“What Should I Read Next” Wednesday

What have I been reading this week? I know you’ve been dying to find out!

Miss Delacourt Has Her Day by Heidi Ashworth– This novel was short, light, and easy to read. The plot direction seemed a little silly to me, but overall, it was very enjoyable. The book tells the love story of Ginny Delacourt and Sir Anthony Crenshaw.  Because Anthony is a member of the nobility, and Ginny is a vicar’s daughter, their match is discouraged by Anthony’s family, especially his uncle, the Duke of Marcross. Anthony must fulfill certain tasks in order to receive his uncle’s approval for their marriage. However, the tasks are difficult, and made even harder due to gossip, rumors, and disapproval from every side.  After checking out Heidi Ashworth’s website, I realized that this is actually a sequel to the novel Miss Delacourt Speaks Her Mind. Some of the missing details make more sense now, so I recommend reading the books in the correct order!

The Courage Tree by Diane Chamberlain– I know, I know, more Chamberlain! I just can’t help it. The Courage Tree is about Sophie, an 8 year old girl with end stage renal disease, and her mother, Janine, who would do anything for her daughter.  Sophie’s medical treatments have been hard and painful, until her most recent experimental treatment, Herbalina. Janine’s ex-husband Joe, her parents, and Sophie’s doctors all disapprove of Herbalina, but Janine is determined that it is helping Sophie.  Janine lets Sophie go to Girl Scout Camp with her troop because she appears so much healthier, but Sophie doesn’t return home from the trip.  Sophie must survive in the woods while everyone searches for her.  Eventually, only Janine is convinced that Sophie is still alive, and she does everything possible to find Sophie and bring her home before it’s too late. Sophie finds an unexpected refuge, but it may not be the safe haven she needs.

I enjoyed this novel, as I have all of Chamberlain’s novels so far. There were parts where some relationships felt forced or overly coincidental, but the characters were dynamic and interesting.  Sophie especially was a beautiful picture of a strong little girl. Janine’s determination not to give up on her daughter was very convincing and realistic. I feel that some of the other characters gave up on her too quickly to be believable.

The Matchmaker of Kenmare by Frank Delaney– This novel is told from the point of view of Ben, and it covers the relationship and adventures of Ben and his close friend, Kate Begley.  Kate is an Irish matchmaker, who was trained by her grandmother to bring people together and teach them to be happy. Kate falls in love with an American soldier, Charles, during WWII  and ultimately marries him. When he goes missing, Kate and Ben travel Europe and America trying to find him. Ben struggles to understand the relationship between Kate and Charles, as well as his own relationship with Kate.

It took me a few chapters to get into the story and understand what was going on, but I ended up thoroughly enjoying this book. The characters were engaging and the story unpredictable. It was a story of World War II from a side I would never have thought of. Delaney really brings Ireland to life with quirky yet totally realistic characters.

Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin– I actually bought this book at Barnes and Noble. This is rare for me, as most books I get from the library! However, I’ve been on the waiting list for this book for a long time, and I got tired of waiting. This novel is a fictional account of Alice Liddell, on whom Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) based his Alice books. Written from the perspective of Alice Liddell, she recounts her childhood memories of Dodgson and how their relationship changed her life.  Dodgson’s interactions with Alice would give her immortality which was both a gift and a burden.

I have always been fascinated by Dodgson/Carroll and his Alice books, since I was a little girl. I know there is a good deal of controversy over their relationship, and I am always interested to learn more about the real-life background. This novel really opened up the people for me, and I loved reading from Alice’s point of view. Benjamin delves into Alice’s thoughts and experiences in a way that is totally believable and enchanting. Benjamin blends fact and fiction into a story that is both fascinating and provocative.


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