“The Rain Watcher” by Tatiana de Rosnay

Genre:           Historical and General FictionThe rain watcher
Publisher:     St. Martin’s Press
Pub. Date:     October 23, 2018

To begin with, let me tell you that the real characters in this family saga are not the characters, but rather Paris itself and the weather.   I read and enjoyed Tatiana de Rosnay’s previous historical novel “Sarah’s Key” which also takes place in Paris but during WWII.   I found her soon to be published novel, “The Rain Watcher” less enjoyable.  The story mostly takes place in the present.  The author’s descriptions of the city in a natural crisis will take your breath away.  Unfortunately, the rest of the plot will not.

In this tearjerker, you will meet a family whose members are filled with pent-up tensions along with secrets (sounds like most families to me).  The adult daughter and son are joining their parents in Paris for their dad’s 70th birthday.  Both offspring suffer from Post Traumatic Stress for different reasons.  The son is gay and was bullied as a child.  At almost 40, he still has not come out to his dad.  The daughter as a teen was in a car accident where she was the sole survivor.  The mother has her own secrets.  The son is a well-known photographer.  The story is narrated in the first person through his photographer’s lens—good descriptive writing.   In a nutshell, the dad has a stroke and the mother gets pneumonia.   Somehow, while taking care of their parents, they all heal as a family.    If only it is this easy in real life.  Not even one shrink makes it into the plot filled with dysfunctional characters.  I didn’t expect to find such a worn out cliché from this talented author.

Now here is the interesting part of the novel and why the book can be marketed as historical fiction:   In between the soap opera, we learn about the evocation of Paris in 1910 when the actual Seine River flooded.  The powerful event is well researched and horrifying.   In “Rain” we read a fictional story that’s set in midst of a real disaster.  The father is now in the hospital.  He cannot communicate but is aware of what is happening as the evacuation begins.   This is the best writing in the book.  The water floods the first floor of the hospital and panic sets in.  The City of Lights is now without electric light.  You will feel the father’s terror as he is moved in a coffin-like sealed casing.  Think of the movie, “The Poseidon Adventure” but in a building filled with sick, helpless people.  Unfortunately, this chapter is not enough to save the novel, with its ceaseless rain, which gives the whole book a dreary feel.  Although much happens, it is still a slow read.  As I said, all in all, this is a story about Parisian weather and not much else.

I received this Advance Review Copy (ARC) novel from the publisher at no cost in exchange for an honest review.

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Now that I’m older– (Anonymous)

E. Michael Helms

(Note: I received this in my email a few years back. Hope you enjoy!)


As I was lying around, pondering the problems of the world,

I realized that at my age I don’t really give a rat’s butt anymore.

If walking is good for your health, the postman would be immortal.

A whale swims all day, only eats fish, drinks water, but is still fat.

A rabbit runs and hops and only lives 15 years, while

A tortoise doesn’t run and does mostly nothing, yet it lives for 150 years.

And you tell me to exercise? I don’t think so.

Just grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked,

the good fortune to remember the ones I do, and the

eyesight to tell the difference.



Now that I’m older here’s what I’ve discovered:


1. I started out with nothing, and I still have most…

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“Lie With Me” by Sabine Durrant

Genre:        Mystery & Psychological Thriller Lie with me
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Pub. Date: January 11, 2018

Have you ever told a lie? Most of us have. The question in this psychological thriller is guessing who is telling the truth and who is lying. I don’t think I just wrote a spoiler because the reader will wonder this for him/herself relatively early in the novel. This is an unusual thriller. I would even venture to say that this is a work of literary fiction. Usually, mysteries and psychological thrillers are written in a rapid pace. “Lie With Me” reads slow. Since I enjoy the slower pace of foreign movies, the novel is a good fit for me. Think the 1994 French film, “Léon: The Professional.”

Paul is a character in this book who is a major loser. Jobless at age 40, he moves back home to live with his mom. Paul tells so many lies he confuses them. He can forget what is true and what is false. He has written one novel in his youth and twenty years later he is still trying to hang onto his 15-minutes of fame. He meets an old college friend who is ultra-rich. Through him, Paul meets Alice, who is also ultra-rich and another member of the 1%. Paul is fascinated with them and their lifestyles. He tells some whopper lies to Alice, becomes her reluctant beau and worms his way into their annual Greek holiday. He seems to have the notion that somehow they will transform him into a good person living the good life, (as Leon the character played by actor, Jean Reno, hoped the child would transform him.) The reader is aware that he wants to be Cinderella. We also know that Paul is a pathological liar—but is he a murderer? The author, Sabine Durrant, gives deliberately confusing hints to the reader when she goes back and forth in time.

Durrant has written a different kind of beach read, one that begins and ends with a lie. The novel’s development comes from the characters rather than the plot, which I enjoy. My only issue is that about three quarters through, I did figure out the truth. There was (at least for me) no big ending twist. It was the author’s writing style that kept my interest to want to finish.

