If you’re looking for a book that you can’t put down, that is brought alive by intriguing characters you care about, plus is written in beautiful prose, and has a plot that’s obviously been scribed by a master, then look no further than The Remedy for Love by Bill Roorbach.
The story unfolds during a snowstorm, “The Storm of the Century,” worse than any you could imagine, unless you happen to live in Boston this winter. A homeless young woman and a small-town lawyer are the unlikely duo who occupy the pages through all kinds of weather, anger, loneliness, and love. Roorbach entertains, makes you laugh out loud, touches your heart, and maintains a level of tension that will leave you breathless until the last page. His sense of place and descriptions of the weather are so richly detailed that you can see the river and feel the cold in your bones.
“The big window over the river was barely a window anymore, frosted like a Pop-Tart and draped heavily with snow, just a whale’s eye left open in the middle to peer through, a sobering view. The snow out there was deep, very deep, a heavy drift wave like the purest sand dune mounded clear up over the windowsill, eight or nine feet deep off the ledge, maybe more, no color anywhere, only white and black and every shade of gray between.”
This is a dazzling read by a master storyteller.
Roorbach is the author of the bestselling novel Life Among Giants which won the Maine Literary Award in Fiction. Earlier works of fiction include Big Bend, winner of the Flannery O’Connor Prize and an O. Henry Prize. His non-fiction includes Summers with Juliet, and Into the Woods. His writing has been published in Harper’s, Orion, The Atlantic Monthly, Playboy, and dozens of other magazines and journals. He lives in western Maine.
To find out more about Bill Roorbach, visit www.billroorbach.com.
Rain, rain, rain, and more rain. Last week I was so depressed I considered buying a S.A.D. light. Instead, I read Karen Karbo’s Julia Child Rules: Lessons on Savoring Life, and voilà, I was instantly lifted out of my black hole.
Karbo dishes up a book on Child that, despite the many volumes written about the woman already, is fresh, funny, and wildly entertaining. This is not a fan book written by a foodie, though it certainly has plenty of food anecdotes, nor is it a Child memoir in the strictest sense, but it is jammed with interesting tidbits about Child’s personal life. What Karbo set out to do was break down Child’s life to figure out how she found fame, fortune, and love despite her Amazon-esque stature, her lackluster performance in college, and her romantically-bereft teens, twenties, and half of her thirties.
The secrets of living life to the fullest and succeeding far beyond your wildest dreams can be found under chapter headings such as Live With Abandon, All You Need Is a Kitchen and a Bedroom, and Every Woman Should Have a Blowtorch. Yes, of course!, there’s lots of wine, sex, and blatant disregard for the opinions of others when it comes to doing what she wants. Wonderful stuff!
Child’s bawdy, raucous, and joy-filled life combined with Karbo’s darkly comical Nora Ephron-ish sense of humor make Julia Child Rules the perfect antidote to anything that ails you. I love the way Karbo puts her own anxieties and personal failures on the page to demonstrate a point. That quality coupled with her prodigious research on Child culminates in a wonderful pièce de résistance. Actually, if you must know, Karbo quite endeared herself to me with this book; I was already a Julia Child fan.
And may I add that Cheryl Strayed blurbed, “…manages on every page to be as enlightening as it is entertaining, as smart as it is funny…intimate, inspiring, and unlike anything I’ve ever read about Child before…Karbo’s unparalleled wit and wisdom…”
This was my first foray in Karbohemia, which is surprising since she’s written a slew of award-winning books including The Gospel According to Coco Chanel, How Georgia Became O’Keeffe, and How to Hepburn, which are all part of her Kick Ass Women series. Her memoir about her father, The Stuff of Life, was a New York Times Notable Book, a People Magazine Critics’ Pick, and winner of the Oregon Book Award for Creative Non-fiction. Her short stories, essays, and articles have appeared everywhere, and she was one of the lucky 24 writers who copped an Amtrak Residency last year.
