Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Favorite Reads of 2015

As a writer for Shelf Awareness, I read and review at least three titles per month. Plus, I also read books for my own pleasure (although there is never enough time!)  Below are some of my favorite reads from 2015:


Act of God by Jill Ciment: The premise of Ciment's novel may seem zany--a fungus overtakes Brooklyn and affects the lives of two elderly sisters--but the absurdity serves to offer insights into the human condition in the modern world.
Crow Fair: Stories by Thomas McGuane:  Montana is McGuane's terrain, and this master of the short story form tackles the quirky bonds of friendship and family with a wry, comic edge and a host of "surprise" endings.
Days of Awe by Lauren Fox:  Fox's novel, infused with wit, centers on a woman's sudden death and how it challenges her best friend to reassess the meaning of her life, her marriage, motherhood and the possibility of a second chance at love.
Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart:  This imaginative, historical-based, true-crime novel takes place in Paterson, New Jersey in 1914 and is about three sisters (one of whom was a female sheriff) who took on the Mob...and all that that entails!
Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee:  If this novel truly reveals Lee's original intent--before it was rewritten for more commercial, mass appeal as To Kill a Mockingbird--then this pared-down story about a woman confronting racial intolerance and discrimination in her Southern hometown and in her family shines on its own merit.
Like Family by Paolo Giordano: This short, beautifully written novel, translated from Italian and inspired by real events from the author's life, is a gentle, moving story about an older woman who becomes a nanny and confidante to a family of three and how her presence changes their lives.
Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf: It's never too late to love...In this tender, understated, short novel, aging widowers--who have known each other for decades, but who live alone and have "no one to talk to"--form a deep bond of friendship and true intimacy that ultimately sparks controversy in their small town and amid their families.
Valley Fever by Katherine Taylor: Taylor delivers a bittersweet, entertaining story about a heartbroken, disillusioned young woman who returns home to a vineyard in Fresno, California in order to find herself—and untangle the vines of family and fortune.
The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes: Keyes' distinctive, clever brand of humor is in top form as her novel traces the life of an Irish beautician who is transformed by a mysterious illness and a charismatic neurologist who changes her life.
Boys in the Trees: A Memoir by Carly Simon: The Queen of Top Forty tells all about her life from childhood to family secrets, romances and even the creative inspiration behind her hit, "You're so Vain."
Drinking in America: Our Secret History by Susan Cheever: Cheever presents a riveting, well-conceived and well-balanced portrait about the history--good and bad--of one of America's favorite pastimes.
A History of Baseball in 100 Objects by Josh Leventhal: It's like visiting a well-conceived museum exhibit between the covers of a book...Leventhal presents a wide-range of interesting artifacts relating to every era of the game.
The Time of Our Lives: Collected Writings by Peggy Noonan:  Noonan is a columnist for the Wall Street Journal, and this collection offers her reflections and impressions of life in the USA--and beyond--over several decades. Compelling food-for-thought for Conservatives and Liberals, alike.
My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout: In spare prose, Strout (Pulitzer Prize-winner for Olive Kitteridge) crafts a luminous, moving novel about a writer who looks back at pivotal experiences in her past that ultimately shaped her sense of self and her destiny.
Happy Reading in 2016!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Merry Christmas!

How would the world be different--beyond spirituality and religion;
in a cultural sense--if Jesus Christ had never been born?

Wednesday, December 23, 2015
Opinion/Editorial: "Other Views/ Guest Columnist" (Section A-13)

To read the article in its entirety, click on the highlighted title above

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Elin Hilderbrand: A Summer Novelist Tackles Winter

The Writer's Life

photo: Laurie Richards
Twenty-two years ago, Elin Hilderbrand sublet her Manhattan apartment where, after college, she'd been living and working in publishing and as a teacher, and spent the summer on the island of Nantucket off the coast of Massachusetts. "The second my ferry pulled into the harbor I thought, I'm never going back (to New York)," she says. Ever since, this bestselling author has called Nantucket home, on the page and off--all of Hilderbrand's 16 novels are set on the island. Hilderbrand has been labeled "the Queen of the Summer Novel"; her fans expect a new book from her every summer, featuring ensemble casts of characters, the complexities of contemporary family life and romantic entanglements.

