Good Summer Reads: The Orchid House and other good books!

I am back in Bermuda again and am in need of a good book.  If you have any book recommendations, please post a comment below!  I just downloaded The Goldfinch, and may start that today…

While books are on my mind, I thought I would post a few that I have read recently.  I just finished The Orchid House, by Lucinda Riley – which I really loved.  The first 40 pages or so were slow for me, but once I got through those, things picked up and it was a great work of historical fiction with a little mystery and intrigue– that I would recommend.  If you are a frequent reader of this blog, I have also recommended The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton (see my past post).

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Here is the summary from Amazon:

From beloved New York Times bestselling author Lucinda Riley, a “sweeping, poignant saga that will enthrall fans of The House at Riverton, Rebecca, and Downton Abbey” (Shelf Awareness).

Spanning from the 1930s to the present day, from the Wharton Park estate in England to Thailand, this sweeping novel tells the tale of a concert pianist and the aristocratic Crawford family, whose shocking secrets are revealed, leading to devastating consequences.

As a child, concert pianist Julia Forrester spent many idyllic hours in the hothouse of Wharton Park, the grand estate reminiscent of Downton Abbey where her grandfather tended exotic orchids. Years later, while struggling with overwhelming grief over the death of her husband and young child, she returns to this tranquil place. There she reunites with Kit Crawford, heir to the estate and her possible salvation.

When they discover an old diary, Julia seeks out her grandmother to learn the truth behind a love affair that almost destroyed the estate. Their search takes them back to the 1940s when Harry, a former heir to Wharton Park, married his young society bride, Olivia, on the eve of World War II. When the two lovers are cruelly separated, the impact will be felt for generations to come.

This atmospheric story alternates between the magical world of Wharton Park and Thailand during World War II. Filled with twists and turns, passions and lies, and ultimately redemption, The Orchid House is a beautiful, romantic, and poignant novel.

Prior to The Orchid House, I read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – which is a bit of a thriller and another great summer read:

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

 

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I also loved The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History – by Elizabeth Kolbert – which I read over Spring Break. Believe it or not, I was a science major in college and am very concerned about issues facing the earth and the massive extinction we are currently living through.  This book I highly recommend for anyone who likes to keep up with issues facing the environment and biodiversity.  It is not an easy read with some scientific data, but one that will leave you knowing more than you did before you picked up the book:

A major book about the future of the world, blending intellectual and natural history and field reporting into a powerful account of the mass extinction unfolding before our eyes

Over the last half a billion years, there have been five mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. This time around, the cataclysm is us. In The Sixth Extinction, two-time winner of the National Magazine Award and New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert draws on the work of scores of researchers in half a dozen disciplines, accompanying many of them into the field: geologists who study deep ocean cores, botanists who follow the tree line as it climbs up the Andes, marine biologists who dive off the Great Barrier Reef. She introduces us to a dozen species, some already gone, others facing extinction, including the Panamian golden frog, staghorn coral, the great auk, and the Sumatran rhino. Through these stories, Kolbert provides a moving account of the disappearances occurring all around us and traces the evolution of extinction as concept, from its first articulation by Georges Cuvier in revolutionary Paris up through the present day. The sixth extinction is likely to be mankind’s most lasting legacy; as Kolbert observes, it compels us to rethink the fundamental question of what it means to be human.

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I also read the China Study and “On Grace” by my old neighbor Susie Orman Schnall – which was a quick/fun summer book that takes place locally in Greenwich and Rye, NY – my stomping grounds.  Any women in the neighborhood would surely find it an entertaining read — especially those about to turn 40!

Meet Grace, who is actually excited about turning 40 in a few months, that is, until her job, marriage, and personal life take a dizzying downhill spiral. Can she recover from the most devastating time in her life, right before it’s supposed to be one of the best? Fans of Emily Giffin will love Susie Orman Schnall’s debut, which is all about rediscovering yourself–with grace–well after you think it’s even possible anymore. On Grace deals with themes such as divorce, infidelity, re-entering the workforce after children, breast cancer, and of course, turning 40. This novel is sure to hit a chord with many women readers.

SusieOrmanSchnallPlease post your favorite summer reads below!

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