I just binge watched two seasons of the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel to the chagrin of Mr. Podhoretz.
I had avoided it, fearing stereotypes, but I watched it and found it satisfying. While many – like me – will watch television and films, others will focus on reading this Summer in the Northern Hemisphere.
Here are some recommended reads:
by Jennifer Weiner
Publication Date: June 11, 2019
From Jennifer Weiner, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Who Do You Love and In Her Shoes comes a smart, thoughtful, and timely exploration of two sisters’ lives from the 1950s to the present as they struggle to find their places—and be true to themselves—in a rapidly evolving world. Mrs. Everything is an ambitious, richly textured journey through history—and herstory—as these two sisters navigate a changing America over the course of their lives.
Do we change or does the world change us?
Jo and Bethie Kaufman were born into a world full of promise.
Growing up in 1950s Detroit, they live in a perfect “Dick and Jane” house, where their roles in the family are clearly defined. Jo is the tomboy, the bookish rebel with a passion to make the world more fair; Bethie is the pretty, feminine good girl, a would-be star who enjoys the power her beauty confers and dreams of a traditional life.
But the truth ends up looking different from what the girls imagined. Jo and Bethie survive traumas and tragedies. As their lives unfold against the background of free love and Vietnam, Woodstock and women’s lib, Bethie becomes an adventure-loving wild child who dives headlong into the counterculture and is up for anything (except settling down). Meanwhile, Jo becomes a proper young mother in Connecticut, a witness to the changing world instead of a participant. Neither woman inhabits the world she dreams of, nor has a life that feels authentic or brings her joy. Is it too late for the women to finally stake a claim on happily ever after?
Jennifer Weiner tells a story of two sisters who, with their different dreams and different paths, offer answers to the question: How should a woman be in the world?
Fleishman Is in Trouble:
by Taffy Brodesser-Akner
Publication Date: June 2019
Dr. Toby Fleishman, 41, a liver specialist, thought he knew what to expect when he and his wife of almost fifteen years separated: weekends and every other holiday with the kids, some residual bitterness, the occasional moment of tension in their co-parenting negotiations. He could not have predicted that, in the middle of his summer of sexual emancipation on online apps and new women to sleep with every night (even though he is 5’5”, and his entire life he was made to feel like an unworthy nerd by women), that his ex-wife Rachel would just drop their two children off at his place and simply not return.
He had been working so hard to find equilibrium in his single life. he was enjoying his freedom… and now this.
The story is narrated by Libby Epstein, Dr. Toby’s friend of two decades.
They met as college students in Israel.
Libby is a journalist, just like the author of this funny Summer must-read novel.
Libby is at times like an anthropologist, observing from a distance. But then again… what is her deal and relationship with Toby??
As Toby tries to figure out where his ex-wife, Rachel, a succcessful talent agent who is trying to be even more successful… went, all while juggling his patients at the hospital, his never-ending parental duties, and his new app-assisted sexual popularity, his tidy narrative of the spurned husband with the too-ambitious wife is his sole consolation.
But don’t resent Rachel so quickly; maybe Toby is not that saintly of a doctor.
If Toby ever wants to truly understand what happened to Rachel and what happened to his marriage, he is going to have to consider that he might not have seen things ALL THAT CLEARLY in the first place.
Summer of ’69
by Elin Hilderbrand
Publication Date: June 19, 2019
Little, Brown and Company
It is the Summer of 1969. The world is focused on Woodstock, the Apollo moon landing, and Ted Kennedy’s car accident. All these things occurred the month the author was born.
The Levin/Foley family is obsessed with Nantucket. Every summer, the kids have looked forward to spending the summer at their grandmother’s (Nonny Exalta) historic home in downtown Nantucket, Massachusetts.
More exclusive than Martha’s Vineyard.
Kate Levin is the mom and daughter of Exalta. She is a widow of Wilder Foley, a war veteran who killed himself.
She had three kids with him, and then married David Levin, with whom she had Jessie.
Blair, 24, the oldest sister, is stuck in in Boston, pregnant with twins and unable to travel. Her husband, Angus, is an MIT astrophysicist who if he cant control space, he can control his wife. It is 1969, so he is at Mission Control (perhaps he puts the control in mission control).
Kirby, 20, the middle sister is busy with civil rights protests, but has taken a job on Martha’s Vineyard (the antithesis of Nantucket). She romanced one of the officers who arrested her at a protest; and romanced a black Harvard student. But his family finds Kirby to be beneath him and them.
Tiger, 19, is a drafted soldier in South Vietnam.
So, Jessie, 13, is the only one with grandma and her mother Kate, who has taken to drinking more than usual.
