Book Reviews

Books, people who love them, and a Regency romp

By Lynda Rego
Posted 3/20/24

Two books about books and the people who love them and a romp through Regency London. Enjoy!

“Blank” by Zibby Owens (2024). Pippa Jones is in her 40s and lives in Los Angeles. She is …

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Book Reviews

Books, people who love them, and a Regency romp


Two books about books and the people who love them and a romp through Regency London. Enjoy!

“Blank” by Zibby Owens (2024). Pippa Jones is in her 40s and lives in Los Angeles. She is in a lonely marriage with two wonderful children she adores and a writing career that is on hold. She had one best-selling book and a second she had to trash because someone published almost exactly the same novel while she was writing hers (and it became a blockbuster. Ouch!). She’s had writer’s block ever since and now she has to come up with something or her publisher will drop her and want the advance money (which she has already spent) returned. She’s worried about money (her husband’s career, if you can call it that, isn’t making much), juggling the kids’ schedules and trying to find inspiration.

Her three best friends from college try to help, but Pippa thinks all the good ideas have been used. When 12-year-old son Max comes up with an out-there idea, everyone laughs, but Pippa decides to run with it. Is she crazy? Will it tank her career? Or, is she on to something profound about books, the way we read them, and how they are being published? Going forward with it will rock her life in ways she never imagined. This is a witty, funny, sharp look at the book world, marriage, family, friendship and sticking up for yourself and not settling.

“The Air Raid Book Club” by Annie Lyons (2023) is another touching offering from a talented writer. Gertie Bingham is still mourning the death of her husband in 1938, two years after his death. They started Bingham’s Books together in a London suburb and she’s lost her zest for living and in running the shop, letting an assistant handle the book club and other duties.

But, when a friend suggests she take in one of the refugee Jewish children from Germany, it will change her life. At first, 15-year-old Hedy is standoffish and difficult, but as war is declared and the entire town comes together, Hedy and Gertie become close and both of their lives expand to include other townspeople and a neighbor and her son. They will deal with what has happened to Hedy’s parents and brother, the endless bombing by the Germans during the Blitz (with a special book group in the bomb shelters) and getting on with life amid the rationing and uncertainty of the future during wartime.

“The Benevolent Society of Ill-Mannered Ladies” by Alison Goodman (2024) is the first in a series. It’s a fun romp through Regency London with Lady Augusta “Gus” Colebrook and her twin sister, Lady Julia. At 42, Gus is considered an old maid and finds her life tedious and boring. Julia has lost her fiancée and is grieving. Gus decides their lives need a little life and takes on a mission from a friend to meet her blackmailing lover and retrieve her love letters.

Then, the sisters learn of a friend’s goddaughter. After failing to give her husband children, she has been declared insane by her husband, who keeps her locked up. The friend is sure he plans to kill her so he can remarry and get an heir. On their way to help, the sisters will run afoul of a highwayman, Gus will accidentally shoot him, only to discover he is an old acquaintance, Lord Evan Belford, who had to flee after being accused of killing a man in a duel. Lord Evan becomes part of the rescue plan, which will up-end their lives. This is an incredibly fun mystery novel with vibrant characters and the pomp and fashion of society life at a colorful time in English history. Looking forward to the next one in November.

2024 by East Bay Media Group

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Meet our staff

Mike Rego has worked at East Bay Newspapers since 2001, helping the company launch The Westport Shorelines. He soon after became a Sports Editor, spending the next 10-plus years in that role before taking over as editor of The East Providence Post in February of 2012. To contact Mike about The Post or to submit information, suggest story ideas or photo opportunities, etc. in East Providence, email