The Good Neighbor Amy Sue Nathan

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Published: St Martin’s Press/St Martin’s Griffin
Date: October 13th 2015
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 272
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
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Lies and secrets. Are they okay? Can they bring trouble? Who do they hurt?

Well Izzy Lane is about to find out. She is a single mother, with a delightful five year old son Noah, and she has returned home to her family home and the neighborhood she grew up in.  She wants to move forward after her divorce from Bruce Silverstein.

In the next door house is the delightful older woman, Mrs Feldman. Izzy spent much time with her when she was growing up, and now that relationship takes up again, in all its trust and honesty.

Izzy also has a very good friend Jade and a cousin Rachel who together make up a small team of supporters for Izzy.  She has a job as a school counsellor and everything is moving along fairly well until Bruce  reneges on his child support and heads off.  Izzy is left wondering how she is going to cover costs when Jade who has a successful online social media business gives her a spot on her online media so that she can extend their audience with a Philly over Forty spot. Izzy will cater for those over forties, who are single again, or single parents or…. whatever.

But Izzy is harboring a secret. In her previous blog she had invented “Mac” a boyfriend who is not real and Jade very much wants him part of the Philly over Forty scenario.  So Izzy who is always drumming up the moment to reveal her lie – doesn’t.

Throw in a jealous co worker, a somewhat enigmatic lawyer, family and a swag of online commenters and you have a whole neigborhood of people.  Who was the good neighbor? Still pondering, but I think Izzy and Mrs Feldman definitely and that whole neighborhood on Good St. On the other hand everyone is our neighbor, so how good a friend and neighbor is Izzy all round?

My favorite character was Izzy. I am going to go out on a bit of a limb and say what she did I did not find that terrible. Maybe because it’s written in the first person and I could understand her point of view. However she did fail to trust  her friends and that could be the crux. I found the fallout from the reveal somewhat severe. At 95% I was thinking…. really!

I really enjoyed the read, definitely one that I’d enjoy discussing in a book club situation.

4 stars

The Secrets of Midwives. Sally Hepworth

The Secrets of Midwives book cover

The Secrets of Midwives
Sally Hepworth
Publisher: St Martin’s Press
Date: 10th February 2015
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 320
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

THE SECRETS OF MIDWIVES tells the story of three generations of women devoted to delivering new life into the world—and the secrets they keep that threaten to change their own lives forever. Neva Bradley, a third-generation midwife, is determined to keep the details surrounding her own pregnancy—including the identity of the baby’s father— hidden from her family and co-workers for as long as possible. Her mother, Grace, finds it impossible to let this secret rest. For Floss, Neva’s grandmother and a retired midwife, Neva’s situation thrusts her back 60 years in time to a secret that eerily mirrors her granddaughter’s—a secret which, if revealed, will have life-changing consequences for them all. Will these women reveal their secrets and deal with the inevitable consequences? Or are some secrets best kept hidden?

My thoughts
The Secret of Midwives by Sally Hepworth was a book I just wanted to keep reading until I reluctantly came to the end.  The story is told from the viewpoint of three women.  Floss is the mother of Grace and the grandmother of Neva. Each woman narrates the story and gradually the details unfold. Floss arrived from Britain to the United States in the 1950’s with her baby daughter Grace.  She always told Grace that her daddy had died before she was born in an accident. Grace always felt she missed out with the absence of a father.  So when Neva – Grace’s daughter is discovered to be pregnant – in her seventh month and then won’t reveal the name of the father, Grace is upset because again this baby will grow up without a father.
Each of the women face challenges – firstly how they relate to each other and how they trust or perhaps at times distrust each other.  Although when it ultimately counts these three women come together in a time honoured way and manage something miraculous.  As well as relationships with each other there are the relationships with their partners.  How does Floss include her partner Lil in all the family happenings and can she share her truth with her?  Grace and her husband Robert are going through a rough time, with work issues and personal issues.  Then Neva is not willing to reveal her baby’s father, there is gossip at work and she has someone with whom she connects with, feels an attraction for yet there seems to be things that just get in the way.
Each woman’s story and journey was engaging and wonderful.  They are all knowledgeable and skilled in their loved work – being midwives, even though Floss is now retired her experience and knowledge still counts very much.  I loved how Lil first got to meet Floss.  I loved how all three women were linked by the connection to the miracle of birth. I loved how as the story unfolds they all grow and develop and how truth, love and family all win out in the end.
4 stars
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