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Best Books of 2022 – Chapter 3

This book, The Widower’s Wife by Cate Holahan, was for me a most unexpected great read.  It popped up on my BookBub list one day and two things caught my attention.  1) The title reminded me of The Time Traveler’s Wife, a book I thoroughly enjoyed.  2) The cover photo of a woman in the water far out to sea.  I clicked on the blurb to learn more about the book and decided to give it a try.

This intriguing plot involves the disappearance of the protagonist and an insurance investigator who is trying to unravel the suspicious nature of the case in order to avoid his insurance company from potentially paying a huge death benefit under false pretenses.  The story is told from two different perspectives: Ana the wife and Monahan the insurance investigator, one voice in the present and one voice in the past.  The two storylines alternate back and forth between the two as unexpected details are revealed and the separate timelines get closer and closer together until they merge as one as the book reaches its very surprising climax.

The quote on the cover indicates that this is one of those rare books that will keep you up reading all night.  I can vouch for the validity of that statement as multiple times I found myself having to forcefully put the book down to go to bed.  I thoroughly enjoyed the book and not having heard of this author, I will definitely seek other of her books.

Having previously read excellent books about John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Alexander Hamilton, it might sound surprising that I had not yet read a modern biography of undoubtedly the greatest founding father of them all.  I just might not have known Ron Chernow, author of Alexander Hamilton, had also written about George Washington, but it was on our return trip from St. Louis when I became aware of his Pulitzer Prize winning biography when my wife selected it as an audible book to listen to on our trip home.  I don’t know how many hours we listened on our relatively short trip back but in those few hours, I learned so much about Washington that I knew I needed to purchase this book.

First let me say that this book is not for the faint at heart as it runs to over 900 pages.  For someone like myself who is a slow reader, this will take a while to finish.  But if you chose to read it and stick with it, I am confident you will learn so much about Washington that as I did, you will have a tremendous new respect for him.

For most US citizens, knowledge of Washington during the Revolutionary War and his presidency are foremost memories from history courses from our school days.  But this book explores the multiple phases of his life that grants a much more complete picture.  Learning that Washington started out as a successful land surveyor helps explain his penchant for being a large landowner throughout his life. And first serving on the side of the British in the French and Indian War further explains where he developed his military skills and knowledge of British tactics that in spite of several defeats, helped lead him to victory.

His intimate involvement with the Continental Congresses and the Constitutional Convention dramatically shaped the government that we ultimately have today.  As I read these chapters, little did I know how fragile our early government was and the critical role he played to hold it together.  And his leadership and precedent setting activities in his two terms as our first president along with his hand in designing Washington, DC all support what an incredible founding father he was.

For anyone who is interested in learning about the early history of our country, this is a must read!

When I read the brief description of this 2022 release, What Might Have Been, by Holly Miller, I was intrigued and purchased it without hesitation.  The protagonist in the story is Lucy, who as the book opens, has reached a significant crossroads in her life.  Living in a small seaside town outside London and having just quit her dead-end job, she is faced with deciding whether to stay in town and write the novel she has always wanted to write or to move to London and pursue her desired career in advertising.  And to complicate her decision, she meets someone who could be her soul mate in the bar while commiserating over her decision at the same moment she sees her ex-flame outside the same bar who a decade ago, she considered her soul mate.

What follows in subsequent chapters are two storylines—dual timelines, one where she stays and one where she goes.  You as the reader, get to see how her life, her career, and her love life unfold based on this single life changing decision.  Each potential soul mate in the dual stories comes with their own baggage and you may find yourself as I did rooting for one over the other as additional backgrounds are revealed.  And midway through, you discover how the two lives overlap somewhat with drastically different outcomes.

As I read each storyline, I began to wonder how this book could end with two equally believable and promising stories.  In the last few chapters, I learned how the author creatively interwove the two stories and left me with a very satisfying ending.  It was a thoroughly enjoyable read and one that I felt I could relate to.

It was a number of years ago when I wrote about my love for Time Travel books that I also relayed a momentous decision I too faced while in college.  It was exactly another “stay or go” decision like in this book, only I did not get to live out those dual lives.  Maybe you too have faced this type of life-changing decisions in your past so if I have piqued your interest, you can read the details of my story in the link above.  Here I will suffice to say that I absolutely made the right decision.

     To be Continued…

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