Tue
Jun 10 2014 2:00pm

Family, Romance, and Introspection: Women’s Fiction Roundup June 2014

The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz WilliamsIt is no secret that I am a big fan of women’s fiction, so over the summer months I will be bringing you a roundup of the latest women’s fiction releases.

It seems especially apropos since many books in this genre end up with the classification “perfect beach read.” After the book’s blurb, in addition to the book's particular strengths, I've included two classifications: its “Measure of Love” to signal the degree of romance, and its “Introspection Level” to indicate how much of the story is dedicated to internal conflict. Enjoy!

The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams

Manhattan, 1964. Vivian Schuyler, newly graduated from Bryn Mawr College, has recently defied the privilege of her storied old Fifth Avenue family to do the unthinkable for a budding Kennedy-era socialite: break into the Madison Avenue world of razor-stylish Metropolitan magazine. But when she receives a bulky overseas parcel in the mail, the unexpected contents draw her inexorably back into her family’s past, and the hushed-over crime passionnel of an aunt she never knew, whose existence has been wiped from the record of history.

Berlin, 1914. Violet Schuyler Grant endures her marriage to the philandering and decades-older scientist Dr. Walter Grant for one reason: for all his faults, he provides the necessary support to her liminal position as a young American female physicist in prewar Germany. The arrival of Dr. Grant’s magnetic former student at the beginning of Europe’s fateful summer interrupts this delicate détente. Lionel Richardson, a captain in the British Army, challenges Violet to escape her husband’s perverse hold. . .

Strengths: Time period; family saga; mystery; HEA ending; romance
Measure of Love: Tablespoon
Introspection Level: Low

Scared Scriptless by Alison SweeneyScared Scriptless by Alison Sweeney

Maddy Carson is a mass of contradictions. She loves her job as Script Supervisor on a hit TV show, but hates “Hollywood.” Super-organized and down-to-earth, Maddy is clearly one of the best at her job, and her strict dating rule - “No Actors!” - helps her keep focused on her career. However, a budding relationship with Craig, one of the executives at her company, may even propel her into the big leagues. Could Wolf County, her beloved hometown in the mountains, be saved from a financial crisis by creating a reality show featuring the eccentrics in the small ski village? Maddy is determined to try, even when she learns that Craig's agenda doesn't exactly line up with her altruistic goal.

Meanwhile, Maddy still has a full-time job to manage, her family to deal with, and a gorgeous new actor, Adam Devin, determined to wear down her resistance. Eventually Maddy must learn to break all her self-imposed rules and simply follow her heart.

Strengths: Lighthearted story; romance; family bonds; insider’s look at television production
Measure of Love: Tablespoon
Introspection Level: Low

Just One Thing by Holly JacobsJust One Thing by Holly Jacobs

Artist Lexie McCain spends her days literally weaving the story of her life into a gorgeous tapestry. But on Monday nights, she walks to the Corner Bar, drinks a Killian’s, and answers the same question every week from Sam the bartender: “One thing?” She starts with her name, then her cottage, slowly moving on to the devastating tragedies that tore her life apart.

Sam Corner’s smile doesn’t seem to hide any pain. One night, Lexie turns the tables on him, asking Sam, “One thing?” To her surprise, Sam reveals his own tragic history. Together, Lexie and Sam learn that, with good beer and a trusted friend, sharing just “one thing” might lead to the one thing they both thought was lost forever: love.

Strengths: Admirable characters; touching story about healing; romance; HEA
Measure of Love: Tablespoon
Introspection Level: High

The Summer Wind by Mary Alice MonroeThe Summer Wind by Mary Alice Monroe

The second book in Monroe’s Lowcountry Summer trilogy, following … The Summer Girls. This series is a poignant and heartwarming story of three half-sisters and their grandmother, who is determined to help them rediscover their southern roots and family bonds.

