Thursday, June 04, 2015

Review & Guest Post: It's You by Jane Porter

Title: It's You   
Author: Jane Porter    
Published: June 2015, Berkley  
Format: ARC e-copy, 336 pages    
Source: Netgalley via Publicist  


From the USA Today bestselling author of the Brennan Sisters novels comes a heartwarming story about finding love and strength, even in the darkest moments…

In the wake of a tragedy that tore her life down to the foundations, Dr. Alison McAdams has lost her way. So when she’s summoned to Napa to care for her ailing father, she’s not sure she has anything to offer him—or anyone else.

What Ali finds in Northern California wine country is a gift—an opportunity to rest, and distance from her painful memories. Most unexpectedly, she finds people who aren’t afraid of her grief or desperate for her to hurry up and move on.

As Ali becomes part of her father’s community, makes new friends of her own, and hears the stories of a generation who survived the Second World War, she begins to find hope again. In a quest to discover the truth about another woman’s lost love, she sets off on a journey across oceans and deep into history. And in making sense of that long-ago tragedy, Ali is able to put together the broken pieces of her heart and make new choices that are right for her.

My thoughts: I've been a big fan of Jane Porter's books ever since reading her book, She's Gone Country and then her Brennan Sisters series. So of course, I knew I had to read this latest one and I'm so glad I did, though it is a little different than her previous books.

Right from the start, this book captivated me and kept me engaged all the way through. It's a story about love lost and trying to find your way afterwards. It revolves around Ali, a young woman who is a few weeks away from getting married when her fiance does the unthinkable and commits suicide, and Edie, an elderly woman who lost her one true love during the great war. When these two women first meet, they don't necessarily hit it off right away, but they slowly grow on each other and the friendship that blossoms is heartwarming. 

I loved the way Jane Porter told this story, moving back and forth from Ali and Edie's point of view. We also get glimpses into Edie's life during the war from her diary. As the story unfolds and we learn more about Edie and her life in during the war with her true love, you can't help but wonder just how many women were in her place at that time. And when Ali decides to go visit Berlin to see Edie's Berlin, I had goosebumps, because I was right there with her - I wanted to do the same thing. After reading those accounts, I wanted to jump on a plane and visit those places where Edie had been, though they are long gone. 

I also loved that Jane brings back the Hallahan brothers, Craig and Chad, who we met in the Brennan Sisters series. And the Brennan sisters are also mentioned, though just in conversation. Craig plays a big part in this book and I loved his interactions with Ali. It turns out that Craig and Chad are Edie's great-nephews - I love the connections!!!

This is an emotional read that really tugs at your heartstrings. It's a great story, inspiring and hopeful, and one that will definitely stay with you. While there isn't necessarily that happily-ever-after ending, it does leave you with hope for Ali that she is in a better place than she was at the beginning of the book, which I find more realistic and true to life.




About the author: Jane Porter is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of 40 romances and 11 women's fiction novels. She holds an MA in Writing from the University of San Francisco and has been a finalist for the prestigious RITA award five times, with her novella, Take Me, Cowboy, winning the Novella Category July 2014. Jane's wildly popular novel, Flirting with Forty, was made into a Lifetime movie starring Heather Locklear and she has two other stories currently in development in Hollywood. Jane, her surfer husband and three sons call sunny San Clemente, CA home.

Authors Links: 
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It’s You:  Music & the Muse

By Jane Porter 

It’s You is a story of two women and two very different love stories, set in Napa and WWII Germany. Both women—30-year-old Dr. Ali McAdams and 94-year-old Edie Stephens—have loved and lost. 

It’s You is told in alternating points of view between the two women, and they are very different women. Ali is a pragmatic, no-nonsense dentist. As a young woman, Edie was a fiercely passionate musician. On the surface they have nothing in common, and so while writing the book, I created three different playlists, one for Ali, one for Edie and then a 3rd playlist, a classical playlist for when I was working on Edie’s diary.

Because Edie was studying music—composition and counterpoint--in Germany in the late 1930’s at the outbreak of WWII, it was imperative I get Edie’s world right. I spent months reading and researching the great German composers, German music schools, and the time period itself. 

The Classical Playlist

The classical playlist was heavy on the Great German composers like Bach, Beethoven, & Mozart—particularly the piano concertos and sonatas as Edie was an accomplished pianist and she used music to distract herself when interned with the other American staff from the US embassy at Bad Nauheim.

Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G - Bach
Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F Major - Bach
Violin Concerto No 2 in E - Bach
Piano Concerto No. 19 in F Major - Mozart
Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major – Mozart
Piano Concerto No. 5 in E Flat Major – Beethoven
Piano Concerto No. 2 in B Flat Major – Beethoven
Piano Sonatas No 1-11 – Beethoven 

Edie’s playlist: 
Mad World – Gary Jules
Glitter in the Air – Pink
Like a Prayer – Madonna
Lift Me Up – Christina Aguilera
Stranded (Haiti Mon Amour) – Jay-Z, Bono, The Edge & Rhianna
Skyfall - Adele
Wild Horses
Not Ready to Make Nice – Dixie Chicks
And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going – Jennifer Hudson 

Ali’s Playlist 
Skinny Love – Bon Iver
Where I Stood – Missy Higgins
Someone Like You – Adele
Only You – Sinead O’Connor
Without You – David Guetta & Usher
Invisible Ink – Aimee Mann
The Other Side – David Gray
Love is Everything – k.d. lang
Bittersweet Symphony – The Verve

To me it’s very telling, these playlists.  While in Germany, Edie fell in love with a young Nazi officer. She was supposed to leave Germany once America declared war on Germany, but she didn’t. Which is why Edie’s playlist is filled with songs like Skyfall, Wild Horses, Not Ready to Make Nice, And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going. These are songs of a strong woman, an independent woman, and that is who Edie was, and still is.  She is very flawed, but fierce, which makes her the perfect foil for Ali who needs to find herself again.

At the beginning of It’s You, Ali McAdams is lost. She’s angry, empty, and confused. Her playlist is softer, evocative, filled with aching poignancy. Her playlist, with songs such as Someone Like You, Without You, The Other Side, and Love is Everything, reflect Ali’s love for Andrew, and her profound grief that he is gone.   

I can’t speak for all writers, but I find playlists hugely helpful in the creative process. They allow the mind and imagination to go deeper, accessing ideas, words and images that I might not get if I wasn’t responding emotionally to music.

And Edie is the same. My wonderfully prickly 94-year-old Edie Stephens would have never been herself without her music.

I think Edie sums it best in this diary entry from January 15, 1942:



I played Beethoven’s Sonata 14, closing my eyes, closing my mind and heart to everything but the music and my love for Mother and Father and how they always dreamed of more for me.
They wanted to give me the world.  Indeed they did.  Am I not here in Germany?  Did I not come for my music?  So here I am, here I am...
I play for my mother who wanted to be a composer and conductor.
I play for my father who wanted to be more than a consular.
I play for my sister who is young and dreams of being a great writer.
I play for my F. who know how much I love my music and yet music is not enough if one has no freedom, much less freedom of expression.
I play for all those caught in the chaos and war.
I play because it is all I can do.


Thank you Jane for this great guest post - it's so interesting and having already read the book, I can definitely see how the choices reflect the characters. Thanks for sharing!!!

 
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2 comments

  1. It was you who led me to the Brennan sisters and I totally loved them. This one is on my radar, just thinking one of the ones I want to buy. I like the way you describe the ending, and I would be totally happy with it too.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Looking forward to reading the new book. Loved the Brennan sisters.

    ReplyDelete

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