Last fall I was browsing the new release section at the library when I came across Red White Blue by Lea Carpenter. The simple cover, deckled page edges, and small size immediately grabbed my attention. I had never heard of Carpenter, but since I am quite impulsive when it comes to books, I checked it out that day and started reading it that evening.
Lea Carpenter is originally from Delaware and is the mother of two boys. Her alma mater is both Harvard and Princeton. She has written two books, Eleven Days and Red White Blue, as well as one movie, Mile 22. She has worked at the New York Public Library, Esquire, The Paris Review, JFK Jr.’s magazine, George, and she was also a founding editor of Francis Ford Coppola’s literary magazine, Zoetrope. Currently she lives in Manhattan. Most of this information I found on Wikipedia. Something else I found interesting was that a friend dared her to write 10,000 words by May of 2011. This is how her first novel, Eleven Days came to be.
Eleven Days is the story of single mother, Sara and her son, Jason. Instead of attending Harvard, Jason ends up being accepting to the Naval Academy. Several years later Jason goes missing during a special forces op on the same night as the Osama Bin Laden raid. As the search for her son continues Sara reexamines her life and the relationship between her and her son.
Red White Blue follows the story of a CIA case agent and a women named Anna. The afternoon before Anna’s wedding, her father, Noel is killed in a skiing accident. It is after his passing that Anna uncovers secrets about her father’s life. Then several months later while on a belated honeymoon, Anna meets a stranger who used work with her father. This meeting combined with everything else that begins to come to light not only places strain on her marriage, but also has Anna questioning her father’s life and their relationship.
Carpenter’s novels are both incredibly atmospheric. I did not find out about Eleven Days until after I read RWB, but they can be read in any order, as they are stand-alones. Her stories have a quiet, yet solemn strength about them. These books read fast, yet their haunting quality seems to demand they be read slowly and, like a wonderful glass of wine, savored.
Occasionally I draw and paint book covers. As I mentioned, I was immediately drawn to these, so I knew I wanted to paint them.
Happy Labor Day, Bookworms.
“I do not read a book; I hold a conversation with the author.” – Elbert Hubbard