garnet, an adventurous New York society girl who dreams of more than dull, polite city life. She marries Oliver, a handsome trader who sweeps her on a headlong journey to California, and I loved the idea that a book could start with a marriage rather than ending with one—that a girl’s life didn’t end once she became a wife. I loved the best friend Garnet picks up along her journey: Florinda, a beautiful blunt-spoken showgirl fleeing murder charges and perhaps something even more sinister, stealing every scene she appears in. Their friendship is the rock that sustains Garnet when she reaches California and realizes the dreadful secrets her husband has been hiding from her, and I learned something I’d carry into adulthood: that female friendships are every bit as important as romantic relationships, and deserved to be showcased.
Moreover, a woman’s journey to independence is every bit as important as the simpler question of “Who does she fall in love with?” Garnet grows from an adventurous girl to steel-spined heroine as she battles through motherhood and widowhood, poverty and luxury, frontier shoot-outs, and deadly family feuds. It’s a journey that had my ten-year-old self cheering, and still does whenever I reread “Jubilee Trail.” Something about the combination of flawed and interesting women, meticulously researched history, and a writing style as clear as a pane of glass have stuck with me over the years. It wasn’t long after reading “Jubilee Trail” that I began writing my own books…and to this day, I think my own heroines have something of Bristow’s Garnet in them. Nina in “The Huntress” has her ferocity when backed into a corner, Eve in “The Alice Network” has her flinty endurance—and all my heroines have her capacity for friendship.
It has been weeks since my last letter to you. Time flies by when you are on vacation, spending time with friends and family, and reading wonderful books! Nevertheless, summer is over 😢😢 and fall is in the air 😁😁. Today, I thought it would be great to recap a bunch of books that I’ve read recently. Now is the time to get everyone’s fall TBR piles stacked and ready to go. I look forward to writing to you often this fall Mr. H.
Until Next time!
Your Biggest Fan,
P.S. I am looking forward to everyone’s comments on this post. I would love to know what everyone is reading!
The Perfect Wife by JP Delaney is a fantastic read. What started off as a thriller, quickly turned into so much more. Abby, a mother, surfer, and artist wakes up one day dazed and confused. She has no idea who she is or where she is. Her husband gently informs her of an accident that happened many years ago. Before I go any further, The Perfect Wife is the kind of book to read without knowing too much going into it. I was pleasantly greeted with surprises, twists, and sharp turns along the way. Without divulging too much information, I will say that this book is filled to the brim with mystery surrounding Abby and her tech-savvy husband. Delaney’s story is so intriguing that you will be hooked from page one. It is the perfect blend of domestic noir with a splash of sci-fi and the unconditional love of a mother. I had an extremely difficult time putting this fast-paced novel down. I highly recommend this read. It is crazy different and crazy good! Thank you to Random House (Ballantine Books) via Netgalley for an early look at this book. It is out now!!!!!
Wow!!!!!! The Unbreakables by Lisa Barr was an amazing read for me this summer. First of all, the cover alone had me at “Hello”! In addition to my cover love, Barr’s book was overflowing with passion, betrayal, and self-discovery (this is my jam). The story follows Sophie Bloom, a 42-year-old mother who discovers on her birthday that her husband has been having multiple (and I mean multiple) affairs. So what does she do??????? Sophie takes off for France to rediscover who she really is and what her life is now going to look like. Cheating husbands and marriages falling to pieces are not new themes in the world of fiction (or nonfiction). Barr manages to take it a step further by untangling the roles of infidelity, love, and friendship with her characters. Mt recommendation is to jump right on in with this book. It is fast, engaging, and “unputdownable”. Go grab it now!!!!
I am an absolute sucker for the classic frenemies turn lovers romance story. Nina Bocci’s new book, On the Corner of Love and Hate, met my romance reading needs this summer. Emmanuelle and Cooper have been friends since they were kids. Now that they are back in their childhood hometown and working in the same office, Emmanuelle realizes just how much of a grudge she holds against Cooper. When Cooper decides to run for town Mayor, Emmanuelle takes on the difficult job of managing his campaign and his personal life. Bocci’s story follows these two bickering “friends” as they both navigate the campaign trail and their feelings towards one another. As it gets closer to voting time, Emmanuelle needs to make some personal decisions that will have an impact on moving forward with Cooper and the race to a campaign victory.
I absolutely adored On the Corner of Love and Hate by Nina Bocci. I loved all the characters in this small town romance story. The political backdrop was the perfect setup for Emmanuelle to figure out her true feelings for Cooper. Their relationship had the exact amount of wit, charm, and sarcasm to keep the pages turning. The romance was sweet and the steam level was extremely mild. Bocci’s story is an easy-breezy read that will leave you grinning from ear to ear. I look forward to future books from this author. Thank you to Gallery Books via Netgalley for the advanced read of this book in exchange for an honest review.
