SERENDIPITOUS FRIDAYS: BOOK BEGINNINGS & THE FRIDAY 56 – THE NIGHT GUEST

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Welcome to some bookish fun today as we share Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and as we 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!

If you have been wanting to participate, but haven’t yet tried, now is the time!

What better way to spend a Friday?

Today I’m spotlighting an ARC of The Night Guest, by Fiona McFarlane.

 

 

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Beginning:  Ruth woke at four in the morning and her blurry brain said, “Tiger.”  That was natural; she was dreaming.  But there were noises in the house, and as she woke she heard them.  They came across the hallway from the lounge room.

***

56:  Now Frida held a hand to her dark hair and produced a sigh so bitter, so exhausted, and at the same time so sweet, that Ruth was tempted to reach out and comfort her.

***

Amazon Description:   A mesmerizing first novel about trust, dependence, and fear, from a major new writer

Ruth is widowed, her sons are grown, and she lives in an isolated beach house outside of town. Her routines are few and small. One day a stranger arrives at her door, looking as if she has been blown in from the sea. This woman—Frida—claims to be a care worker sent by the government. Ruth lets her in.
Now that Frida is in her house, is Ruth right to fear the tiger she hears on the prowl at night, far from its jungle habitat? Why do memories of childhood in Fiji press upon her with increasing urgency? How far can she trust this mysterious woman, Frida, who seems to carry with her own troubled past? And how far can Ruth trust herself?
The Night Guest, Fiona McFarlane’s hypnotic first novel, is no simple tale of a crime committed and a mystery solved. This is a tale that soars above its own suspense to tell us, with exceptional grace and beauty, about ageing, love, trust, dependence, and fear; about processes of colonization; and about things (and people) in places they shouldn’t be. Here is a new writer who comes to us fully formed, working wonders with language, renewing our faith in the power of fiction to describe the mysterious workings of our minds.

***

I am eager to delve into this story.  What are you sharing today?

SERENDIPITOUS FRIDAYS: BOOK BEGINNINGS & THE FRIDAY 56 — TWO SISTERS

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Welcome to some bookish fun today as we share Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and as we 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!

If you have been wanting to participate, but haven’t yet tried, now is the time!

What better way to spend a Friday?

Today’s featured book is an ARC I’ve received from Amazon Vine.  Two Sisters, by Mary Hogan, is a story about one family, two sisters, and a lifetime of secrets….

 

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Beginning:  Muriel unfolded the old bath towel and flung it open with a snap of her wrists.  Gently, it floated over her duvet like a jellyfish, the frayed ends dangling in a tentacled kind of way.

***

56:  While Owen searched for the ideal place to stop, kill the engine, then douse Madalyn’s dreams of their future together, Le Chez came into view.  People were laughing inside, bathed in the flattering light of disposable income.

***

Amazon Blurb:  Mary Hogan’s powerful and poignant debut novel about two sisters—opposites in every way—plus their mother and the secrets and lies that define them all.

One family, two sisters, a lifetime of secrets . . .

The third child in a family that wanted only two, Muriel Sullivant has always been an outsider. Short, dark-haired and round, she worships her beautiful blonde sister, Pia, and envies the close bond she shares with their mother, Lidia. Growing up in their shadow, Muriel believes that if she keeps all their secrets—and she knows plenty, outsiders always do—they will love her, too.

But that was a long time ago. Now an adult, Muriel has accepted the disappointments in her life. With her fourth-floor walk-up apartment and entry-level New York City job, she never will measure up to Pia and her wealthy husband, their daughter, and their suburban Connecticut dream home. Muriel would like nothing better than to avoid her judgmental family altogether. One thing she does quite well.

Until the day Pia shows up to visit and share devastating news that Muriel knows she cannot tell—a secret that will force her to come to terms with the past and help her see her life and her family in unexpected new ways.

***

I love books about family…especially the kind with secrets.  What are you sharing today?

SERENDIPTIOUS FRIDAYS: BOOK BEGINNINGS & THE FRIDAY 56 — LIE STILL — SEPT. 13

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Welcome to some bookish fun today as we share Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and as we 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!

If you have been wanting to participate, but haven’t yet tried, now is the time!

What better way to spend a Friday?

Today’s featured book is an ARC in which I am deeply engrossed.  I have developed a crick in my neck from curling up and reading this one on and off throughout the day.  I only ever took breaks to watch a couple of TV shows.

