Maud Gage Baum, widow of the author of the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, met Judy Garland, the young actress playing the role of Dorothy on the set of The Wizard of Oz in 1939. At the time, Maud was seventy-eight and Judy was sixteen. In spite of their age difference, Maud immediately connected to Judy–especially when Maud heard her sing “Over the Rainbow,” a song whose yearning brought to mind the tough years in South Dakota when Maud and her husband struggled to make a living–until Frank Baum’s book became a national sensation.
This wonderfully evocative two-stranded story recreates Maud’s youth as the rebellious daughter of a leading suffragette, and the prairie years of Maud and Frank’s early days when they lived among the people–especially young Dorothy–who would inspire Frank’s masterpiece. Woven into this past story is one set in 1939, describing the high-pressured days on The Wizard of Oz film set where Judy is being badgered by the director, producer, and her ambitious stage mother to lose weight, bind her breasts, and laugh, cry, and act terrified on command. As Maud had promised to protect the original Dorothy back in Aberdeen, she now takes on the job of protecting young Judy.
I have always loved The Wizard of Oz movie and couldn’t wait to read Finding Dorothy! Elizabeth Letts tells the story of a young Maud Gage Baum and her life with L. Frank Baum along with the making of the movie version of Baum’s famous book. I loved reading how Baum’s real life was woven into his book. This is a must read glimpse behind the scenes of one of our most cherished books and movie adaptation.
About the author:
Elizabeth Letts is an award winning and bestselling author of both fiction and non-fiction. The Perfect Horse was the winner of the 2017 PEN USA Award for Research Non-fiction and a #1 Wall Street Journal bestseller. The Eighty-Dollar Champion was a #1 New York Times bestseller and winner of the 2012 Daniel P Lenehan Award for Media Excellence from the United States Equestrian Foundation. She is also the author of two novels, Quality of Care and Family Planning, and an award-winning children’s book, The Butter Man. She lives in Southern California and Northern Michigan.
- Published February 12, 2019 by Ballantine Books
- 351 pages
Summer has started in idyllic Sag Harbor, and for Emma Mapson that means greeting guests at the front desk of The American Hotel. But when one of the town’s most famous residents, artist Henry Wyatt, dies suddenly, Emma learns he has mysteriously left his waterfront home – a self-designed masterpiece filled with his work – to her teenage daughter, Penny.
Back in Manhattan, legendary art patron Bea Winstead’s grief at her lifelong friend and former business partner Henry’s passing turns to outrage at the news of his shocking bequest. How did these unknown locals get their hands on the estate? Bea, with her devoted assistant Kyle in tow, descends on Sag Harbor determined to reclaim the house and preserve Henry’s legacy.
While Emma fights to defend her daughter’s inheritance, Bea discovers that Henry left a treasure trove of sketches scattered around town. With Penny’s reluctant help, Bea pieces them together to find a story hidden in plain sight: an illustration of their shared history with an unexpected twist that will change all of their lives.
Drawn together in their battle for the house, Emma and Bea are forced to confront the past while facing a future that challenges everything they believe about love, fate, and family.
Pack a copy of Drawing Home in your beach bag this summer! I loved this story of mother/daughter relationships, an unexpected inheritance and a bit of mystery set in Sag Harbor. Fans of Elin Hilderbrand will love Drawing Home!
About the author:
Jamie Brenner is the bestselling author of the THE FOREVER SUMMER, THE HUSBAND HOUR, and THE WEDDING SISTERS. Her latest book is DRAWING HOME. She lives in New York City and spends her summers visiting the beach towns that inspire her novels.. For contact info, tour dates, and book clubs please visit www.jamiebrenner.com
- Published May 7, 2019 by Little, Brown and Company
- 368 pages
In Split-Level, set as the nation recoils from Nixon, Alex Pearl is about to commit the first major transgression of her life. But why shouldn’t she remain an officially contented, soon-to-turn-thirty wife? She’s got a lovely home in an upscale Jersey suburb, two precocious daughters, and a charming husband, Donny. But Alex can no longer deny she craves more—some infusion of passion into the cul-de-sac world she inhabits.
