Novella Tells Compelling Family Story #Friday Fun Reads

Note: I reviewed this book last year. But with Thanksgiving less than a week away, I thought it worth a second look.

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You Can Thank Me Later

by Kelly Harms

Copyright 2019

 

Every year, Sophie, a chef, hosts her family’s Thanksgiving dinner at her restaurant. This novella is divided into three parts: Thanksgiving 2016, Thanksgiving 2018, and Thanksgiving 2020. With the help of an interesting cast of characters and a series of events, some hilarious, she comes to realize she has a lot for which to be thankful.

I like how each of the three parts begins with messages from family members who call Sophie on Thanksgiving Day when she’s apparently too busy preparing the meal to answer the phone. In the version I downloaded from Audible, beeps are inserted to make it sound like you’re listening to them on an answering machine. Actually, I think Sophie is using a cell phone, and voicemail doesn’t sound like that, but I’m not sure how it could have been rectified.

At first, I didn’t like Sophie. But then I was amazed at how she grew and changed in the course of the book.

One problem with the book I see now is with the last section being set in 2020. It was published in 2019. When I first read it, I never imagined that things would change so drastically in one year.

Now, with over a million people infected with the coronavirus and numbers rising, many families may not hold large gatherings at Thanksgiving. So, unless the book were classified as fantasy or paranormal, I think it would have been more appropriate to set the last section in 2019.

Although this book is considered chic lit, it’s a wholesome, feel-good, holiday story. The Audible original isn’t very long, only a little over three hours. So, whether you’re a chic or not, after the Thanksgiving leftovers and dirty dishes are cleared away and the guests have gone, you could enjoy it with a glass of wine or a turkey sandwich.

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By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Services for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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A Novel About Reconciliation #Friday Fun Reads, #Reblog

Note: I posted this review last spring when the book came out. It was recently discussed by one of the groups in which I participate. So, I thought it worth a second look.

 

Goin’ Home

by Phyllis Staton Campbell

Copyright 2020

 

What Amazon Says

 

Pastor Jim, blinded in Iraq, and his wife Amy settle down after the storm that has almost destroyed the town, only to find that the most peaceful garden can harbor a serpent. The town is thrown into chaos, when a mass killer is returned home to die after fifty years in prison. The town is divided and they find themselves in the middle.

There is humor when the new church secretary confuses names, and sends the hearse to pick up a dog. A country music singer appears on the scene, and Jim learns a secret from the past.

For readers who enjoy the Mitford series by Jan Karon.

 

My Thoughts

 

I met Phyllis Staton Campbell several years ago through Behind Our Eyes, an organization of disabled writers to which I belong. Goin’ Home is the sequel to Where Sheep May Safely Graze, which I reviewed here.

I was riveted from the first page. I laughed, got mad, but was finally rewarded in the end. I love the way the parsonage cat appears in the first and last chapters.  I was left wanting more.

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By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Services for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

Novel Pits Money Against Beauty #Friday Fun Reads

So Big

by Edna Ferber

 

What Amazon Says

 

The story follows the life of a young woman, Selina Peake De Jong, who decides to be a school teacher in farming country. During her stay on the Pool family farm, she encourages the young Roelf Pool to follow his interests, which include art. Upon his mother’s death, Roelf runs away to France. Meanwhile, Selina marries a Dutch farmer named Pervus. They have a child together, Dirk, whom she nicknames “So Big.” Pervus dies and Selina is forced to take over working on the farm to give Dirk a future. As Dirk gets older, he works as an architect but is more interested in making money than creating buildings and becomes a stock broker, much to his mother’s disappointment. His love interest, Dallas O’Mara, an acclaimed artist, tries to convince Dirk that there is more to life than money. Selina is visited by Roelf Pool, who has since become a famous sculptor. Dirk grows very distressed when, after visiting his mother’s farm, he realizes that Dallas and Roelf love each other and he cannot compete with the artistically minded sculptor. The book was inspired by the life of Antje Paarlberg in the Dutch community of South Holland, Illinois, a Chicago suburb. It won the Pulitzer Prize for the Novel in 1925.

