Wed
Aug 27 2014 9:30am

Beginning Anew in the August 2014 Women’s Fiction Roundup

Small Blessings by Martha WoodroofAugust women’s fiction releases cover all the bases, from a thrilling mystery set in Australia to humorous romances set in and around the English countryside. Several books have a Southern setting, in a not so distant past, and you have small town settings on the west coast, and a quiet college town. A common theme runs through all of them—of new beginnings, and the need for change, courage and resolve.

Small Blessing by Martha Woodroof

…an inspiring tale of a small-town college professor, a remarkable new woman at the bookshop, and the ten-year old son he never knew he had.

Tom Putnam has resigned himself to a quiet and half-fulfilled life. An English professor in a sleepy college town, he spends his days browsing the Shakespeare shelves at the campus bookstore, managing the oddball faculty in his department and caring, alongside his formidable mother-in-law, for his wife Marjory, a fragile shut-in with unrelenting neuroses, a condition exacerbated by her discovery of Tom’s brief and misguided affair with a visiting poetess a decade earlier.

Then, one evening at the bookstore, Tom and Marjory meet Rose Callahan, the shop's charming new hire, and Marjory invites Rose to their home for dinner, out of the blue, her first social interaction since her breakdown. Tom wonders if it’s a sign that change is on the horizon, a feeling confirmed upon his return home, where he opens a letter from his former paramour, informing him he'd fathered a son who is heading Tom's way on a train. His mind races at the possibility of having a family after so many years of loneliness…

A heartwarming story with a charmingly imperfect cast of characters to cheer for, Small Blessings's wonderfully optimistic heart that reminds us that sometimes, when it feels like life has veered irrevocably off track, the track shifts in ways we never can have imagined.

Strengths: Unconventional characters; unique plot; warm, inspiring message, surrogate family bonds; charming
Measure of Love: Tablespoon
Introspective Level: Medium

Big Little Lies by Diane Moriarty

Sometimes it’s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal. . . .
A murder… . . . a tragic accident… . . . or just parents behaving badly?
What’s indisputable is that someone is dead. But who did what?

Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:
Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her… community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest …

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare… Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.

New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son… While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all…

Strengths: Strong characterization; satirical humor; titillating mystery with unexpected ending; current social issues; foreign setting
Measure of Love: Teaspoon
Introspective Level: Medium

Love Letters by Debbie Macomber

…Summer is a busy season at the inn, so proprietor Jo Marie Rose and handyman Mark Taylor have spent a lot of time together keeping the property running... Jo Marie knows surprisingly little about Mark’s life, due in no small part to his refusal to discuss it. She’s determined to learn more about his past, but first she must face her own—and welcome three visitors who, like her, are setting out on new paths.

Twenty-three-year-old Ellie Reynolds is taking a leap of faith. She’s come to Cedar Cove to meet Tom, a man she’s been corresponding with for months… Ellie’s overprotective mother disapproves of her trip, but Ellie is determined to spread her wings.

Maggie and Roy Porter… are taking their first vacation alone since their children were born. In the wake of past mistakes, they hope to rekindle the spark in their marriage—and to win back each other’s trust…
Debbie Macomber’s moving novel reveals the courage it takes to be vulnerable, accepting, and open to love.

Strengths: Realistic flawed only human characters; allegories of forgiveness, healing, and the power of love
Measure of Love: Tablespoon
Introspective Level: High

Palmetto Moon by Kim BoykinPalmetto Moon: A Lowcountry Novel by Kim Boykin

June, 1947. Charleston is poised to celebrate the biggest wedding in high-society history, the joining of two of the oldest families in the city. Except the bride is nowhere to be found…

… Vada Hadley doesn’t see marrying Justin McLeod as a blessing—she sees it as a life sentence. So when she finds herself one day away from a wedding she doesn’t want, she’s left with no choice but to run away from the future her parents have so carefully planned for her.