After she receives a phone call from her babysitter’s mother reporting that Donny took the teen for a midnight ride, promising he’d teach her how to drive, Alex insists they attend Marriage Mountain, the quintessential 1970s “healing couples sanctuary.” Donny accedes—but soon becomes obsessed with the manifesto A Different Proposition and its vision of how multiple couples can live together in spouse-swapping bliss. At first Alex scoffs, but soon she gives Donny much more than he bargained for. After he targets the perfect couple to collude in his fantasy, Alex discovers her desire for love escalating to new heights—along with a willingness to risk everything. Split-Levelevokes a pivotal moment in the story of American matrimony, a time when it seemed as if an open marriage might open hearts as well.
As a child of the 70’s, I jumped at the chance to read Split-Level. What happens when a married couple decide to have an “open” marriage and become swingers? I have often wondered how marriages can survive without monogamy. Sande Boritz Berger gave me a though provoking glimpse into a life style completely different than my own. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this captivating novel!
About the author:
After two decades as a scriptwriter and video/film producer for Fortune 500 companies, Sande Boritz Berger returned to her passion: writing both fiction and non-fiction full time. Her stories and essays have been published in The Rambler Magazine, Every Woman Has a Story by Warner Books, Ophelia’s Mom by Crown Publishing, Aunties: Thirty-five Writers Celebrate Their Other Mother by Ballantine and others. Sande received an M.F.A. in Writing and Literature from Stony Brook Southampton College where she received the Deborah Hecht Memorial prize for fiction. The Sweetness was a semi-finalist in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel awards. The author lives with her husband in Manhattan. She has two daughters.
- Published May 7, 2019 by She Writes Press.
- 320 pages
Overworked and underappreciated, single mom Amy Byler needs a break. So when the guilt-ridden husband who abandoned her shows up and offers to take care of their kids for the summer, she accepts his offer and escapes rural Pennsylvania for New York City.
Usually grounded and mild mannered, Amy finally lets her hair down in the city that never sleeps. She discovers a life filled with culture, sophistication, and—with a little encouragement from her friends—a few blind dates. When one man in particular makes quick work of Amy’s heart, she risks losing herself completely in the unexpected escape, and as the summer comes to an end, Amy realizes too late that she must make an impossible decision: stay in this exciting new chapter of her life, or return to the life she left behind.
But before she can choose, a crisis forces the two worlds together, and Amy must stare down a future where she could lose both sides of herself, and every dream she’s ever nurtured, in the beat of a heart.
Although my kids are now grown and out of the house, I can remember those hectic days of trying to balance work and raising kids. There were so many days that I would just roll my eyes and say, “Calgon, take me away!” MOMSPRINGA?! That’s brilliant! The Overdue Life of Amy Byler is a story that I think all mothers can relate to, whether they are married or single. I think at some point, we have all wished we could just get away from the day to day of raising kids and find that person we used to be. I enjoyed reading Amy’s adventures in finding some “me” time and discovering herself once again.
Mad Men meets The Devil Wears Prada as Renée Rosen draws readers into the glamour of 1965 New York City and Cosmopolitan Magazine, where a brazen new Editor-in-Chief–Helen Gurley Brown–shocks America by daring to talk to women about all things off limits…
New York City is filled with opportunities for single girls like Alice Weiss who leaves her small Midwestern town to chase her big city dreams and unexpectedly lands the job of a lifetime working for Helen Gurley Brown, the first female Editor-in-Chief of a then failing Cosmopolitan Magazine.
Nothing could have prepared Alice for the world she enters as editors and writers resign on the spot, refusing to work for the woman who wrote the scandalous bestseller, Sex and the Single Girl. While confidential memos, article ideas, and cover designs keep finding their way into the wrong hands, someone tries to pull Alice into this scheme to sabotage her boss. But Alice remains loyal and becomes all the more determined to help Helen succeed. As pressure mounts at the magazine and Alice struggles to make her way in New York, she quickly learns that in Helen Gurley Brown’s world, a woman can demand to have it all.
Park Avenue Summer is a fascinating glimpse into the early days of Cosmopolitan magazine(as we know it!) and it’s first female editor, Helen Gurley Brown. Rene Rosen’s research is always evident in her books but her work shines through in this novel! I lost sleep over this book simply because I couldn’t put it down and read into the early hours. Grab a copy of this book, a martini and settle in for an amazing read!
From the moment Lucy met Diana, she was kept at arm’s length. Diana is exquisitely polite, but Lucy knows, even after marrying Oliver, that they’ll never have the closeness she’d been hoping for.
