Here's the description: On her thirtieth birthday, Gwendolyn Reese receives an unexpected present from her widowed Aunt Bea: a grand tour of Europe in the company of Bea's Sudoku and Mah-jongg Club. The prospect isn't entirely appealing. But when the gift she is expecting -- an engagement ring from her boyfriend -- doesn't materialize, Gwen decides to go. At first, Gwen approaches the trip as if it's the math homework she assigns her students, diligently checking monuments off her must-see list. But amid the bougainvillea and stunning vistas of southern Italy, something changes. Gwen begins to live in the moment: skipping down stone staircases in Capri, running her fingers over a glacier in view of the Matterhorn, racing through the Louvre, and taste-testing pastries at a Marseilles cafe. Revelling in every new experience -- especially her attraction to a charismatic British physics professor -- Gwen discovers that the ancient wonders around her are nothing compared to the renaissance unfolding within...
First, this is the prettiest cover EVER! I'm such a sucker for a beautiful landscape and then you add the mountains, the water, and EUROPE and there was no question I had to read this book. I know I'm going to like it too. One of my absolute best friends was also my roommate during our study abroad and, together, we have traveled all over. From pints of Strongbow in England to world famous chocolate in Belgium, the Eiffel Tower in France to a wine tasting tour through Italy, we've hit it all. I can't claim I found this book but once it was brought my attention I knew I'd not only read it but that we'd read it together. And that's exactly what we're doing. It's a chance to connect with an old friend, relive our one amazing semester in Europe, and have our very own long distance book club. It's going to be great, and if you don't have a summer read picked out the I invite you to read along too. There will be a review forthcoming with lots of opportunity for you to add your own angle to the conversation.
2. Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah
Here's the description:In the turbulent summer of 1974, Kate Mularkey has accepted her place at the bottom of the eighth-grade social food chain. Then, to her amazement, the “coolest girl in the world” moves in across the street and wants to be her friend. Tully Hart seems to have it all---beauty, brains, ambition. On the surface they are as opposite as two people can be: Kate, doomed to be forever uncool, with a loving family who mortifies her at every turn. Tully, steeped in glamour and mystery, but with a secret that is destroying her. They make a pact to be best friends forever; by summer’s end they’ve become TullyandKate. Inseparable.
So begins Kristin Hannah’s magnificent new novel. Spanning more than three decades and playing out across the ever-changing face of the Pacific Northwest, Firefly Lane is the poignant, powerful story of two women and the friendship that becomes the bulkhead of their lives.
From the beginning, Tully is desperate to prove her worth to the world. Abandoned by her mother at an early age, she longs to be loved unconditionally. In the glittering, big-hair era of the eighties, she looks to men to fill the void in her soul. But in the buttoned-down nineties, it is television news that captivates her. She will follow her own blind ambition to New York and around the globe, finding fame and success . . . and loneliness.
Kate knows early on that her life will be nothing special. Throughout college, she pretends to be driven by a need for success, but all she really wants is to fall in love and have children and live an ordinary life. In her own quiet way, Kate is as driven as Tully. What she doesn’t know is how being a wife and mother will change her . . . how she’ll lose sight of who she once was, and what she once wanted. And how much she’ll envy her famous best friend. . . .
For thirty years, Tully and Kate buoy each other through life, weathering the storms of friendship---jealousy, anger, hurt, resentment. They think they’ve survived it all until a single act of betrayal tears them apart . . . and puts their courage and friendship to the ultimate test.
I'm a little late to the party with this one. It's already a NYT bestseller and apparently I know tons of people who have read--and adored--this novel. When seeking some new reads this title was repeated again and again. So, there was only one logical thing to do: move it up on my TBR list stat and that's exactly what I've done. There's something truly special about a book that transcends so much time with the same characters--it's like we're growing up alongside them. It creates a richer reading experience (at least as far as the characterization is concerned) and I can't wait!
What books are you dying to get your hands on this summer?