Nov 29 2014 2:00pm

Different Worlds: Women’s Fiction Roundup for November 2014

Hello from Gillespies by Monica McInerney

“There's so many different worlds/So many different suns and we have just one world/But we live in different ones."
—Dire Straits

This month’s women’s fiction offerings showcase many different suns—from Australia, to China, to United States to Germany. Travel to the past, or travel across the country, or even just embrace difference viewpoints. Whether you decided to learn about the different types of love; Chinese or Spanish history and culture, or Christmas tribulations from down under, there is plenty to pick from this month!

Hello from the Gillespies by Monica McInerney

For the past thirty-three years, Angela Gillespie has sent to friends and family around the world an end-of-the-year letter titled “Hello from the Gillespies.” It’s always been cheery and full of good news. This year, Angela surprises herself—she tells the truth....

The Gillespies are far from the perfect family that Angela has made them out to be. Her husband is coping badly with retirement. Her thirty-two-year-old twins are having career meltdowns. Her third daughter, badly in debt, can’t stop crying. And her ten-year-old son spends more time talking to his imaginary friend than to real ones.

Without Angela, the family would fall apart. But when Angela is taken away from them in a most unexpected manner, the Gillespies pull together—and pull themselves together—in wonderfully surprising ways…

Strengths: Appealing Characters and Premise, Character growth, HEA
Measure of Love: Teaspoon
Introspection Level Medium

Secret of a Thousand Beauties by Mingmei Yip

Set against the vibrant and intrigue-laden backdrop of 1930s China, Mingmei Yip's enthralling novel explores one woman's defiant pursuit of independence.
Spring Swallow was promised in marriage while still in her mother's belly. When the groom dies before a wedding can take place, seventeen-year-old Spring Swallow is ordered to become a ghost bride to appease his spirit. Under her in-laws' protection, she will be little more than a servant, unable to know real love or bear children. Refusing to accept her fate as a ”bad-luck woman," Spring Swallow flees on her wedding day.

In the city of Soochow, Spring Swallow joins a community of renowned embroiderers. The women work for Aunty Peony, whose exquisite stitching once earned her the Emperor's love. But when Aunty Peony agrees to replicate a famous painting—a lucrative assignment that will take a year to complete—betrayal and jealousy emerges within the group. Spring Swallow becomes entangled in each woman's story of heartbreak, even while she embarks on a dangerous affair with a young revolutionary. On a journey that leads from the remote hillsides around Soochow to cosmopolitan Peking, Spring Swallow draws on the secret techniques learned from Aunty Peony and her own indomitable strength, determined to forge a life that is truly her own.

Strengths: Unique character and setting, Triumph over Adversity, Interesting History, HEA
Measure of Love: Dash
Introspection Level: Low

A Second Bite at the Apple by Dana BateSecond Bite of the Apple by Dana Bate

Sydney Strauss is obsessed with food. Not with eating it—though she does that too—but with writing about the wonders of the gastronomic world, from obscure fruit hybrids to organic farming techniques. Since food journalism jobs are more coveted than Cronuts®, Sydney pays her bills working for one of TV's biggest egomaniacs—until she's left scrambling for shifts at a local farmers' market.

Stacking muffins for the Wild Yeast Bakery isn't going to win her any James Beard awards. But soon Sydney is writing the market's weekly newsletter, and her quirky stories gain attention from a prominent food columnist. After years of putting her love life into deep freeze, she's even dating again. And then Sydney gets a shot at the story, one that could either make her career or burn it to a crisp—along with her relationship and her reputation...

Strengths: Character growth, New beginnings, HEA, Real world problems
Measure of Love: Teaspoon
Introspection Level: Medium

Heart Has Its Reasons by María Dueñas

A talented college professor in Madrid, Blanca Perea seems to have it all. But her world is suddenly shattered when her husband of twenty years leaves her for another woman. Questioning the life she once had and whether she truly knows herself, Blanca resolves to change her surroundings. She accepts what looks like a boring research grant in California involving an exiled Spanish writer who died decades ago. Anxious to leave her own troubled life behind, she is gradually drawn into his haunted world, with its poignant loves and unfulfilled ambitions.

But in delving into the past, Blanca finds herself simultaneously awakened to the present by Daniel Carter, a charismatic professor with crucial knowledge about the dead writer that he has never before revealed. Amid this web of passion, conflict, and hidden feelings, including her own, Blanca advances like an avid detective, refusing to quit, and ultimately discovers startling answers that resonate deeply in her own life.

Evocative, lyrical, and humorous, The Heart Has Its Reasons is a journey of the soul from the pangs of the past to the vibrant present. It is a story about the thrill of creating one’s life anew.

Strengths: New beginnings, Second Chance at love, Complex relationships, Mature Couple
Measure of Love: Dash
Introspection Level: High

The Glassblower by Petra Durst-BenningThe Glassblower by Petra Durst-Benning

In the village of Lauscha in Germany, things have been done the same way for centuries. The men blow the glass, and the women decorate and pack it. But when Joost Steinmann passes away unexpectedly one September night, his three daughters must learn to fend for themselves. While feisty Johanna takes a practical approach to looking for work, Ruth follows her heart, aiming to catch the eye of a handsome young villager. But it is dreamy, quiet Marie who has always been the most captivated by the magic—and sparkling possibilities—of the craft of glassblowing. As the spirited sisters work together to forge a brighter future for themselves on their own terms, they learn not only how to thrive in a man’s world, but how to remain true to themselves—and their hearts—in the process.

Strengths: Positive changes in women’s roles, Unique setting, Interesting history of glass blowing
Measure of Love: Teaspoon
Introspection: Low

The Look of Love by Sarah Jio

Born during a Christmas blizzard, Jane Williams receives a rare gift: the ability to see true love. Jane has emerged from an ailing childhood a lonely, hopeless romantic when, on her twenty-ninth birthday, a mysterious greeting card arrives, specifying that Jane must identify the six types of love before the full moon following her thirtieth birthday, or face grave consequences. When Jane falls for a science writer who doesn’t believe in love, she fears that her fate is sealed. Inspired by the classic song, The Look of Love is utterly enchanting.

Strengths: Many types of love, Non-judgmental view of Adultery, Both joyous and bittersweet
Measure of Love: Tablespoon
Introspection: High

What different worlds are your books taking you to this month?

To find out more about each book mentioned:

Hello from the Gillespies by Monica McInerney


Secret of a Thousand Beauties by Mingmei Yip


Second Bite of the Apple by Dana Bate


Heart Has Its Reasons by María Dueñas


The Glassblower by Petra Dust-Benning


The Look of Love by Sarah Jio














Scarlettleigh, blogger

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Maggie Boyd
1. maggieboyd66
The Glassblower sounds like an intriguing read. I love art crafts, can't do them but I love them.
Lee Brewer
2. LeeB.
I have the Monica McInerney on reserve at the library. Thanks for the other tips.
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