The Help by Kathryn Stockett An optimistic, uplifting debut novel set during the nascent civil rights movement in Jackson, Miss., where black women were trusted to raise white children but not to polish the household silver. Assured and layered, full of heart and history, this book is the talk of book clubs everywhere. Sure to be a bestseller on the beach. Click here to buy this book.
Trouble by Kate Christensen Steam up your summer with this sexy and surprisingly thoughtful book. By turns wry, sexy, and witty, Trouble is a unique coming-of-age novel about three women and the divergent paths they take as they approach mid-life. A scorcher for the summer and we all need that, right? Click here to buy this book.
A Short History of Women by Kate Walbert. Beautifully written and heartwrenching. The story of five generations of women, living in the present and learning for the past, beginning with a British Suffragette and moving through modern British history. Great blend of fiction and history. Also for Anglophiles, Almost Home by Pam Jenoff. A diplomatic thriller set in England, recalling the 1990’s geopolitical landscape and academic life at Cambridge.
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Commencement by. J. Courtney Sullivan. This one’s for Julie and her Satellite Sisters from Smith. Their story, 30 years later! Introducing feminist chick lit in the form of first-time novelist Sullivan’s diverting parody of life at Smith College. The book follows four Smith girls from the instant bonding at college to their post-collegial life. Sullivan’s debut crackles with intelligent observations about the inner sanctum of the all-women’s elite (yet scholarship-laden) college life. Click here to buy this book.
Also recommended in this category of female friendships, The Girls From Ames by Jeffery Zaslow, a non-fiction account of an enduring friendship of midwestern women. Meet the Ames Girls: eleven childhood friends who formed a special bond growing up in Ames, Iowa. As young women, they moved to eight different states, yet managed to maintain an enduring friendship that would carry them through college and careers, marriage and motherhood, dating and divorce, a child’s illness and the mysterious death of one member of their group. Capturing their remarkable story, The Girls from Ames is a testament to the deep bonds of women as they experience life’s joys and challenges -- and the power of friendship to triumph over heartbreak and unexpected tragedy.Click here to buy this book.
And one more story about sisters, Shanghai Girls by Lisa See. We are big fans, of Lisa See’s phenomenal bestsellers Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and Peony in Love. Her attest is about sisters, so count us in! The Shanghai Girls are two sisters who leave Shanghai to find new lives in 1930s Los Angeles. A novel about two sisters, two cultures, and the struggle to find a new life in America while bound to the old, Shanghai Girls is a fresh, fascinating adventure from beloved and bestselling author Lisa See.Click here to buy this book.
The Little Stranger by Sarah Walters Ghosts rock! At its core, The Little Stranger is an old-fashioned ghost story, complete with spooky house, eccentric inhabitants, an air of general madness and malcontent, and a narrator who may not be as mild-mannered as he seems. What elevates this novel from the crowded genre is Waters’ ability to evoke the subtleties of the past as she skillfully weaves tension and dread into each paragraph.Click here to buy this book.
Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín This year’s Netherland (Did we call that last summer?) Yes, we did. This brief novel seems modest at first but the quality of the writing will blow you away. A diligent young woman with few opportunities in nineteen-fifties Ireland is packed off by her family to Brooklyn, where she works in a department store, goes to church and night school, and acquires a boyfriend, before a family crisis presents her with a stark choice between her new life and her old one. Purging the immigrant novel of all swagger and sentimentality, Tóibín leaves us with a renewed understanding that to emigrate is to become a foreigner in two places at once.Click here to buy this book.
Olive Kittredge by Elizabeth Strout Yes, It won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize. And, yes, Oprah loved it. But that doesn’t mean we can’t put this gem on our list! Because we loved it, too. A collection of 13 interlinked stories set on a town on the Maine coast. Perfect for a rainy Maine vacation! Click here to buy this book.
The Witches Trinity by Erika Mailman Lian’s writing teacher is the author of this terrific novel. Think of Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery, except with witches! Bringin’ back witches! No one escapes suspicion when a famine afflicts a medieval German village. When elderly Gude Muller begins to experience blackouts and confusing visions, her daughter-in-law Irmeltrude seizes the opportunity to rid herself of the burden of her husband's mother. In an ironic twist, the villagers turn not only on Gude but on Irmeltrude as well. In searingly simple prose, Mailman probes the human psyche, peeling back the layers of the basest human instincts to expose the dangerous frailties of the human soul. Also by this author, A Woman of Ill Repute. Click here to buy this book.
From the Satellite Sisters Community. Some classics. Some faves. Some we mentioned before in prior lists but worth repeating! And, the best news yet for frugal readers: And all in Paperback!
The Last Time I was Me by Cathy Lamb As heartfelt as it is hilarious, The Last Time I Was Me is a warm, wise novel about breaking down, opening up, and finally letting go of everything we thought we should be, in order to claim the life that has been waiting all along. Set in Oregon! Extra points! Thanks, Teresa. Teresa is a reader and she also recommends: The House at Riverton by Kate Morton. Click here to buy this book.
The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister Follow the lives of eight students who gather in Lillian’s Restaurant every Monday night for cooking class. It soon becomes clear, however, that each one seeks a recipe for something beyond the kitchen. Brought together by the power of food and companionship, the lives of the characters mingle and intertwine, united by the revealing nature of what can be created in the kitchen. Thanks, Patty S.
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Loving Frank by Nancy Horan This one has been on Lian’s list for a while! It’s like taking an Architectural history class without the tests! Horan's ambitious first novel is a fictionalization of the life of Mamah Borthwick Cheney, best known as the woman who wrecked Frank Lloyd Wright's first marriage. Despite the title, this is not a romance, but a portrayal of an independent, educated woman at odds with the restrictions of the early 20th century. Thanks, Lisa!
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The Quickie by James Patterson This book has airport gate area written all over it! Recommended by Sue who loved it. Lauren Stillwell is not your average damsel in distress. When the NYPD cop discovers her husband leaving a hotel with another woman, she decides to beat him at his own game. With her job and marriage on the line, Lauren's desire for retribution becomes a lethal inferno as she fights to save her livelihood--and her life. This story of love, lust and dangerous secrets will have readers' hearts pounding to the very last page. Click here to buy this book.
I Was Told There Would Be Cake by Sloane Crosley. Colleen recommends this pick as we do, too. It was a 2008 BBBB. Starred Review. This debut essay collection is full of sardonic wit and charm, and Crosley effortlessly transforms what could have been stereotypical tales of mid-20s life into a breezy series of vignettes with uproariously unpredictable outcomes. Fans of Sarah Vowell's razor-sharp tongue will love this original new voice. Click here to buy this book.
The Corrections by Jonathon Franzten Is this the summer you finally tackle The Corrections? Satellite Mister Peter thinks you should just get over author Frantzen’s reticence towards Oprah and enjoy this book on the beach. Jonathan Franzen's novel The Corrections tells a spellbinding story with sexy comic brio, and evokes a quirky family akin to Anne Tyler's, only bitter. And bitter tastes so good with a Gin and Tonic. Click here to buy this book.