Welcome to the Ladies' Home Journal book club! Join us in discussing the latest book reviews and reading lists.
When Molly, a troubled foster teen, agrees to clean 91-year-old Vivian Daly's attic in order to avoid juvenile detention, the pair strike up an unlikely friendship. As they open boxes, Molly learns that Vivian is a survivor of a little-known chapter of U.S. history: the "orphan trains" that , from 1854 to 1929, carried homeless children from the East Coast to smaller towns out West. The orphans were chosen at stops along the way by couples looking for a child--sometimes to adopt but just as often to put to work as a servant or farmhand. Irish-born Vivian boards the train in New York 1929, after most of her family dies in a fire, and she endures terrible cruelty before she ends up with a kind Minnesota couple. Similarly rootless, Molly has shuffled from one unhappy foster home to another. As this touching novel alternates between past and present, you being to understand why the two women--who share a deep yearning for family--forge such a strong bond.
Linda Hammerick suffers from a condition known as synesthesia: The sound of a word triggers a taste. Her own name evokes mint; her childhood crush's, the taste of orange sherbet. But for Linda, coming of age in the '70s Deep South, this peculiar syndrome is only one of the ways in which she feels like an outsider -- and this sense of alienation follows her into adulthood. When a family tragedy pulls her back home, Linda uncovers the truth about her personal history. Provocative and poignant, this is a novel to savor.
He was no Elvis, but try telling that to the millions of teen girls around the world who worshipped David Cassidy in the '70s. I Think I Love You is the story one such fan: Petra, a 13-year-old promising cellist living in South Wales in 1974.You'll care deeply about this dreamy, besotted girl and the woman she becomes, and you'll cheer when she gets the happy ending she deserves.
Seventy-year-old Percy Darling is settling happily into retirement: reading novels, but his routines are disrupted, when he is persuaded to let a locally beloved preschool take over his barn. No longer can he remain aloof from his community, his two grown daughters, or, to his shock, the precarious joy of falling in love.
This debut novel, which follows the lives of spinster sisters Milly and Twiss, is full of hope and beauty, heartbreak and sacrifice, and offers wonderful surprises at every turn.
Marylou Ahearn is going to kill Dr. Wilson Spriggs come hell or high water. In 1953, the good doctor gave her a radioactive cocktail without her consent, and Marylou has been plotting her revenge ever since. Find out what happens in this month's darkly funny pick.
We can almost guarantee that Victoria Jones, the troubled narrator of this engrossing first novel, will get your book club fired up for debate.
Experience sorrow and hopefulness with three childhood friends whose lives are upended by World War II when their husbands go off to fight. You'll feel deeply for these characters -- and realize that the devastation war wreaks on families never changes.
How does a seemingly happy 30-year marriage suddenly fall apart? That's the question that haunts Harry Quirk, a down-on-his-luck Brooklyn poet, after his wife, Luz -- enraged by the infidelity she thinks she's discovered -- throws him out. Not a lot happens, plot-wise, but Christensen draws you in with mesmerizing prose that jolts you into a surprising realization: Everyone, even a screw-up like Harry, is entitled to a second shot at happiness.
Historical fiction buffs, you're in for a treat. This absorbing epic, set mostly in the mid-19th century, has it all, including politics, sex and a don't-mess-with-me heroine named Ana who emigrates from Spain to run a sugar plantation in Puerto Rico. (Not for nothing has Conquistadora been compared to Gone With the Wind.) Along the way Santiago throws in some scandal, plenty of page-turning suspense, and fascinating history.
You'll get caught up in this sweeping epic tale of Ciro Lazzari and Enza Ravenelli, who meet as teenagers in their native Italy, kiss, then part. They meet again in New York, where each has been forced to start over -- Ciro as a shoemaker and Enza as a seamstress. Theirs is a story of missed connections until one of them stages a dramatic intervention that changes their fate.
Pulitzer Prize-winner Brooks takes a tiny slice of American history -- in 1665, Caleb Cheeshahteaumauk became the first Native American to graduate from Harvard College -- and imagines an unforgettable story of friendship and aspiration in Colonial America.
The two loners who take turns narrating this haunting book will capture your heart. Arthur Opp, 58, is a 550-pound former professor who has retreated to his house and stayed there for more than a decade, eating himself into oblivion. "Kel" Keller, 18, is a baseball prodigy who lives in poverty with his mother but attends an affluent high school where his athletic talent allows him to fit in. As the two men's parallel stories start to converge, Moore's lovely prose will have you hoping that these characters will manage to rescue each other.
Jack and Mabel, a childless couple in their 50s, have moved to this harsh landscape to escape a long-ago trauma -- the stillbirth of their baby. One day they build a snow girl in their yard; the next morning it's gone. When they glimpse a wild-looking girl in the woods near their home, neither is sure if she's real.
Who can resist a story about a Titanic survivor? Not us! This time, the drama centers around Tess, a beautiful English servant girl who maneuvers her way onto the ocean liner's maiden voyage. Tess is hired as a lady's maid by the imperious (and real-life) fashion designer Lady Lucile Duff Gordon. What's different about this story is that most of it takes place after the shipwreck. Both women survive and reconnect in New York City, where Tess, a gifted seamstress, lands a spot working in the designer's atelier. Her dream job loses it's luster when rumors start to fly, amid a Congressional investigation about Lord and Lady Duff Gordan's ugly behavior in their lifeboat. Tess is also torn between two good men -- both madly in love with her.
Many months after her death from a freak accident, Aaron Woolcott's wife, Dorothy, begins appearing to him at odd moments. These bouts of magical thinking are brief but shake Aaron to his core.
Welcome to New York City, 1845, a time when crime is rampant and the newly formed police department struggles to keep order. Bartender Timothy Wilde loses almost everything--his home, his job, his savings, and his hopes of proposing to the woman he loves--in a massive fire that incinerates lower Manhattan and disfigures his face. Penniless and desperate, he reluctantly joins the police force, egged on by his older brother, a Democratic bigwig who uses his political pull to get Tim the job. While patrolling the slums one night, he literally collides with a young girl covered in blood. The story she tells him--that dozens of murdered children are buried in a nearby forest--is hard to believe. But when Time begins to investigate, he quickly discovers that her tale is all too real.
At breakfast one day Harold Fry opens a letter from a former colleague who tells him she's dying of cancer in a hospice 600 miles from the small English town where he lives with his wife, Maureen. Harold writes her a postcard and goes out to mail it, but then--after a cashier tells him that faith, not medicine, keeps a person alive--spontaneously decides to walk to the hospice. "As long as I walk, she must live," Harold explains as he sets off on his journey, with no phone, map, or decent shoes. Marveling at the English countryside and the random acts of kindness he experiences along the way, Harold contemplates the meaning of his life. Meanwhile, Maureen does some soul-searching of her own. Separately yet together, the pair move on parallel paths toward a stunning climax that will break your heart and heal it at the same time.