Saturday, June 12, 2010

Friday 56: Week 46 - The Rembrandt Affair by Daniel Silva

* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions
on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of this blog.
Post a link along with your post back to this blog and to Storytime with Tonya and Friends at
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

The Rembrandt Affair (Gabriel Allon)

Here's mine from The Rembrandt Affair (Gabriel Allon) by Daniel Silva.  It's a book that I've just started. It's a fun suspense thriller - fun reading!

Here's my Friday 56:
Gabriel read these accounts with an odd sense of dislocation.  He had given more than thirty years of his life to protecting the State of Israel and by extension its Western allies. 

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner - free read courtesy of Stephenie Meyer

I first read about this on Books on The Knob.  In a show of appreciation to her readers, Stephenie Meyer is making her latest Eclipse novella, The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner available for free on her website.
The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: An Eclipse Novella (Twilight Saga)
It can't be downloaded to an e-reader or printed out, but the entire novella is available for access from June 7, 2010 to July 5th, 2010.    Read it here.

Book Blog Tour of The Art of Devotion by Samantha Bruce-Benjamin

Welcome to the Book Blog Tour of The Art of Devotion by Samantha Bruce-Benjamin! We have a wonderful surprise for everyone:  Samantha Bruce-Benjamin will be dropping by today.  So, do chat with us!  Just comment below,  take this chance to ask  Samantha a question directly.
I choose not to dwell now on the difficulties of the past.  My eyes have been opened to much over the course of my relatively short life, and I know whom I like and whom I do not choose to cultivate as a friend.  In truth, I find many of the people who surround us now rather unkind but, as I tell myself when I'm tempted to react, it is only to be expected in a place as competitive as New York that one-upmanship might figure prominently in the lives of those who have less than we do, so  I turn a blind eye.  It might sound strange, but I have been somewhat amused by the various rumors I've overheard regarding our marriage.  One of the less pleasant consequences of being a strange girl in a strange town is that my life is open to so much conjecture.   I have given nothing away, which I attribute as much to British reserve as to a desire to keep my cards close to my chest, so to speak.    -The Art of Devotion by Samantha Bruce-Benjamin

The Art of Devotion
The blurb:

Have we all not wished to keep forever the one person we love the most?

The secluded beaches of a sun-drenched Mediterranean island are the perfect playground for young Sebastian and Adora.  Emotionally adrift from their mother, Adora shelters her sensitive older brother from the cruelties of the world.   Sophie does not question her children's intense need for one another until it's too late.  Her beloved son's affections belong to Adora, and when he drowns in the sea, she has no one else to blame.

Still heartbroken years later, Adora fills her emptiness with Genevieve, the precocious young daughter of her husband's business associate and his jealous wife, Miranda.  Thrilled to be invited into the beautiful and enigmatic Adora's world, the child idolizes her during their summers together.  Yet, as the years progress, Genevieve begins to suspect their charmed existence is nothing more than a carefully crafted illusion.  Soon, she too is ensnared in a web of lies.

Stunningly told in the tragic voices of four women whose lives are fatefully entangled, The Art of Devotion is evocative and haunting, a story of deceit, jealousy, and the heartbreaking reality of love's true power.

The first thing I noticed about The Art of Devotion was the beauty of the text -- the language is so lyrical.  Other reviewers have mentioned how the writing is almost poetic.  It certainly flows so well.  

Just as I was adjusting to the language,  I was drawn to the glamourous and rarified circles that the characters lived in.   Much like I loved reading about the characters that F. Scott Fitzgerald would come up with (think: Great Gatsby, short stories with titles like A Diamond as Big as the Ritz!),  I enjoyed Bruce-Benjamin's references to the Metropolitan Club, the mysterious island in the Mediterranean and to great wealth.

The Art of Deception opens with a wedding reception at the exclusive Metropolitan Club in New York City.  I'd been curious about this building ever since I'd seen it on the Upper East Side years ago,  so this detail caught my attention right away.    The novel tells us about the lives of privileged British nationals living in Europe from 1919 until 1940.  During this time of great wealth, and the novel is vaguely reminiscent of Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby in that the main characters of The Art of Deception are privileged and insulated by their wealth.   Even the quote above reminds me of Nick's opening words in The Great Gatsby.

The novel is told by four different women:

  • Adora -  daughter of Sophia, sister to Sebastian, wife to Oliver.  Adora is British by nationality but she's grown up on an unidentified island in the Mediterranean.   Graced with breathtaking and unforgettable beauty and great wealth, Adora opts for an unconventional life on her island.   One source of sadness is that she and Oliver cannot have children.  Adora takes a deep liking to Genevieve and showers her with love and support.   
  • Genevieve - daughter of Miriam and Oliver's best friend, James.  Genevieve had been drawn to the beauty, glamor and charm of Adora and Oliver ever since she was a child.   Genevieve and her family spend their summers with Adora and Oliver on their island. Genevieve's close relationship with Adora shapes a large part of her identity as a young woman.
  • Miriam - mother of Genevieve and wife to James.  The novel opens with Miriam revealing herself as the protective and devoted mother.  Though Miriam spent her summers on the island, it is clear that she had felt distanced from Adora and Oliver.  While James and Genevieve are devoted to Adora and Oliver, Miriam does not feel part of their group but instead harbors some resentment towards them.
  • Sophie - mother of Adora and Sebastian.  Extremely wealthy, beautiful, well connected and brilliant, Sophie and her husband had enjoyed the glamour, culture and stimulation of diplomatic circles.   Sophie decides to relocate the family to the island in the Mediterranean for her children's sake.  One of the book's strengths comes from the way that Samantha Bruce-Benjamin captures so the complicated and uneasy relationship between Sophie and Adora. 

As I got drawn in by the language, the characters and their glamorous lives, the author slowly reveals all sorts of hidden truths and twists in the novel.   As I was reading these revelations about the characters and the events in their lives, I was struck by how well Samantha Bruce-Benjamin had planned each clue and how each part built on the next.    The Art of Devotion is an unusual and unexpected read.

ISBN-10: 1439153949 - Paperback $15.00
Publisher: Gallery; Original edition (June 8, 2010), 378 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author:
Samantha Bruce-Benjamin was born and raised in Edinburgh, Scotland, where she earned a master's degree in English literature from the University of Edinburgh.  A former BBC editor, she began her editorial career at Random House.  She now lives in New York.   Read an interview with Samantha Bruce-Benjamin on her blog at

Thanks so much for taking the time to drop by Samantha! 

Want to read more about The Art of Devotion?  Do see what other people have to say about the book - visit these sites below.

Participating Blogs:

All About {n}
The Book Tree
Books Gardens & Dogs
Arms of a Sister
A Room Without Books Is Empty
Literarily Speaking
Busy Julie
The Down Home Diva
Teresa’s Reading Corner
Me, My Book, and the Couch
Starting Fresh
Frugal Plus
Avid Reader
Marta’s Meanderings
Eclectic Book Lover
Not Quite Susie
Books and Needlepoint
Books with a Cup of Coffee
Knitting and Sundries
The Girl from the Ghetto
Simply Stacie
Must Read Faster
Booksie’s Blog
Reminder List
My Five Monkeys
My Book Views
A Musing Reviews
This Book For Free
Chick with Books
Taking Time For Mommy
Lucky Rosie’s
I Heart Book Gossip
Book Junkie
Jeanne's Ramblings
Bella’s Novellas
CuzinLogic’s Blog