The Family Man by Elinor Lippman
Henry Archer, a divorced gay man in New York City, is dealing with a newly widowed ex-wife, a step-daughter he has been separated from for years, and a hole to fill in his life. Once again Elinor Lippman has created an madcap situation, peppered it with witty dialogue (one of her strengths), and created a hero I absolutely fell in love with. While some of the plot seemed far-fetched (particularly some of the resolution), I forgave all just to read about Henry’s life. I thought he was a wonderful person and I rooted for him the entire book. Despite the book’s issues, it has become my favorite Lippman novel so far.
The House at the End of Hope Street by Menna van Praag
Alba is distraught and in despair about her once brilliant academic career and wondering the streets of Cambridge. She finds herself in front of an extraordinary house and an invitation to stay for ninety days. The house is magical with talking portraits (shades of Harry Potter), ghosts, and other odd happenings; in fact, the house has specialized in helping women find hope when they are at the end of their rope for many, many years. I had high hopes for this book based on the reviews and while I wasn’t disappointed; I wasn’t thrilled either. I liked the premise a great deal, it was a mystical and whimsical idea. I just thought the plot could have been a little tighter. The “mystery” surrounding Alba’s disgrace was fairly evident to me so the continued silence about it made no sense. However, it was a quick read – perfect for those who don’t mind a magical element in their fiction and want to have an easy few hours of reading.
The Quiet Twin by Dan Vyleta
I discovered this novel after reading reviews for Vyleta’s subsequent book The Crooked Maid which takes place after the war with some of the same characters and in the same apartment complex. The Quiet Twin is set in Vienna during the war when life was full of complications and suspicions. No one was safe and no one was to be trusted. In an apartment complex, a doctor is faced with the murder of a dog, a little girl, a young lady with who may be a hypochondriac, and a string of unsolved murders. Who and what is connected and how does one function in such a dysfunctional society makes up the narrative of this book. After first reading, I was on the fence. I liked it but not so much that I was going to rush out and get the second book. However, after time, the book has grown on me and I want to see where the author takes both the characters and the apartment house as Vienna and the world try to put themselves back together.