As for Woodstuck.. no worries, The grandson of Noony’s caregiver is headed there to search for his mother.
And speaking of the country club, there is a pedophile lurking on the tennis court, and a good deal of anti-Semitism is growing like high tide there as well.
THE GUEST BOOK
BY SARAH BLAKE
Publication Date: May 2019
In 1935 New York, Kitty Milton, wife of Ogden, is enjoying the life of a New York society wife with her three children—five-year-old Neddy, three-year-old Moss, and one-year-old Joan—when Neddy dies in an accident. To help his wife heal, Ogden buys Crockett’s Island off the coast of Maine, and through the decades, the island becomes the Miltons’ summer refuge.
No. It is a simple word, uttered on a summer porch in 1936. And it will haunt a privileged Kitty Milton for the rest of her life. Kitty and her husband, Ogden, are both from families considered the backbone of the country. But this refusal will come to be Kitty’s defining moment, and its consequences will ripple through the Milton family for generations. For while they summer on their island in Maine, anchored as they are to the way things have always been, the winds of change are beginning to stir.
In 1959 New York City, two strangers enter the Miltons’ circle. One captures the attention of Kitty’s daughter, while the other makes each of them question what the family stands for. This new generation insists the times are changing. And in one night, everything does. Moss, now 27, is working in his father’s investment bank and invites his Jewish friend Len Levy, a fellow employee at the firm, and Reg Pauling, a black man and friend of Moss and Len, to visit the Maine island. Len and Joan have been secretly dating, but Len isn’t certain if Joan will acknowledge their relationship in front of her family. The tensions of Len and Reg’s visit result in an argument that brings family secrets to light and ends in drama that will haunt those present for years to come.
So much so that in the present day, the third generation of Miltons doesn’t have enough money to keep the island in Maine. Evie Milton’s mother has just died, and as Evie digs into her mother’s and grandparents’ history, what she finds is a story as unsettling as it is inescapable, the story that threatens the foundation of the Milton family myth. Moving through three generations and back and forth in time, The Guest Book asks how we remember and what we choose to forget. It shows the untold secrets we inherit and pass on, unknowingly echoing our parents and grandparents. Sarah Blake’s triumphant novel tells the story of a family and a country that buries its past in quiet, until the present calls forth a reckoning.
The Tenth Muse:
by Catherine Chung
Publication Date: June 18, 2019
From childhood, Katherine knows she is different, and that her parents are not who they seem to be. With Jewish and Chinese parents, she confronts racism and sexism in university math departments. Becoming a mathematician, she must face the most human of problems—who is she? What is the cost of love, and what is the cost of ambition?
On her quest to conquer the Riemann Hypothesis, the greatest unsolved mathematical problem of her time, she turns to a theorem with a mysterious history that holds both the lock and key to her identity, and to secrets long buried during World War II in Germany. Forced to confront some of the most consequential events of the twentieth century and rethink everything she knows of herself, she strives to take her place in the world of higher mathematics and finds kinship in the stories of the women who came before her—their love of the language of numbers connecting them across generations.
In The Tenth Muse, Catherine Chung offers a gorgeous, sweeping tale about legacy, identity, and the beautiful ways the mind can make us free.
When We Were Arabs:
A Jewish Family’s Forgotten History
by Massoud Hayoun
Publication Date: June 25, 2019
The New Press
For all I know, the author may be a jerk. He is Arab first. He despises Europe. His Judaism modifies his Arabness. He has issues with Zionism and Western colonialism in Arabic speaking lands. But he does tell a great tale of his grandparents’ lives in Egypt, Tunisia, and british Mandate Palestine, and dealing with anti-Semitism and the creation of the State of Israel, and exile in Los Angeles. He writes of a time when being an “Arab” didn’t mean you were necessarily Muslim. It was a time when Oscar Hayoun, a Jewish Arab, strode along the Nile in a fashionable suit, long before he and his father arrived at the port of Haifa to join the Zionist state only to find themselves hosed down with DDT by those European Jews and then left unemployed on the margins of society. Arabness was once a mark of cosmopolitanism, of intellectualism. Today, in Massoud Hayoun worldview, Arabness is discriminated against. To reclaim a worldly Arab identity is, for Hayoun, part of the larger project to recall a time before ethnic identity was mangled for political ends. It is also a journey deep into a lost age of sophisticated innocence in the Arab world; an age that is now nearly lost. The author might benefit from a session on anger management.
One Man, an Underground Army,
and the Secret Mission
to Destroy Auschwitz
by Jack Fairweather
Publication Date: June 25, 2019
Pilecki’s story shows how Western powers knew about the death camps.
