Welcome to my blog where I share my book reviews
and life along the winding road

Friday, February 23, 2024

Mrs. Astor Regrets by Meryl Gordon

Meryl Gordon gives us a glimpse into the glitter and glamour of the Astor family and the dynamics between Brook Astor and her only child Anthony Marshall.

 Brooke Astor had an amazing life. Who wouldn't want to be a philanthropist, giving away millions of dollars to charities and attending balls and choosing which house you want to live in on a weekly basis? But Mrs. Astor's later years (she lived to be 105) were lonely and confined. Her son from a previous marriage, Anthony Marshall,  and his wife Charlene, helped themselves to millions of dollars and Astor property while removing people who were loyal to Mrs. Astor. Her butler and confidant, Chris Ely was fired by Tony Marshall and Tony also fired the groundkeeper/gardener who had worked for Mrs. Astor for over 40 years. Sadly, her will stated that the gardener would received $50,000 upon her death but only if he remained employed.

The dubious couple took paintings, sold them, and then claimed millions of dollars in commission for selling them. Tony Marshall purported that his income came from his job of handling his mother's money! He gave himself considerable raises,

David Rockefeller and Brooke's close friend Annette de la Renta began looking into Tony Marshall's overseeing of his mother's care after one of them approached her grandson, Phillip Marshall regarding Mrs. Astor's living conditions and lack  of  health care.

The result was a lawsuit against Tony Marshall and his wife Charlene. It was discovered that later wills may have had forged signatures and were written after it was thought Brooke Astor had limited mental capacity. Tony was convicted and spent a few months in prison before being released because of ill health.

Regardless of her sad ending, Brooke Astor touched many people with her flamboyant life, generous support for many of New York's cultural charities and beloved by her grandchildren and friends.

Friday, February 16, 2024

The Giver by Lois Lowry

 The Giver by Lois Lowry is a dystopian tale of a communist-type society where the governing elders take over every part of the community and people are left with no personal choices.

From the cover:
Life in the community where Jonus lives is idyllic. Designated birthmothers product Newchildren, who are assigned to appropriate family units: one male and one female to each. Citizens are assigned their partners and their jobs. No one thinks to ask questions. Everyone obeys. The community is a precisely choreographed world  without conflict, inequality, divorce, unemployment, injustice or choice. . .

Friday, February 9, 2024

Nobody's Fool by Richard Russo

Richard Russo is one of my favorite authors. Nobody's Fool is a similar view of small town America as Empire Falls with quirky characters. Sully has never ventured far from the town he has lived in for decades and currently resides as a lodger in the home of his elementary school teacher.

From the cover:
Sully has been doing the wrong thing triumphantly for fifty years. Divorced from his own wife and carrying on halfheatrtedly with another man's, saddled with a bum knee and friends who make enemies redundant, Sully now has one new problem to cope with - a long-estranged son who is in imminent danger of following in his father's footsteps.


Friday, January 19, 2024

Down River by John Hart

 This is the first novel I've read by John Hart and was one of the books picked up at a local Friends of the Library sale.

I found it very suspenseful with lots of family mysteries.

From the cover:
Adam Chase has a violent streak, and for good reason. As a boy, he saw things no child should witness, suffered wounds that left him misunderstood and even grown he remains dangerous and unpredictable. For five years he disappears and is attacked within hours of his return, the tone of his homecoming is set.

Friday, December 29, 2023

Favorite Reads of 2023

 My favorite reads of 2023 (in no particular order)

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Storm Clouds Rolling In by Ginny Dye


Storm Clouds Rolling In by Ginny Dye covers the period of 1860-1861 and is told from the point of view of a Virginian plantation owner's daughter who is struggling with the idea of slavery and begins to question everything she has grown up believing. The storm clouds precede the rumblings of civil war which are prevalent everywhere. Although her dream is to become a doctor and leave the plantation, attending a college in the North, she becomes burdened with running the Cromwell Plantation in her father's absence and also her dilemma of running it as her father did or turning a blind eye at the slaves who are involved in the Underground Railroad.

This is the first book in the Bregdan Chronicles.

Ms. Dye states in her biography and several posts online, that she is a very private person and there seems to be very little about her except that she is a prolific writer 

Friday, December 15, 2023

Cometh the Hour by Jeffrey Archer

 Cometh the Hour is book six of the Clifton Chronicles by Jeffrey Archer.

I picked up the story on Book Five that I came across at the Friends of the Library sale but it wasn't too difficult  to pick up the story.

Jeffrey Archer weaves many of the Barrington and Clifton families in and out of his stories involving English banks, Russia interference during the Cold War and many plots against the family and their business associates. Giles Barrington tries to rescue a woman he loves from behind the Iron Curtain, Lady Virginia is facing bankruptcy and tries to blackmail Cyrus Grant , a wealthy man from Louisiana but it soon begins to unravel for her.