Staff Picks for Adult Readers
Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi
Named one of 2014's most anticipated books by CNN, The Huffington Post, Bookpage, Time.com, The Chicago Tribune , Vulture ,nbsp; Philadelphia Inquirer, nbsp; Real Simple,nbsp; The Millions and Flavorwire From the prizewinning author ofnbsp; Mr. Fox , the Snow White fairy tale brilliantly recast as a story of family secrets, race, beauty, and vanity. In the winter of 1953, Boy Novak arrives by chance in a small town in Massachusetts, looking, she believes, for beauty; the opposite of the life she's left behind in New York. She marries a local widower and becomes stepmother to his winsome daughter, Snow Whitman. A wicked stepmother is a creature Boy never imagined she'd become, but elements of the familiar tale of aesthetic obsession begin to play themselves out when the birth of Boy's daughter, Bird, who is dark-skinned, exposes the Whitmans as light-skinned African Americans passing for white. Among them, Boy, Snow, and Bird confront the tyranny of the mirror to ask how much power surfaces really hold. Dazzlingly inventive and powerfully moving; Boy, Snow, Bird is an astonishing and enchanting novel. With breathtaking feats of imagination, Helen Oyeyemi confirms her place as one of the most original and dynamic literary voices of our time
Blood Will Out : The True Story of a Murder, a Mystery, and a Masquerade by Walter Kim
In the summer of 1998, Walter Kirn--then an aspiring novelist struggling with impending fatherhood and a dissolving marriage--set out on a peculiar, fateful errand: to personally deliver a crippled hunting dog from his home in Montana to the New York apartment of one Clark Rockefeller, a secretive young banker and art collector who had adopted the dog over the Internet. Thus began a fifteen-year relationship that drew Kirn deep into the fun-house world of an outlandish, eccentric son of privilege who ultimately would be unmasked as a brazen serial impostor, child kidnapper, and brutal murderer.Kirn's one-of-a-kind story of being duped by a real-life Mr. Ripley takes us on a bizarre and haunting journey from the posh private clubrooms of Manhattan to the hard-boiled courtrooms and prisons of Los Angeles. As Kirn uncovers the truth about his friend, a psychopath masquerading as a gentleman, he also confronts hard truths about himself. Why, as a writer of fiction, was he susceptible to the deception of a sinister fantasist whose crimes, Kirn learns, were based on books and movies? What are the hidden psychological links between the artist and the con man? To answer these and other questions, Kirn attends his old friend's murder trial and uses it as an occasion to reflect on both their tangled personal relationship and the surprising literary sources of Rockefeller's evil. This investigation of the past climaxes in a tense jailhouse
reunion with a man whom Kirn realizes he barely knew--a predatory, sophisticated genius whose life, in some respects, parallels his own and who may have intended to take another victim during his years as a fugitive from justice: Kirn himself.Combining confessional memoir, true crime reporting, and cultural speculation, Blood Will Out is a Dreiser-esque tale of self-invention, upward mobility, and intellectual arrogance. It exposes the layers of longing and corruption, ambition and self-delusion beneath the Great American con.
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
A New York Times bestseller with more than one million copies sold by the author of One Plus One and The Girl You Left Behind They had nothing in common until love gave them everything to lose . . . Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life steady boyfriend, close family who has barely been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel and now he's pretty sure he cannot live the way he is. Will is acerbic, moody, bossy but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living. A Love Story for this generation, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn't have less in common a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?
the Circle by Dave Eggers
The Circle is the exhilarating new novel from Dave Eggers, best-selling author of A Hologram for the King, a finalist for the National Book Award. When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world's most powerful internet company, she feels she's been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users' personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency. As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company's modernity and activity. There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, there are athletic activities and clubs and brunches, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO. Mae can't believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in the world--even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public. What begins as the captivating story of one woman's ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge.