The book is very suspenseful with lots of secrets revealing themselves slowly.  Lie Still, by Julia Heaberlin, starts out with a scene of violence that informs a lot of the story ahead.

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Beginning:  For me, the rape is a permanent fixture on the clock, like midnight.

A point of reference.

I was nineteen years and four days old.

***

56:  “There is blood in my house.”  Lucinda’s lisp was a little hard to understand, but the word blood was unmistakable.  She popped the slip of paper in her mouth and began to chew like a bubble gum addict on cocaine.

***

Amazon Blurb:  In the tradition of Lisa Unger’s Beautiful Lies and Nancy Pickard’s The Scent of Rain and Lightning comes a twisting, riveting novel of shifting trust and shattered lives. Lie Still delves deep into the heart of an opulent Southern town, where gossip is currency and secrets kill.

When Emily Page and her husband move from Manhattan to the wealthy enclave of Clairmont, Texas, she hopes she can finally escape her haunted past—and outrun the nameless stalker who has been taunting her for years. Pregnant with her first child, Emily just wants to start over. But as she is drawn into a nest of secretive Texas women—and into the unnerving company of their queen, Caroline Warwick—Emily finds that acceptance is a very dangerous game.

It isn’t long before Caroline mysteriously disappears and Emily is facing a rash of anonymous threats. Are they linked to the missing Caroline? Or to Emily’s terrifying encounter in college, years earlier? As the dark truth about Caroline emerges, Emily realizes that some secrets are impossible to hide—and that whoever came for Caroline is now coming for her.

***

As evening approaches, I want to keep reading, because I don’t want to put this book down.  But I’m afraid to read this in the dark…lol.  And I’m afraid of women like these….

What are you sharing?

SERENDIPITOUS FRIDAY: BOOK BEGINNINGS & THE FRIDAY 56 — SEPT. 6

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Welcome to some bookish fun today as we share Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and as we 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!

If you have been wanting to participate, but haven’t yet tried, now is the time!

What better way to spend a Friday?

Today’s featured book is another ARC from Amazon Vine:  Just What Kind of Mother Are You?, by Paula Daly.

 

 

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Beginning:  Day One:  Tuesday

I wake up more tired than when I went to sleep.  I’ve had five and a half hours and, after hitting the snooze button for the third time, I lift my head.

It’s the kind of tired I’m beyond finding reasons for.  You know the sort, you first notice it and you think:  What is wrong with me?

***

56:  Alexa had turned her back and was taking another taste from the pot on the stove.  ‘Kate,’ she said, her voice snippy with criticism, ‘these onions are not completely softened, you can’t serve the tagine like this, it’ll be awful.’

***

Amazon Blurb:  Lisa Kallisto—overwhelmed working mother—is the not-so-perfect model of the modern woman. She holds down a busy job running an animal shelter, she cares for three demanding children, and she worries that her marriage isn’t getting enough attention. During an impossibly hectic week, Lisa takes her eye off the ball for a moment and her world descends into a living nightmare. Not only is her best friend’s thirteen-year-old daughter missing, but it’s Lisa’s fault. To make matters worse, Lucinda is the second teenage girl to disappear within the past two weeks. The first one turned up stripped bare and abandoned on the main street after a horrible ordeal. Wracked with guilt over her mistake, and after having been publicly blamed by Lucinda’s family, Lisa sets out to right the wrong. As she begins digging under the surface, Lisa learns that everything is not quite what it first appears to be.

In Paula Daly’s heart-stopping debut novel, motherhood, marriage, and friendship are tested when a string of abductions tear through a small-town community. Gripping and fast-paced, Just What Kind of Mother Are You? introduces an outstanding new thriller writer with a terrifying imagination for the horrors that lurk in everyday lives.

***

What do you think?  I know that I’m eager to plunge into this one.  Enjoy your weekend, and I hope you’ll share your comments and links.

 

SERENDIPITOUS FRIDAYS: BOOK BEGINNINGS & THE FRIDAY 56 — JAN. 18

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Welcome to some bookish fun today as we share Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and as we 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!

If you have been wanting to participate, but haven’t yet tried, now is the time!

What better way to spend a Friday?

Today I’m featuring  one of next week’s books:  The Sandcastle Girls, by Chris Bohjalian.

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Beginning:  (Prologue):

When my twin brother and I were small children, we would take turns sitting on our grandfather’s lap.  There he would grab the rope-like rolls of baby fat that would pool at our waists and bounce us on his knees, cooing, “Big belly, big belly, big belly.”  This was meant as an affectionate, grandfatherly gesture, not his subtle way of suggesting that if we didn’t lose weight, we would wind up as Jenny Craig testimonials.