In 2014, Hilderbrand published her second novel of the year, Winter Street, a story about the Quinns, a large dysfunctional family that gathers on Nantucket for Christmas and faces unexpected surprises. In Winter Stroll (see my review below), Hilderbrand reunites the Quinn family as they face new familial complications and partake in holiday festivities particular to Nantucket.

Did you plan to write a Christmas series of books?
In the summer of 2013, my publisher, Little, Brown, had a book fall off their winter list, and they asked if I could write a Christmas book in four weeks. I said, "No!" But it got me thinking about Christmas novels, and I came up with the idea of the Winter Street Inn and the Quinn family. I knew I wanted it to be a trilogy, but it took the first book for me to convince my publisher.

Why should readers want to read your "Winter" series when they've grown so accustomed to your "Summer" novels?
The Christmas books give a whole new aspect to life on Nantucket. It happens to be one of the most charming places in America to celebrate the holidays. In Winter Stroll, I tried to incorporate the fun aspects of Nantucket's annual holiday festivities, including Winter Stroll Weekend, where Nantucket becomes a winter wonderland. At the Festival of Trees party, the Whaling Museum is all adorned and decked out, and island businesses and organizations decorate 100 Christmas trees. Nantucket restaurants and people--year-rounders and summer residents--dress up and kick off the Christmas season in style.

How did you create the Quinn family for the series?
I knew I wanted a large, blended family--a man with a wife and an ex-wife, with children by each. I myself have two older boys, then a girl. So I used that combination from my own life in the story, and I added the character of Bart, who is deployed to Afghanistan, to the creative mix. Bart is the son by the second Quinn wife.

Your books often juggle multiple story threads and characters.
Yes, I wait to see what my characters will do once I create them. It's always surprising.

Do you have a favorite character from the "Winter" novels?
Hands down, my favorite character is Kelley Quinn's first wife, Margaret Quinn, who is the anchor of the CBS Evening News. I love Margaret because she is a working mother and at the time that I started writing this novel, I was so absorbed with work that I suffered from mom guilt. I wanted to write a novel where the working mother came in to save the day, where the working mother was the hero.

In Winter Stroll, you mention that Ava (the music teacher) despises the Christmas song "Jingle Bells." Is this a personal dislike of yours?
All music is personal and our predilections are inexplicable. I hate "Jingle Bells." Hate it. I was able to vent this particular dislike in the character of Ava.

You've been writing two books a year. Is it hard to do?
Yes, it's an insane work schedule! I began writing two books a year with Winter Street. I have two down, one to go in the "Winter" series. And then I hope to reclaim my life and go back to one book a year.

Do you have a favorite novel among those you've written?
My favorite of recent novels is Summerland, which takes place at Nantucket High School. My favorite character is Hobby. If you want to understand why, you really have to read the book.

Which is the most difficult novel you've written?
Silver Girl, but in some way each novel gets progressively harder because my job is to write the same thing and yet something completely different. It's a tall order.

Have you ever had the urge to revisit characters from your prior novels?
Yes, I'm considering writing a murder novel called "N" and bringing back characters from the past 10 books.

You are a breast cancer survivor. Did that affect your writing?
The only connection between my cancer and my writing is that the writing kept me focused and occupied during a very trying time. I wrote The Rumor all throughout my illness, surgeries and treatment. I have to admit, I look back and I can't believe I kept going.

You graduated from the "literature-based" writing programs at Johns Hopkins and the University of Iowa. How did you come to write commercial women's fiction?
I wrote short stories while at Iowa. When I graduated, however, it was pretty clear there wasn't really a market for stories. I needed to write a novel, and I wanted to write one set on Nantucket. From there came my idea for my first published novel, The Beach Club--and the modern beach book was born. I don't think in terms of literary or commercial. I think of writing about people and the place that I love better than anywhere on earth.

Do you think you'll ever write a novel not set in Nantucket?
My novels will always be set primarily on Nantucket, although the one I'm writing now is also set in New York City, Kentucky and L.A. And on deck... a novel about Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard.

Would you be willing to offer readers a glimpse into your next "Summer" novel?
Sure. It's called Here's to Us, and it's about a very famous, very successful and very tormented Manhattan chef who kills himself on page one. His three ex-wives and their children come to Nantucket to the house he impulsively bought in order to spread his ashes.