Empty Mansions : The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune by Bill Dedman; Paul Clark Newell Jr.,
What goes on behind closed doors, especially when those doors are of the gilded variety, has fascinated novelists and journalists for centuries. The private lives of the rich and famous are so tantalizing that Robin Leach made a career out of showcasing them. One of the biggest eccentric, rich fishes out there was Huguette Clark. Deceased for more than two years, Clark, brought to life by investigator Dedman and Clark's descendant, Newell, owned nouveau riche palaces in New York, Connecticut, and California. An heiress, Clark disappeared from public view in the 1920s. What happened to her and her vast wealth? Answering this question is the book's mission. Based on records and the hearsay of relations and former employees, the book pieces together Clark's life, that of a woman rumored to be institutionalized while her mansions stood empty, though immaculately maintained throughout her life. Clark left few clues about herself, but she willed vast sums to her caretakers and numerous charitable endeavors. Still, her absence acts as a shade to seeing her fully, hinting at possible financial malfeasance, all the while conspiring to produce a spellbinding mystery.--Orbesen, James Copyright 2010 Booklist
Bleeding Edge by Thomas Pynchon
*Starred Review* Pynchon's debut novel, V., appeared 50 years ago, and ever since he's been tracking dubious covert actions and the arc and consequences of technology in novels of labyrinthine complexity, impish wit, and open-armed compassion. Of late, his inquiry has taken the form of rambunctious and penetrating crime novels. Inherent Vice (2009), currently being adapted for film, is set in 1960s Los Angeles and features a pothead PI and the launch of the digital revolution. In his latest, a hilarious, shrewd, and disquieting metaphysical mystery, Pynchon expresses love for New York City and leeriness of the seemingly boundless reach of the Internet. In spring 2001, the dot-com bubble has burst and 9/11 looms. Maxine Tarnow, a fraud investigator gone rogue, is unflappable, wise-cracking, Beretta-toting, and Jewish. Devoted to her young sons, she is embroiled in an amorphous case involving a sinister techie billionaire, diverted funds, Islamic terrorists, hip-hop-spouting Russian gangsters, a black-ops agent, a cosmic bike messenger, and a Deep Web virtual reality. Fearless, caustic, lightning-witted Maxine (sister to characters created by Sara Paretsky and Cynthia Ozick) instigates some of the funniest banter ever scripted. But amid the sharp hilarity of this exuberantly maze-like, pop-culture-peppered, deeply informed tale, Pynchon incisively and cuttingly broaches unanswered questions surrounding the tragedy of 9/11 and elucidates just how profoundly life has changed in its wake. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Pynchon is a magnet for media attention and reader fervency, and this New York mystery will exert a powerful pull.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2010 Booklist
Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
The author of the classic bestsellers "The Secret History" and "The
Little Friend" returns with a brilliant, highly anticipated new novel.
Composed with the skills of a master, "The Goldfinch" is a haunted
odyssey through present day America and a drama of enthralling force and
acuity. It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New
Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother.
Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy
friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by
schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all
by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that
reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that
ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art. As an adult, Theo
moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty
labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in
love-and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle. "The
Goldfinch" is a novel of shocking narrative energy and power. It
combines unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and
breathtaking suspense, while plumbing with a philosopher's calm the
deepest mysteries of love, identity, and art. It is a beautiful,
stay-up-all-night and tell-all-your-friends triumph, an old-fashioned
story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the
ruthless machinations of fate.
Who Discovered America? : The Untold History of the Peopling of the Americas by Gavin Menzies, Ian Hudson
A groundbreaking new book that upends our understanding of ancient
America Conventional history tells us humans migrated on foot across
present-day Alaska, populating the Americas far later than other
continents. However, emerging new evidence suggests seafarers reached
the continents thousands of years earlier and developed far more
sophisticated civilizations than previously imagined. . . . From
"distinguished historian" (BBC World Service) Gavin Menzies, the author
of the blockbuster New York Times bestseller 1421, comes a revolutionary
new account of how the first humans came to North and South America.
Menzies reveals that ancient peoples used the oceans' natural currents
and prevailing winds to make voyages across both the Atlantic and
Pacific. What's more, we now must accept that they had time to develop
remarkably advanced cultures. Armed with cutting-edge DNA evidence,
newly unearthed artifacts, and astonishing linguistic and archaeological
discoveries, Menzies shows humans have been making transoceanic voyages
as far back as 100,000 years ago, vastly predating the supposed
overland migration to the Americas during the last Ice Age; the ancient
South American civilizations of the Olmec and Maya in Central and South
America may have had direct origins and influences from Asia; ancient
maps held in the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., show there
must have been sustained and dedicated voyages to the Western Hemisphere
by Chinese explorers as early as 2200 B.C.; huge Chinese settlements
occupied (and made exploratory journeys from) Nova Scotia; Japanese,
Korean, and even earlier European voyages likewise predated the
explorations currently recorded by history. A maverick scholar, Menzies
has made a riveting new contribution to the story of humanity's earliest
explorers, revealing the truth behind one of history's most fascinating
questions: Who discovered America?
