Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Ann Fowler: I’m such a sucker for any and all things related to the Jazz Age. Which is why reading this newly released historical fiction title about Zelda Fitzgerald was RIGHT up my alley. What I knew about Zelda going into this was that she was considered zany (the original Flapper girl!) and suffered from mental illness later in life. What I learned in reading this book? Her life was so much more complicated—and incredible—than that. I also learned that her relationship with Scott was rife with complications and yet, those two seemed fated to fall in love (despite the way they almost destroyed one another in the process…As Fowler explains in her footnotes, you’re kind of either Team Zelda or Team Scott the more you read about this pair). Also, reading this made me believe life among all those ex-pats in Paris in the ’20s? A TOTAL soap opera. (Thanks in large part to ‘ol Ernest Hemingway)!
Passages I Want to Remember: “Trouble has lots of forms. There’s financial trouble and marital trouble, there’s trouble with friends and trouble with landlords and trouble with liquor and trouble with the law. Every sort of trouble I can think of, we’ve tried it out—become expert at some of it, even, so much so that I’ve come to wonder whether artists in particular seek out hard times the way flowers turn their faces to the sun.”
Would I Recommend? Absolutely! This title started off a little slow for me (the backstory of Zelda growing up in the South) but by the time Zelda and Scott ran off to elope in NYC I was completely hooked. If you enjoyed The Paris Wife and/or Loving Frank, I think you’d enjoy this one! I found myself spending an hour post-read on Wikipedia, reading SO much more about the Fitzgeralds as a result!
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce: Newly retired Harold Fry is an English man who lives a quiet life, haunted by ghosts from his past. But all that changes when he sets out on a 600-mile pilgrimage—on FOOT, no less—to say goodbye to a former co-worker and close friend, Queenie. His journey changes him, at the same time capturing the attention of all of England (think Forrest Gump and those classic running scenes). As the reader, you discover a few twists and turns in the plot that keep you turning those pages to the very end.
Passages I Want to Remember: “The letter that would change everything arrived on a Tuesday” (the first line of the book–isn’t it so great?) // “Life is very different when you walk through it.”
Would I Recommend? This wasn’t a title I would have gravitated to on my own (it was our May book club pick) and for some reason, I found myself stalling a bit in certain passages, yet, overall, I was glad I read it (and it was well reviewed among all the women in my book club!) Great if you liked The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society and/or Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand.
Grace: More Than We Deserve, Better Than We Imagined by Max Lucado: When it comes to books about the Christian faith, I find that I look for titles from authors like Donald Miller or Anne Lamott over Max Lucado or Lee Strobel. BUT, I’ve been mulling the concept of “grace” over in my mind a lot this past year and my mother-in-law let me borrow this title as a great way to help me explore the concept. Max’s writing may be a bit fluffy or simplistic for some folks, but I found this to be a quick read and one that reenforced a lot of what I love best about my relationship with God and His Son.
Passages I Want to Remember: “To accept grace is to accept the vow to give it.” // “Saving grace saves us from our sins. Sustaining grace meets us at our point of need and equips us with courage, wisdom, and strength. It surprises us in the middle of our personal transatlantic flights with ample resources of faith. Sustaining grace promises not the absence of struggle but the presence of God.” // “Grace is the gift of feeling sure that our future, even our dying, is going to turn out more splendidly than we dare imagine.” —Lewis Smedes // “If you ever catch yourself thinking, ‘I can do whatever I want because God will forgive me,’ then grace is not happening to you … Grace creates a resolve to do good, not permission to do bad.”
Would I Recommend? Depends on the audience. For those who, like me, are interested in learning more about the concept of grace and are open-minded to Christianity, I would. For those new to this religion or more skeptical about religion in general, this could be one of those books you start but never finish.