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Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.

by Sam Wasson |

REVIEWED BY CAROLINE LEAVITT

People PICK

NON-FICTION

In the 1950s, women were either tramps or saints, but then came Audrey Hepburn as the iconic Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s: a call girl whose unapologetic independence and sexual freedom changed the course of women in the movies and in real life too. Author Wasson interviewed everyone from director Blake Edwards to Hepburn’s costar Patricia Neal to explore the making of this 1961 cinematic classic. So smart and entertaining that it should really come with its own popcorn, the book shows just how revolutionary Breakfast at Tiffany’s was. Hepburn’s simple little black dress prompted women to toss their bright, fussy couture. Paramount was so nervous about the film’s reception that they ran a publicity campaign stressing wife-and-mom Hepburn’s lack of resemblance to Holly. Packed with tasty tidbits (Hepburn hated Danishes and begged to eat an ice-cream cone in front of Tiffany’s; the song “Moon River” almost didn’t make it into the film; author Truman Capote loathed the script and wanted Marilyn Monroe to star), this is a behind-the-scenes gem.

It All Began in Monte Carlo

by Elizabeth Adler |

REVIEWED BY CLARISSA CRUZ

NOVEL

Happy couples are boring. So while gorgeous Sunny Alvarez and her TV star/private investigator boyfriend Mac Reilly are madly in love, Adler knows enough to open her novel with a tearful Sunny flying to Paris on Christmas Eve after Mac postpones their wedding. While wallowing in first class, Sunny meets a handsome stranger who convinces her to bypass Paris for Monte Carlo’s warmer climes; soon she’s embroiled in a murder mystery. But plot is secondary to the lush surroundings, heady shopping sprees and over-the-top romance that make Monte Carlo a summer treat.

This Must Be the Place

by Kate Racculia |

REVIEWED BY LISA KAY GREISSINGER

NOVEL

This enchanting debut is part romance, part mystery–with a touch of coming-of-age tale thrown in. When Arthur Rook, devastated by his wife Amy’s death, finds an unmailed postcard among her mementos, he sets out to find the person to whom the card is addressed. Reaching Amy’s hometown in upstate New York, he checks in to the Darby-Jones, a boarding house run by Mona Jones and home to her moody teen daughter Oneida, along with an assortment of offbeat boarders. There, Arthur learns that Mona, his wife’s former best friend, may be the key to unlocking her past. His presence sets in motion the unraveling of a long-held secret and awakens Mona to the fact that single motherhood isn’t enough for her or her daughter. All three are confronted with larger issues of love and duty and learn that the essential question is not “How did I get here?” but “Where am I going?” Racculia’s whimsical details and flawed yet immensely likable characters make Place a magical journey.

On the Outskirts of Normal

by Debra Monroe |

REVIEWED BY ANNE LESLIE

MEMOIR

Should a middle-aged white woman with a history of failed relationships try to raise a black baby in small-town Texas? Author Monroe proves she’s got the right stuff, even if she can’t handle her adopted daughter’s Afro (“If you’re white, black hair care is a secret”). Candid about men, mothering, racism and her own flaws, she shows that it’s possible to create something beautiful out of a tattered past.