The Invention of Wings : A Novel by Sue Monk Kidd
From the celebrated author of The Secret Life of Bees , a magnificent
novel about two unforgettable American women Writing at the height of
her narrative and imaginative gifts, Sue Monk Kidd presents a
masterpiece of hope, daring, the quest for freedom, and the desire to
have a voice in the world. Hetty "Handful" Grimke, an urban slave in
early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the
suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household.
The Grimke's daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant
to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits
imposed on women. Kidd's sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah's
eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful,
who is to be her handmaid.We follow their remarkable journeys over the
next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own,
dramatically shaping each other's destinies and forming a complex
relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways
of love. As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure
loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process.
Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and
ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her
fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the
abolition and women's rights movements. Inspired by the historical
figure of Sarah Grimke, Kidd goes beyond the record to flesh out the
rich interior lives of all of her characters, both real and invented,
including Handful's cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger in her
search for something better. This exquisitely written novel is a triumph
of storytelling that looks with unswerving eyes at a devastating wound
in American history, through women whose struggles for liberation,
empowerment, and expression will leave no reader unmoved.
Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
*Starred Review* In Gaiman's first novel for adults since Anansi Boys (2005), the never-named fiftyish narrator is back in his childhood homeland, rural Sussex, England, where he's just delivered the eulogy at a funeral. With an hour or so to kill afterward, he drives about aimlessly, he thinks until he's at the crucible of his consciousness: a farmhouse with a duck pond. There, when he was seven, lived the Hempstocks, a crone, a housewife, and an 11-year-old girl, who said they were grandmother, mother, and daughter. Now, he finds the crone and, eventually, the housewife the same ones, unchanged while the girl is still gone, just as she was at the end of the childhood adventure he recalls in a reverie that lasts all afternoon. He remembers how he became the vector for a malign force attempting to invade and waste our world. The three Hempstocks are guardians, from time almost immemorial, situated to block such forces and, should that fail, fight them. Gaiman mines mythological typology the three-fold goddess, the water of life (the pond, actually an ocean) and his own childhood milieu to build the cosmology and the theater of a story he tells more gracefully than any he's told since Stardust (1999). And don't worry about that for adults designation: it's a matter of tone. This lovely yarn is good for anyone who can read it. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: That this is the popular author's first book for adults in eight years pretty much sums up why this will be in demand.--Olson, Ray Copyright 2010 Booklist
TransAtlantic by Colum McCann,
*Starred Review* In 1919, British aviators Alcock and Brown made the first nonstop transatlantic flight, from Newfoundland to Ireland. McCann, in his first novel since the National Book Award-winning Let the Great World Spin (2009), imagines a letter handed to Brown by a young photographer, written by her mother, Emily, a local reporter covering the flight, to be delivered upon their landing to a family in Cork. Years earlier, while on a speaking tour in Ireland with the mission to raise money for the abolitionist movement, Frederick Douglass forms a bond with young Isabel, the daughter of his host family in Cork. Lily, a young servant, emboldened by Douglass' visit, sets out for America, in the hope of a better life. About a century and a half later, former Senate majority leader George Mitchell is coaxed out of retirement to broker talks between the various factions, with the intention of getting a peace agreement by Good Friday. At the tennis club, he meets a woman in her nineties who, years earlier, had lost her grandson to the Troubles. It is Lily and her offspring's stories set across different times and in many different places that ultimately tie everything together, as McCann creates complex, vivid characters (historical and otherwise) while expertly mixing fact and fancy to create this emotionally involving and eminently memorable novel. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Prepub buzz about McCann's latest suggests it will be among the summer's leading literary fiction titles.--Segedin, Ben Copyright 2010 Booklist
The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World's Greatest Piece of Cheese by Michael Paterniti
Working at renowned Zingerman's Delicatessen in Ann Arbor, Michigan,
Paterniti discovered a fabulously tasty Spanish sheep's milk cheese unlike any
other. A writer by trade, Paterniti found himself fascinated by this cheese,
and he embarked on a quest to find its birthplace in Castile,
a small town some distance from Madrid.