 

My Thoughts

 

I first read this book years ago when I was in college and found it fascinating. When it was recently slated for discussion by one of the book groups in which I participate, I thought it worth a second read, especially since I’d forgotten how it ended. Had I read the above synopsis from Amazon, I probably wouldn’t have bothered to reread the book.

Although I enjoyed reading it a second time, in my opinion, the ending leaves too much to the reader’s imagination. I would have liked to see more loose ends tied up. Otherwise, this is a great story of determination in the face of hardship that teaches important life lessons and encourages the reader to ponder on whether money or beauty is more important.

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By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Services for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

My Books

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Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

Delicious Dialog #Wednesday Words #Excerpt

I’ve always enjoyed writing dialog, even when I wrote stories as a kid. To me, it’s the most effective way of making my characters come alive. But there have been times when I’ve used narrative, then realized it would be better to show my readers, through dialog, instead of telling them.

Take, for example, the following passage from The Red Dress. In my original draft, I wrote a paragraph or two, explaining how my main character, Eve, and her husband, Greg, developed a policy with their children that everyone do their own laundry and help with housework instead of Eve doing it all herself. While editing, I decided instead to insert a dinner scene during which the policy is discussed and the children react. If, after reading this, you want to know who Virginia, Charlene and Brenda are and the children’s ages, you’d better read the whole book.

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One evening a week later, they were all at the dining room table.

“This tuna casserole is great!” said Thomas through a mouthful of food. “It sure beats the frozen stuff.”

Eve smiled, resisting the urge to chide her son for talking with his mouth full. “I’m glad you like it. It was your grandma’s recipe. I asked your grandpa to email it to me. When we go to Fowler for my class reunion, I plan to look through her other recipes to see what else I could make.”

“Cool,” said Julie. “I remember she used to make a really good chocolate pie, probably better than Virginia’s.”

“I know,” said Eve. “Your grandpa sent me that recipe, too. I would have made it to go with the tuna casserole, but I just didn’t have time. You know my writing keeps me busy, but I’m really trying to make more time for all of you.”

She braced herself for an outburst from Julie, but none came. Instead, Greg said with a reassuring smile, “Honey, you’re doing great. We’ve had some good meals over the past week, haven’t we, guys?”

“Yeah, I loved Jan’s lasagna recipe we had a few nights ago,” said Thomas.

“And her goulash was pretty good,” said Julie. “Oh, and thanks for washing my Sugar Shack t–shirt.”

“You’re welcome,” said Eve. “While we’re on the subject, I could use your help. When Ashley and I were in California, we found out that Brenda did a lot of housework and cooking while her mother was sick.”

Ashley turned pale, and her fork slipped out of her hand and fell to the floor with a clatter. “Mom, what are you saying?”

As the others stared at her in consternation, Eve realized she hadn’t phrased that well. “Oh, honey, no! I’m not dying of cancer, like Charlene. I’m just saying that there’s no reason why you, Thomas, and Julie couldn’t pitch in.”

Julie glared at her mother. “Mom, you’ve got to be kidding. I have a job. I don’t have time to do laundry or housework.”

“You don’t have to do it all,” said Eve, struggling to hide her exasperation. “We can all do it together. Let’s start with the laundry. Tomorrow, I’ll show you all how to use the washer and dryer, and after that, you can each do your own laundry.”

Ashley brightened. “When Brenda and I were putting our towels in the dryer, she gave me some tips on doing laundry that she learned in her home economics class last year. If she can do it, I can, too.” She picked up her fork from the floor and went to the kitchen for a clean one.

“I guess washing clothes isn’t any harder than painting the fence or changing a bike tire,” said Thomas. “In Tom Sawyer’s day, they didn’t even have washing machines.”

