Reading Recommendations: The Sweet By and By, a novel, Todd Johnson
Among the longleaf pines and family farms of Eastern North Carolina, days seem to pass without incident for Margaret Clayton and Bernice Stokes until they discover each other in a friendship that will take them on the most important journey of their lives. Margaret, droll and whip smart, has a will of iron that never fails her even when her body does, while Bernice, an avid country music fan is rarely lucid. Irreverent and brazen at every turn, they make a formidable pair at the home where they live, breaking all the rules and ultimately changing the lives of those around them. Lorraine, their churchgoing, God-questioning nurse, both protects and provokes them while they are under her watchful eye, as her daughter, April, bright and ambitious, determinedly makes her way through medical school. Rounding out the group of unlikely and often outrageous friends is Rhonda, the bud swilling beautician who does the ladies hair on her day off and whose sassy talk hides a vulnerable heart, one that finally opens to love.
Weaving his tightly knit and compelling novel in alternating chapters, each woman gets to tell her story her own way, as all five learn to reconcile troubled pasts, find forgiveness, choose hope, and relish the joy of life. Rich with characters whose uniquely musical voices overflow the pages.
Eat, Pray and Love
In her early thirties, Elizabeth Gilbert had everything a modern American woman was supposed to want, husband, country home, successful career, but instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she felt consumed by panic and confusion. This wise and rapturous book is the story of how she left behind all those outward marks of success, and of what she found in their place. Following a divorce and a crushing depression, Gilbert set out to examine three different aspects of her nature, set against the backdrop of three different cultures: pleasure in Italy, devotion in India and on the Indonesian island of Bali, a balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence.Captive Queen
Nearing her thirtieth birthday, Eleanor has spent the past dozen frustrating years as consort to the pious King Louis VII of France. For all its political advantages, the marriage has brought Eleanor only increasing unhappiness, and daughters instead of the hoped for heir. But when they young and dynamic Henry of Anjon arrives at the French court, Eleanor sees a way out of her discontent. For even as their eyes meet for the first time, the seductive Eleanor and Henry know that theirs is a passion that could ignite the world.
Returning to her duchy of Aquitaine after the annulment of her marriage to Louis, Eleanor immediately sends for Henry, the future King of England, to come and marry her. The union of this royal couple will create a vast empire that stretches from the Scottish border to the Pyrenees, and marks the beginning of the celebrated Plantagenet dynasty.
But Henry and Eleanor's marriage begins a fiery downward spiral marred by power struggles, betrayals, bitter rivalries, and a devils brood of young Plantagenets, including Richard the Lionhearted and the future King John. Early on, Eleanor must endure Henry's formidable mother, the Empress Matilda, as well as his infidelities, while in the later years, Henry's friendship with Thomas Becket will lead to a deadly rivalry. Eventually, as the couples' rebellious sons grow impatient for power, the scene is set for a vicious and tragic conflict that will engulf both Eleanor and Henry.
Vivid in detail, epic in scope, an astounding and brilliantly wrought historical novel that encompasses the building of an empire and the monumental story of a royal marriage. This one has it all!
See you at Rylander!
, a novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Alison Weir , Elizabeth Gilbert