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Elin Hilderbrand came to speak at Aspen Drive last week, and she was so impressive: a strong, inspiring woman who came out to Chicago for her book tour despite a recent cancer diagnosis and mastectomy! Even if she had canceled her visit, though, I would still have written a glowing review of this book. It’s a perfect summer read.

The Matchmaker centers on Dabney Beech, a woman who is at the heart of the Nantucket Island community. On the outside, her life is absolutely perfect: she runs the Chamber of Commerce, is married to a brilliant and famous Harvard professor, and is generally beloved by everyone on the island. And she’s known for her skills as a matchmaker: she has unerring instincts about couples and has successfully matched forty-two of them. Yet things aren’t quite as rosy as they seem. Due to a phobia she acquired in childhood, Dabney refuses to leave the island unless her life literally depends on it. Her daughter Agnes is engaged to a man who, Dabney sees clearly, is not right for her. And the love of Dabney’s life, Agnes’s biological father, has suddenly returned to Nantucket after a twenty-seven year absence. To top it all off, she has not been feeling well recently, but continues to brush off her symptoms as lovesickness. Coping with all these unsettling developments, Dabney finds that her comfortable, settled life is about to change for good.

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Meet Lori Rader-Day at Cook Library at 7 p.m. July 15. Register

I really enjoy reading debut novels. It’s so much fun discovering new authors and anticipating their future books. One such author is Lori Rader-Day, whose psychological thriller, The Black Hour, comes out July 8.

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Periodically, the Cook Library Cinema Club will shine the Spotlight on Directors -- where we'll highlight the work of some of the greatest directors of American films.

 

billy-wilder-1We'll start with the late, great Billy Wilder -- one of the most versatile and successful directors of Hollywood's Golden Era.  In a career that spanned over 50 years, 60 films, and included six Oscar wins, the Austrian-born filmmaker was a true triple-threat who wrote, directed, and produced everything from heavy drama to broad comedy.  The Jewish Wilder began his career as a screenwriter in Germany, but emigrated to the U.S., via Paris, as the Nazi Party gained power in the 1920's.  He first gained attention in Hollywood for his screenplay of the classic comedy Ninotchka, starring Greta Garbo.  Early directorial assignments soon followed, with Wilder directing his own screenplays for such classic dramas as The Lost Weekend and Double Indemnity.  After the huge success of those films, there was no stopping his particular brand of genius, and his filmography is studded with some of the most successful movies of all time, in every genre imaginable.  You will find a great selection of Wilder's best films here at the library.  So many wonderful films to choose from!  Three of our favorites are highlighted below.

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hoopla is an always available collection of eVideo, eMusic, and eAudiobooks.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_oneplusone.jpgI’ve read every JoJo Moyes book that’s been published in the U.S. So it’s a no brainer that I’d grab her newest book One Plus One. It’s another contemporary opposites attract love story. What I love about her latest book is that I care equally about each character. Jess is trying to hold everything together, despite her vanishing husband, her teenage son who is being bullied, and no money to pay for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Tanzie, her math prodigy daughter. She cleans the home of tech millionaire Ed, who has problems of his own but finds himself coming to her rescue. Moyes lovingly and capably guides the reader to a satisfactory conclusion with lots of laughs along the way. Robert Harris is another author whose novels never disappoint.

b2ap3_thumbnail_officerandaspy.jpgAn Officer and a Spy takes a shameful part of French history and thrillingly transports the reader to another country and place in time. I felt I was an observer in the courtroom, political and military back rooms, meetings and dinner parties of 19th century Paris. Alfred Dreyfuss, a Jewish officer in the French army is accused, tried and found guilty of being a spy. Some years later Georges Picquart, an officer involved in the case, finds evidence that this may not be the case. Those are the facts and Harris builds his story around them, revealing the racism and class issues that made Dreyfuss an easy scapegoat. It’s clear that Harris meticulously researches his novels and each one provides insight into real people caught up in almost unbelievable events.

b2ap3_thumbnail_oppositeofloneliness.jpgMarina Keegan was a promising writer, just hired by the New Yorker, whose play was about to be produced in New York, whose stories and essays had already been published in prominent magazines and who tragically died in a car crash five days after graduating magna cum laude from Yale. Her book of essays and stories, The Opposite of Loneliness was published two years later and I picked up her book, not knowing any of her writing or her short life. In a review J.R. Moehringer describes a “sorrow/joy” feeling while reading her book. Sorrow, for her short life so filled with promise, and joy that her insights and words provide hope for all of us. Marina’s voice leaps off the page and I savored every sentence.

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