I’m sure I’m not alone in having a long-standing relationship with Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. My first introduction to the March sisters was the 1933 film starring Katherine Hepburn as feisty Jo, a VHS borrowed from the library as many times as I was allowed. Then I was given a lovely hardcover illustrated edition that I read to pieces. After that I sought out all the other Louisa May Alcott books I could find, scouring the shelves of the library and the corners of used bookstores. I followed the continuing story of the March sisters through Little Men and Jo's Boys. And soon became as enamored with Alcott's many other charming family stories laced through with morality, like Eight Cousins, Jack and Jill, and A Garland for Girls.
Imagine the romance of Bridgerton, with its intrigue and dresses and anonymous gossip column, then add a dash of magic, and you’ll have Allison Saft’s newest YA fantasy, A Fragile Enchantment.
Niamh Ó Conchobhair has been selected to be the royal tailor to His Royal Highness Prince Christopher on the occasion of his betrothal and marriage to the Infanta Rosa during the height of the Avlish social season. Niamh has been chosen not only for the exquisite quality of her work, but also for her magical ability to stitch enchantment into her garments. She can use her gift to craft clothing that coax both the wearer and the beholder into seeing and feeling what she intends. Niamh has also been chosen because she is from Machland—a neighboring island to Avaland, only recently independent after years of colonization and ruthless exploitation—where grievances still run deep. And the Avlish royals like the optics of granting a Machlish person such a distinguished position, hoping it will dampen some of the unrest. Avaland still provides opportunity and money, and Niamh knows she must take this chance to provide for her mother and grandmother, however much they may dislike the means.
As I type these words, I’m watching the rain/snow come down out of a grey sky and thinking how good it is that so many different books exist. I can choose if I want to complement the day or season, or if I want something to take me away. I’ll have something for you cold-lovers soon, but for today, I’ve got the perfect read to immerse you in the smells of the kitchen and the beauty of the San Juan Islands: local author Rachel Linden’s latest novel, Recipe for a Charmed Life.
We begin in Paris, the city of Julia Child’s culinary heart, where American chef Georgia May Jackson is on the brink of getting the only thing she’s ever wanted: a restaurant of her own. But when a shocking betrayal causes Georgia to snap at the worst possible time, it appears as though she’ll lose everything. It’s at this moment that Georgia receives an email from her mother, a woman who left her family decades ago. "Come home," she says, "I have things to tell you about our family." Her mother’s made a home and life on San Juan Island, and Georgia decides to fly to the Pacific Northwest, take the ferry out to San Juan to regroup, and see if anything can be made of the tattered remnants of her restaurant dream. Because it’s not just Georgia’s lapse in professionalism that’s standing in her way; she’s also lost her ability to taste the nuance of flavor. And what’s a chef without her sense of taste?