Neshama's Choices for 2nd week in December, part 2

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This installment: three novels--Virginia in the ‘40s, the internet as a marriage counselor, and Vienna in 1913 (with a dose of psychotherapy).

   Heading Out to Wonderful by Robert Goolrick

I really liked his A Reliable Wife but have mixed feelings about this one. However I'm sharing it because it does have virtues and may be more your cup of tea than mine.. It's one of those two basic plots: in this case,  a stranger comes to town. Small town Virginia in the late '40s and Charlie's an odd one, a rolling stone who gradually settles, living rough initially (his choice) but with considerable means, we discover. He gets a job as a butcher and is befriended by a local family. But then there's beautiful Sylvan, young bride of a rich bigwig, and the attraction between her and Charlie is powerful and ultimately fatal. I got a whiff of Bridges of Madison County here (another very popular book I read with suspicion). However the story is fascinating and compelling, and the writing is good, so check it out if I've intrigued you enough.

   Wife 22 by Melanie Gideon

This initially looked like chick-lit (though no hot pink on the cover) but despite the very contemporary feel and entertainment value, I found it had considerable depth. Here's Alice Buckle, very plugged into social media but something's lacking, especially in her marriage. Over the internet comes a study on the very subject and she signs up. We see the answers, not the questions (an intriguing device), and they are candid and eventually intimate. We also witness a relationship developing with her (also) anonymous researcher on whom she develops a crush. Like a photograph slowly developing, we get the back story of her marriage--high and points, disappointments and betrayals on both sides. In the meantime her husband loses his advertising job. A surprise ending, kind of. (I guessed it.) Delightful read.

   Waiting for Sunrise by William Boyd

I'm not usually drawn to historical fiction but like Boyd a lot and am so glad I embarked on this journey with him. A British poet and actor, Lysander, goes to Vienna in 1913 to consult with a disciple of Freud and try to resolve a psycho-sexual problem. By chance he gets involved with Hettie, another patient of Dr. Bensimon's. With therapy and her considerable charms, he's "cured," but there's a shocking turn of events resulting in a charge of rape. The only possible extrication from this nightmare is through agreeing to espionage, using his considerable acting skills. Suspenseful and very atmospheric.

Back next Monday.

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Posted by: Neshama

Neshama works at the Fairfax Library.

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