A Question of Love by Isabel Wolff

377537Hey look, I actually finished more than one book in a month! I’m trying to make more time to read during the week and not just binging on a book while I’m doing laundry or getting a pedicure. I hope as the school year ends and work slows down, I can up my reading to at least 3 books a month. Maybe I’ll actually hit my goal this year!

This book is another one I picked up at Waterstones, one of the few Isabel Wolff books I haven’t read yet, not being able to find it in the US. It came out in 2005, so it brings me back the height of quiz shows on TV and Anne Robinson stared us down and doled out catchphrases. Our heroine is thrust into the spotlight as she and her boss have developed a quiz show for TV after she admits that she’s been writing pub quiz questions for extra money. Now I love a pub quiz, but I never really thought about where the questions came from. I wish such a gig were available here, or maybe now that we have iPhones, it’s an obsolete job.

Anyway, Laura Quick has a husband who’s out of the picture (though it takes about a third of the book to find out what’s actually happened to him) and two sisters, who are each annoying in their own way. Her older sister, Felicity, is a late-in-life new mum who is OBSESSED with her baby. Laura has far more patience than I because just reading about it made me want to slap her. Her younger sister thinks her husband is cheating on her and wants Laura to follow him to see where he’s going and won’t take no for an answer. Hope doesn’t get the answer she thinks when Laura finally agrees, but at least she finds a way to talk to her husband.

Laura also re-meets her college boyfriend, who’s now a separated dad with a crazy ex-wife. Again, Laura is FAR kinder than I because she puts up with his BS in dealing with his wife “because he loves his daughter so much.” Her “real” romance is a nice slow burn and with the exception of a short bit about the husband, I really do love how this ended up. Could have done without the epilogue (especially Hope’s part – ugh), but it’s a quite nice read.

Shadows Over Paradise by Isabel Wolff

22291591I’m not sure what I was expecting from this book, but I was shocked. This one does not follow the pattern of Isabel Wolff novels, of slightly sophisticated British chick lit. There is a female protagonist and she is going through relationship problems, but they are very much on the back burner for most of this novel.

After a traumatic incident in her childhood, Jenni Clark makes her living being invisible, as a ghostwriter. She started out doing books for celebrities, but has branched out into working with “ordinary” people whose lives never are. She meets Klara, who has finally agreed to do a privately published memoir for her 80th birthday. Klara lives in the same town where Jenni’s trauma occurred, but she finds herself agreeing to the job anyway. Both women are haunted by their pasts, but find common ground to share through the telling of Klara’s story.
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Forget Me Not by Isabel Wolff

2257071This was another of my Waterstones in London purchases as Isabel Wolff is one of my favorite authors and I couldn’t get this book from the library.

It’s not one of my favorites as it takes a long time for anything to really happen. Time seems to pass without warning and since the beginning of the book is mostly flashback, it’s hard to know what’s happening now and what happened before. Our heroine, Anna Temple, is a single mom to a willful little girl called Milly. Perhaps it’s my hatred of children coming through, but I found Milly REALLY insufferable through most of the book, but her behavior is rarely commented on. Anna’s a garden designer, which is clearly an English Thing, but still fun to read about. There are a few men that appear throughout the book, but none of them are particularly well-drawn or interesting. Anna’s far too wishy-washy about all of them, however, so I guess it doesn’t make a big difference.

The “big family secret” that threatens everything Anna knows to be true doesn’t show up until 2/3 of the way through the book and though it’s a bit shocking, it doesn’t really have any impact. There are a few storylines that are set up as big deals and then they just land like a feather or don’t resolve at all. Needless to say, this was NOT my favorite Isabel Wolff, but I’m definitely not off her.

Out of the Blue by Isabel Wolff

228629My goal this summer was to read a book a week in the hopes of perhaps catching up with my overall goal of 50 books this year. I haven’t been successful in the first two weeks of summer, but have a long list of books coming from the library soon. I hope I’m able to get with the program shortly.

Part of the problem was this book. It was written before any of the other books I’ve read by her, and I’m glad I started with the ones I did. The main character, Faith Smith, is naive to the point of being annoying (she can rationalize her way to any conclusion she wants), so it’s hard to root for her. She thinks her husband’s having an affair based on a bitchy comment from her best friend (Lily Jago, who appears in Behaving Badly)) and then it turns out all her badgering “made” him sleep with his American headhunter (always an American, seducing these Brits into bed! If only it were that easy!). The will they/won’t they get divorced is tired before it even gets started since I find the husband’s complete lack of remorse about his affair a deal breaker, but there are a lot of twists and turns along the way.

I was looking for more sinister motives from all involved since “Faith Value” is so naive, but most of it is pretty tame. There are lies, but no one’s really that deceitful. It was hard to know what kind of ending to root for, but I did NOT like the way it ended. I really enjoy this author, but I’ll definitely stick with her later work from now on.

Behaving Badly by Isabel Wolff

1426209I finished this book weeks ago, but never found a moment to write about. Unfortunately, my trend of only finishing one book a month continued in March, but I hope I can reverse the trend in April. More books have been ordered from Link+ (because God forbid I actually read any of the books I have in my current TBR piles at home!), so fingers crossed for a little less craziness and more reading time.

I was surprised by the heavy subject and themes presented in this book that’s ostensibly about a former veterinarian turned animal behaviorist. I learned way more than I wanted about all the different problems a pet can have, making the days of me being a dog owner very far in the future indeed! Between the “secret” reason our heroine breaks up with her fiance and the actual secret from her past involving a member of the British government and a photographer, there’s way more going on than meets the eye. I really felt our Miranda’s anxiety as she gets more and more involved with the object of her investigation, waiting for the moment when everything blows up (no pun intended). The ending didn’t feel earned, given the gravity of the situation, but I guess it wouldn’t be chick lit if the girl didn’t get the guy.

It was great to read this one right after Rescuing Rose as both the new agony aunt (whose name escapes me at the moment) and Rose and Theo (and their Myna bird) make an appearance. I love when authors make their books exist in the same universe. Makes me want to head to London, hang out in the park and wait for them to walk by!