Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Rules of Magic, by Alice Hoffman. Simon & Schuster, 2017



 
This is the long awaited prequel to ‘Practical Magic’. In it we learn who the aunts were before they were the old ladies we see in PM- and they had quite interesting young lives! The story of how they grew up, along with their unnaturally beautiful and attractive brother- the only male born into their Owens line- includes being orphaned, being broke, falling in love and losing love, being feared and scorned by the small town their own aunt Isabelle lives in, and, of course, living with the curse of Maria Owens.

So much happens in this novel that I can’t give a capsule recounting of it. Suffice it to say that the teenaged Owen’s have a hard time of life, and choose different ways of dealing with the problems. In this story we meet other Owenses; aunt Isabelle, an unexpected cousin, and mother Susanna with her list of rules that include no walking in the moonlight or having cats and, most important of all, no falling in love. Of course we know they will flout that rule!

You do not have to have read ‘Practical Magic’ to enjoy this book. Except for the very end, it’s completely stand alone. It’s very magical; everything about the Owenses’ lives revolves, whether they like it or not, around magic. But it also revolves, as our own do, around human connection and love. Five stars. 


The above is an affiliate link. If you click through and buy something- anything- from Amazon, they will give me a few cents. 

I received this book free from Net Galley in return for an unbiased review. 

Neither of these things influenced my review.  

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Girls in the Picture, by Melanie Benjamin. Delacourt Press, 2018



 
In 1914, Frances Marion, a twice divorced artist, was living in Los Angeles, drawing for an advertising company. Then she met Mary Pickford, then one silent film star among many others, and both their lives changed. Frances became a script writer and director, working mainly with Mary, and Mary became the top female star in the world. Not only did the two women’s talents mesh, they became best friends, inseparable at work and at home. Eventually, they would both win two Academy Awards. But people change. Mary met Douglas Fairbanks and they fell in love, becoming the king and queen of Hollywood. They built Pickfair, a dream mansion, and hosted not must Hollywood royalty but real live royalty. Frances married Fred Thomson, a soldier, athlete, and former minister, and while they were rich, they lived much more sedately. And Mary changed, with her fame and wealth going to her head.

The story alternates between Frances’s and Mary’s points of view; Frances in first person and Mary in third. The author has a real way with describing emotion that grabs me. Frances stays likeable all through the book, but at times, Mary is not. She has a lot of stress on her; from the time she was a small child, she was supporting her mother and two siblings. She also had a public that wanted her to continue playing children when she was well into her 30s (she was tiny) and got upset when she cut her famous curls off for a stylish bob. She thought about business constantly, running through the ledgers of United Artists every day. It’s understandable that she might succumb to stress in unpleasant ways.

I loved this book despite the sadness within. It’s about love and a lifetime of friendship, and two women who became huge forces in Hollywood when Hollywood was just beginning. In a business that quickly became male dominated, they didn’t give up their power or succumb to the casting couch. I have a love for old Hollywood tales, and this is my favorite so far. Five stars out of five. 

Darla, I'm putting this one aside for you! :-D



The above is an affiliate link. If you click through and buy something- anything- from Amazon, they will give me a few cents. 

I received this book free from the Amazon Vine program in return for an unbiased review. 

Neither of these things influenced my review. 

Monday, August 7, 2017

It’s Not Dark Yet: A Memoir, by Simon Fitzmaurice. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017




Simon Fitzmaurice was only 33 when he was given a diagnosis of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease, motor neuron disease) and given four years to live. A filmmaker with a young family, he wasn’t about to just sit and give up. In 2010, the muscles that allowed him to breathe failed, and he was advised to just die quietly. He opted, against medical opinion, to go on a ventilator. Since then, he has sired more children, written and directed a movie, and written this autobiography, along with, of course, being a father and husband every day. Not exactly a waste of resources!

The book is short and a fast read (less than two hours), but it’s not lightweight. It’s very heavy. This horrible disease has stolen so much from Fitzmaurice, but he lives every day to the fullest. He communicates via an eye glance computer, which turns his eye movements into a voice. His family is 100% supportive. He has a lot to live for and a lot of things he wants to get done. It’s pretty inspirational. Four stars out of five. 



The above is an affiliate link. If you click through and buy something- anything- from Amazon, they will give me a few cents. 

I received this book free from the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review. 

Neither of these things affected my review.