Hello from the Connecticut coast! After driving up from Florida and negative COVID testing, we spent a couple of weeks with my parents and siblings in central NY. But then, in a year that's already been completely crazy, our move to CT was delayed when the house we're renting lost power following Hurricane Isaias. We are finally here and settled, Twin A has joined us as she continues to work from home, and Daughter #1 and her boyfriend are visiting for the weekend. Spending all this time with family is one positive result of these crazy times.
I have found the Covid response in the northeast to be very different from what we left in Florida or encountered in North Carolina during our 36-hour stop. With very rare exception, everyone in central NY and CT is wearing a mask and social distancing... in stores, waiting for outdoor seating or service at restaurants, pumping gas, and even walking along downtown city/village streets. Most people do not wear masks, but maintain social distance, outdoors while walking, running, or biking on neighborhood streets. It's such a relief.
Our plan is to remain in CT until later in September, then visit family in NY again before returning to FL at the beginning of October.
Now let's move on to the books. Here's what I've read lately:
The Daughters of Erietown by Connie Schultz
I loved this book! The novel begins in 1950s Ohio when Ellie and Brick are teenagers in love, then goes on to chronicle their lives together and the lives of their children. It tells a story of working-class America, issues faced by their communities, and changing roles for women. I couldn't turn the 400 pages fast enough, yet didn't want it to end either.
Schultz, the wife of Ohio senator Sherrod Brown, is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and has published collections of her syndicated columns. This is her first novel. I borrowed the ebook from the library, then realized the audio version was narrated by Cassandra Campbell (a favorite), so I borrowed that, too. Read or listen, just don't miss this one. It'll be on my list of favorites at the end of the year!
by Mary Trump, narrated by the author
As sick as I am of everything Trump, I could not resist using an audible credit to download this book the day it was released. Why? Because I craved a deeper understanding of the man sitting in the Oval Office... how in the world did he get to be the way he is? Mary Trump, as a family member (daughter of Donald's eldest brother) and a clinical psychologist, is uniquely qualified to tell the story.
The story is both fascinating and deeply disturbing. Mary Trump is a good writer and a good narrator, but my one complaint is that the book is probably longer than it needed to be. It could have been an excellent extended article or essay, but 'tis the season for Trump books... and this one might just be the best!
Beach Read by Emily Henry
This was a cute, fun novel. A romance writer, who learns of her father's infidelity after his death, has become disillusioned with love. She inherits his beach house and discovers a handsome literary author currently suffering from writers block is her next door neighbor. They create a writerly competition of sorts to help them both out of their respective ruts and, naturally, a relationship blooms.
I appreciated the bookish angle, but this was a bit "romance-y" for my taste. Still, it was an enjoyable summer read overall.
by Erica Bauermeister, narrated by Tavia Gilbert
I first heard about this book on From the Front Porch Podcast, one of my regular listens, hosted by Annie Jones, owner of The Bookshelf in Thomasville, Georgia. It's a recently released memoir-in-essays by Erica Bauermeister, author of The School of Essential Ingredients and other novels, written as she and her husband fall in love with, purchase, and renovate an old house in Port Townsend, Washington.
As most of you know, we also purchased and began renovating a house last fall, so this book sounded irresistible to me. Of course our project was nowhere near as extensive (or expensive!) as Bauermeister's, but I still adored these essays. The publisher's description says it perfectly:
A personal, accessible, and literary exploration of the psychology of architecture, this book is designed for homeowners, remodelers, and those who are simply curious about how our built environments shape who we become.
by Linda Holmes
This was another light read, but I didn't enjoy it as much as Beach Read. Evvie Drake is a thirty-something widow who was in the process of leaving her husband as her phone rings to inform her that he's been in a serious automobile accident. He dies while she is en route to the hospital. She is left with conflicted feelings about widowhood. Enter a young, handsome, NY Yankees pitcher (a friend of a friend) who has mysteriously lost his ability to pitch and wants to flee the city temporarily. Naturally Evvie has an available apartment in her Maine home. The rest goes exactly as you might expect.
Bottom line... entertaining, enjoyable, and predictable but ultimately forgettable. Maybe it's time for me to get back to more serious fiction.
What's happening with you these days? Have you read any great books?