(New American Library, $15)
The book’s premise appears simple: A woman travels to France to mourn the loss of her husband. Sounds like one of those Provence books, but it’s a bit more complex than that. Aside from her grief, main character Lily has brought along her old Olivetti typewriter. She begins pounding out the story of her life and, before long, the reader is anxious to find out what comes next.
Floridian Annie Vanderbilt’s debut novel, The Secret Papers of Madame Olivetti, gives voice to a woman in her fifties, one who has lived a full life and has much more life yet to go. After her “remembering” is finished, Lily does what many writers would consider a sacrilege, although months of writing brings her back to the present and into a very hopeful future. This fast-paced read makes a delightful and thoughtful diversion. ―Wanda McKinney