There he met a hulking man with a fondness for storytelling. Since Paterniti
already had a predilection for tales, he became utterly entranced with this
cheese-making Spaniard, Ambrosio Molinas de las Heras, who had won numerous
awards and garnered kudos even from Fidel Castro. But by the time Paterniti
reached him, Molinas had shut down production. Molinas' entrepreneurial naivete
and betrayal by a business partner had bankrupted the fledgling company.
Paterniti's detailed narrative overflows into long, digressive footnotes, but
the story of dashed hopes will resonate with lovers of cheese and of rural
Spanish life.--Knoblauch, Mark Copyright 2010 Booklist
Silver Star by Jeanette Walls
Readers of the best-selling memoir The Glass Castle will be familiar with Charlotte Holladay's parenting style in Walls's new novel. Charlotte, a narcissistic single mother of two, is an aspiring actress and singer with grandiose dreams who deeply loves her daughters but is incapable of providing them with a stable home. In summer 1970, after their mother abandons them for weeks, as she puts it, "to make some time and space for myself," 12-year-old narrator Bean and her 15-year-old sister Liz embark on a cross-country bus trip to seek out the relatives they've never met. Their Uncle Tinsley, an eccentric bachelor, reluctantly takes the girls into their mother's old family home in Byler, VA, a small, stratified Southern town on the cusp of integration. Older sister Liz is a lover of puns and fan of author Lewis Carroll, and her charming wordplay enlivens Bean's narration. VERDICT This engrossing story is told with the warmth and humor that will appeal to fans of Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees. Readers will find themselves rooting for the spunky heroine and her smart, offbeat sister as they persevere in the face of multiple hardships. [See Prepub Alert, 1/6/13.]-Lauren Gilbert, Sachem P.L., Holbrook, NY (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Benjamin Franklin's Bastard by Sally Cabot
Genial Founding Father and revered statesman Benjamin Franklin was a man of large appetites, and this affecting first novel fictionalizes a little-known story. Anne is a young servant girl in a tavern who is lured into prostitution by a charming young Benjamin Franklin. When she becomes pregnant with their child, he talks her into giving the baby up so that he might have a chance for a respectable life. But Benjamin's wife, asked to raise the bastard child, William, as her own, struggles with suspicions of her husband's infidelity, especially when they lose their own child to smallpox. Forever seeking the affections of his stepmother and the approval of his father, William finally comes into his own but lands on the wrong side of history and becomes locked in a bitter feud with his father over the Revolution. Cabot laces her assured novel with Shakespearean overtones as the characters continually misconstrue one another's motives. From Franklin's intense intellectual curiosity to Anne's stubborn insistence on leading an independent life, this memorable cast makes for spellbinding reading.--Wilkinson, Joanne Copyright 2010 Booklist
Lifesaving Lessons by Linda Greenlaw
Greenlaw (Seaworthy, 2010) veers from her more traditional fishing tales in this intimate memoir that proves without a doubt that it takes a village to raise a child. Set on her beloved home of Isle au Haut, off the coast of Maine, Greenlaw's chronicle is about discovering a child in trouble and doing the necessary but difficult work to save her. Writing in the same bracing manner as in her high-seas adventures, Greenlaw relates how a new island resident misrepresented himself and his adopted daughter and the chaos that ensued as the truth was slowly revealed. In the midst of her own low-key midlife crisis, and at odds about her romantic relationship and professional future, both on the sea and off, she considers herself an unlikely candidate for parental stand-in. But as the island does its own collective soul searching, she finds herself pondering a future she never envisioned. With newfound poignancy, Greenlaw addresses family and kinship in a clear-eyed manner that defies expectations and should easily bring her new fans. Book clubs will want to take note.--Mondor, Colleen Copyright 2010 Booklist
Hitchhiking with Larry David by Paul Samuel Dolman
A memoir about a broken-hearted, middle-aged man who stumbles upon solace, meaning, and Larry David while hitchhiking his way around Martha's Vineyard One summer day on Martha's Vineyard Paul Samuel Dolman was hitchhiking, and none other than Larry David pulled over and asked, "You're not a serial killer or something, are you?" The comedic writer and actor from Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm not only gave Dolman a ride, but helped him find his way during his summer of soul-searching and hitchhiking. Dolman found himself on Martha's Vineyard that summer having made the catastrophic mistake of visiting "The Parental Asylum" in the wake of a painful breakup. His mother is welcoming, albeit senile and neurotically rigid. But his dad "only has the social energy to be nice to humans for about 10 minutes a day." Desperately seeking companionship, Dolman begins hitchhiking around the island and meets a wide array of characters: the super-rich and the homeless, movie stars and common folk, and, of course, Mr. David. Astonishingly, it is Dolman's growing friendship with the famous comedian that becomes the lodestar of his spiritual quest. (Yes, Larry David gets deep!) Written with disarming honest humor and perfectly capturing Larry David's unique comic genius, Hitchhiking with Larry David will leave readers simultaneously laughing and crying as they ponder the mystery and spirituality of life.