All you Great Gatsby Lovers out there are going to devour Dear Scott, Dearest Zelda: The Love Letters of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Fitzgerald. I am so amazed that the letters between F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda Fitzgerald were found and preserved. Even more impressive is that these letters were pieced together to form an intimate look at the personal life of this literary couple. On the outside, Scott and Zelda appeared glamorous and put together. Cocktails, great food, and artistic friends were only a small part of the equation though. Their attractive lifestyle was filled with alcoholism, health issues, mental illness, and financial struggles. I didn’t realize until I read this book, that Scott and Zelda lived a good portion of their lives apart. With Zelda in and out of mental health institutions and Scott traveling for work, caring for their daughter, and managing his own health issues, their relationship truly depended on their letters to one another. Even though their life together was filled with heartbreak, Scott and Zelda managed to hold on to hope and dreams for a better tomorrow.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is a lover of literature and the works of great American writers from the 20th century. It was an honor to get an inside peek into the once private letters of such an iconic couple. Thank you to Scribner via Netgalley for the advanced read of this book in exchange for an honest review.
If you are looking for an intimate read with unlimited depth, then On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong is the book for you. Vuong’s main character and speaker in the story is named Little Dog. In his twenties, Little Dog tells his life story and his family history through letters he has written to his mom (who can’t read). He holds absolutely nothing back in what he has to say. In addition to talking about his mother’s past living in Vietnam during the war, he also describes their complex relationship and how it impacted his life. He also dives deep into his own sexuality and coming of age as a Vietnamese boy growing up in Connecticut. Vuong’s writing is extremely raw and profoundly tender. Not surprising considering he is also a published poet. I had the pleasure of meeting and listening to Ocean Vuong at Print Bookstore in Portland, Maine this summer. It was a beautiful evening filled with words, passion, and wonderful people. His new book, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is beyond stunning. His writing is lyrical, poetic, and breathtaking. When I finished Vuong’s book, I was completely speechless. I highly recommend picking up this book. It is truly a work of literary art.
If you have read anything by Blake Crouch, then you have a pretty good idea of how his books flow. If this is your first Crouch book…buckle up, it is a wild ride. The premise of his new book revolves around something the media is calling, False Memory Syndrome. Basically, individuals are having vivid memories of a former life they never lived. The memories are so strong and disturbing, that the victims of this syndrome are literally going mad, even resorting to suicide to escape the insanity. In comes Barry Sutton, a NYC cop who is investigating this phenomenon, and neuroscientist Helena Smith, who is working on developing technology to preserve one’s most important memories. Memories, the physics of time, and many twists and turns will have you on the edge of your seat! Warning…this book moves fast. Once you start, you are in it to win it. Crouch’s Dark Matter rocked my world, and Recursion rocked it again! Happy reading!
I love reading books that take place in the city that never sleeps. Whether the story takes place in the present or during a different time period, New York City never disappoints. The Chelsea Girls by Fiona Davis is no exception. This historical fiction novel is centered around the famous Chelsea Hotel in Manhattan during the McCarthy era. It follows two friends on their way to stardom during a very turbulent time in our American history. Get ready to go on a historical journey filled with friendship, betrayal, and the darkest of secrets. Pull out your Playbill and get comfy in your seat…let’s give our full attention to Broadway!
Hazel Ripley and Maxine Meade met in Italy while performing in plays for the soldiers during the USO Tour at the tail end of World War Two. After their tour was complete, the two friends went their separate ways. Hazel put her acting aside and became a playwright for Broadway, while Maxine went on to become a famous American actress. Their paths cross again in NYC at the Chelsea Hotel in the early 1950s. Together they worked on Hazel’s debut Broadway play with Maxine in the lead role. While the ladies and the rest of the cast and crew were hard at work, tension began to rise all around them. The McCarthy era was officially upon them and Americans (especially in the entertainment industry) were falsely accused of being Communists or Communist sympathizers. With people being questioned all around them and spies lingering in the background, no one felt safe in Hazel’s production, including Hazel. As opening night approaches, Hazel’s precious play is about to be derailed. Who can she trust? Who is talking to whom? How will this impact her play? Readers will be held in suspense throughout this novel. The pages of Davis’ book will quickly be turning as you lounge in your beach chair waiting to find out what happens next.
As a fan of Fiona Davis’ previous books, The Chelsea Girls did not disappoint. Readers will quickly be immersed in a story with an atmosphere rich in history and filled with colorful characters. Davis’ beautifully crafted story captures the glamour, drama and paranoia of the time. With New York City shining in the background, Davis brings to life a time period I have not personally experienced reading in a work of fiction (I found that refreshing). I feel confident saying that readers will be captivated by Hazel and Maxine’s story. Another A+ for Fiona Davis.
Until next time Mr. H. I’m heading on a two-week vacation very soon. Don’t miss me too much!!!!!!! I will write to you when I return!!!!!
Your Biggest Fan,
P.S. In my opinion, this glamorous book deserves to be paired with something stunning!. Check out this scarf by Aggro Jo. The Gray Fox and Raspberry Trim compliment the cover of this bookmaking this a WINNING COMBINATION! Her line of scarves is flirty, classy, and gorgeous. These lightweight beauties are a joy to wear. I would be thrilled if someone gave me a copy of The Chelsea Girls by Fiona Davis paired with this awesome scarf. Ummmmmmmmmm, wouldn’t you!!!!!!!
