A Quiet Life in Bedlam by Patricia Bjørnstad
The year is 1965. The U.S. is in turmoil as the Vietnam War escalates and civil unrest is seething. Kate Bamber, a 19-year-old telephone operator from Memphis, is longing to find a good husband and some meaning to her young life. Seeking to escape a sad and troubled existence with her abusive parents, Kate eagerly accepts a job transfer and moves out of her parent’s house to the beautiful, sunny beaches of Miami, Florida.
Filled with hope and excitement, Kate immediately realizes her Mid-Southern upbringing and small-town naïveté are no match for the harsh realities of life during these rapidly changing times. Romantic notions and hunger for adventure drive Kate to a guilt-ridden yet passionate love affair that unexpectedly leads to a seemingly picture-perfect marriage. But her desire for love and companionship continues to burn and the idea of a quiet married life is not what Kate’s free-spirited nature is made for.
Blue-Eyed Arabs of the North by Patricia Bjørnstad
The title, Blue-Eyed Arabs of the North, indicates Europeans, specifically Norwegians, who have been hugely successful in the oil business. They literally went from rags to riches.
The story begins in rainy Stavanger, Norway in the summer of 1989. Katie Hammerstrøm, 43, an American divorcée, is newly married to Norwegian civil engineer Olaf Hammerstrøm, 59, a kind and good man. Unfortunately, about the only thing they have in common is their religion, which is New Age.
Suffering from culture shock and dissatisfaction with her marriage, Katie wants to take a summer job teaching in England to get away for awhile. Olaf lets her go, but with trepidation. In England, Katie is immediately taken under the wing of the director of studies at the boarding school where they work. The two quickly become friends, and as time goes by, draw ever closer.
The school itself is a personality, forming a strong foundation for the lives of teachers and students alike.
What will Katie decide to do at the end of her summer job?