P.S. Karbo’s Diamond Lane: A Novel was reissued by Portland’s Hawthorne Books last September. Originally published in 1991, The New York Times loved it—declaring it one of the best novels of 1991, and described it as, “A wonderfully comic novel about savvy Hollywood outsiders trying to get in…not only is the plot ingenious, but the writing remains deft all the way through.” Will definitely look for a copy and you should, too.
Julia Child Rules: Lessons on Savoring Life skirt!, 2013
The hair on your neck will stand up as you read the stories collected and edited by Sarah Weinman for Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives: Stories from the Trailblazers of Domestic Suspense. It’s a tribute to 14 of the women who wrote the great mysteries of yore. Vera Caspary, Nedra Tyre, Shirley Jackson and others paved the way decades ago for the likes of Sue Grafton, Tana French, and most recently, Gillian Flynn. This wonderful collection is full of murderous wives, deranged husbands, deceitful children, and vengeful friends.
Act II (Read Act I here.)
It’s the end of August. The man is measuring the same 2X4 over and over again. The woman is lying on the chaise lounge gazing at the half-built studio. It’s hot and humid.
Him: What huh?
Her: Does the studio look tall?
Her: Weird. It’s bigger than I thought it would be. Can we go this big without a permit? You checked the building code, right?
Him: I used the info you gave me.
Her: But that was for Washington, not Oregon.
Him: Why would you give me the Washington building code? (Gesturing going on.)
Her: Because it’s all I could find. I figured it would be sorta similar. Why didn’t you check? Why would you rely on me?
Him: You’re the professional Googler. You know everything.
Her: You’re the builder.
Him: It’ll be fine. Just don’t tell anyone.
Her: Who would I tell? Read more…
Here’s what reviewers are saying about it:
“Lovely and wry, Moyes’s newest is captivating and bittersweet.” – Publishers Weekly
“Even the most hard-hearted reader will want to know what happens to these women, not just the flesh-and-blood ones but also the bewitching one on the wall. Where will the painting land, and was its subject a casualty of war? In this moving paean to daring, determination and perspicacity, Moyes keeps the reader guessing down to the last hankie.” – Los Angeles Times
Scenery: It’s May and the flowers are starting to bloom. An ugly but functional wooden shed stands in the backyard. Its roof is covered with moss. The door is warped and hanging from its hinges.
Her: There are mice in the shed and they’re shitting on my garden tools.
Him: Mice are cute.
Her: There are nests of hornets, and the neighbors complained that the shed is an eyesore.
Him: The trees will be tall enough next year to hide the shed.
Her: Your tools are getting wet and rusting.
Him: Let’s replace the shed.
Scenery: It’s June and the woman is standing where the shed used to be. The sun is shining and the trees are resplendent in their greenery.
Her: This spot has a really good view of the wetlands. Wouldn’t it be a great place for a writing studio?
Him: You already have a perfectly good writing office.
Her: It will be a selling point if we ever sell the house. AND, I’ll turn my office into the guest room so you can have another workroom.
Him: I’m going to die in this house. Read more…
“When I finished this novel, I didn’t want to review it; I wanted to reread it…An affair to remember.” — Liesl Schillinger, The New York Times Book Review
“To be devoured like candy, between tears.” — O, The Oprah Magazine
“Funny and moving but never predictable.” — USA Today
If that isn’t reason enough to get excited, Moyes will release her next book, The Girl You Left Behind, on August 20th. (Watch for my Giveaway that week.)
The Girl You Left Behind, though a love story, features strong female relationships as well. What made you want to write about the connections that can form between women? If Liv and Sophie had lived in the same time, do you think they would have been friends?
My female friendships are so important to me; I honestly don’t know how women survive without them. I get very bored of reading manufactured narratives that pit women against women; the working mums vs. stay at homes, old vs. young, the ‘evil’ woman boss who is trying to keep younger women down—I don’t recognise these images—most women I know are actually pretty supportive of each other. So I liked having relationships in this book where women are supportive of each other, even if their relationships are often complex and changing. To me that reflects real life.
And yes, I think that Sophie and Liv might have been friends—I think through her sister’s grief, Sophie might have understood Liv’s own. And both knew what it was like to utterly adore your husband. Read more…