He fought Naziism and survived, only to succumb to fighting Polish communisim
This is the story of a Polish resistance fighter’s infiltration of Auschwitz to sabotage the camp from within, and his death-defying attempt to warn the Allies about the Nazis’ plans for a “Final Solution” before it was too late. To uncover the fate of the thousands being interred at a mysterious Nazi camp on the border of the Reich, a 39 year old Polish resistance fighter named Witold Pilecki volunteered for an audacious mission: assume a fake identity, intentionally get captured and sent to the new camp, and then report back to the underground on what had happened to his compatriots there. But gathering information was not his only task: he was to execute an attack from inside—where the Germans would least expect it. Over the next two and half years, Pilecki forged an underground army within Auschwitz that sabotaged facilities, assassinated Nazi informants and officers, and gathered evidence of terrifying abuse and mass murder. But as he pieced together the horrifying truth that the camp was to become the epicenter of Nazi plans to exterminate Europe’s Jews, Pilecki realized he would have to risk his men, his life, and his family to warn the West before all was lost. To do so, meant attempting the impossible—an escape from Auschwitz itself. Pilecki is almost unknown to the world. Now, with exclusive access to previously hidden diaries, family and camp survivor accounts, and recently declassified files, Jack Fairweather offers an unflinching portrayal of survival, revenge and betrayal in mankind’s darkest hour. And in uncovering the tragic outcome of Pilecki’s mission, he reveals that its ultimate defeat originated not in Auschwitz or Berlin, but in London and Washington.
The New Girl:
A Novel (Gabriel Allon Thriller)
by Daniel Silva
Publication Date: July 16, 2019
NOW YOU SEE HER
NOW YOU DON’T
THE NEW GIRL
She was covered from head to toe in expensive wool and plaid, the sort of stuff one saw at the Burberry boutique in Harrods. She carried a leather bookbag rather than a nylon backpack. Her patent leather ballet slippers were glossy and bright. She was proper, the new girl, modest. But there was something else about her …
At an exclusive private school in Switzerland, mystery surrounds the identity of the beautiful raven-haired girl who arrives each morning in a motorcade fit for a head of state. She is said to be the daughter of a wealthy international businessman. In truth, her father is Khalid bin Mohammed, the much-maligned crown prince of Saudi Arabia. Once celebrated for his daring social and religious reforms, he is now reviled for his role in the murder of a dissident journalist. And when his only child is brutally kidnapped, he turns to the one man he can trust to find her before it is too late.
What’s done cannot be undone
Gabriel Allon, the legendary chief of Israeli intelligence, has spent most of his life fighting terrorists, including the murderous jihadists financed by Saudi Arabia. Prince Khalid—or KBM, as he is known—has pledged to finally break the bond between the Kingdom and radical Islam. For that reason alone, Gabriel regards him as a valuable if flawed partner. Together they will become unlikely allies in a deadly secret war for control of the Middle East. The life of a child, and the throne of Saudi Arabia, hang in the balance. Both men have made their share of enemies. And both have everything to lose. Filled with dark humor, breathtaking twists of plot, and an unforgettable cast of characters, The New Girl is both a thrilling, page-turning tale of entertainment and a sophisticated study of political alliances and great-power rivalries in a dangerous world.
Lady in the Lake:
by Laura Lippman
Publication Date: July 23, 2019
In 1966, Baltimore is a city of secrets that everyone seems to know—everyone, that is, except Madeline “Maddie” Schwartz. Last year, she was a happy, even pampered housewife. This year, she’s bolted from her marriage of almost twenty years, determined to make good on her youthful ambitions to live a passionate, meaningful life.
Maddie wants to matter, to leave her mark on a swiftly changing world. Drawing on her own secrets, she helps Baltimore police find a murdered girl—assistance that leads to a job at the city’s afternoon newspaper, the Star. Working at the newspaper offers Maddie the opportunity to make her name, and she has found just the story to do it: a missing woman whose body was discovered in the fountain of a city park lake.
Cleo Sherwood was a young African-American woman who liked to have a good time. No one seems to know or care why she was killed except Maddie—and the dead woman herself. Maddie’s going to find the truth about Cleo’s life and death. Cleo’s ghost, privy to Maddie’s poking and prying, wants to be left alone.
Maddie’s investigation brings her into contact with people that used to be on the periphery of her life—a jewelry store clerk, a waitress, a rising star on the Baltimore Orioles, a patrol cop, a hardened female reporter, a lonely man in a movie theater. But for all her ambition and drive, Maddie often fails to see the people right in front of her. Her inability to look beyond her own needs will lead to tragedy and turmoil for all sorts of people—including the man who shares her bed, a black police officer who cares for Maddie more than she knows.