Note: This interview is a reprint and is being posted with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this Q&A as originally published on Shelf Awareness  (10/23/15), click HERE 

Winter Stroll

Family and holiday traditions are at the center of Winter Stroll, book two in Elin Hilderbrand's Winter Street series. In this installment, the Quinn family reunites in Nantucket on Thanksgiving weekend, when Kelley Quinn, the twice-married family patriarch and father of four, once again hosts his ex-wives, as many of his children as can make it, their children and several significant others at his iconic Winter Street Inn. All have gathered to celebrate "Winter Stroll," an annual Nantucket festival to kick off the Christmas season, and to attend the baptism of a new addition to this large, complicated and dysfunctional family.

Personal baggage and romantic difficulties abound for Kelley and his offspring: Patrick, a once successful financier, is now serving prison time; Bart, a soldier, is still missing in action in Afghanistan; Ava, a local music teacher, is having second thoughts about her relationship with the school principal; and an old flame returns to taunt Kevin, who thought he finally had his life back on track. Add Margaret, Kelley's first wife--a high-profile television journalist--and her commitment-phobic doctor beau, and eccentric Mitzy, Kelley's estranged second wife, to the mix, and the ante goes up for feuds and dramatic complications.

Hilderbrand (The Rumor) juggles an ensemble cast and successfully weaves together many bittersweet story threads, tying up just enough of them to keep readers anticipating another sequel. Despite some characters being at odds with each other, the Quinns--a large, complicated, dysfunctional family--prove to be a close-knit, unified and loyal bunch, who truly love each other and stick together through the joys and challenges of life. 

Little Brown and Company, $25.00 Hardcover, 9780316261135, 272 pp
Publication Date: October 13, 2015
To order via INDIEBOUND link HERE

Note: This review is a reprint and is being posted (in a slightly different form) with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (10/23/15), click HERE

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Short Story America : Volume IV

I am pleased and honored that one of my short stories was a finalist for the Short Story America Prize. The coordinators of the prize and T.D. Johnston (writer/editor) have compiled 33 notable entries and gathered them in one amazing collection.  

In my story, "Revival," a second wife goes to great lengths to help her dying husband. I wrote this story--a story I treasure--during a very challenging time. It was my way to escape the "drama" of my own life.

To learn more about the anthology and to order the volume, link HERE

Happy Reading...Enjoy!

Short Story America (Volume IV): 33 Great Contemporary Short Stories
Edited by T. D. Johnston
Short Story America Press, $25.00 Paperback, 9780988249783, 285 pp
Publication Date: October 1, 2015
To order this book via INDIEBOUND link HERE

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Letters to Santa Claus by "The Elves"

For years, letters addressed to Santa Claus have been shipped to Santa Claus, Ind., where a staff of dedicated town volunteers, "elves," process and answer over 400,000 pieces of mail every December.

The book gathers more than 250 scanned letters and documents from the 1930s to the present. Material wish lists reflect the times--from Shirley Temple dolls to Apple gift cards--and the letters are telling and confessional. A "good little bad boy" admits he's been a "real louse," pouring Tabasco instead of chocolate syrup on his brother's ice cream.  A humble little girl only wants "some shoes...with heels" for her depressed single mother.  Another asks for a time machine to "fix all the bad things that have happened to me." A 6 year-old wants Santa to bring his ex-con father a job. A dog, abandoned by housemates, wants his favorite treats. A Braille letter from a blind, Filipino girl asks for a radio.  There are others boldly seeking mates, money, lingerie and legal aid.

Some lists are long and typed, others short: "I want my dad to be smarter" (102); "Can my mom come home from the hospital?" Questions about reindeer, chimneys and coal abound, as do apologies and vows toward better behavior. Some dangle prospects of Christmas Eve sweet treats to entice Santa—one promises beer and a liverwurst sandwich.  This well-presented, historical collection--reflecting both the naughty and nice--will entertain and offer insights into the human condition. And it's even been reported that a reader spotted her own letter to Santa in mix! Might yours be included?

