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    Inspired to extend a helping hand to ambitious women working in corporate America, a veteran executive offers honest, practical, slightly irreverent advice about navigating companies that are run and populated predominately by men.

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  • About the Author

    Jennifer K. Crittenden earned an MBA in finance and worked for over twenty years in the US and abroad, rising from financial analyst to chief financial officer. She is the author of four books, including the award-winning Discreet Guide for Executive Women. She offers professional development programs through her company The Discreet Guide.

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Fiction Books – Five Stars – Must Read

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*****
Big Little LiesMoriarty, Liane 2014. New York: Putnam. AUDIOBOOK narrated by Caroline Lee

This ostensibly comic novel about an elementary school community in a beachside Australian suburb portrays the petty conflicts and jealousies that circulate amongst the parents to great humorous effect. Yes, the narrator clues us in that someone will eventually end up dead, but at the outset, that all seems part of the hand-waving future, and in the meantime, we can laugh at these silly parents, their preposterous expectations for their children, and their goofy vanities. In spite of their parents, the children come to light as careful, generous creatures, but it’s the growing friendship between three mothers, and their private lives, that capture us. These are serious women, with thoughtful observations, and real problems. As secrets, hypocrisy, and betrayals emerge, we spend less time laughing and more time reflecting on the pressures of motherhood and the complexity of human relationships. When past and present cruelties burst from hiding at an alcohol-soaked school event, they explode into a stunning act of violence. The audiobook is a hoot, entertaining from beginning to end, but the writer’s willingness to take on topics like bullying and domestic violence is truly laudable. The narrator is excellent, especially her portrayals of the children, and her Australian accent is amusing throughout.

*****
Dear Life – Alice Munro – 2012. New York: Alfred A. Knopf

The greatest short story writer ever and at her prime here where her prose is even more spare, precise, and exquisite, Alice includes here some autobiographical pieces which convey the mysterious opaque nature of our own memories.

*****
Freedomland – Richard Price – 1998. New York: Broadway Books.

Awe-inspiring. Be prepared to be drawn into a complex world of danger, plight, and emotion.

*****
The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt – 2015. New York: Little, Brown and Company. AUDIOBOOK narrated by David Pittu

Intoxicating tale, memorable characters, a tour de force. Incomparable. Best narration ever.

*****
Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn – 2014. New York: Crown Publishers. AUDIOBOOK narrated by Kirby Heyborne and Julia Whelan

A hair raising expose of the power struggle inside a marriage. A must listen.

*****
Ladder of Years Tyler, Ann – 1996. New York: Ballentine

Delia, a forty-year-old mother and wife disappears while on vacation at the beach with her family. Has she met with foul play? Has she done a runner? Or has she accidentally drifted away from her pod, like a milkweed seed, and can’t seem to find the right current to get back? Ann writes like a dream, and her observations about the human experience range freely among the peculiar (why isn’t celery called corduroy plant?), the shared—such as the ambivalent feelings children have about their parents, and vice versa—and the unanswerable, like questions about love and marriage. This book will particularly appeal to wives who have survived two decades of marriage and mothers who have watched their children lurch into adolescence, to the befuddlement of both parent and child. I wish I had read this book as part of a book club—I am curious to know what others thought of Ann’s ending. To all those who have have planned, casually or not, executed or not, an escape from their lives and those who long for clean, fresh starts…

*****
The Likeness (Dublin Murder Squad #2) – Tana French – 2008. New York: Penguin. AUDIOBOOK narrated by Heather O’Neill

A tough detective who suffered her own trauma while previously undercover is pulled out of the domestic violence division to pose as a murdered woman. Yes, it’s farfetched, but the story is so compelling, and household of graduate students that she finds herself in so mesmerizing, I couldn’t stop listening. It turns into one of those books that you wish you could fall into yourself – half fairy tale, half spy novel. Narrated by the inconceivably talented Heather O’Neill. She even sings!

*****
The Love of a Good Woman – Alice Munro – 1998. New York: Alfred A. Knopf

Alice Munro is a god.

*****
The Ten-Year NapWolitzer, Meg – 2008. New York: Riverhead Books

Fabulously-written novel that, despite being fiction, feels entirely accurate in its depiction of a bunch of New York women and their relationships with their work, children, husbands, and each other. Terrific prose and laugh-out-loud observations.

 

 

 

 

Fiction reviews:

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***Three Stars

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