Two more books have been added to my "finished" pile... The Art of Mending by Elizabeth Berg was a quick and easy read. I had not read this author before, in fact I had not even heard of her, but I will be seeking out other books she has written. The story opens with middle aged Laura, a mother of two and a quilt designer, looking forward to her family's annual reunion in Minnesota. But it's not long before you realize something is amiss. Laura's sister Caroline accuses their mother of abusing her as a child. Always one to be dramatic and moody, Laura and Steve doubt her stories are true... But this is not the only long kept family secret that eventually surfaces and you wonder how this dysfunctional family will "right itself"... Can past wrongs be healed? I loved the symbolism in the book between Laura's quiltmaking- creating something beautiful from scraps and leftovers - and family life. My favourite quote, spoken by Laura: "There is an art to mending. If you're careful, the repair can actually add to the beauty of the thing, because it is testimony of its worth." A good read for anyone who has struggled with family issues (and haven't we all?) and longed for love and forgiveness....
The Winter Palace, A Novel of Catherine the Great by Eva Stachniak carries us off to Russia in the 1700's. This work of historical fiction is rich in detail and suspense as we glimpse the royal world of intrigue, scandal, gossip and politics. The story is told by Varvara (Barbara), a young orphan taken in as a ward of the state to serve in the court of Empress Elizabeth (the younger daughter of Peter the Great and his second wife Catherine I). She is trained as a "tongue" to spy and inform the Empress what is going on in the palace. The novel is actually as much about Varvara's life as it is Catherine's, in fact it is more the story of Catherine's "rise to power" for it is very near the end of the novel before she actually ascends the throne. Stachniak's next novel, The Empire of Night, continues the story... I knew very little of Russian history and I found this story of one of history's key female figures fascinating. Her reign of over 30 years was the longest by any female in Russian history (1762-1796). If you enjoy historical fiction and you like mystery and intrigue, add this one to your list.
"Some succeed because they are destined to, but most succeed because they are determined to." ~ Henry Van Dyke