BOOKISH FRIDAY: “AFTER THE END”

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which I  share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers, who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists!

What a great way to spend a Friday!

Today’s feature is a NetGalley ARC I’m enjoying:  After the End, by Claire Mackintosh. (Release Date: 6/25).

Beginning:  (Prologue):  Leila looks around the courtroom.  Only the handful of press given permission to attend are moving, their pens making swift marks in shorthand, recording every word the judge speaks.  Everyone else is quite still—watching, waiting—and Leila has the strange sensation of being frozen in time, that they might all wake, a year from now, and they will still be here in this courtroom, waiting for the ruling that will change so many lives.

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Friday 56:  (After) You cannot feel grief without first feeling love, and now my heart is filled with both.  For my son, for my husband, for my marriage.  Max turns to face me, lines around his eyes that weren’t there a month ago.

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Synopsis:  Max and Pip are the strongest couple you know. They’re best friends, lovers—unshakable. But then their son gets sick and the doctors put the question of his survival into their hands. For the first time, Max and Pip can’t agree. They each want a different future for their son.
 
What if they could have both?
 
A gripping and propulsive exploration of love, marriage, parenthood, and the road not taken, After the End brings one unforgettable family from unimaginable loss to a surprising, satisfying, and redemptive ending and the life they are fated to find. With the emotional power of Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper, Mackintosh helps us to see that sometimes the end is just another beginning.

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I am glued to the pages of this book.  What are you sharing today?

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REVIEW: THE RED CAR, BY MARCY DERMANSKY

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Leah is living in Queens with a possessive husband she doesn’t love and a long list of unfulfilled ambitions, when she’s jolted from a thick ennui by a call from the past. Her beloved former boss and friend, Judy, has died in a car accident and left Leah her most prized possession and, as it turns out, the instrument of Judy’s death: a red sports car.

Judy was the mentor Leah never expected. She encouraged Leah’s dreams, analyzed her love life, and eased her into adulthood over long lunches away from the office. Facing the jarring disconnect between the life she expected and the one she is now actually living, Leah takes off for San Francisco to claim Judy’s car. In sprawling days defined by sex, sorrow, and unexpected delight, Leah revisits past lives and loves in search of a self she abandoned long ago. Piercing through Leah’s surreal haze is the enigmatic voice of Judy, as sharp as ever, providing wry commentary on Leah’s every move.

 

My Thoughts: The story of Leah’s life, with the good and bad choices, kept me engrossed as it jumped from college days, to six years later, and then ahead ten years.

Trailing along the path with her, we see how some of her most significant times involved working as an assistant to Judy in a San Francisco company. Judy was a mentor, guiding her, a voice in her head. And Judy had purchased a red sports car, a prized possession.

So now that Leah is in a marriage with a possessive man named Hans, there is hope for change when she gets a call about Judy’s death…and that Judy has left her the red car. But Leah will have to go to San Francisco to claim her legacy.

I hated how Hans reacted when she insisted on going alone. And after she goes, he bombards her with so many e-mails that it would be impossible for Leah not to see his reaction as a serious red flag.

Reconnecting with old friends, taking a trip to Big Sur, and attending the bat mitzvah of Judy’s niece in Philadelphia, as requested by Judy…all of these events help Leah to rediscover who she was. Meanwhile, why does Leah keep hearing Judy’s voice in her head, like a ghostly presence? And why does the red car seem to have a mind of its own?

Would Judy’s ongoing guidance, as well as the antics of the car, help Leah make the right choice going forward? The right choice would seem obvious, but we won’t know for sure what she decides until the very end.   The Red Car earned 4.5 stars from me.

REVIEW: THE THIRD WIFE, BY LISA JEWELL

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Our story begins in Islington, England, in April 2011, when a young woman named Maya, in a state of inebriation and possible confusion, steps in front of a bus and is killed.

Adrian Wolfe was her husband, but she was his third wife. Like a serial adulterer or serial monogamist, he had the ability to move on whenever he felt as though the bloom had faded from his love life. Never mind that he had a total of five children: Luke and Cat with his first wife, Susie, and Otis, Pearl, and Beau with his second wife Caroline.

Now with Maya’s death on his conscience, we see Adrian wallowing in his grief and asking the unanswerable questions. Did Maya purposely step in front of the bus, or did some action by others drive her to it? When Adrian finds out about a series of vicious e-mails that someone had been sending to Maya, addressed to “Dear Bitch,” he wants to learn more.

When a mysterious woman who calls herself Jane appears in his life, on the pretext of adopting Maya’s cat, he wonders if there is a connection somehow.

A sweeping tale about learning to live with the consequences of one’s own actions, and also figuring out how to reinvent one’s own life in light of this learning, The Third Wife has multiple narrators and time periods that flow back and forth, from 2010 to the present. As the story unfolds, we learn more about each of the characters and begin to understand more about Maya’s actions, her thoughts, and what was going on with her at the end. We also see Adrian coming to terms with his own behavior and how he reframes his choices in order to make them fit with the fairytale narrative he has written for himself. A 5 star read for me, it will appeal to those who enjoy stories about family and relationships.