RaveThe New York Journal of BooksWhat author Kalani Pickhart has achieved is a novel that is at once tragic and beautiful. Taking a variety of mediums, from non-linear storytelling, newspaper accounts, and ancient Ukranian folk songs, at times it seems the novel’s main protagonist is the Ukraine and the characters are simply there to flesh out this complex region of the world ... This method could easily be clumsy, but Pickhart skillfully renders it beautiful, like a woven tapestry in which the product is beautiful, but the art is most appreciated upon close inspection. And into this tapestry she weaves the lives of those who stay and fight against oppression and hate at great personal peril ... simply breathtaking in its scope. Pickhart’s storytelling is flawless with nothing gratuitous or superfluous. She has taken a large, complex subject and rendered it both tragic and tender by reminding the reader that in the end, the individual life touched by conflict is what really matters.
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksJennifer Chiaverini brings a wealth of research and information to an event whose outcome is still felt today. Sadly, the names and the sacrifices of those who organized and participated are not well known, and their hard work has been overlooked and taken for granted. Chiaverini shines in her grasp of the personalities and policies that went into making the march happen. She understands politics and the friends and enemies one must make in order to stand up for a cause ... Although the desire to illustrate that the movement belonged to all women makes sense, because the story is told from the perspective of three different protagonists, there are times the narrative feels disjointed. In spite of this, Chiaverini has given voices to women who worked hard and who gave up much in order for justice to be done.
PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksCarter shines a light upon Leonora Carrington, an important artist who, like so many other women artists, has been overlooked ... The book is told through the lens of Leonora, Max, and Peggy Guggenheim. It is a useful tool to show how they all influenced, and both fed and stunted each other. Time is not linear, especially at the beginning of the book, and, at times, this method slows the pace of the story ... less a story about love, and more a story about finding your own authentic voice. It is the rare story of a great woman who knows what she must sacrifice to find out who she is.
RaveThe New York Journal of BooksThe Chanel Sisters is well done and believable. Though little is known of Antoinette Chanel’s life, Judithe Little gives her an authentic voice that makes you believe that everything you are reading is fact. Her characters are fully formed with believable dreams and obstacles and, as a reader, you are fully invested in their success. While Judithe Little does a fine job presenting the reader with the romantic tale of the Chanel sisters, she is able to present something more. Throughout the book you are reminded of the rigid social construct of French society. The Chanel Sisters is a well-researched historical fiction that depicts France’s Belle Epoch and post-war change. But most importantly, is an exploration of class, ambition, and the sacrifices these women had to make in order to achieve success and love.
Stephen P. Kiernan
RaveThe New York Journal of BooksWith Charlie’s narration being told through present-tense war time, and Brenda’s looking back through older and wiser eyes, this telling is an effective tool to merge both the urgency of the moment and the lessons learned from it ... neither a justification nor an apology. Rather it is an even-handed examination of the urgency of war against our own complicity in the violence we visit upon others ... carries within it a powerful story of hope without minimizing the weight of the effects of war. It is an honest, compelling tale of the human cost of war and the fight that occurs when war ends and redemption begins.
RaveNew York Journal of BooksErdrich seamlessly blends the past, the present, and the future into her narrative and effortlessly skips between the physical and spiritual planes. Her writing shines as she discusses tribal folklore, ritual, and medicine, and it feels as if the reader has been invited into her home to be enlightened and taught ... It is a story in which magic and harsh realities collide in a breathtaking, but ultimately satisfying way. Like those ancestors who linger in the shadows of the pages, the characters Erdrich has created will remain with the reader long after the book is closed.
RaveThe New York Journal of BooksIn A Single Thread, author Tracy Chevalier creates a beautiful and engrossing narrative. She lovingly describes the craftsmanship that went into making the beautiful kneelers that are still in use at the Winchester Cathedral today. With an effortless blend of truth and fiction, she develops characters that are flawed, fascinating, and endearing ... A Single Thread is, at its heart, a story of creation ... But more importantly it is also about creating community in the midst of loss and the importance of lasting friendships. Peopled with strong female characters, A Single Thread is a tribute to those women who defied convention and dared to find happiness in a world that had nothing left to offer them.
PositiveNew York Journal of Books\"Author Kamal has given the five Bennett sisters rounded and complex personalities, and she creates likeable and understandable women ... While Soniah Kamal’s narrative is decidedly more spicy than anything Austen could have offered in her time, it is true to Austen’s voice and purpose. What she offers is an insightful and smart look at Pakistani culture and the ways in which women are viewed and how they view themselves. Like Austen, she seeks to shed light on the double standards and limitations that are set upon women by the societies in which they live. It is a witty delight that will leave you wishing for more.\
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksBecoming Mrs. Lewis, written in first person from the viewpoint of Joy Davidman Lewis paints a vivid, realistic portrayal of a woman’s struggle to break through society’s narrow confines of womanhood in the 1950s ... In the opening section we are introduced to Joy, a young mother bound to an abusive spouse. When her husband, Bill, calls on the phone once again threatening suicide, something within Joy breaks and she falls to her knees. And it is in that moment that she has an encounter with grace so strong that it will define the rest of her life. This experience causes her to reach out for answers, and the answers she finds come from corresponding with C. S. Lewis ... For those fans of Lewis curious about the woman who inspired A Grief Observed this book offers a convincing, fascinating glimpse into the private lives of two very remarkable individuals.