Retired CFO, Army wife, Mom of five, Grandma of six, two sons who served in combat, love to read books that reflect my values and faith, love mysteries, historical, military stories, and books that don't waste my time . . . if it doesn't have an ending that was worth the wait, I'm not a happy camper.
This book turned out to be one of my favorite audio books. The honesty with which it is written is so very valuable. Though it is fictional, the beautifully flawed lives of the women, Vivian and Clare, are portrayed in a way that is not judgmental. It does not detract from who these women are, doesn't make them more or less, just describes them. I love that the story begins in the early 1900s in San Francisco, in a beautiful place, where a young Vivian, full of optimism, trusts and makes choices that her best friend disagrees with. Then Clare, in the 1960s, when John F. Kennedy is running for President, is inspired by new ideas and has "fallen out of love" with her husband. Each story is fully told, running parallel, when of course, they are in two different time periods. But I did not find this distracting in the least. Each woman learning, growing, discovering for herself about friendship, marriage, dreams and reality . . . and gaining a wisdom that only life can teach.
By far the best Donna Van Liere book I've read, and I like all her books. But this one has a maturity and depth that is miles ahead of all the others. Set in the 1950s, when all women married young and "fit the pattern" that society set for them, Ivory refused to fit the mold. The people in the story are true to their southern roots, right down to their country sayings . . . which I see that one reader found to be off putting. Well, that's the way folks talk in the hills of Tennessee. The narration is perfect, the way of life is portrayed spot on and it put me in the mind of my own grandparents, and growing up in Kentucky. Growing a garden and working in tobacco fields, all a part of rural life, and going to a little country store, where everybody knows everybody else. The courage and stick-to-it-ness of Ivory in an age when women just didn't do such things will inspire you, and make your heart break, give you hope and ultimately make you examine your own "safe" choices.
I loved this story of the heirs to the last sultan of Singapore and the palace Kampong Glam, which I knew nothing about until I listened to The Moonlight Palace. Impressionable Agnes, the 17 year old the last heir to the estate, is both naive and brave. Her telling of life in the palace and of both sets of grandparents (upstairs and downstairs) is touching, funny, and the substance of the woman she will become. Historical fiction at its best