Book Reviews

A few good reads for rainy spring days

By Lynda Rego
Posted 5/9/23

A lot of rainy weather lately has had me reading instead of gardening. So, enjoy!

“Just Last Night” (2021) by Mhairi McFarlane is a story of friendship, love and grief. Eve is in …

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Book Reviews

A few good reads for rainy spring days

Posted

A lot of rainy weather lately has had me reading instead of gardening. So, enjoy!

“Just Last Night” (2021) by Mhairi McFarlane is a story of friendship, love and grief. Eve is in shock. Her best friend Suzie is killed in a freak accident and it’s upended her entire life. The only bright spot is two other friends, Ed and Justin. The foursome 30-somethings have been friends since school days and are inseparable from pub quiz nights to vacations, laughing and teasing their way through life.

As they struggle through funeral planning and their grief, they lean on one another and deal with secrets coming to light.

Suzie’s brother comes from the U.S. to settle things, including their father, who is slipping into dementia. He and Suzie were estranged, but Eve isn’t sure why (another secret).

This is one of those books that organically follows a plot in such a way that to share too much will ruin the story. But, the friends will rethink their relationships and start new ones in this heartfelt, moving story.

 

“Incense and Sensibility” (2021) by Sonali Dev. I’ve fallen in love with Dev’s Bollywood-style love stories. They are all very family-centric. This one is part of her four-book series based on Jane Austen’s books. Hardly a unique idea, but hers are so creative. She credits Jane with introducing her to “some of the first female protagonists … who had a sense of self-worth despite living in a world where they had no power.” So true.

India Dashwood, a trained yoga therapist, runs the family yoga studio in California. After an expensive rehab of the studio, money is tight and she works hard. She uses her practice to be strong physically and mentally. Her younger sister China is a TV producer and free spirit. Their mother Tara makes incense.

Ten years earlier India met Yash Raje, the brother of friends, and an up and coming politician. One day and evening together was transcendent for both of them, but then he returned from a week-long family trip with a girlfriend. Now he’s running for governor and after a shooting at one of his rallies, he can’t bring himself to make public appearances. His sister convinces him to see India, who is also a stress management coach. His election team is mostly family and there’s no way they won’t get him the help he needs. But, can he and India work together?

 

“George Washington’s Secret Six: The Spy Ring That Saved the American Revolution” by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger (2013). I love history books and historical fiction, especially if it deals with a time period my ancestors lived in. As 90 percent of my ancestors are New England colonists dating back to the Mayflower, and about 12 of them served in the Revolutionary War, that period has always been of special interest. After enjoying “Turn: Washington’s Spies,” a show about the Culper spy ring that aired on AMC in 2014-17, I was excited to spot this book.

Based on the letters of Washington and others, memoirs and tons of research on the period and people, it’s a fascinating look at the first successful spies in this country. More interesting than any James Bond adventure, the intrepid men and one woman of the Culper ring risked their lives and freedom to help Gen. George Washington collect information on the British in New York and turn the tide of the war.

Following the hanging of Nathan Hale in 1776, Washington knew he had to do better ‑ find people familiar with New York who could gather intelligence and stay safe at the same time. So it began. The ring would foil Benedict Arnold’s schemes and get the British battle plan for Yorktown in advance so Washington could rout Cornwallis.

And, the story of how history came to know the names of the five brave men is just as fascinating because they worked in such profound secrecy. Unfortunately, no one knows the name of the woman (only known as Agent 355). The book shares information on seven possibilities, but unless more letters or papers are unearthed in some old attic or barn, we may never know the identity of “the lady who will outwit them all.”

And, check out the back of the book first for portraits of some of the players, photos and a map of how the ring’s members ferried their information from New York City to Long Island and then to Connecticut before it was hurried to Washington in New Jersey. Every American should know of these valiant six (Robert Townsend, Abraham Woodhull, Caleb Brewster, Austin Roe, James Rivington and Agent 355) who ensured we are living the lives we have today.

Visit Lynda Rego on Facebook at www.facebook.com/lynda.rego where she shares tips on cooking, books, gardening, genealogy and other topics. Click on Like and share ideas for upcoming stories.

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Mike Rego

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 mrego@eastbaymediagroup.com.