And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
*Starred Review* Saboor, a laborer, pulls his young daughter, Pari, and his son, Abdullah, across the desert in a red wagon, leaving their poor village of Shadbagh for Kabul, where his brother-in-law, Nabi, a chauffeur, will introduce them to a wealthy man and his beautiful, despairing poet wife. So begins the third captivating and affecting novel by the internationally best-selling author of The Kite Runner (2003) and A Thousand Splendid Suns (2007). An immense, ancient oak stands in Shadbagh, emblematic of the complexly branching stories in Hosseini's vital, profound, and spellbinding saga of family bonds and unlikely pairings forged by chance, choice, and necessity. We meet twin sisters, one beautiful, one plain; one an invalid, the other a caretaker. Two male cousins, one a charismatic wheeler-dealer; the other a cautious, introverted doctor. A disfigured girl of great valor and a boy destined to become a plastic surgeon. Kabul falls and struggles to rise. Shadbagh comes under the rule of a drug lord, and the novel's many limbs reach to Paris, San Francisco, and a Greek island. A masterful and compassionate storyteller, Hosseini traces the traumas and scarring of tyranny, war, crime, lies, and illness in the intricately interconnected, heartbreaking, and extraordinary lives of his vibrantly realized characters to create a grand and encompassing tree of life. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The immense popularity of Hosseini's previous books ensures a high-profile promotional campaign and mounting word-of-mouth excitement in anticipation of the release of his first new novel in six years.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2010 Booklist
Bunker Hill: A City, a Siege, a Revolution by Nathaniel Philbrick
Philbrick's newest work chronicles the cradle of the American Revolution, Boston's action-packed years of 1773-76. Opening with the consequences of the Boston Tea Party, Philbrick depicts the arrival of British army and naval forces, the manifestation of the royal government's intention to quash the burgeoning rebellion in Massachusetts. Its leaders, patriots like John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and Joseph Warren, provide the drama's counterpoise to British officials. Having deployed his characters, Philbrick launches each side's resort to military preparations and operations, a narrative that benefits from one of the author's several imaginative services to readers, detailing in word and map the geography of Boston and environs at that time. Another audience benefit is Philbrick's evocation of the look of patriot militias and British regiments, which enliven his crackling accounts of military movements that produced the Battles of Lexington, Concord, and Bunker Hill. Displaying, as in Mayflower (2006) and The Last Stand (2010), a superior talent for renewing interest in a famed event, Philbrick will again be in high demand from history buffs.--Taylor, Gilbert Copyright 2010 Bo
Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris
From the unique perspective of David Sedaris comes a new book of essays taking his readers on a bizarre and stimulating world tour. From the perils of French dentistry to the eating habits of the Australian kookaburra, from the squat-style toilets of Beijing to the particular wilderness of a North Carolina Costco, we learn about the absurdity and delight of a curious traveler's experiences. Whether railing against the habits of litterers in the English countryside or marveling over a disembodied human arm in a taxidermist's shop, Sedaris takes us on side-splitting adventures that are not to be forgotten.
