Thursday, July 13, 2017

Friday Focus: The Friday 56 & Book Beginnings

It's Friday . . . time to share book excerpts with:
  • Book Beginnings on Fridays hosted by Rose City Reader, where bloggers share the first sentence or more of a current read, as well as initial thoughts about the sentence(s), impressions of the book, or anything else that the opening inspires.  
  • The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice, where you grab a book and turn to page 56 (or 56% of an ebook), find one or more interesting sentences (no spoilers), and post them.
Today I'm featuring my most recent read, What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan.  The excerpts shared are from a paperback edition borrowed from the library.

What She Knew  

DAY 1   SUNDAY, OCTOBER 21, 2012

My ex-husband's name is John.  His new wife is called Katrina.  She's petite.  She has a figure that can make most men drink her in with their eyes.
Page 56:  "What he avoided saying explicitly was what we all knew.  Ben wasn't lost; he'd been taken."
My thoughts:  The race is on to find 8-year-old Ben Finch, who disappeared from a local park while on a walk in the woods with his mother. There are many possible suspects, and DI Clemo must discover what they each know and who is responsible for this chilling crime.

What She Knew is a strong, page-turning debut that had me holding my breath as I tore through the story to reach the conclusion. I'm looking forward to the arrival of another installment in this thrilling new series.

From Goodreads:  In her enthralling debut, Gilly Macmillan explores a mother’s search for her missing son, weaving a taut psychological thriller as gripping and skillful as The Girl on the Train and The Guilty One.

In a heartbeat, everything changes…

Rachel Jenner is walking in a Bristol park with her eight-year-old son, Ben, when he asks if he can run ahead. It’s an ordinary request on an ordinary Sunday afternoon, and Rachel has no reason to worry—until Ben vanishes.

Police are called, search parties go out, and Rachel, already insecure after her recent divorce, feels herself coming undone. As hours and then days pass without a sign of Ben, everyone who knew him is called into question, from Rachel’s newly married ex-husband to her mother-of-the-year sister. Inevitably, media attention focuses on Rachel too, and the public’s attitude toward her begins to shift from sympathy to suspicion.

As she desperately pieces together the threadbare clues, Rachel realizes that nothing is quite as she imagined it to be, not even her own judgment. And the greatest dangers may lie not in the anonymous strangers of every parent’s nightmares, but behind the familiar smiles of those she trusts the most.

Where is Ben? The clock is ticking...


This Friday Focus post was originally written and published by Catherine for  It cannot be republished without attribution.  Retweeting and sharing on Google+ are appreciated. 

Thursday Thoughts: The Woman on the Stairs

The Woman on the StairsThe Woman on the Stairs by Bernhard Schlink
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In this powerful novel, Schlink examines the price of personal freedom and obsession through the lives of his flawed characters: Peter, the artist obsessed with his muse and control of his artwork; Karl, the business tycoon married to Peter's muse and just as obsessed with her as he is with his own prowess; and Irene, the trophy to Karl and muse to Peter.

Irene is the captivating goddess and subject of Peter's painting. Her presence and the artwork itself loom large in the characters' individual and shared fates. She is the woman on the stairs who struggles against a patriarchal society, ultimately paying a considerable price for her nonconformity.

The story unfolds through both the present time and reflections of the past, as facilitated by an unnamed narrator, an attorney who has been drawn into the triangular relationship between the main characters and plays the role of pawn to advance their wishes and desires. Readers learn how each character connects to the other, exploring the outcomes of their jealousies and rivalries as they are reunited one last time in their senior years to contemplate both the past, the future, and the meaning of life.

The story raises questions about morals and values; selfishness, status quo, and the common good; the consequences of choices; life's purpose; the roles individuals play in the lives of others; and the elusive nature of love and happiness. Schlink, who previously wrote The Reader, is a thought-provoking author and masterful story teller who suggests that ultimate freedom is attained by coming to terms with and releasing the past.