Ha-ha…that makes me smile!

***

56:  And then he sees her, and seconds pass before he speaks because he doesn’t want to frighten her, and because the sun through the open doorway catches the red in her hair and the pale beauty of the skin on her cheek and he is simply unable to open his mouth.

***

Amazon Description:  Over the course of his career, New York Times bestselling novelist Chris Bohjalian has taken readers on a spectacular array of journeys. Midwives brought us to an isolated Vermont farmhouse on an icy winter’s night and a home birth gone tragically wrong. The Double Bind perfectly conjured the Roaring Twenties on Long Island—and a young social worker’s descent into madness. And Skeletons at the Feast chronicled the last six months of World War Two in Poland and Germany with nail-biting authenticity. As The Washington Post Book World has noted, Bohjalian writes “the sorts of books people stay awake all night to finish.”
In his fifteenth book, The Sandcastle Girls, he brings us on a very different kind of journey. This spellbinding tale travels between Aleppo, Syria, in 1915 and Bronxville, New York, in 2012—a sweeping historical love story steeped in the author’s Armenian heritage, making it his most personal novel to date.
When Elizabeth Endicott arrives in Syria, she has a diploma from Mount Holyoke College, a crash course in nursing, and only the most basic grasp of the Armenian language. The First World War is spreading across Europe, and she has volunteered on behalf of the Boston-based Friends of Armenia to deliver food and medical aid to refugees of the Armenian genocide. There, Elizabeth becomes friendly with Armen, a young Armenian engineer who has already lost his wife and infant daughter. When Armen leaves Aleppo to join the British Army in Egypt, he begins to write Elizabeth letters, and comes to realize that he has fallen in love with the wealthy, young American woman who is so different from the wife he lost.Flash forward to the present, where we meet Laura Petrosian, a novelist living in suburban New York. Although her grandparents’ ornate Pelham home was affectionately nicknamed the “Ottoman Annex,” Laura has never really given her Armenian heritage much thought. But when an old friend calls, claiming to have seen a newspaper photo of Laura’s grandmother promoting an exhibit at a Boston museum, Laura embarks on a journey back through her family’s history that reveals love, loss—and a wrenching secret that has been buried for generations.

***

Now I’m off to see what the rest of you are sharing.  Come on by and chat!

SERENDIPITOUS FRIDAYS: BOOK BEGINNINGS & THE FRIDAY 56 — DEC. 14

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Welcome to some bookish fun today as we share Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and as we 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!

If you have been wanting to participate, but haven’t yet tried, now is the time!

What better way to spend a Friday?

 

Today, I’ve grabbed a book from next week’s pile.  Chanel Bonfire, by Wendy Lawless, is an ARC from the Amazon Vine program.

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Beginning:  Perhaps because her second marriage had only lasted twenty months, or perhaps because she was having a bad hair day, in January of 1969 my mother swallowed a whole bottle of pills and called my stepfather at his hotel to say good-bye.

Pretty, dramatic.  I can’t wait to read more!

***

56:  My sister and I stared dumbly at her.  This morning we’d left our home to go to school, and at the end of the day we had a new one.  Maudie was wailing from her carrier on the front seat next to the driver.  I understood exactly how she felt.

***

Amazon Description:  WITH CLEAR-EYED GRACE, REFRESHING HONESTY, AND FLASHING WIT, WENDY LAWLESS TELLS THE TRUE STORY OF HER UNHINGED UPBRINGING— A DISJOINTED FAIRY TALE OF A CHILDHOOD IN CHAOS

By the time Wendy Lawless turned seventeen, she’d known for quite some time that she didn’t have a normal mother. But that didn’t stop her from wanting one. . . .

GEORGANN REA didn’t bake cookies or go to PTA meetings; she wore a mink coat and always had a lit Dunhill plugged into her cigarette holder. She went through men like Kleenex, and didn’t like dogs or children. Georgann had the ice queen beauty of a Hitchcock heroine and the cold heart to match.

In “a searing memoir that reads like a novel” (Anne Korkeakivi, An Unexpected Guest), Wendy Lawless deftly charts the highs and lows of growing up with her younger sister in the shadow of an unstable, fabulously neglectful mother. Georgann, a real-life Holly Golightly who constantly reinvents herself as she trades up from trailer park to penthouse, suffers multiple nervous breakdowns and suicide attempts, while Wendy tries to hide the cracks in their fractured family from the rest of the world.