But who could fault Diana? She was a pillar of the community, an advocate for social justice, the matriarch of a loving family. Lucy had wanted so much to please her new mother-in-law.
That was ten years ago. Now, Diana has been found dead, leaving a suicide note. But the autopsy reveals evidence of suffocation. And everyone in the family is hiding something…
From the bestselling author of The Family Next Door comes a new page-turner about that trickiest of relationships.
When I saw that Sally Hepworth had a new book, I didn’t even bother reading the description because I knew it would be good! The Mother-In-Law tells the story of so many family relationships besides the sometimes adversarial relationship between a daughter in law and her mother in law. While I first saw Diana as cold and calculating, I soon realized why. Sally Hepworth seamlessly blends familial relationships and issues along with a whodunit that kept me turning the pages!
Julia Martin grew up wealthy, but it wasn’t until she met her husband, Jack, that she knew true happiness. He made her feel worthy and loved. Their marriage was also an escape from her sister’s bullying, her father’s scrutiny, and her chilly and enigmatic mother. But when tragedy strikes on the night she gives birth, Julia’s happiness is shattered. She has no choice but to return home to her family’s South Carolina mansion, where the grief and guilt buried in her mother’s past await her.
As a young woman trapped in a bitter marriage, Julia’s mother, Iris, once needed her own means of escape. In Lily, she found a best friend. In the flower shop they opened, she discovered independence. Then came a transgression—unforgivable, unforgettable, and unresolved—that changed Iris’s life forever.
Now, in Iris’s most desperate hour, her only hope is to regain the trust of the daughter she loves—and to share the secrets of the heart that could rebuild a family’s broken bonds.
I love a good southern fiction book and Only One Life was amazing! I loved the different viewpoints and learning about Iris and Julia’s stories, layer by layer. I read this captivating story in one sitting…unputdownable! Grab a glass of sweet tea, pull up a chair on the porch and settle in with this book!
The daughter of Hollywood royalty, Roxanne Granville is used to getting what she wants–even if she has to break the rules. But after a falling-out with her grandfather, a powerful movie mogul, she has to face life on her own for the first time….
Roxanne forges a career unique for women in the 1950s, becoming an agent for hungry young screenwriters. She struggles to be taken seriously by the men who rule Hollywood and who often assume that sexual favors are just a part of doing business. When she sells a script by a blacklisted writer under the name of a willing front man, more exiled writers seek her help. Roxanne wades into a world murky with duplicity and deception, and she can’t afford any more risks.
Then she meets Terrence Dexter, a compelling African American journalist unlike anyone she’s ever known. Roxanne again breaks the rules, and is quickly swept up in a passionate relationship with very real dangers that could destroy everything she’s carefully built.
Roxanne Granville is a woman who bravely defies convention. She won’t let men make all the rules, and won’t let skin color determine whom she can love. The Great Pretenders is a riveting, emotional novel that resonates in today’s world, and reminds us that some things are worth fighting for.
I love historical fiction set in old Hollywood and couldn’t wait to read The Great Pretenders. Roxanne Granville is Hollywood royalty and born with a silver spoon. In 1950’s Hollywood, the “red scare” is snowballing and many are blacklisted. Roxanne starts her own writers agency and soon finds herself making decisions that could be career ending. Not to mention that she falls for a black reporter which was taboo then. Laura Kapakian’s research and attention to detail shines through! I loved this story! A must read for historical fiction fans.
In the summer of 1976, recently widowed and childless, Ora Lee Beckworth hires a homeless old black man to mow her lawn. The neighborhood children call him the Pee-can Man; their mothers call them inside whenever he appears. When the police chief’s son is found stabbed to death near his camp, the man Ora knows as Eddie is arrested and charged with murder. Twenty-five years later, Ora sets out to tell the truth about the Pecan Man. In narrating her story, Ora discovers more truth about herself than she could ever have imagined. This novel has been described as To Kill a Mockingbird meets The Help.
A book friend recommended that I read The Pecan Man and then she sent me a copy. I almost didn’t read it simply because I thought it’s too short to be any good. Well, was I wrong!! The Pecan Man is a beautifully written southern fiction story that has been described as To Kill A Mockingbird meets The Help. I fell in love with the characters of Ora Lee and Blanche from page one. Even though the pages are few, this story will linger with me for a long time! Thank you for the recommendation and copy, Lisa!