Sunday, July 18, 2021

The Sunday Salon: Summer Vacation Begins!


Here we are in Connecticut! In late June, we spent most of a week driving up from Florida, visiting friends and family. Along the way, we discovered a new-found love of Chapel Hill, NC and an urge to further explore Beaufort, SC. We ended up in Central New York where we spent two and a half  weeks with my parents... and loved every second of it!

Now we are at our rental in Connecticut... a charming cottage near the shore. I envision many happy hours reading on the porch or walking down the street to sit by the shoreline!


RECENT READING

by George Packer, narrated by the author

This insightful and thought-provoking book examines our current national situation, how we got here, compares it to past times of turmoil, and offers thoughts on a path forward. I read Packer's The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America in 2017 and was interested in what he had to say about where things stand today.

I kept coming back to the idea that the destruction of a shared reality has done the most damage.

I listened to the audiobook, read by the author, but there was a lot to digest. I plan to purchase a print copy to reread and have also signed up for a free virtual event with the author at a nearby indie.




Morningside Heights by Joshua Henkin

I'd never read Joshua Henkin and was thrilled to receive this ebook in a Goodreads giveaway. There was so much to enjoy... the NYC setting, complicated family dynamics, and interesting, well-drawn characters. But what I found most fascinating was how Henkin portrays the stress and changing dynamics of a marriage in which one partner develops a serious progressive illness.

Pru Steiner arrives in NYC in the late 1970s, falls in love with and marries her young Shakespeare professor at Columbia, Spence Robin. They have a daughter together and Spence has a son (with whom he has minimal interaction) from a prior marriage. While still in his 50s Spence is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's disease.

The novel is written with striking tenderness and compassion. It is heart-breaking, funny at times, and filled with love. I look forward to exploring Henkin's backlist.




The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller

This just-released (July 6) debut novel is the type of character-driven story I tend to love. With complicated family dynamics, complex characters, and a secret or two, I was completely engaged from the very beginning. The name "Paper Palace" refers to a rustic family compound/camp on Cape Code and the author takes full advantage of that setting with lush descriptions of the physical landscape throughout the novel. The structure adds even more interest. Most of the action takes place over a single weekend, but we gather the backstory through a series of frequent flashbacks. I really enjoyed the writing, too. My only complaint, and it's a big one, is the ending. It left me scratching my head in aggravation... ugh.




by Alexander Lobrano, narrated by Robert Fass

I finished this audio memoir for Paris in July yesterday and will write about it in a separate post. It was, as the title promises, delicious!


CURRENT READING

Count the Ways by Joyce Maynard

Diane convinced me to try Joyce Maynard and I was thrilled when this library hold arrived a couple of days ago. Just a chapter or two in, but am enjoying it already!


by Patrick Radden Keefe, narrated by the author

I started this audiobook on my walk this morning. It's over 18 hours long and will take a while to finish, but it's already captured my interest.



The week ahead//

One of our daughters is taking the train up from NYC later this afternoon. She is working remotely this week and will stay through next weekend. The other NYC daughter will arrive with her boyfriend on Friday, and will stay for the rest of the month. My birthday is Thursday, so we will all celebrate together next weekend!

How was your week? What have you been reading?


The Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz.
It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date.

42 comments:

  1. You like shores, don't you? I'm going to guess you'd never go to the middle of the country for vacation, would you? :) But it looks like a great place to spend your birthday. Happy early birthday.

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    1. Bryan - Yes, I LOVE being near the water! But I also love the national parks in Utah, the Black Hills and Badlands in SD, all of Colorado, and Santa Fe, NM... they're just a lot harder to get to. I'm still not ready to get on an airplane.

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  2. Yes, I love being near the water as well. Santa Fe and Taos are lovely to vacation in as well. I added two of your reads to my want to read list! Thank you for sharing!

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    1. Miaismine - We are lucky to have relatives in Santa Fa, so there is always a place to stay. It's such a beautiful city and the landscape is so different and exotic to us!

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  3. Welcome to New England! I hope we can come up with some better weather for you, although you seem to have found some for your gorgeous photo. BTW, I just finished Fresh Water for Flowers after "borrowing" it from your Paris in July list. (If you don't have it for your Kindle already, I can lend it to you...) It was unusual and lovely.