Indiana University Press, 20.00 Hardcover, 9780253017932, 224 pp
Publication Date: October 5, 2015
To order this book via INDIEBOUND link HERE

Note: This review is a reprint and is being posted (in a slightly different form) with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (10/27/15), link HERE

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

Kings River Life Magazine has featured one of my mystery short stories in their Thanksgiving issue. "Last Licks" is bound to make you sit up and take notice of the potatoes on your Thanksgiving table in a whole new way. The story can be read online for free. See the link below...Enjoy!

"Last Licks" is a featured in the anthology, THE KILLER WORE CRANBERRY (mystery series) published by Untreed Reads.  The book is available for purchase wherever ebooks are sold. 

To learn more, link HERE

Last Licks
Kathleen Gerard

I didn’t know what hit me. All of a sudden there was a thud! and a wet splat! that triggered everything to go flying everywhere—atop the sparkly crystals of the gently swaying chandelier; the steaming gravy boat that sat alongside that big, trussed up bird, half of it carved up on a platter; the beads of sweat rolling down the glass water pitcher; and even onto the cheek of this runny-nosed kid, who was sitting in a highchair across from the scene of the crime. After it happened, there was silence. Nobody moved. Nobody breathed. Every face looked at every other face, pale and stunned. But it wasn’t until one of the tall, wax tapered candles singed and launched a curly ribbon of smoke in its wake, and that snot-nosed kid started crying, that I knew things were bad. Real bad. And here I was, just a few forkfuls away from cleaning up in the betting pool.

It’s a long story that started back when we were surrounded by this oppressive darkness. There was lots of it. The two of us, Spud and me, we had been stuck in a heap for three months, covered by mounds of well-drained, moist-textured soil that smelled of clay and compost. It was a small plot of land tended by folks who had way too much time on their hands and believed in tomorrow. Every morning, noon and night, I could feel their determined footsteps trampling all over us. The ground quaked with their hard work and ambition. The heavier one wore clod-hopper boots whose soles sank into the earth like dull spikes. He got down on his knees and dimly mumbled his prayers aloud while he dug in the dirt until his fingernails turned black...

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Dog that Saved Stewart Coolidge

Novelist Jim Kraus has been steadily building a brand writing heartwarming stories that explore the impact domestic animals have on the human experience—and vice-versa. In The Dog that Saved Stewart Coolidge, he crafts a story about twentysomethings struggling to carve out their own niches in the world and how a stray dog brings them together.

The book opens when a loose dog sneaks into the Tops Super Market in the small town of Wellsboro, Pa., and successfully steals a rawhide bone from the pet aisle. When the bone-wielding bandit starts returning regularly to the scene of the crime to make additional heists, Stewart Coolidge, a recent college graduate who can't find a job and works as a grocery store bagger, is enlisted by the store owner to catch the elusive thief. The recurring incidents soon become the talk of the town. Whose dog is it and where did he come from? When a local (and conniving) used car dealer decides to capitalize on the situation--and offers a reward for the dog, which he falsely claims is his own--Stewart, in his quest to wrangle up the stray, joins forces with Lisa, his neighbor, also a recent college grad with journalism ambitions, who works at the local coffee house.

While Stewart tries to capture the renegade dog, Lisa begins to cover the story for the town news. In their pursuit, the two become friends. But will their past heartbreaks and disappointments in life and love keep them from being honest with each other and prevent their friendship from blossoming into romance?

When the vagabond canine criminal, whom Lisa and Stewart come to call Hubert (named after The Patron Saint of Dogs), eventually shows up at the apartment house where Lisa and Stewart live--and Stewart decides to secretly take Hubert in--the dog's presence and his mischievous actions deepen the couple's relationship and things grow even more complicated around town. What repercussions will occur in harboring a four-legged fugitive?

Details of small town life ring with authenticity, along with the stresses young people face in meeting the expectations of others and finding and taking their places in the world while remaining true to themselves. Kraus (The Dog that Talked to God) presents a lovable cast of townsfolk and a suspenseful plot that is ultimately infused with a faith-based message that unites the spiritual themes of this wholesome, feel-good story.  

FaithWords, $14.99 Paperback, 9781455562541, 336 pp
Publication Date: October 27, 2015
To order this book via INDIEBOUND link HERE

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Owls: Our Most Charming Bird

Artist and avid ornithologist, Matt Sewell, has built a brand writing and distinctively illustrating informative, yet accessibly appealing books about birds. In Our Garden Birds and Our Songbirds, he presented two volumes, each exploring 52 favorite species from England—one bird for each week of the year. In Owls: Our Most Charming Bird, Sewell branches out beyond Great Britain and offers a world-wide compendium of various owls: multi-faceted, nocturnal birds of prey. Watercolors rendered in Pop-Art style and concise, lively prose highlight the individuality of 50 different species of owls that are indigenous to diverse regions of the world.

