Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Meg and Jo

A perfect read for those who just can’t get enough of the March sisters! 

This is a lively, hip, 21st-century reinvention of Louisa May Alcott's beloved classic about the tight-knit March family.

Virginia Kantra (Carolina Dreaming) energetically reinvents Louisa May Alcott's classic novel Little Women. Kantra relocates the March family from New England to bucolic 21st-century Bunyan, N.C. Mother "Marmee" struggles to maintain the artisanal goat-cheese-producing family farm, while Father March, a pastor-preacher, is away serving as an army chaplain and military missionary activist.

Part of the story is filtered through Jo, a single 28-year-old journalist in search of a job, living in New York City. She works as a prep cook at an upscale eatery while secretly blogging about the food industry. When the tattooed, Michelin-star chef-owner of the restaurant takes a shine to her, she fears the consequences of mixing business with pleasure. The other half of the story is narrated by Meg, a devoted wife and stay-at-home mother of twins, whose life is deeply rooted in Bunyan. Is she truly fulfilled? While the other two March sisters pursue their own aspirations--Beth, chasing a career in the Branson, Mo., music business, and Amy in Paris, intent on becoming a fashionista--Marmee suddenly takes ill. Responsible Meg picks up the slack, faced with choices that might upend her sensible life and affect those of the family, as well.

Kantra retains Alcott's basic story blueprint and the essence of her unforgettable characters, including the irrepressible Aunt Phee and Trey, an updated take on Theodore "Laurie" Laurence. The narrative successfully weaves in provocative contemporary values and references, delivering a modern-day story--with bold new twists--that explores timeless themes of love, romance and the bonds of family.

Meg and Jo (A Novel) by Virginia Kantra

Berkley, $16.00 Paperback, 9780593100349, 400 pages

Publication Date: December 3, 2019

To order this book on INDIEBOUND, link HERE

NOTE: This review is a reprint and is being posted with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (January 17, 2020), link HERE

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Recipe for a Perfect Wife

A powerful, thought-provoking story about the choices that ultimately come to define and liberate two women who lived 60 years apart.
Characters often face difficult choices--and learn how to live with the consequences--in the novels of Karma Brown (TheChoices We Make). In Recipe for a Perfect Wife, she continues this theme, chronicling the lives of two women who lived nearly 60 years apart.
In 2018, 29-year-old Alice Hale and her husband, Nate, move from a "shoebox-size" apartment in the Murray Hill section of Manhattan to a sprawling colonial house in Greenville, a suburban town "less than an hour's train ride from the city and yet an entirely different world." Alice has apprehensions about the retro fixer-upper, but nevertheless makes the adjustment.
While Nate commutes to his city job, Alice, having left her career and friends behind to write a novel, feels a deep loneliness. When she finds a vintage cookbook in the basement and begins whipping up some of the recipes, her anxiety and depression start to lift. She becomes intrigued and wants to find out all she can about Nellie Murdoch, the previous owner of the cookbook and the house.
As Alice learns more about Nellie's life, she faces unexpected crises that force her to rethink choices she's made, secrets she's kept and actions she may need to take in the future. Patriarchal dilemmas abound for both women. Yet, through the wisdom evoked by revelations in Nellie's life story, Alice is suddenly inspired and empowered better to deal with her own challenges.
Strong, well-drawn women anchor Brown's deeply thought-provoking, feminist novel. The spellbinding dual stories complement each other, raising themes of self-discovery, self-preservation and liberation for two women living eras apart.
Recipe for a Perfect Wife (A Novel) by Karma Brown
Dutton, $26.00 Hardcover, 9781524744939, 336 pages
Publication Date: December 31, 2019
To order this book on INDIEBOUND, link HERE

NOTE: This review is a reprint and is being posted with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (January 10, 2020), link HERE

To read the longer form of this review as published on Shelf Awareness for the Book Trade (December 6, 2019), link HERE