Saturday, January 30, 2016

Melanie Benjamin

Melanie Benjamin is New York Times bestselling author of The Aviator's Wife. Her new book, The Swans of Fifth Avenue is the #1 Indie Next Pick for February.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Benjamin's reply:
I’m not going to talk about the books I’ve started and not finished; I think I’m like most people today in that there are so many books, so little time. So I may be not as patient a reader as I used to be. But I recently read Lucky Us by Amy Bloom, and thought it was breathtaking. I love reading authors whose writing makes me think, “Boy, am I a hack!” And it’s not false modesty; I love to be blown away by talent, and inspired to work harder myself. Amy Bloom is the kind of author who inspires me in this way. I have recommended Away to so many people and now I will be recommending Lucky Us, as well. From a historical perspective I always learn so much from her books; her research is impeccable. But it’s the characters, of course, that resonate and make you care, and she always writes such intriguing female characters. The two protagonists of Lucky Us are step-sisters, so different in their desires and needs but equally compelling, and their relationship is entirely real and believable. The period—just prior to World War II, encompassing the war and then just a few years after—is so beautifully rendered; it’s the backdrop for the story of these two sisters figuring out how to survive in a world that throws them far too many curveballs.

As for nonfiction, which I love as well, I’m currently reading Carly Simon’s Boys in the Trees. It’s fascinating, and such a great insight into the process of a songwriter, as well as just plain fun to read for all the inevitable celebrity appearances. She had a lot to overcome herself, despite being born to privilege. That’s the common thread, I suppose, in most of the books I read and also write—surviving the life you were born to, even if that life was one of privilege, is always more challenging, and interesting, than it might appear on the surface. I think this is definitely one of the themes of The Swans of Fifth Avenue, as well as both of these books.
Learn more about the book and author at Melanie Benjamin's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Swans of Fifth Avenue.

--Marshal Zeringue