Sewell explores Woodland varieties like the Northern Saw-whet Owl--native to North America--which is "smaller-than-a-blackbird and fluffier-than-a-three-week-old Labrador" and has "pleading, puppy-dog eyes" etched with a permanent look of surprise. The Great Gray Owl, with a head like a "geodesic dome inhabited by a bunch of strung-out hippies," is considered a Wilderness variety that is a stealthy hunter built to survive in northern, glacial environments. The Elf Owl is one of the smallest that loves cacti and inhabits Wild West deserts of the USA and Mexico. While the Crested Owl is indigenous to tropical Central and South American climates and has eyebrows that appear like "incredible appendages" that serve to aid his camouflage efforts when pretending to be a branch.

This playful, well-conceived collection enhances--and also shatters--myths and folklores surrounding these "all-seeing, all-knowing" mysterious and imperious bird-hunters and proves fiercely entertaining and enriching in the process.

Ten Speed Press, $12.99 Hardcover, 9781607748793, 128 pp
Publication Date: September 22, 2015
To order this book via INDIEBOUND link HERE

Note: This review is a reprint and is being posted (in a slightly different form) with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (10/2/15), link HERE

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Harriet Wolf's Seventh Book of Wonders

Stories--in real life and in fiction--take on lives of their own in Julianna Baggott's, Harriet Wolf's Seventh Book of Wonders. This sensitively rendered, well-balanced novel is told via four, female points-of-view. At the heart is Harriet Wolf, a reclusive, revered author of six adventurous novels featuring two characters, Daisy and Weldon, who fall in love with each other as children and as they age, from book to book, are "separated by wars and disasters, by acts of God and calamities of the heart. When they finally reunite they suffer." Harriet died before the seventh book was published, yet enamored readers believe it would've revealed whether the entire series "was a tragedy or a love story, whether humanity is basically good or doomed."

Harriet's daughter, Eleanor—a mother with two adult daughters of her own—despises and resents her mother's success and having had to share Harriet with the world. When Eleanor suffers a mild heart attack, her own fractured nuclear family reunites. This includes Ruth—married to a Harriett Wolf scholar, but trying to lead a "normal" life while estranged from the family for 14 years—and Tilton—a sheltered, "special needs" shut-in—who shared an intimate bond with her grandmother and made a pact with her regarding the rumored seventh book. With Eleanor ailing, is it time for Tilton to finally expose the mystery surrounding Harriet's last book?

With keen insight, Baggott (Burn) offers an original, richly textured story infused with dark secrets, promises, loyalties, love stories and the psychological complexities of family dynamics across generations.

Little, Brown and Company, $26.00 Hardcover, 9780316375108, 336 pp
Publication Date: August 18, 2015
To order this book via INDIEBOUND link HERE

Note: This review is a reprint and is being posted (in a slightly different form) with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (9/1/15), link HERE

Sunday, September 27, 2015

First Pages in Fiction: The Sea Keeper's Daughters

In this continuing series, "Novel Beginnings," I dissect first paragraphs of novels and show how the opening of a book sets the foundation for what's to follow in terms of tone, character and story intent. In this installment, we'll explore  The Sea Keeper's Daughters by Lisa Wingate. Here are the opening paragraphs:

Perhaps denial is the mind's way of protecting the heart from a sucker punch it can't handle. Or maybe it's simpler than that. Maybe denial is the face of overwhelming evidence is a mere byproduct of stubbornness.

Whatever the reason, all I could think standing in the doorway, one hand on the latch and the other trembling on the keys, was, This can't be happening. This can't be how it ends. It's so…quiet. A dream should make noise when it's dying. It deserves to go out in a tragic blaze of glory. There should be a dramatic death scene, a gasping for breath…something.

Denise laid a hand on my shoulder, whispered, "Are you all right?" Her voice faded at the end, cracking into jagged pieces.