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    1. Audrey - The weather has been iffy ever since we got here, but it wasn't much better in NY. Hoping this isn't going to be one of those nonexistent summers! Did you have good weather for the wedding?

      I have not gotten to Fresh Water for Flowers yet and would love to "borrow" your ebook. Is that one that you can lend for two weeks? I can let you know when I'm ready for it.

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  4. Enjoy your time there, JoAnn! Glad you got to spend time with family and will get to spend more.

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    1. Thanks, Kay. We say my cousin and some old friends in NC and also spent some time with my husband's friend from high school. It was hard to leave my parents and come to CT... very glad we'll be spending more time there before going south again.

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  5. Looks like a great rental place, yay! Your reading is on a roll these days. Too bad about the ending of The Paper Palace ugh! Endings are so important, bahh it makes you want to throw it against a wall. I hope you have a wonderful birthday week. It seems like you will. You know I haven't been to Chapel Hill, NC .... since prep school days ... but I should go back and see .... and stop at the bookstores. Cheers.

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    1. Susan - So far this has been a MUCH better reading year. Last year was one of the worst ever, but I know that was the case for many. That was such an aggravating ending to The Paper Palace. Will be interested to hear what you think when you get to it.

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  6. Wow. You have read some great books. I got Last Best Hope in from the library last week right in the middle of Paris in July so I had to send it back and get back in line. I'm very interested in Morningside Heights and Paper Palace, too, though I'm sorry to hear that the ending was disappointing. I've got My Place at the Table ready on audio starting tonight.

    I'm imagining your lovely trip up to Connecticut, with stops along the way to visit with people. That sounds fabulous. And now there you are in Connecticut. Beautiful.

    Enjoy, JoAnn!

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    1. Deb - Unfortunately, my library holds have been distracting me from Paris in July. Better planning will be a goal for next year! Hope you enjoy My Place at the Table, too.

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  7. How does one find a cottage near the shore to rent for an extended stay? That sounds like heaven.

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    1. Jinjer - Vrbo is a good place to start...

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  8. Beautiful flowers and lovely beach view! A cottage on the beach in Connecticut sounds like perfection. I hope you get lots of wonderful reading time and enjoy your reading and your time with family!

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    1. Thanks, Katherine. We used to live in CT when we were first married, so it's really nice to be back!

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  9. Ugh, what a bummer when an ending lets you down!

    Sounds like you've had a great summer so far - happy early birthday! Hope the celebrations are wonderful!

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    1. Angela - It was even more disappointing because I was enjoying the book so much. I'll be interested to hear what other readers think.

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  10. Happy to read that you are settled in CT for a while. I hope the weather cooperates, New England weather hasn't been great this summer and it's actually making me look forward to fall. I have Morningside Heights and The Paper Palace of my library hold's list. I love the sound of both, but disappointed over what you said about the ending of Paper Palace. I do hope Count the Ways is as satisfying a read for you as it was for me. (There were several parts that stick with me ---Thanksgiving with strangers --that's all I will say. I do think this story was partially autobiographical -- enjoy.

    Hope this summer is special for you and your family.

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    1. Diane - The weather hasn't been great since we got here, but it hasn't rained as much along the coast. Pretty cloudy again this morning, we'll see if it clears up. I'm hoping for a big chunk of reading time this afternoon so I can really sink into Count the Ways!

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  11. I love the sound of a trip up the Atlantic coast. What was the draw in Beaumont SC? We are probably within a days drive, although a long drive, but it would be fun to have a trip.
    The Henkin book put me in mind if the movie Love and other drugs, just the description.
    It’s fun discovering an author new to you and gathering their other publications. I felt that way after reading Newd of the World and am now getting Paulette Giles books.

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    1. Tina - We stopped in Beaufort, SC because one of my husband's college roommates lives there. It's a beautiful and historic coastal town... and less crowded than Savannah or Charleston. I still need to get to News of the World!!

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  12. Looks like a great spot for a vacation. Your books sound interesting too. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

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    1. Kathy - We lived in this area years ago and it's great to spend time here again!

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  13. What a super summer! So happy you spent and will be spending time with family. We've managed a trip to see my brother & his family and another to see Mr. BFR's siblings and their families. Happy early birthday.

