Crunchy Fall Reads
The Lindbergh Nanny by Mariah Fredericks takes an ingenious idea – the infamous Lindbergh kidnapping as seen through the eyes of the woman in charge – and turns it into a compelling book. Betty Gow is the nanny who comes under intense scrutiny after the baby is taken in 1932, a crime that shocked the world. Fredericks brings humanity to everyone involved, reminding us they were not just a news story but real people.
It’s the top of the heap for Gilded Mountain by Kate Manning. Set in the early 1900s in a mining camp high in the Colorado mountains where weather, long hours below ground in dangerous conditions and with hardships unimaginable, make each day almost unendurable. Young Sylvie finds a job one summer working for the owner of the mining company, living at the manor home with a handsome son and eccentric French wife. It is a world far away from her family in the camp. With the job finished, Sylvie finds employment with the local newspaper run by a feisty woman accused of being “red” because she is the only one willing to speak out about the harsh conditions and injustice, encouraging the miners to organize. There is romance, betrayal, and greed all leading to a climactic ending for Sylvie and the mining camp. Could not put this down. An epic story.
As a classic car owner and a frequent attendee of Montecito’s Coffee & Cars in Manning Park, I loved A Matter of Happiness by Tori Whitaker. When Melanie inherits her great aunt Violet’s Jordan MX (thought to be a “woman’s” car in 1923) tucked inside a secret compartment is Violet’s journal. Alternating stories, centered around the car and a woman’s choices, freedom, and independence in two different eras, is a race to a mostly happy ending.
Lisa Unger fans will be thrilled with her 20th and latest novel, Secluded Cabin Sleeps Six. A much-needed vacay goes horribly wrong when three couples rent a cabin in the woods as a storm barrels its way to them, and one of the six goes missing. As always, Unger writes a taunt and complex, revenge-driven tale.
As a dance mom and supporter of our local ballet company, Meg Howrey’s They’re Going to Love You was a delight. Carlisle’s parents were divorced when she was young. She lived with her mother and only occasionally visited her father Robert and his partner James in NYC. Now her father is dying, and she must decide if she will visit and confront the past (and the possible mistake she made). An emotional story written beautifully by a former ballerina.
A bit scholarly, but I enjoyed Egypt’s Golden Couple: When Akhenaten and Nefertiti Were Gods on Earth by John Darnell and Colleen Darnell. The pair bring to life the parents of Tutankhamun, Akhenaten, and Nefertiti, both their myths and their day-to-day lives.
A couple bios to add to your pile: The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man: A Memoir by Paul Newman and Martha Graham: When Dance Became Modern by Neil Baldwin