"No." A hard, bitter tone sharpened the cutting edge on the word. It wasn't aimed at Denise. She knew that. "Nothing about this is all right. Not one single thing."

"Yeah." Resting against the doorframe, she let her neck go slack until her cheek touched the wood. "I'm not sure if it's better or worse to stand here looking at it, though. For the last time, I mean."

"We put our hearts into this place…" Denial reared its unreasonable head again. I would've called it hope, but if it was hope, it was false and paper-thin kind. The kind that only teases you...

Wingate launches her story with a profound statement about denial. And the paragraphs that follow bring an immediate sense of intimacy. Notice, however, the use of the words "death," "bitter," "hard," and "sharpening." This speaker is not happy and is grappling, but the philosophical nature of the opening sentences reveal the speaker to be wistful and sensitive. The speaker (not sure if it's a man or a woman) is taking a last look at a place that was obviously dear to her/him. Readers don't know what--or where--that place is, but intrigue deepens, especially when Denise offers a gentle touch and then breaks the speaker's reverie to ask, "Are you all right?" Denise's actions and words--and the conversation that ensues--gives the reader a sense that she is a friend and confidante, and she has a stake, along with the speaker, in something that is coming to a close or someplace these two people will have to leave. The speaker's "hard, bitter" response indicates that she is not a willful participant in whatever change is taking place. And thus, this story begins at the end of something.  

If you're familiar with books by Lisa Wingate (this novel is actually the third in her series of Carolina-based stories; read my review of The Prayer Box), you already know she writes multi-generational, dual time-frame novels of domestic fiction, where she often merges two story threads—a present-day story with a story from the past. You'd have to keep reading this novel to see how this opening scene serves to launch the journey of Whitney Monroe, a high-end (yet struggling) restaurant owner in Michigan who comes from a complicated family. When Whitney's elderly, estranged stepfather takes ill, she travels to the Outer Banks of North Carolina to be with him. He lives at the Excelsior, a famed hotel from the Gilded Age, which he also owns. (Whitney will one day inherit the hotel.) While Whitney is in residence, memories from her childhood are evoked, and she also discovers family heirlooms and letters exchanged between her grandmother and a relative Whitney never knew existed. In reading the letters and experiencing incidents involved, Whitney questions her family and heritage, and she is forced to confront issues of race, politics, identity and secrets.

Wingate once again writes an intriguing, multi-layered story where her main character must take a physical journey in order to trek deeper into the recesses of her soul.

Tyndale House Publishers, $19.99 Hardcover, 9781414388274, 448 pp
Publication Date: September 8, 2015
To order this book via INDIEBOUND link HERE

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Woman Who Stole My Life

In The Woman Who Stole My Life, Marian Keyes delivers a warm and positive--at times hilarious--read about the effects of serious illness.

The story is told by charming and chatty, Stella Sweeney--age "forty-one and a quarter"--and the account of what happened when she was a 37 year-old Irish beautician; the wife of a "successful but creatively unfulfilled" bathroom designer; and mother of two rebellious teenagers. Stella's life was humbly ordinary until a strange illness overtook her, making her paralyzed and mute. The diagnosis, Guillain-Barre syndrome--a rare, yet usually temporary, autoimmune disorder--attacks the nervous system. Stella, mentally attentive, remained confined to an I.C.U. The only way she could communicate was via blinking, and the only person who understood her was her handsome neurologist, Dr. Mannix Taylor. During her long hospital stay, the two bond and share intimate details about their lives.

After her arduous recovery, an American tabloid publishes a photo of the Vice-President's wife reading a self-help book called One Blink at a Time—Stella's story, complete with clever, stoic aphorisms she spouted during her ordeal. Stella is surprised to learn it was self-published, behind her back, by dreamy Dr. Taylor. The exposure brings Stella instant international fame and fortune—and the possibility of new love. But at what price?

Keyes (The Mystery of Mercy Close) depicts the realities of illness for the patient and all involved.  Her comic take on Stella's journey--coupled with her distinctive brand of humor and wit--showcases her imagination in top form.

The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes
Viking, $27.95 Hardcover, 9780525429258, 464 pp
Publication Date: July 7, 2015
To order this book via INDIEBOUND link HERE

Note: This review is a reprint and is being posted (in a slightly different form) with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (7/24/15), link HERE