Liz says...This is an epic novel about a man whose mother abandoned him as a child. He is forced to re-enter her life when she is caught on camera throwing stones at a controversial political candidate. The motherless boy we follow through part of his childhood and into adulthood has been given an advance on a novel based on a short story he wrote long ago and has since been stalled by writer’s block. When his publisher calls on him to repay the advance or write a tell-all about his mother, our main character is backed up against a wall. I cannot say enough good things about this debut novel. It is incredibly smart, current, witty, lively and well-paced. It is not a small undertaking at 640 pages, but it is so worthwhile. The Nix has so many rich details, and the language is at times laugh-out-loud funny and other times heartbreaking. It is a work from a truly gifted writer.
An instructor at a Canadian police academy is found murdered, and the newly appointed director is left trying to unravel the crime and find the culprit. Inspector Gamache, a retired homicide chief, recently accepted the director’s job to try and clean up corruption within the academy and the greater police force in turn. There is also a mysterious map involved that Gamache has asked the cadets in his charge to try to interpret. This is the first time I have read Louise Penny, and though I know the characters in this mystery have appeared in her previous novels, this book can absolutely stand alone. I loved everything about it—great writing, rich characters, and a setting I could visualize and would love to cuddle up in. It is ultimately a story of damage and healing told with humor, affection, and grace.
The cover and the title drew me to this book, and I’m glad they did! In turns tongue-in-cheek and earnest, it is the story of a lost fortune and the come-uppance for the Wang family. Charles Wang had built a fortune in the cosmetic industry and had a lovely home in Bel Air and all the trappings until he lost it all on an ill-fated retail gamble. He loses everything—his home, cars, and fortune—and is forced to withdraw his two youngest children from college and boarding school and travel cross-country to his oldest daughter’s home in upstate New York. They ride in an ancient Mercedes, and their journey is the backdrop to this story. Along with his two children, Charles travels with his second wife Barbra, who is none too pleased with this new change in lifestyle. Charles has a new pipe dream—to return to China and reclaim some ancient land that was lost in a previous generation due to a similar reversal of financial circumstance. Enjoy the characters and their escapades in this light frolic.