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    1. Beth F - Seeing family again has been such a joy! So glad you're getting to see relatives, too. It's been a long couple of years...

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  14. I envy your travels recently, experiencing places you may have only read about...and landing in what sounds like a perfect spot for good reading.

    I'm also glad you're loving Count the Ways. I hope to start reading it soon!

    I am now eyeing Last Best Hope.

    Thanks for sharing...and for visiting my blog.

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    1. Laurel-Rain Snow - It has been so freeing to travel again and I'm relieved that the vaccination rates here are SO much higher than they are in FL. Makes us feel safer. I'll be thinking of you on your big moving day - good luck!!

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  15. I'm looking forward to reading The Paper Palace. Your review has me very curious about the ending! Enjoy your stay in Connecticut. It looks lovely!

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    1. Diana - When you get to The Paper Palace, I'll be very interested to hear your take on the ending.

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  16. Enjoy your trip!!! Paper Palace sounds really good! Except maybe the end...

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    1. Erin - Thanks. And yes, Paper Palace was such a good read...except for the last couple of pages!

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  17. I have The Paper Palace and I can't wait to read it. I usually do well with Reese's club picks.

    I am more than halfway into Maynard's new book and loving it. I love her writing and have for years. All of her short pieces are very good too, the ones that show up on Facebook and sometimes later in magazines. She is just so very good.

    Your vacation sounds lovely!! Enjoy!

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    1. Ti - I tend to like Reese's picks, too, and this was a pretty amazing review. Can't wait to hear what you think of the end. I'm only 25% into Maynards and loving it already! Why have I waited so long to read her??

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  18. Oh I hate it when the ending of a novel disappoints. I am very intrigued by the Henkin book and I kind of want to read Empire of Pain as well. I'm sure it'll make me upset! Hope you have a great birthday and a fabulous time with your daughters!

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    1. Iliana - The rest of The Paper Palace was so good, but the ending...ugh. I just got the audio version of Count the Ways from the library, so will make it a read/listen combo and hold off on Empire of Pain for now.

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  19. What a wonderful few weeks you're having for both reading and visiting! Seeing family right now is so rejuvenating. I went to college in New London, CT so can picture the CT beach. Very nice!

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    1. Helen - We lived here in CT back in the late 80s (I worked in New Haven, my husband in Bridgeport) and still love spending time here. Hoping to get up to Mystic and New London this weekend. Are you from the northeast/New England? It's such a beautiful area!

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  20. I'll bet you have a wonderful time in Connecticut. I've never been, but it looks pretty! So glad you were able to get some good quality time in with your parents. I'll bet they were pleased to see you.

    I've never read anything by Joshua Henkin, but Morningside Heights sounds like something I'd enjoy. The plot brings to mind Lisa Genova's Still Alice, which I thought was amazing. I'll have to add this to my list.

    The Paper Place is another that's been getting a lot of good reviews and sounds like a winner, as does Joyce Maynard's. I love her books and can't wait to get a copy. Hmmm. I may have to splurge at the end of the year and buy a bunch of these books for myself for Christmas. :) I've done so well this year and haven't bought very many books at all, but my mom keeps passing her new books on to me, so my bookcase continues to overflow.

    Oh! Happy Birthday! I hope you had a lovely day and have a great celebration with your daughters and husband. May all your wishes come true!

    My week was busy, but now we have a little breather. We had family visiting from CA for a few days and more family arriving on Monday. Then we're off on another road trip for a little over a week. The summer is flying by, but I have no complaints. It's been great to see so many loved ones. I just hope we don't have to go back into another lockdown... sigh.

    Have a wonderful weekend, JoAnn!

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    1. Les - I remember reading Still Alice years ago, too. Henkin's book is mostly about Pru and her life not turning out as she expected, but her husband's illness is a big part of it. It seems like I've read a lot of really good books this year... and sure hope that continues.

      My birthday last week was just perfect. I went for a nice long walk in the morning, we got lobster rolls at the wharf for lunch, then some reading time, and later on we went out for a delicious Italian dinner.

      Hope you enjoy your visiting family (I know you will!) and your next road trip. I'm a little worried about another lockdown, too. Thinks are pretty good here in CT, but FL is another story...

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  21. I have so much love for the Maynard book.

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    1. Ti - I finished it last night... pretty sure it's the best novel I've read all year!

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