It’s midsummer and Eudora, nicknamed Dora, is staying at Sea Breeze, the family’s ancestral home on Sullivan’s Island. For years, Dora has played the role of the perfect wife and mother in a loveless marriage. Now her husband filed for divorce, her child is diagnosed with autism, and her house is on the market. Dora’s facade collapses under the weight of her grief and she suffers “broken heart syndrome.” Mamaw and the girls rally around Dora—but it’s up to Dora to heal herself as she spends the summer prowling the beach, discovering the secrets of the island and her heart. This is a summer of discovery for all the women of Sea Breeze. Carson returns from Florida to face life-changing decisions, Lucille confronts a health scare, and an unexpected visitor has Harper reconsidering her life’s direction.

Strengths: Family saga; family bonds; heartwarming animal story with environmental message; positive approach to autism 
Measure of Love: Teaspoon
Introspection Level: Medium

The Never Never Sisters by L. Alison HellerThe Never Never Sisters by L. Alison Heller

Marriage counselor Paige Reinhardt is counting down the days to summer, eager to reconnect with her workaholic husband at their cozy rental cottage in the Hamptons. But soon a mysterious crisis at Dave’s work ruins their getaway plans. Paige is still figuring out how to handle the unexplained chill in her marriage when her troubled sister suddenly returns after a two-decade silence. Now, instead of enjoying the lazy summer days along the ocean, Paige is navigating the rocky waters of a forgotten bond with her sister in the sweltering city heat. . .

Strengths: Complex interpersonal relationships; mystery; family bonds; appealing characters
Measure of Love: A dash
Introspection LevelMedium

All Fall Down by Jennifer WeinerAll Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner

Allison Weiss got her happy ending—a handsome husband, an adorable little girl, a job she loves, and a big house in the suburbs. But when she’s in the pediatrician’s office with her daughter and a magazine flips open to a quiz about addiction, she starts to wonder whether her use of prescription pills is becoming a problem. On the one hand, it’s just prescription medication, the stuff her doctors give her. Is a Percocet at the end of a hard day really different than a glass of wine? Is it such a bad thing to pop a Vicodin after a brutal Jump & Pump class…or after your husband ignores you?

Back in the car, with her daughter safely buckled behind her, Allison opens the Altoid tin in her purse and slips a chalky white oval underneath her tongue. The pill unties her knotted muscles, erases the grime and ugliness of the city, soothes her as she frets about the truth of her looking-good life: that her husband’s becoming distant, that her daughter is acting out, that her father’s early Alzheimer’s is worsening and her mother’s barely managing to cope. She tells herself that the pills let her make it through her days…but what if her ever-increasing drug use, a habit that’s becoming expensive and hard to hide, is turning into her biggest problem of all?

Strengths: Relatable story; fleshed-out characterization; Addiction and rehab culture
Measure of Love: A dash
Introspection Level: High

The Unexpected Waltz by Kim WrightThe Unexpected Waltz by Kim Wright

Kelly Wilder becomes recently widowed from a much older wealthy man with whom she spent her married life doing charity work, building a lovely home, and, as she says, “pretending to be a whole lot more conservative and stupid and nicer than I really am.”

Now, with too much time and money on her hands, Kelly has absolutely no idea what happens next. So on a whim she signs up for a ballroom dancing class, and slowly, step by high-heeled step, begins to rebuild her life with the help of friends old and new: Nik, a young Russian dance teacher who sees the artistic potential she left behind; Carolina, a woman in hospice, anxious to experience a whole lifetime in a few months; and Elyse, Kelly’s girlhood best friend who knows all of her past secrets—including the truth about the man who long ago broke Kelly’s heart.

Strength: Fully fleshed-out characters; intriguing dance backdrop; unpredictable and engrossing story
Measure of Love: A dash
Introspection Level: Medium

 


Leigh Davis, blogger

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4 comments
Jamie Brenner
1. jamieloganbrenner
Great list! Thanks Leigh. I was wondering about the Jennifer Weiner and now I'm definitely going to read it. I also added The Never, Never Sisters to my list.
Scarlettleigh
2. Scarlettleigh
@jamieloganbrenner - Thanks Jamie. I hope you enjoy both books!
Scarlettleigh
4. Scarlettleigh
@maggieboyd66 -- Hope you enjoy it!
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