In Round O, South Carolina, Vada finds independence in the unexpected friendships she forms at the boarding house where she stays, and a quiet yet fulfilling courtship with the local diner owner, Frank Darling. For the first time in her life, she finally feels like she’s where she’s meant to be. But when her dear friend Darby hunts her down, needing help, Vada will have to confront the life she gave up—and decide where her heart truly belongs.

Strengths: Story of liberation and growing assertiveness; interesting backdrop; past women’s social issues; strong friendships; unconventional surrogate parents
Measure of Love: Tablespoon
Introspective Level: Medium

Since You’ve Been Gone by Anouska Knight

…In one tragic moment, Holly Jefferson's life as she knew it changed forever. Now—to the external world, at least—she's finally getting back on her feet, running her bakery, Cake. But inside, she's still going through the motions befitting a twenty-seven-year-old widow.

Then she meets Ciaran Argyll. His privileged and charmed life feels a million miles from her own. However, there's more to Ciaran than the superficial world that surrounds him, and he, too, is wrestling with his own ghosts. Will Holly find the missing ingredient that allows her to live again—and embrace… tomorrow?

Strengths: English setting; amusing plot; great cake decorating ideas; meet-cute
Measure of Love: Tablespoon
Introspective Level: Medium

Sweetshop of Dreams by Jenny Colgan 

...Rosie Hopkins thinks leaving her busy London life, and her boyfriend Gerard, to sort out her elderly Aunt Lilian's sweetshop in a small country village is going to be dull. Boy, is she wrong. Lilian Hopkins has spent her life running Lipton's sweetshop, through wartime and family feuds. As she struggles with the idea that it might finally be time to settle up, she also wrestles with the secret history hidden behind the jars of beautifully coloured sweets. *Winner of the RNA Romantic Novel of the Year Award 2013*

Strengths: Appealing characters; fish out of water Chick-lit story with humorous scenes; historical World War II retrospective story arc; English countryside setting
Measure of Love: Tablespoon
Introspective Level: Low

Dog Park by Laura CaldwellDog Park by Laura Caldwell

Stylist Jessica Champlin knows it takes more than a darling goldendoodle to save a marriage. She and her ex-husband, investigative journalist Sebastian Hess, had too many irreconcilable differences for even their beloved dog, Baxter, to heal. So they've agreed to joint custody, and life has settled into a prickly normalcy.

But when Baxter heroically rescues a child and the video footage goes viral, Jess and Sebastian are thrown together again, and her life takes some very unexpected twists…suddenly she's in the spotlight with everyone watching—the press, the new guy she's seeing, Sebastian and the past she never imagined she would face again…

Strengths: Lighthearted; tongue-in-cheek commentary on viral videos and fame; Appealing dog story; Second chance at love
Measure of Love: Tablespoon
Introspective Level: Low

Oleander Sisters by Elaine Hussey

…In 1969, the first footsteps on the moon brighten America with possibilities. But along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, a category five storm is brewing, and the Blake sisters of Biloxi are restless for change. Beth “Sis” Blake has always been the caretaker, the dutiful one, with the weight of her family's happiness—and their secrets—on her shoulders. She dreams of taking off to pursue her own destiny, but not before doing whatever it takes to rescue her sister.

Emily Blake, an unwed mother trying to live down her past, wants the security of marriage for the sake of her five-year-old son, Andy. But secure is the last thing she feels with her new husband. Now she must put aside pride, and trust family to help her find the courage to escape…

Strengths: Intense family bonds; 1969 setting; past domestic violence perspective; societal pressures; enduring friendships
Measure of Love: Dash
Introspective Level: Medium


 


Leigh Davis, blogger

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2 comments
Lee Brewer
1. LeeB.
Have read both Big Little Lies (excellent!) and Sweetshop of Dreams (sweet!). Will definitely check out the others.
Maggie Boyd
2. maggieboyd66
I love Jenny Colgan and am looking forward to reading Sweetshop of Dreams. I really enjoyed Since You've Been Gone by Knight and found the time frame of The Oleander Sisters very interesting.
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