The first two books I covered in a prior post, so here's the second half. Liane Moriarty's Truly Madly Guilty is set,like her earlier bestsellers such as The Husband's Secret, in Australia and follows three families still reeling from the aftermath of an incident that took place at a backyard barbecue.
The hosts of that gathering, Vid and Tiffany, seem to be handling things well yet Tiffany notices that her pre-teen daughter Dakota is perhaps acting a little too well adjusted there. The main guests, Erika and Oliver, also appear to be doing well but Erika is concerned over a memory lapse that could connect the dots better about what happened.
That last minute change in venue made the true purpose of that get-together a bit more awkward and ultimately resulted in straining their marriage to the breaking point.
The format of this book is similar to Moriarty's Big Little Lies, which is set to air soon on HBO as a limited series, yet the stakes are slightly different for this set of characters. However, she has a real knack for domestic dramas and a talent for adding solid layers of depth to her fictional folk which serves her well here. TMG is an engaging read that may not have as much sizzle to the steak as BLL did but still offers up plenty of flavorful punch:
Our leading man of the title is a retired widower living in the small English town of Edgecombe St. Mary, who when we first met him is in shock over the sudden death of his brother Bertie. He gets immediate comfort from Mrs. Ali, a widow who runs a local shop and shares his taste in reading.
While the Major is dealing with his relatives in order to claim what he considers to be his inheritance(a hunting rifle that was part of a matched set given to each brother by their late father), he keeps running into Mrs. Ali and winds up getting involved in her own struggles with her family, who want her to give up the shop in order to hand it over to a moody nephew.
In the end, it is up to Major Pettigrew to do what he likes least-make an open declaration of his feelings-to make everything work out for all concerned.
For a debut novel, Helen Simonson makes an outstanding first impression that marks her as a true professional. From her touches of gentle humor to the details of country village life, this book transports you right over to England with vivid emotions and stylish flair.
Many have said that her writing style is very Jane Austen like and I do feel that's not just hype. If I was to select an Austen novel to pair this story with, Persuasion would suit the bill nicely. The hesitation dance of love that the Major and Mrs. Ali engage in during the course of the novel does follow in the same steps that Anne Eliot and Captain Wentworth first mapped out, right down to the last wonderful two-step of the heart:
I did get a start on the last couple of books on my readathon list, Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye(had to extend my library renewal for that) and Curtis Sittenfeld's American Wife, both of which I'll continue with,of course, along with my Series-ous Reading pick,which I hope to have a write-up for later this week.
Much thanks to Michelle Miller of Seasons of Reading for setting up another fun time for all of us to indulge in. It's really good to find bookish friends to share this dreary season with and perhaps make new ones as well: