The act of reading ... begins on a flat surface, counter or page, and then gets stirred and chopped and blended until what we make, in the end, is a dish, or story, all our own.
— Adam Gopnik

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

August 5, 2018

Old friends in new books

I've come to love books with recurring characters.  This started, I'm sure, with all of the series mysteries I read, but it's sometimes even more enjoyable to find them in other kinds of fiction, because it's less common. But they're there! -- in Anthony Trollope, in Angela Thirkell, and sometimes in Barbara Pym.

So, I was overjoyed when I heard that these two books were coming out, because their precursors -- Allison Pearson's I don't know how she does it (2003) and Marisa de los Santos' Love walked in (2005)  are long-time, special favorites of mine, and because it''s been such a long time since the original books came out. They were charming, and there were scenes in each that I've always remembered. I even decided to re-read (or, in both cases, re-listen) to the original books before the new ones arrived.  I was happy to see that I still enjoyed them - especially Love walked in, which had a brilliant This Is Us-esque moment that I had not remembered at all (and an especially good narration).

I don't usually write about books that I don't especially enjoy -- and that's not the case here, I enjoyed both of these, but in both cases I think the originals will stay with me longer than the sequels.  Allison Pearson's novels center on Kate Reddy, a hedge fund executive/working mother, and how she copes with both; in the new book, she is approaching her fiftieth birthday, her children are teenagers, her husband is trying to re-find himself, and, desperate for a job, Kate ends up working in a junior position at the fund she had founded in her earlier working days.  I think this book would have been much less appealing if I weren't reading it as a sequel, and there was a little too much (graphic) focus on Kate's struggles with perimenopause. 

Marisa de los Santos' series (there's another one in between these two) focus on the extended family that's created when Cornelia Brown, a young woman managing a Philadelphia coffee shop, ends up becoming a second mother to an eleven-year-old girl, Claire Hobbs. All of the characters she created are wonderfully drawn, and and there were plot twists and romantic entanglements to go with them. This new book opens on the day before Claire's wedding, as she meets Edith, a kind elderly lady who helps her realize that she doesn't want to marry her unstable fiance; when Edith dies and leaves her rambling ocean-side house to Claire, Claire sets out to unravel the mysteries in Edith's life.  It's a little darker, and I think I was disappointed because I wanted more of the other characters, especially Cornelia and Teo.

But both books had their good moments, and I'm glad I read them, if  only because they reminded me of how much I loved the originals. :)

How hard can it be?, by Allison Pearson
St. Martin's Press, 2018

Borrowed from the library

I'll be your blue sky, by Marisa de los Santos
William Morrow, 2018
Borrowed from the library

1 comment:

JoAnn said...

A visit with old friends is always good... even if they've changed a little. My oldest daughter loved the Marisa de los Santos series. I'll be sure to mention the new one to her :)

Thank you for visiting!

Card Catalog

#6barsets #emma200th #maisie #Middlemarchin2019 #PalliserParty #Woolfalong A.A. Milne Agatha Christie Alexander McCall Smith Allison Pearson Amy Lowell Angela Thirkell Ann Bridge Anne Perry Anthony Trollope Anticipation Armchair Travels Art Audiobooks Barbara Pym Biography Bloomsbury Bookish things Boston British Library Crime Classics Cambridge Cathleen Schine Charles Dickens Coffee-table books Cookbooks D.E. Stevenson Deborah Crombie Donna Leon Dorothy L. Sayers Dorothy Whipple E.H. Young E.M. Delafield E.M. Forster Edith Wharton Elinor Lipman Elizabeth Gaskell Elizabeth Jenkins Elizabeth Taylor Elizabeth von Arnim Ellizabeth Taylor Emily Dickinson Ernest Hemingway Essays Eudora Welty Fanny Burney Fiction Films Food from Books Food Writing Found on a Blog George Eliot Georgette Heyer Gertrude Stein Helen Ashton Henry James History Homes and Haunts Ideas Imogen Robertson Isabella Stewart Gardner Jacqueline Winspear Jane Austen Joanna Trollope Julia Child Language Laurie Colwin Letters Library Books Literature Louise Andrews Kent Louise Penny M.F.K. Fisher Madame Bovary Madame de Sévigné Madame de Staël Margaret Kennedy Margery Sharp Martha Grimes Mary Shelley Memoirs Miss Read My Year with Edith Mysteries Nathaniel Hawthorne Nonfiction Nook Only Connect P.D. James Paris in July Persephones Plays Poetry Pride and Prejudice 200 Queen Victoria R.I.P. Reading England 2015 Ruth Rendell Sarah Orne Jewett Short Stories Susan Hill Switzerland Sylvia Beach Team Middlemarch The 1924 Club The Brontës the Carlyles The Classics Club Thomas Hardy Virago Virginia Woolf Washington Irving Willa Cather William Maxwell Winifred Peck Winifred Watson