“Beartown” is a complete departure from Backman’s previous novels and I absolutely loved it. This book starts off making you think this is going to be about a small town and their hockey team finally turning things around for the better. But then it takes a turn that brilliantly examines small town life, where everyone knows everybody and they all have a story to tell, along with opinions about each other. This was such a complex and emotional look at how people act when everything they know and believe is challenged, the power of belonging, loyalty and tradition, and the love of family and friends. Every character examined in this story left a powerful impression on me, and the topic is so timely in this day and age. A must read for fans of Backman as well as his first time readers.
I was really looking forward to this book as I am a huge fan of “The Rosie” series. “The Best of Adam Sharpe” is definitely a bit different. A story of true love and second chances, the book starts off great, building the story of Adam and Angeline, a love affair over 20 years ago that apparently neither can let go of. The build up of their love is absolutely incredible. Adam is an amateur pianist who enjoys playing at the local bar after work each day. This is when Angelina walks in and changes his life forever. The soundtrack throughout the path of their relationship is beautiful and emotional. Unfortunately her job as an actress and his job as a world traveling IT consultant causes the relationship to end and the two of them to go in opposite directions in life, finding other partners along the way.
An email from Angelina to Adam starts the two of them longing for one another again, and this is where the story takes a turn that ultimately made me dislike both and not want to root for their love anymore. It took all the charm and true love that the book had perfectly built and turned it ultimately into a adulterous mess. The story manages to somewhat redeem the characters in the end, but the damage was done for me at that point. Yes, relationships can be complicated and people are flawed, but from the “lemon tree” scene on, I completely lost interest in the two of them even trying to have a happy ending.
A very accurate examination of the cycles of friendship that we all go through. There were parts of the book where I genuinely felt that Sarah and Lauren were simply maintaining the friendship out of loyalty or habit, but then there were times (i.e. Sarah’s wedding, the birth of Henry) that you could see genuine love and friendship between them. In regards to the look at the friendship, I thought the book was spot on. I have heard other people question what they perceive to be a lack of plot or story line. However, I felt that Lauren’s and Sarah’s lives were the plot and the story line. It’s our everyday ins and outs, comings and goings, arguments and apologies, that make up the stories of our lives. What left me wanting however was the ending of the book. Their story ends in a giant unknown after a huge gap in time between the birth of Henry and the upcoming arrival of Sarah’s second son. Maybe I just wanted a happily ever after for Lauren too. In a lot of ways the ending mirrors the way friendships really can be. Long stretches of time apart, but when you see each other again, you can pick up like it was yesterday.
Rebecca, nicknamed Coco for her love of all things Chanel, is having the worst luck in love. She moves from her beloved Venice to Milan for a man who decides she is not the one for him. Having transferred her job as an event planner, she now finds herself a very cynical member of the wedding planning team, with a horrible boss, crazy brides, and a delivery boy she cannot stop thinking about. Surrounded by a great group of friends who encourage her to go after what she wants, “Coco” finds the strength she needs to discover who she is.
I loved how much Rebecca evolved as a person throughout this book. In the beginning, she had no satisfaction with her life unless she was with a man, but by the end of the story, Rebecca is not only a self confident, successful career woman, but she is ready to receive the love she deserves, from a secret admirer who sweeps her off her feet.
The tone of this book is very European, specifically very Italian with a little bit of Paris thrown in for good measure. If you love food and wine while somehow maintaining a killer body, designer clothes, and Chanel No. 5, this is a great summer read for you. Put on your pearls, shower in No. 5, and pour yourself a glass of good Italian wine for this one.
If you loved Bridget Jones’s Diary then you will love this book as well.
“Britt-Marie Was Here” is one of the most charming books I have ever read. Britt-Marie finds herself and in the process makes her mark on the town of Borg, where she is temporarily hired to run the mostly boarded up town’s rec center. Having just left her cheating husband, Britt-Marie finds herself surrounded by some of the quirkiest characters I have ever encountered. The story builds in such a pleasant way that you just want to get to know as much as you can about everyone in Borg. And Britt-Marie’s heart for all she cares for is second to none. She sees value in each and every person she encounters, including, finally, herself. If you are looking for a fun, heart warming and quirky read, this is the one for you!