Set in the famous Dakota apartment building on New York’s Upper West Side, Emily and Einstein by Linda Francis Lee is a surprisingly good novel which could have easily derailed into just so much fluff. What saves this book are the deeper meanings and significance the author imparts to the two main characters, Emily and her dog Einstein.
Emily Barlow is a feisty, hardworking young lady who experiences tragedy early in her married life. Emily’s husband, Sandy Portman, was a privileged young man whose family’s wealth and status landed him in the Dakota. We learn about his personality and background through the eyes of his wife and her dog, Einstein, which is rather strange. As the story progresses, Sandy turns out not to be a very good person.
After her husband’s sudden death, Emily picks up Einstein at the local animal shelter where she volunteers. Of course she is at a loss and grieving, but Einstein apparently senses her neediness and facilitates her eventual return to a new and improved outlook on life.
Out of necessity, I am leaving out key information that would be in the spoiler category. As I was saying…Not only does Emily have to deal with the loss of her husband, but she is being evicted by her mother-in-law from the fabulous apartment because Sandy never bothered to change the deed. Her work at a publishing firm is suffering, and her long lost sister Jordan descends and is basically no help.
The reader needs to suspend disbelief when reading Emily and Einstein, but the issues that arise about second chances, self-worth, and lots of karma are reality-based. A great sense of humor doesn’t hurt, either. I could have done without all the running scenes in Central Park where Emily is training for the New York Marathon, but it was something her husband had always wanted to do, so it did fit into the story line.
Lastly, thanks to the library patron who recommended this book. I owe you one.
I give Emily and Einstein 3 ½ Milk Bones.
Happy reading from Beverly!
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Written as a journal in novel form, Miles to Go by Richard Paul Evans is the second in The Walk series. It’s not really necessary to have read the first one, however. The author is glad to fill the reader in.
Basically Alan Christofferson has set off on a quest of hope. Through a series of life-changing occurrences, he finds himself recovering from stab wounds in a Spokane hospital. All he wants to do is recover enough to walk to Key West, Florida, to forget the past and look for a reason to live, I guess.
A stranger appears in his hospital room and offers him a place to stay while he is recuperating. Her name is Angel. Honestly, it’s Angel. Since Alan is homeless with no prospects in sight, he agrees. As it turns out, Alan begins to learn about Angel’s background, and he in turn helps her.
The lack of subtlety and nuance in this book is pronounced. I believe what the author is broadly hinting at is that there are people in our lives willing to help out in the most trying times. For example, when he was able to get back on the road, Alan met Kailamai, a teenage runaway. It is soon revealed that she has had a horrendous childhood and been placed in a series of foster homes, some of which were inappropriate placements. Through all this turmoil she is somehow upbeat, independent and a good traveling companion. Alan of course eventually introduces her to Angel.
After Kailamai, Miles to Go becomes a travelogue about what not to miss at Yellowstone, Mt. Rushmore, and the Crazy Horse mountain sculpture. He’s not too impressed by the sights or lack of sights in Wyoming. At this point the line between fiction and non-fiction becomes blurred, and the author has become Alan.
Miles to Go has some spurts of philosophy, good advice and humor, but the author can’t seem to decide on the focus. He’s walking towards a goal, hopefully meeting more good souls and fewer thugs. I wish him well, but I don’t think I’ll join him on the third leg of the trip. Florida is a long way.
I give the book 3 last walks.
Happy reading from Beverly!
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