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What to do after the Grey

{ Blog Swapping Series, Part 7: My bestie over at Girly Obsessions and I have been swapping blogs every couple weeks. She brings you her musings, inspiration and in today’s case, latest reads, while we discuss our obsessions. Check out my post, where I tell you all about my obsession with Jack Wills… the fabulous British are coming… }

So if you read my blog, you know that I have a slight obsession with erotic fiction. My best friend said to me, but it’s so not like you, to which I said, no, I think it actually kind of is. It’s a recent development that started with 50 Shades (shocker) and grew into a full on obsession (thanks to Amazon’s related recommendations) and now I can’t stop. In fact, I already have two posts dedicated to what to read if you’re going through 50 Shades withdrawal (Part 1 and Part 2), and have a third and fourth on the way. But between all my erotic reads (umm, 18 so far?), I have read some more classic fiction, and I wanted to share three that I liked!


In The Kingdom of Men by Kim Barnes (liked)
The opening lines of the book are extremely compelling: Here is the first thing you need to know about me: I’m a barefoot girl from red-dirt Oklahoma, and all the marble floors in the world will never change that. Here is the second thing: that young woman they pulled from the Arabian shore, her hair tangled with mangrove – my husband didn’t kill her, not the way they say he did. What I really liked about this book was the subject matter. The story begins in 1967, when Gin, a poor girl from Oklahoma, marries the hometown golden boy, Mason. Their life is turned upside down when he is offered a job with the Arabian American Oil Company in Saudi Arabia. They move into a gated compound where they can live an opulent American lifestyle amongst strict religious and social standards. I really liked the relationships between the characters in this book – trying to strike a balance between classes and genders in a world where they don’t really mix. What I didn’t love about this book: the ending. I was so emotionally involved with all the characters and plot lines, and it just…ended. No resolution. Damn that’s frustrating! But overall, I liked it enough to recommend it.
 


The Shoemakers Wife by Adriana Trigiani (loved)
I love a good historical fiction, and this one spans decades and continents. It’s also a love story. One of destiny and epic romance and star-crossed lovers. The first part of this book takes place in a tiny hilltop town in the Italian Alps. Ciro Lazzari and his brother are sent to live in a convent after their fathers death. Enza Ravanelli grew up in a close and loving, but poor, family. Fate brings her and Ciro together at a tragic event, a brief meeting that results in an intense connection. Years later they meet again, as fate would have it, in the streets of Little Italy in New York City. Ciro travels to become an apprentice to a shoemaker. Enza travels with her father to make money for her family and she gets a job as a seamstress in the Metropolitan Opera House. The story follows their relationship from Italy to New York, from the battlefields of World War I to a small, blossoming town in Minnesota. It is a rich, well-written saga about love, family, hard work, immigration, adversity and determination.
 


The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly (really loved)
I read this after The Shoemakers Wife, and it’s hard to say which I liked more. They are very different stories, but also have some similarities – both epic and seductive sagas that span continents. This story, in a weird way, centers around the murders of Jack the Ripper in East London in the late 1800s. Fiona Finnegan works in a tea shop and dreams about opening her own shop with her longtime love, Joe Bristow, a street vendor. Fiona’s life takes a tragic twist, several actually, and she flees with her younger brother to New York City. Her determined, positive spirit sets her life in motion and carries her from owning a successful shop to becoming a key figure in the center of the tea trade. Circumstances lead her back to London where she faces her past, Joe included, and determines a path for her future. I really love the way Connelly writes about London and New York as if they are characters in the book. They not only serve as an essential backdrop for the story, but take on their own life as living, breathing creatures. There are two sequels to this book, The Winter Rose and The Wild Rose, which I have yet to read but are on my list!

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