LOVE COMES IN MANY FORMS. Human connections give life meaning. We celebrate romantic love on Feb 14th. Seventeen (17) books reviewed briefly in this post, depict love and bonding in many different relationships and ages, and the grief of loss when it is gone.
An Available Man by Hilma Wolitzer (2012).
How do I learn to live as a widower? One man’s journey of how he navigated his new life as a widower, following the loss of his beloved wife. The reaction of others in his community as they responded to his changed status as a newly single man, was believable and often humorous. Realistic depiction of grief and loss; risking new relationships. A charming man to invite for a dinner party.
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (2013).
Socially challenged man searches for love. A funny, touching story about a brilliant genetics professor with Asperger’s who sets out to find a wife. I laughed aloud in places as he meticulously plans his strategy, and as his plans often go awry. Australian author.
The Republic of Love by Carol Shields, Harper Perennial, (1992).
Finding someone in later life: The author is a master at noticing minute details of living, both emotional and material. Fay and Tom find love and connection in later life. Story depicts human need to have a special someone to share life.
The Rockin’ Chair by Steven Manchester (2013).
Leaving a legacy of love: heart-warming story of love, family, forgiveness, continuity, place, home and creating a legacy. Everyone should have a grandpa John to go home to….
Finding Home by Jackie Weger (1987, 2014).
Love of family, search for belonging: A story about a quirky and determined woman … a good-ole-girl with a big heart… who sets in motion a plan to find a home for herself and her large family. So many funny parts I laughed out loud…and rooted for Phoebe to get her man and her house…and find a place to belong along the way.
The Illegal Gardner by Sara Alexi (Greek Book Collection 1) (2012).
Non-romantic bonding between two socially different individuals based on interdependent needs: Takes place in a small Greek village. An English woman’s journey, along with her Pakistani gardener, an illegal immigrant refugee with limited options for his family. Their chance meeting and ensuing working relationship provides comfort and meaning to their lives. Themes: gardens, human needs for connection, opportunity, mutuality of relationship.
Forever Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid (2009). Young love and loss; bonding between women: A heart-breaking novel of two young adults who meet, fall in love and marry and hours later the bridegroom dies in a freak accident. Is she a widow, when she hasn’t had time to even be a wife? So truthful about the vagaries of grief. Hope and affection is discovered in unexpected places for mother and daughter-in-law.
Walk Me Home by Catherine Ryan Hyde (2013).
Bonds between sisters, connecting with strangers to create a new family: Two sisters begin a long walk across states after their only parent is killed, to find an old boyfriend of their mother’s that they think would care for them now. Their adventure takes them into Indian country where they meet a unique and no-nonsense Indian woman, who changes their lives.
11/22/6 by Stephen King, (2011).
Love story set in 1950’s: Time travel and attempts to right some wrongs in the past, e.g., killing of President Kennedy. Time travel to 1950’s is detailed in food, fashion, dance, customs, technology. King must have been a jitterbugger by his detailed description of this dance 50’s style. Secondary theme is a love story.
Fortune is a Woman by Elizabeth Adler, Dell Publishing (1992).
Lifetime bonds among three strong women: Settings from China to San Francisco to rural New Mexico. Story of how the lives of three strong women connected over years. Unexpected events from start to finish keeps you turning pages. I didn’t see the ending coming.
Somewhere in Heaven: The Remarkable Love Story of Dana and Christopher Reeve by Christopher Anderson, Hyperion (2008).
A true love story. This biography is a love story of two exceptional individuals whose lives continue to inspire. Presents challenges of living every day paralyzed from the shoulders down… and what happens to the body. Given this huge burden, it is amazing what Dana and Chris accomplished together!
1929: (Book 1), by M.L. Gardner (2009).
Bonding of friends during times of economic disaster to survive: Story of three American couples (all friends) who lose their wealthy lifestyle in the 1929 stock market crash, and must now find a way to survive poverty, and to rebuild their lives. Story focuses on what happens to them, their servants and in-laws during the years after 1929. Depicts the real life situation that many families experienced in our grandparents generation, as a result of the 29′ crash….the abject poverty for so many, the greedy who took advantage of events, and efforts to survive.. The 1929 series consists of 6 books, but I recommend only Book 1.
I know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (1969).
Family, Community and learning to love self. Powerful memoir from African-American writer of her early years. Compelling narrative raises questions about love, abuse, racism, home, country and family. I heard so much about this book, I wanted to read it. I’m glad I did. Maya died last year in NC.
Where the River Ends by Charles Martin (2008).
A haunting story of love and letting go. A final journey of an artist and the love of his life, who is dying of a terminal illness. They steal away from her possessive family (the Senator, ) and take a harrowing last trip (at her request) up the river from SC to Georgia, in a small boat. Her body dies a little every day, but she radiates joy, as they meet interesting people and share experiences along the way. Would you have done it?
A Gentle Rain by Deborah Smith (2007).
Love comes in all sizes; appreciating differences. A warm, fuzzy love story of rural life in North Central Florida. Eccentric characters include lovable, mentally challenged and other unique and strong characters. Rich girl seeking her birth parents, arrives at farm and quickly makes herself indispensable. You will cheer for main characters, even though you just have to overlook too many coincidences and just enjoy the tale.
The Magic Hour by Kristin Hannah (2011).
Adult-child bonding. A child arrives in a small town in the American Northwest, who can’t speak, and doesn’t show normal social behaviors. Major focus of story is the building of bridges of communication between a woman psychiatrist and the feral child.
Tuesday’s Socks by Alison Ragsdale (2014)
Risking first love at 64 years. In the Scottish town of Pitochry, Jeffrey finds a path to change the ordered life he has led and risk change that will lead to big life changes. His day socks, a loving mother and a mysterious dog urge him on his journey. This story is slow moving, but fits the rhythm of Jeffrey’s structured life and the baby steps he takes to finally change his solitary life. Characters are believable. A first novel by this author. Some lonely folks may need a push, sometimes more than once, to take a leap of faith.