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Lee Capristo
Director of Publications
Email: lwcapristo@smcm.edu
Anne Arundel 100

Great Books to Read this Summer

Written by Bluestocking Book Club

Illustration by Allie Snyder '11

As the summer begins to sizzle, grab a great book and sit beneath the umbrella's shade. The following recommendations are courtesy of the St. Mary's College Bluestocking Book Club. (The term refers to educated women of the 18th century who may have worn frumpy woolen stockings.)

A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick (2009)
"It was bitter cold, the air electric with all that had not happened yet," begins this novel set in the early 1900s. When well-to-do business-man Ralph Truitt advertises for a "reliable wife" and selects Catherine Land to join him in his home in northern Wisconsin, he is unaware of the extent to which his life will be impacted by his choice of a wife. Set in the frozen winter, this is a perfect summer "read" for those who love a good story filled with suspense, questionable loyalties and memorable characters.
- Nancy Danganan

The Lady Elizabeth: A Novel by Alison Weir (2008)
This novel chronicles the life of Elizabeth I from childhood to coronation and provides a colorful account of what life might have been like for this red-headed daughter of the mighty King Henry VIII. Her mother's beheading, her father's split from the Catholic Church, his death and the brief reign of her half-brother Edward are chronicled in vivid detail, as is Elizabeth's imprisonment in the Tower of London and the bloody reign of her half-sister Mary. Throughout, Elizabeth's keen intellect prepares her for the world that becomes hers as the "Virgin Queen."
- Lee Capristo

Sixpence House by Paul Collins (2003)
Author Collins moves his family from San Francisco to a favorite Welch town they had stumbled upon while vacationing. Hay-on-Wye has 1,500 residents, two news agents, four grocers, and 40 bookstores, and is open 363 days of the year. Secondhand and antiquarian books pour in from around the world and fill shelves to the rafters, attics, basements, and even fields behind town. Collins shares his droll observations of the minutiae of life as they search for the right house to buy, interspersing the search with marvelous snippets from moldering books and journals he runs across. This non-fiction travelogue/memoir is laugh-out-loud funny and dessert for serious book lovers.
- Barbara Geehan

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrow (2008)
Now that World War II is over, journalist Juliet Ashton seeks a serious literary project. This novel is written as correspondence in 1946 between Juliet and friends including Dawson Adams, a stranger who contacts Juliet after coming into possession of a book she once owned. Through Dawson's letters, Juliet is drawn to the island of Guernsey off the coast of England to learn more about the German occupation of the island and the members of a book club who survived the occupation. As this simple novel takes its readers through Juliet's life, those who make the trip with her grow to further appreciate the value of community and the difference that books make in our lives.
- Nancy Danganan

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd (2002)
The Secret Life of Bees has a rare wisdom about life - about mothers and daughters and the women in our lives who become our true mothers. The setting is 1964 South Carolina during the time of racial tensions and the civil rights movement. Fourteenyear-old Lilly, whose mother is dead and who lives with her abusive father, helps free her family's housekeeper, Rosaleen, from jail, and both flee to Tiburon, South Carolina, a town Lilly found on the back of one of her mother's few possessions. In Tiburon, they find three African-American beekeeper sisters, May, June, and August, who hold women worship services before the statue of a Black Madonna they call "Our Lady of Chains." A remarkable story about the divine power of women and the transforming power of love. For the story of how a vision of swarming bees was transformed into this novel, read Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother-Daughter, Story by Kidd and her daughter, Ann Kidd Taylor.
- Susan Bennett

The Calligrapher by Edward Docx (2003)
The Calligrapher is a novel to savor. The protagonist is a likeable womanizer commissioned to transcribe John Donne verses for an affluent client. As he works through the sonnets and songs, he finds himself head-over-heels in love, for the first time, with an intriguing woman. Docx incorporates mystery, art, comedy, more twists than Chubby Checker, and love into one fun and satisfying read. Reserve this for a quiet trip when you can freely hand your hours over to Donne's verses and the calligrapher's story.
- Sue Wilkinson

Season of the Witch by Natasha Mostert (2007)
Hold on to your hats. This fastpaced thriller mixes alchemy and the ancient art of memory as you follow Gabriel Blackstone, a professional computer information thief, as he becomes mesmerized by the beautiful Monk sisters. He knows one is a killer, but feels safe with his ability to read others' minds. Soon though, he is drawn into their world of games and magic.
- Barbara Geehan

Days of Little Texas by R. A. Nelson (2009)
In this coming of age novel, Nelson chronicles the life of Ronald Earl, "Little Texas," a boy-wonder evangelical preacher with the gift of healing. But at age 16, after what seems to be another miraculous act, saving the life of a beautiful girl in a blue dress, Lucy, Little Texas knows something is different. As he and his entourage travel from town to town, he becomes enamored of the mysterious Lucy, who leads him into a very spooky adventure where he encounters ghosts - of former slaves and slave owners, danger, and his own fears. As he questions his faith and comes to terms with his circumstances, Little Texas sorts out his identity and battles evil in what turns out to be a life or death struggle. Author Nelson convincingly portrays the faith - and the doubt - of Little Texas and provides the reader with a fascinating glimpse into a very different culture and way of life than most of us have experienced.
- Lois T. Stover

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (2005)
You probably have heard about this Swedish novel; it's now a movie, and the third book in the trilogy is coming out. But it is such a great
summer book, we have to make sure you read it. . . this summer! Investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist is hired to find a missing person - missing for 40 years and presumed murdered. A detective novel at its hightech best.
- Barbara Geehan