Jojo Moyes’s The Giver of Stars

The Giver of Stars

Alice seems to have jumped from the proverbial frying pan into the fire. In her native England during the Great Depression, she is bored and unhappy, and when she meets a handsome American man named Bennett, she quickly marries him to escape. When they relocate to his home state of Kentucky, she expects a well-to-do urban life, centered perhaps in Lexington. Instead, she finds herself in remote Eastern Kentucky, in impoverished coal country, trapped in an unhappy marriage. When the local pack horse library needs volunteers, Alice signs up, mainly as an excuse to get out of her house and away from her husband and father-in-law. At first, Alice is horrified by the rough people she encounters on her route, but she soon falls in love with her work, the people, and the mountains. Still, the solace she finds in work does nothing to ease her troubles at home. Complications ensue. . . .

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Louise Penny’s The Hangman (2010)

The Hangman

Carol Ann recommended Louise Penny’s Quebec-set Armand Gamache detective series a few months ago. We like a lot of the same authors and books, so I immediately was intrigued. Since then, I’ve noticed we circulate a lot of Louise Penny books, and I’ve had even more folks gush about how much they love the books. I only got around to trying a Gamache book recently, and I am so glad I did! (As always, thanks for the great recommendation, Carol Ann! 🙂 )

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Casey Cep’s Furious Hours (2019)

Furious Hours

Harper Lee is famous for her beloved classic To Kill A Mockingbird-just last year it won The Great American Read and was so universally popular that it always led the public’s voting for favorite book by a wide margin for the entire duration of the vote.

However, Lee is perhaps just as famous for the fact that To Kill A Mockingbird is her only book. Sure, publishers released her Go Set a Watchman a few years ago, but in truth, that was just the very early draft of To Kill A Mockingbird and not a new book.

That’s not to say that Lee never tried to write another book, however.

According to Casey Cep’s debut Furious Hours, Lee worked for years on a true crime manuscript about a bizarre case of murder and insurance fraud in 1960s/1970s Alabama. . . .

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Jeff Guinn’s The Vagabonds (2019)

The Vagabonds

In the 1910s and 1920s, Henry Ford and Thomas Edison were two of the most famous men in America. They were also friends who regularly vacationed with each other. In his latest book, Jeff Guinn chronicles the quirky friendship between these two prickly historical figures, as well as their numerous road trips across a changing, modernizing America.

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Peter Heller’s The River (2019)

The River

Jack and Wynn have been best friends since their college freshmen orientation. In many ways, they couldn’t be more different–the former an engineering major, more pragmatic, raised on a Colorado ranch; the latter an art major, more optimistic, raised in a comfortable, well-to-do Vermont home. Still, they’re bonded by a love of the outdoors, of canoeing, of fishing, and of reading.

It’s no surprise that they decide to spend August on a canoe trip in northern Canada–their goal a small village on Hudson Bay after an approximately 150 mile-long trip. Things take an unexpected turn when they realize a large wildfire rages near the river. Then, they hear a couple arguing one day in the fog. The next day, a lone man paddles up the river. . . .

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Shawn Levy’s The Castle on Sunset: Life, Death, Love, Art, and Scandal at Hollywood’s Chateau Marmont (2019)

The Castle on Sunset

“If you must get in trouble, do it at the Chateau Marmont”–Harry Cohn

“If you want to be seen, go to the Beverly Hills Hotel. If you don’t want to be seen, go to Chateau Marmont.”–pretty much everyone who was anyone in Hollywood since the 1930s

Need a relatively quiet place to write a screenplay or stay while you film a project in town? Check into the Chateau Marmont!

Need a private place to stay after your spouse kicked you out of the marital home? Check into the Chateau Marmont!

Need a discrete place to stay for, ahem, extracurricular activities that could endanger your reputation? Check into the Chateau Marmont!

(Obviously I missed my calling writing ad copy for this place. . . .)

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Nita Gould’s Remembering Ella (2018)

Remembering Ella

One of the more infamous crimes in our local area is the gruesome 1912 murder of Ella Barham in rural Boone County, which is just next door to us here in Berryville. I must confess, I had never actually heard of the crime until I read this book. Author Nita Gould has family ties to the case–Ella is a cousin, though one who died long before Gould was born. As Gould quickly learned when she started researching the case, local oral tradition of the case is unreliable and contradictory, so she instead turned to the extensive news coverage of the crime and court files to detail the murder of the vivacious eighteen-year-old and the subsequent arrest and trial of one of her neighbors. Thank you to Julie for ordering this book for me!

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