Chanel Bonfire depicts a childhood blazed through the refined aeries of the Dakota and the swinging town houses of London, while the girls’ beautiful but damned mother desperately searches for glamour and fulfillment. Ultimately, Wendy and her sister must choose between living their own lives and being their mother’s warden—the hardest, most painful, yet most important decision each of them will ever make.

***

Now I’m eager to check out the rest of your offerings….

SERENDIPITOUS FRIDAYS: BOOK BEGINNINGS & THE FRIDAY 56 — NOV. 9

 

Welcome to some bookish (and serendipitous) fun today as we share Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and as we 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!

If you have been wanting to participate, but haven’t yet tried, now is the time!

 

Today I’ve grabbed a book from next week’s stack.  The Empty Glass, by J.I. Baker takes another look at the fascinating life (and death) of Marilyn Monroe.

 

Beginning:  After awhile, everything started to blur.

I felt that I’d spent hours, days, lying on the floor of this hotel room with my face against the wood and my eyes open wide as the air came through the vent near my head.  The whoosh was all I heard—then the door closing, the keys in the lock, the footsteps on the floor stopping as I turned to see the patent leather shoes before my eyes, the stub of a cigarette dropped between them, burning.

***

P. 56:  The guard looks briefly up at me but doesn’t say a thing.  He leaves the room and locks the door.

***

So…what do you think?  I am not sure what’s going on in these scenes, but I’m eager to find out.

Blurb:  In the early-morning hours of August 5, 1962, Los Angeles County deputy coroner Ben Fitzgerald arrives at the home of the world’s most famous movie star, now lying dead in her bedroom, naked and still clutching a telephone.  There he discovers The Book of Secrets – Marilyn Monroe’s diary – revealing a doomed love affair with a man she refers to only as “The General.”  In the following days, Ben unravels a wide-ranging cover-up and some heartbreaking truths about the fragile, luminous woman behind the celebrity.  Soon the sinister and surreal accounts in The Book of Secrets bleed into Ben’s own life, and he finds himself, like Monroe, trapped in a deepening paranoid conspiracy.  The Empty Glass is an unforgettable combination of the riveting facts and legendary theories that have dogged Monroe, the Kennedy’s, the Mafia, and even the CIA for decades.  It is an exciting debut from a remarkable new thriller writer.

***

Now I’m off to check out your excerpts!

SERENDIPITOUS FRIDAYS: BOOK BEGINNINGS & THE FRIDAY 56 — OCT. 19

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to some bookish fun today as we share Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and as we 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!

If you have been wanting to participate, but haven’t yet tried, now is the time!

Today I’m spotlighting a book from next week’s stack:  the exciting sequel to Blue Mondays!  Tuesday’s Gone, by Nicci French, is another grisly thriller featuring the psychotherapist Frieda Klein.

 

Beginning:  Maggie Brennan half walked, half ran along Deptford Church Street.  She was talking on the phone and reading a file and looking for the address in the A-Z.  It was the second day of the week and she was already two days behind schedule.

***

P. 56:  ‘I made him tea,’ said Michelle.  ‘He needed tidying up.  He was messy.’  She paused. ‘Where is he?  Where’s he gone?’

***

Nicci French, the bestselling author of “What to do When Someone Dies and “Losing You”, returns with the second book in the gripping new series that began with Top Ten Bestseller “Blue Monday”. Fans of Peter James’ “Roy Grace” series and Peter Robinson’s “DCI Banks” series will love central character psychotherapist Frieda Klein, who is consulted on a grisly and seemingly unsolvable crime. For Frieda Klein the days get longer, the cases darker…Psychotherapist Frieda Klein thought she was done with the police. But once more DCI Karlsson is knocking at her door. A man’s decomposed body has been found in the flat of Michelle Doyce, a woman trapped in a world of strange mental disorder. The police don’t know who it is, how he got there or what happened – and Michelle can’t tell them. But Karlsson hopes Frieda can get access to the truths buried beneath her confusion. Painstakingly, Frieda uncovers a possible identity for the corpse: Robert Poole, a jack of all trades and master conman. But the deeper Frieda and Karlsson dig into Poole’s past, the more of his victims they encounter – and the more motives they find for murder. Meanwhile, violent ghosts from Frieda’s own past are returning to threaten her. Unable to discover quite who is telling the truth and who is lying, they know they are getting closer to a killer. But whoever murdered Poole is determined to stay free – and anyone that gets too close will meet the same fate. A gritty heroine, a gruesome crime and a terrifying hunt for a psychotic killer, “Tuesday’s Gone” is not to be missed by fans of psychological thrillers. “Nicci French knows just how to play on our worst fears”. (“Daily Mail”). Nicci French is the pseudonym for Nicci Gerrard and Sean French. The couple live in Suffolk and have written twelve other bestselling novels including “Beneath the Skin” and “Blue Monday”, the first thrilling installment in the Frieda Klein series.