WHOO-HOO Mr. H., the Queen of summer reading is back with another tale set on her Nantucket Island. Woodstock, man’s first moonwalk, and the Vietnam War were all part of America’s historical summer of 1969. Elin Hilderbrand’s new book, Summer of ‘69 is set during this wild time in our history. Hilderbrand tells the story of the Levin family, whose Nantucket lives are impacted by the highs and lows of this era. Fans of Hilderbrand will fall in love with her new historical fiction novel. Readers will go back in time to a Nantucket that existed in a different century but is still full of that same island charm. So put away your skinny jeans and pull out your bell-bottoms, you are boarding a ferry to Nantucket, circa 1969.
For as long as they can remember, the Levin family spent their summers vacationing on Nantucket at their grandmother’s house. During the summer of 1969, the four Levin siblings were all navigating the ever changing world around them while living a part. Blair is married and pregnant in Boston, Kirby is working on Martha’s Vineyard at an Inn, Tiger is a soldier in the Vietnam war and Jessie, the youngest, is stuck on Nantucket with her grandmother and mother. While her siblings are away living their adult lives, Jessie is left to deal with her overly anxious mother and uptight grandmother. Feeling lonely and neglected, Jessie tries to discover who she really is and what true love is all about. The plot thickens when some of her siblings pop back over to Nantucket unexpectedly. Jessie soon comes across some surprise family secrets that will change their lives forever.
Hilderbrand took a turbulent time in our history and weaved it into the stories of her main characters. Though she used the events that occurred during the summer of 1969 as her backdrop, she still managed to stay true to her roots, using themes of love, family and self discovery in her book. As always, there is family drama, secrets and a whole lot of summer magic to read about. The characters are spirited and lovable with storylines that live up to the time. I loved how Hilderbrand went back in history and wrote about the Civil Rights Movement, the impact of the Vietnam War and the Women’s Movement. For good measure, she even included Ted Kennedy’s Chappaquiddick car accident and the historical Apollo 11 lunar landing that forever changed space exploration.
What Hilderbrand proves over and over again in her new book, is just how timeless Nantucket really is. No matter the century, this small island always shines as a safe haven and a place that brings family back together. The Summer of ‘69 was another Hilderbrand slam dunk for me. Put this beauty in your beach bag and get reading!!!!!
Your Biggest Fan,
P.S. David Bowie’s song, Space Oddity debuted five days before the Apollo 11 mission in 1969. Though it was inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s movie, A Space Odyssey, it’s overall vibe was perfect for a landing on the moon!!!!!
I love reading historical fiction. History infused with a splash of fiction is my cup of tea. Instead of reading a boring straight-up history book, why not read about the past with some added color and a little bit of oomph. Well Mr. H., I just got my fix reading Whitney Scharer’s debut novel, The Age of Light. Her story follows real-life Lee Miller, Vogue model turned renowned photographer/war correspondent. This story sheds light on Miller’s steamy, yet thorny relationship with Surrealist artist and photographer, Man Ray. Taking place primarily during the late 1920s and early 1930s in Paris, this book is filled to the brim with starving artists, lovers, cafes, and cocktails galore. With writing that stuns and a book cover to match, Scharer delivers a decadent treat.
I have to be honest with you. I did not know who Lee Miller was before reading this. I may have heard Man Ray’s name in passing, but truly did not know who these people were. Scharer’s story is told from Miller’s perspective through multiple timelines. Though the story primarily takes place during Miller’s time in Paris, Scharer intertwines her story from the 1940’s as well. Miller graced the cover of Vogue magazine in 1927 and became the most sought after model in NYC at that time. As much as modeling was a huge part of her, Miller wanted to shift her focus to creating art as opposed to being art. She moved to Paris in the late 1920’s and became the student of the famous Man Ray. What started off as a working relationship, quickly became an affair to remember. Ray and Miller’s relationship was overflowing with passion and art. Miller’s journey to make a name for herself in the art world with her photography no doubt involved Ray. As much as she tried to break away on her own, her relationship with Ray was always present and ultimately had a huge impact on her career.
Scharer’s writing is totally captivating. The Age of Light sucked me in from the start. With Vogue magazine, Salvador Dali, Picasso and even mentions of Hemingway in the background, Scharer paints a lush and glamorous atmosphere that makes you feel like you are in a scene from a movie sipping a fabulous cocktail among Paris’s most artistic crowd. Scharer’s story shows off the intensity of Miller and Ray’s relationship. Though they adored one another, their feelings were overpowered by passion, egos and the need to get ahead in their own careers. The Age of Light portrayed Miller as a woman seeking independence and respect in a male dominated world. Her transformation from muse to photographer and what she had to do in order to walk out of Man Ray’s shadow was potent. Miller’s trek from the imaginative streets of Paris to the war-ravaged towns in Europe during the second World War, highlighted her resolution to be a distinguished photographer in her own right. The Age of Light is a moving story from start to finish. Not only did the ending of this story leave me craving for more information about this influential artist from the past, it also had me reaching for a tissue to blot my tearful eyes.
Go get your passports readers……….you are heading to Paris (with a few stops in between). Bon Voyage!!!!!!