What Tomatoes Are Reading
We reached out to three of our newsletter subscribers who are avid readers and once a month they will share what they’re reading. Here are this month’s selections which are perfect summertime or anytime reads.
Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell
It took me awhile to get around to reading Hamnet because I was suffering under the misconception that parts of it were written in old English. Then a friend said it was one of the most beautifully written books that she’s ever read. True! No old English, just gorgeous prose describing life in England in the 1500s and the coming of age of William Shakespeare, as he meets his future wife and begins his rise to fame.
The narrative is based on his family dynamic as he marries Anne Hathaway (given the name Agnes here) who bears his children. She is a particularly fascinating character with mystical healing powers, despite which she is unable to save their young son Hamnet from succumbing to fever. This is the richly imagined story behind Shakespeare’s writing of the play Hamlet, bringing it to life in an historical novel that explores love and loss, grief and resilience. It does not disappoint! Get the book.
~Joan Pagano, New York, New York, fitness guru, joanpaganofitness.com
The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin
If you’re looking for a summer read that has it all – glamor, wealth, fame, scandal and betrayal – read The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin. From the author of the Aviator’s Wife, this fast-paced novel takes place in the 1950s and 60s where a small group of women, led by Babe Paley, wife of CBS founder Bill Paley and member of the International Best-Dressed Hall of Fame, reign over New York City’s high society. The book opens over lunch where the Swans (as Truman Capote nicknamed them) agonize over his betrayal in the article “La Cote Basque” which he published in Esquire Magazine that lays bare all the scandal in their lives that they shared with him in the strictest confidence.
The book goes on to detail how Capote worked his way into deep relationships with these famous women who confided their darkest secrets to him. Particularly poignant was the deep relationship with Babe Paley, who came to love Capote dearly, which made his betrayal so heartbreaking and unforgivable.
Read this with your phone or iPad handy as you’ll want to look up these famous women who all have their own fascinating stories. A great book for anyone who loves NYC and its high society during this period. Get the book.
~Peggy Conlon, Ponte Verde, Florida, retired CEO the Ad Council
Under the Southern Sky by Kristy Woodson Harvey
Under the Southern Sky is a stand alone novel based on childhood friends. After heartbreaking losses for both of them, they find joy in each other again. Amelia just lost her job, home, and husband all at the exact time. Parker has lost his wife to cancer.
Amelia Buxton, a dedicated journalist, never expected that uncovering the biggest story of her career would become so personal. She discovers that a cluster of embryos belong to her childhood friend Parker and his late wife Greer have been deemed “abandoned.” Amelia is put into the difficult position of telling Parker. This is sure to dredge up some old wounds from their past. Parker has not been able to move forward since losing Greer. He knows if he wants to keep a part of her, he has to do something with the embryos.
This story is woven together with a cast of characters you cannot help but fall I love with from page one.
The setting for this book is in a Carolina beach town. So much southern charm in this book including the food references, lots of sweet tea and peaches mentioned. This book has a heavy topic, but Kristy has written beautifully with so much emotion and care. I absolutely adore Kirsty Woodson Harvey. I think this is her best work yet. This book is not just for your beach bag, but an anytime read. Get the book.
~Francene Katzen, Richmond, Virginia, advocate for parents and children with drug adictions