***

I think I’ll read this one during the daytime!  What are the rest of you sharing today?  Come on by and chat.

SERENDIPITOUS FRIDAYS: BOOK BEGINNINGS & THE FRIDAY 56 — AUGUST 31

Welcome to some serendipitous fun today as we share Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and as we 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!

Today, I’m sharing from a current read.

The Song Remains the Same, by Allison Winn Scotch, is the story of survival…and memory.

One of only two survivors of a plane crash, Nell Slattery wakes in the hospital with no memory of the horrific experience-or who she is, or was. Now she must piece together both body and mind, with the help of family and friends, who have their own agendas. She filters through photos, art, music, and stories, hoping something will jog her memory, and soon, in tiny bits and pieces, Nell starts remembering. . . .

It isn’t long before she learns to question the stories presented by her mother, her sister and business partner, and her husband. In the end, she will discover that forgiving betrayals small and large will be the only true path to healing herself-and to finding happiness.

***

Beginning:  Beep.  Beep.  Beep.  Beep.

My eyelids feel like anchors.  There is a drill pounding into the back of my skull.  My lungs feel as if someone has dumped a sandbox inside of them, then turned on a blender.  I inhale and my ribs bark in reply.

***

P. 56:  So this is why he pushes it now.  This is what he’s been through.  This is what he’s learned.

***

I can only imagine the horrifying reality of this woman’s situation.  I am definitely intrigued and wanting to know more.  What about the rest of you?  What do you think, and what are you spotlighting today?

SERENDIPITOUS FRIDAYS: BOOK BEGINNINGS & THE FRIDAY 56 — AUGUST 24

Welcome to some serendipitous fun today as we share Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and as we 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!

Today’s choice is The Meryl Streep Movie Club, by Mia March (my copy is an ARC).

 

Description:  In the bestselling tradition of The Friday Night Knitting Club and The Jane Austen Book Club, three women find unexpected answers, happiness, and one another with Meryl Streep movies as their inspiration.

Two sisters and the cousin they grew up with after a tragedy are summoned home to their family matriarch’s inn on the coast of Maine for a shocking announcement. Suddenly, Isabel, June, and Kat are sharing the attic bedroom–and barely speaking. But when innkeeper Lolly asks them to join her and the guests in the parlor for weekly Movie Night–it’s Meryl Streep month–they find themselves sharing secrets, talking long into the night–and questioning everything they thought they knew about life, love, and one another.

Each woman sees her complicated life reflected through the magic of cinema: Isabel’s husband is having an affair, and an old pact may keep her from what she wants most . . . June has promised her seven-year-old son that she’ll somehow find his father, who he’s never known . . . and Kat is ambivalent about accepting her lifelong best friend’s marriage proposal. Through everything, Lolly has always been there for them, and now Isabel, June, Kat–and Meryl–must be there for her. Finding themselves. Finding each other. Finding a happy ending.

***
Beginning:  Prologue:
Fifteen years ago
New Year’s Day, 2:30 a.m.
The Three Captains’ Inn, Boothbay Harbor, Maine
Silkwood was on.  Lolly’s favorite actress, Meryl Streep, with the shag hairstyle that Lolly had gotten after seeing the movie for the first time, and Cher, who Lolly had always thought was spectacularly fierce.  The word fierce had been applied to Lolly herself, usually by her sister, but Lolly didn’t think she was fierce at all. There was another word for Lolly, and if only she were Catholic, she would spend every day, twice a day, in confession.
***
P. 56:  And now Isabel knew why her aunt had chosen to make it Meryl Streep month again.  Lolly had always said that a Meryl Streep movie was as good as chicken soup, a best friend, a therapist, and a stiff drink.
***
I can’t wait to read this book!  Not only am I a Meryl Streep fan, but I love the idea of this story.  What are the rest of you enjoying today?