Add a novel about Teddy Roosevelt’s first love, a book on delicious New York Jewish food recipes, and a tale of three women dealing with exceptional circumstances to your reading list.
Along with her work as a TV journalist who anchors Inside Edition, CBS2 News This Morning, and CBS2 News at Noon, 13-time New York Emmy Award winner Mary Calvi is also an acclaimed author who just released her second novel, in February. If a Poem Could Live and Breathe: A Novel of Teddy Roosevelt’s First Love tells the romantic and ultimately heartrending tale of Teddy Roosevelt and his first wife, Alice Lee, who passed away on Valentine’s Day 1884, shortly after the birth of their only child and mere hours after his mother had died of typhoid fever in the same house. Calvi (who also happens to be Yonkers’ first lady) brings her own deft touch to action scenes as well as to a tear-jerking denouement, all while balancing the interplay of her characters with real love letters between Roosevelt and Lee. The factual notes add a touch of historical realism to this stirring tale of a future president whose likeness was destined for Mount Rushmore and a love that may have been just as eternal.
St. Martin’s Press (2023); 306 pages (hc, Kindle, audiobook)
Take a mouthwatering trip through the restaurants, unique foods, and pioneering businesses that represent Jewish immigrants’ impact on New York City’s culinary history. The Bedford-based Hersh delves deep into the complex backstory behind iconic treats, like black-and-white cookies, bagels, pastrami, and egg creams, using eye-catching images, a host of witty one-liners, and razor-sharp writing. Over nearly 200 pages, Hersh brings the historical instances that birthed these culinary treasures to life in vivid detail, with plenty of informative quotes from the period, as well as a number of authentic recipes. Ranging from established cultural eats, like chopped liver, to more rarefied creations, like knishes and blintzes, Hersh’s text also charts the rise of a host of companies that helped fuel this culinary tidal wave, including Nathan’s, Katz’s Deli, Manischewitz, Russ and Daughters, 2nd Avenue Deli, and several others. It all amounts to a work well worth the time of any area foodie.
American Palate (2023); 174 pages (pbk)
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A woman in what seems like the perfect marriage suddenly rediscovering her sexuality, another contending with a life-altering medical diagnosis and its surprising repercussions, a third taking an once-in-a-lifetime chance to follow her dream and escape a stifling marriage. These are the poignant stories to be found in Meredith Berlin’s debut novel, Friends with Issues, which follows three upper-crust women in their 40s dealing with their families and careers as they follow love wherever it takes them. A three-time Emmy nominee and former editor-in-chief of both Seventeen Magazine and Soap Opera Digest, Armonk-based Berlin crafts a story of 1990s-era New York firmly grounded in our region, touching on locations from Chappaqua to Westport, with characters who feel vulnerable, complex, and real. Pulling away the veil of elegance and stateliness that characterizes upper-class Westchester and Fairfield Counties, Friends With Issues offers a tale of three women dealing with exceptional circumstances that often feels eminently familiar.
Warren Publishing NC (2023); 302 pages (pbk, hc, kindle, ebook)
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