“You’re right, buddy,” said Greg. “Laundry nowadays isn’t hard to do. When I was in college and before I married your mom, I did my own laundry.”

“I don’t believe this,” said Julie. “When am I gonna have time to do my laundry? I’m working six to eight–hour shifts.”

She looked to her father, and Eve expected him to say that he would do her laundry, but he surprised her. “Hey, I don’t like your attitude. Your mom’s right. We all need to pitch in. There’s no reason why she has to do everything. She’s not our maid. She’s my wife and your mother.”

Julie hung her head.

To soften the blow, Eve said, “You can do your laundry on your days off. That’s what your father and I did when we were both working.”

Ashley, having returned to the table, said, “At least you don’t have to whitewash the fence all by yourself.”

“Whatever,” said Julie, picking up her fork.

“And I don’t like this ‘whatever’ business, either,” said Greg. “You’re using the word in the wrong context.”

Julie said nothing and continued eating while a solitary tear rolled down her cheek.

***

The above was inspired by this week’s Open Book Blog Hop prompt by Stevie Turner. If you’d like to participate, click here.

By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Services for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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A Conversation with Greg #Wednesday Words

I recently sat down with Greg, the husband of my main character, Eve, in The Red Dress. Here’s what he had to say.

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Me: Greg, I’m so glad you could take a few minutes out of your busy schedule to talk to me.

Greg: It’s my pleasure. What would you like to know about me?

Me: Well, let’s start with your name. I know everybody calls you Greg or Dad, but what’s on your birth certificate?

Greg: My full name is Gregory Lee Sawyer. My paternal grandfather’s name was Lee. So, that’s where I got my middle name.

Me: Are you an only child?

Greg: No. I have a sister, Polly. She’s blind.

Me: Wait a minute. You have a son named Tom Sawyer. So, he has an Aunt Polly just like the character in the Mark Twain classic?

Greg: (chuckles) Yes. Polly was actually named after my maternal grandmother.

Me: So, Polly’s blind. Apparently, this wasn’t a hereditary thing because you don’t have a visual impairment. Yet, you teach at a school for the blind.

Greg: You’re right. I’m fully sighted. Polly is my older sister. She was born blind, but it’s not a hereditary condition. I think my parents were relieved when I was born with better eyes. Because Polly had some bad teachers at the school for the blind in California where my family lives, I decided I wanted to be a better teacher to children in such schools. When I graduated from college and became certified, there wasn’t an opening in California, but I found one at the school in Colorado Springs. So, I moved there.

Me: Polly’s still in California?

Greg: Yes. She programs computers, and before you ask, she doesn’t live in a house with a fence. So, she has never made her nephew Tom whitewash that fence. She lives in an apartment.

Me: That’s good to know. Did you like school when you were growing up?

Greg: Absolutely! My favorite subjects were English and literature. That’s what I teach at the Colorado State School for the Deaf & Blind.

Me: Do you like teaching there?

Greg: Oh yes! I teach at the junior and senior high level. Since classes are smaller than they are in public schools, I can give the kids more individual attention. I love engaging them in lively discussions of the books we’re reading, and they seem to enjoy doing the projects I assign.

Me: Projects? Like what?

Greg: Well, when we read Tom Sawyer, I had them research and write about what life was like back in those days, compared to now.

Me: How interesting. What’s your greatest fear?

Greg: I’m afraid I’ll lose Eve, the love of my life. I thought I would lose her that summer we got into an argument over a red dress. But when I saw her in it… Oh shoot, look at the time. I’ve got to run.

Me: Well, thank you Greg. Good luck to you.

***

So, how did Greg and Eve get into an argument over a red dress? You’ll just have to read the book and find out.

Thanks to D.E. Haggerty for inspiring this. You can read her character interview here.

By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Services for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy, and may you always have positive experiences.

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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WebsiteImage contains: Abbie, smiling.