Recent Posts for the 'Reviews' Category

Women in Sunlight by Frances Mayes

Tuesday, July 17th, 2018

When my friend Ina recommended this book, I went right to the library to borrow a copy. I loved the movie Under the Tuscan Sun (also a book) and knew I would find this book interesting. And I did.

Frances Mayes writes about four American women, one of whom is the narrator, Kit, in her early forties, already living in Tuscany, Italy, and I suspect is actually the author Frances Mayes. The other three women are between the ages of 60 and 70, checking out a senior living facility that they are considering moving to. Two are widowed and one is separated from her husband and I believe is in the process of divorce. (I read it two months ago and cannot remember what state of un-marriage she is in, probably because I was divorced and found the whole ordeal painful!)

The three women rent a villa in Tuscany and befriend Kit, who is the book’s narrator, and her husband.  As the story progresses we find the older women coming out of the shells of their previous lives in the US and blossoming into strong, yet sensitive women. Each woman finds her niche, either something she had started before she came to Italy and had abandoned, like one character who stopped painting when she married as a young girl, or breaking new ground with their talents and skills.

The book is believable, although I had difficulty accepting the fact that three strangers could get along so quickly and easily, but other than that, I found each women’s story delightfully enlightening and entertaining. When the younger woman discovers she is pregnant for the first time in her forties, she and her husband are thrilled, and the birth of the baby adds another delightful element to the story. This baby has four mothers, not one, since the three women are fully on board for the birth and babyhood!

The descriptions, the dialogue, and the story line are engaging, and as the women blossom, so does the story. While I first thought it would be an easy “beach book,” I soon realized that the book is actually not a beach book, but rather one that I found thought-provoking, as the women find their way through post-middle age through interesting work and equally interesting new relationships with the local residents as well as the older men they meet.

My feeling is that the narrator is the author Frances Mayes (in the book she is also a writer), and based on information about Mayes at the end of the book, is actually about real women friends that she met in the US or in Italy. Of course, Mayes has fictionalized the characters, so perhaps there is a little fairy dust sprinkled in the story. But I enjoyed it thoroughly and I may just add a villa in Tuscany to my bucket list!

War on a Sunday Morning by Teresa Funke

Monday, July 2nd, 2018

Note: I meant to post this review on June 6th, D-Day, but I was busy helping my daughter and daughter-in-law move a second time in less than one month, so I forgot to post this. However, July 4th is upon us, so this seems like another relevant time to post it..




War on a Sunday Morning, part of Teresa Funke’s Home-Front Heroes series, is an excellent addition to her World War II stories based on a real person, in this case, Peggy Baccelli. Peggy’s father was in the armed service, and she, her brother, and parents moved to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, when Peggy, like her counterpart Rose in the book, is 13 years old, right before the attack on December 7, 1941.

In this story, Rose is a newcomer to Hawaii and misses her friends back in California. She sketches everything she sees, keeping her sketch pad close by to record her new surroundings. One of her new friends is of Japanese descent, which is a key part of the story of Rose’s loyalty to this new friend.

The focus of the book is the actual bombing of Pearl Harbor. Her brother Les needs to be found and her father rushes to the site of the harbor to help with the ships and other servicemen. Rose is an eyewitness to this horrendous event and she records her feelings with her sketch pad. When the bombs start falling and debris is scattered, Rose keeps sketching, especially when the civilians are sent to a shelter. She also finds a stray dog near her house, and the dog becomes an important part of the story.

Being an eye-witness to war is a scary experience that Rose manages to overcome, helping her Japanese friend and the dog along the way.

Knowing this is based on a true story, which author Teresa Funke brings to life, is a great way for children to learn about history. All her books highlight historical events with young children as the main characters, so they are great educational tools for ages 9 and up.

I actually enjoy reading the author’s books for their story content and facts. I wish such books had been available when I was in school, because history seemed boring to me. But Teresa’s books make history come alive!

War on a Sunday Morning is published by Victory House Press, costs $7.95, and is available online and in bookstores. The series makes a nice gift for a young person.