Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
May We Be Forgiven by A.M. Homes
Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver
Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
NW by Zadie Smith
Which do you think will win?
A small shift between cloud and sun altered the daylight, and the whole landscape intensified, brightening before her eyes. The forest blazed with its own internal flame. “Jesus,” she said, not calling for help, she and Jesus weren’t that close, but putting her voice in the world because nothing else present made sense. - from Flight Behavior -Dellarobia’s life changed at seventeen when an unplanned pregnancy forced her into marriage…the same year she was orphaned when her mother succumbed to cancer. Despite a miscarriage, she stayed in her marriage to Cub, a man whose life is defined by his parents – the rigid Bear and his opinionated and religious wife, Hester. Now, ten years later, Dellarobia is disillusioned with her life as mom to two young children, barely scraping by on a small sheep farm in Feathertown, Tennessee on the edge of the Appalachian mountains. She longs for a brighter future, a more romantic relationship than the one she has with Cub, and an escape from the poverty and sameness of each day. So one day she heads up the mountain to consummate a tryst with the telephone guy. But instead of discovering love, Dellarobia finds the trees on the mountain aflame with Monarch butterflies. Believing this to be a message from God, she turns back down the mountain and vows to stay in her marriage and make it work. The butterflies soon become a sensation, bringing a team of scientists to Dellarobia and Cub’s farm and upending the tenuous balance in a family which is living on the edge.
He struggles to make sense of it – all this love so bent out of shape, refracted, like light through the lens. - from The Light Between Oceans, page 225 -
A lighthouse warns of danger – tells people to keep their distance. She had mistaken it for a place of safety. - from the Light Between Oceans, page 227 -Tom Sherbourne carries the scars of war after spending four years on the Western Front during WWI. He returns to Australia and accepts the job as light keeper on Janus Rock – a distant and isolated outpost a half day’s journey from the mainland and the small town of Partageuse. It is in Partageuse he meets Isabel, a young woman whose indefatigable spirit captures his heart. The two marry and begin their life on Janus Rock where the waves and wind, and the gorgeous landscape fill their days. Isabel quickly becomes pregnant, only to lose the child to miscarriage. Two more pregnancies end in disaster…and it is in the sad days following her last pregnancy when Isabel hears a baby’s cry. A boat has washed up on Janus Rock carrying a dead man and a very much alive baby girl. For Isabel, it is the miracle she has been waiting for; but for Tom the arrival of the boat will challenge his sense of right and wrong and test his marriage to Isabel. Tom’s decision to allow Isabel to keep the infant girl (who they name Lucy) and allow the death of the baby’s father to go unreported will have consequences which will profoundly impact not only he and Isabel, but a third person – Lucy’s biological mother who has never given up hope that her baby will be found.
He must turn to something solid, because if he didn’t, who knew where his mind or his soul could blow away to, like a balloon without ballast. That was the only thing that had got him through four years of blood and madness: know exactly where your gun is when you doze for ten minutes in your dugout; always check your gas mask; see that your men have understood their orders to the letter. You don’t think ahead in years or months: you think about this hour, and maybe the next. Anything else is just speculation. – from The Light Between Oceans, page 33 -The Light Between Oceans is beautifully wrought, but not without its flaws. Some plot points felt a bit implausible or contrived, and the novel begins slowly. I read this book for an online book club, and some participants stopped reading because they found the story to slow to engage them. Although I agree that Stedman takes her time to develop the characters and their conflicts, I loved the alluring imagery and lyrical cadence of Stedman’s prose. Sticking with the book proved to have its rewards. Stedman ultimately creates memorable characters and a story which reminds readers that life is complicated and the decisions we make can have devastating consequences not only for ourselves, but for others.
What are you thinking, Amy? The question I’ve asked most often during our marriage, if not out loud, if not to the person who could answer. I suppose these questions stormcloud over every marriage: What are you thinking? How are you feeling? Who are you? What have we done to each other? What will we do? -from Gone Girl, page 3-
But I may be wrong, I may be very wrong. Because sometimes, the way he looks at me? That sweet boy from the beach, man of my dreams, father of my child? I catch him looking at me with those watchful eyes, the eyes of an insect, pure calculation, and I think: This man might kill me. -from Gone Girl, page 205-Nick and Amy Dunne have been married exactly five years when Amy suddenly disappears from their home leaving behind a suspiciously staged scene, blood evidence and clues for a “treasure hunt.” Nick has no real alibi and his lies to police are beginning to make him look like a killer. Meanwhile, Amy’s diary reveals a woman who longs to be the best possible wife, but who fears her husband. As the evidence piles up against Nick and television shows spin the case, it looks like an arrest will soon happen. But is everything all that it seems? Could Nick be innocent? And if so, what has happened to Amy?