I received this Advance Review Copy (ARC) novel from the publisher at no cost in exchange for an honest review.

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“Clock Dance” by Anne Tyler

Genre:           Literary FictionClock Dance
Publisher:    Penguin Random House
Pub. Date:    July 10, 2018

“Clock Dance,” the latest novel by the author Anne Tyler, affectionately known as the bard of Baltimore, is filled with her familiar themes and quirky characters, but it is not up to par with her earlier works.  The gist of the book is that the heroine has four defining moments of her life, which is categorized into four years.   The reader only gets flashing glimpses of the first three defining moments, which is part-one.  I found this annoying.   Characters come and go as if they are walk-ons in a play.  However, once the novel is completed, the reader will get what Tyler was up to— a slow start with a strong finish.  I enjoyed the novel though I am not sure that the threadbare writing, which she is known for, isn’t too bare in part-one.

Part I:  In 1967, our heroine is a schoolgirl wondering what happened to her unstable mom who has disappeared.  She is too young and frightened to cope.  In 1977, she is a college student flying home with her bossy fiancé.  Suddenly, on the plane, the man sitting on the other side of her whispers, “This is a gun, and it’s loaded.  Move and I shoot.”  Once again she is too frightened to act.  When the flight is over the man just gets up and leaves.  She informs her soon to be husband what happened, and although she is shaking with fear, he tells her that she is being histrionic and that “all’s well that ends well.”  She agrees.  (This was hard to buy,  because although she is subservient, she is not stupid.)   In 1997, she is a young widow too traumatized to do what needs to be done to move forward.  In 2017, she is married, once again to another bossy man who patronizes her.   By this time in her life, she is way too timid, mild-mannered and insecure in her abilities to handle almost any situation by herself.  She is more than willing to be a passive bystander in her own life.  As a female reviewer, I wanted to jump into the pages and scream at her to grow a spine.

Part II continues in 2017, it is the bulk of the book and where all its strength lay.  But by this time, I was almost ready to give up on our heroine.  Which I wonder is what the author intended the reader to feel.  But, in 2017, our heroine surprises us.   She finally takes a stand in her own life and learns she is cable of making not only the simplest of decisions but the major ones as well.  For fear of spoiling, I will not share how her wake-up happens, but it is almost comical.  As usual, Tyler’s warmth for her characters shines through.    I am a fan of the author.  Still, I almost ditched the novel.   If Tyler did intend for a slow start, hoping that it would pay off in the second half of the book, then she made a heck of a gamble.  Or, maybe part-one was not written to be intentionally maddening.   Possibly, Tyler didn’t realize just how frustrating part-one actually read. Though, this is also hard to buy since Tyler is a Pulitzer Prize winner.  No matter, either way, I am glad I read her latest work.  Though I am not sure other readers will feel the same.  Still, I recommend the novel to fans of literary fiction.

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The Reading Woman 2018 Calendar: July

“Whatever the theologians might say about heaven being in a state of union with God, I Dervla-Murphy-007 (1)knew it consisted of an infinite library; and eternity was simply what enabled one to read uninterruptedly forever.” — Dervla Murphy


“Rust & Stardust” by T. Greenwood

Genre:           Historical Crime FictionRust
Publisher:    St. Martin’s Press
Pub. Date:    Aug. 7, 2018


“And the rest is rust and stardust.”—Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov.

In the summer of 1948, a real-life 11-year-old girl named Sally Horner was kidnapped by a child molester in Camden, NJ.  At the time Vladimir Nabokov was working on his famous novel and struggling.  He supposedly was about to burn the manuscript when his wife showed him the newspaper saying: “I found her. Volodya, stop! I found Lo.”  This is the fictional account of the girl who inspired the famous novel “Lolita” (which Nabokov called his ticking time bomb,) as well as Sarah Weinman’s true crime essay and soon to be released, “The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel that Scandalized the World.”  (It appears that soon “Rust and Stardust” will have sales competition).  If you have read the famous book or seen the movie, Lo appears to be a child temptress.  Sally Horner was not.  As the book rightly shows, Sally’s misfortune began after she stole a composition notebook from a Woolworths (remember them?) The kidnapper witnessed the minor theft and pretended to be an FBI agent taking her to jail.  Her young gullible mind fell for it and she spent the next five years traveling around with her kidnapper, who posed as her stepfather.  This book should break your heart.  Unfortunately, the author, T. Greenwood, has written a novel filled with way too much detail, reading almost like a newspaper itself. I was impressed by her end-notes, but not her style of writing.

I received this Advance Review Copy (ARC) novel from the publisher at no cost in exchange for an honest review.

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Leave Me Alone I am Reading & Reviewing: https://books6259.wordpress.com/
Twitter: Martie’s Book Reviews: https://twitter.com/NeesRecord