A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy
Located in western Ireland on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, Stone House is run down and neglected. When Chicky Starr decides to buy the property and turn it into a hotel, the town thinks she's gone crazy. The project brings unexpected peace and understanding to Chicky and her staff, and after months of tireless work, Stone House is ready for business. The first out-of-towners arrive with disappointment, disgrace, and doubt, but nearly all experience a catharsis on the cliffs and trails and in the gardens that can be found in the surrounding countryside. Verdict Written in a style similar to that in Whitethorn Woods, this title features Binchy's unsurpassed storytelling as she weaves together the lives and experiences of her characters. Finished shortly before Binchy's death in 2011, this final offering will please many of the author's fans, but some may be disappointed that it isn't on a par with her earlier works. While it may not be Binchy's best, this tale of love, friendship, redemption, growing up, and moving on is a lovely swan song for the beloved author. [200,000-copy first printing.]-Vicki Briner, City Coll. Lib., Fort Lauderdale, FL (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Cape Cod's Highfield and Tanglewood : a tale of two cottages by Kathleen Brunelle
In 1876 wealthy Bostonian Pierson Beebe chose a secluded hill in Falmouth, Massachusetts, as the spot to build his summer cottage, Highfield Hall. The following year, his brother James Arthur Beebe began construction next door on his own mansion, Tanglewood. The Beebe Woods and the surrounding buildings do not simply belong to the history of one wealthy Boston family. Rather, the land that they preserved, the architecture they created and the cultural activities they promoted are deeply rooted in Falmouth's history. Author Kathleen Brunelle's grandparents were the caretakers of the cottages, and she grew up exploring their many secrets. Join Brunelle as she narrates the remarkable history of these treasured Falmouth landmarks and once again wanders the historic rooms of Highfield Hall.
Mrs. Lincoln's dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini
Chiaverini's latest is based on the true story of Elizabeth Keckley, who
bought freedom from slavery for herself and her son and went on to become a
well-known modiste in Washington.
Keckley had a front-row seat to history: she dressed Washington's A-list, including Jefferson
Davis' wife before they left D.C., and, most intimately, Mary Todd Lincoln.
Mrs. Lincoln is mercurial, scheming, extravagant, and troubled, but Elizabeth stands by her
as she is lambasted in the press. Long stretches of battle history and
descriptions of Lincoln's political rivals lag,
while more time spent on Elizabeth's
work with newly freed slaves in D.C. would have been welcome. Still, Elizabeth
Keckley is an admirable heroine successful, self-made, and utterly sympathetic.
Readers of the Elm Creek Quilt series who have enjoyed Chiaverini's narrative
jaunts into Civil War and Underground Railroad history will be interested in
Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker and there is even a little bit of quilting in the
story. This is also a good choice for readers of Christian historical fiction,
as both Elizabeth's
and Mr. Lincoln's faiths are important elements in shaping their
characters.--Maguire, Susan Copyright 2010 Booklist
The light between oceans by M.L. Stedman
*Starred Review* Stedman's haunting tale opens in 1918 with the return of Tom Sherbourne to his home in Australia after serving four years in the Great War. He applies for a job as a lighthouse keeper and is assigned to the light on Janus Rock, a remote island off the southwest coast where he hopes to erase his horrific memories of war. Several years later, Tom brings to the island his bride, Isabel, a free-spirited young woman who is determined to adapt to Tom's solitary life with their only contact with the mainland a quarterly visit from the supply boat. Four years later, after Isabel has suffered two miscarriages and a very recent stillbirth, an event occurs that forever changes them. A dinghy washes up on the beach carrying a dead man and a newborn baby girl, giving Isabel hope that she may become, at last, a mother. The choice they make as a couple comes to haunt them, their unexpected happiness replaced by guilt and mistrust. Stedman draws the reader into her emotionally complex story right from the beginning, with lush descriptions of this savage and beautiful landscape, and vivid characters with whom we can readily empathize. Hers is a stunning and memorable debut.--Donovan, Deborah Copyright 2010 Booklist
Proof of heaven : a neurosurgeon's journey into the afterlife by Eben Alexander.
Near-death experiences, or NDEs, are controversial. Thousands of people have
had them, but many in the scientific community have argued that they are
impossible. Dr. Eben Alexander was one of those people.
A highly trained neurosurgeon who had operated on thousands of brains in the
course of his career, Alexander knew that what people of faith call the “soul”
is really a product of brain chemistry. NDEs, he would have been the first to
explain, might feel real to the people having them, but in truth they are
simply fantasies produced by brains under extreme stress.
Then came the day when Dr. Alexander’s own brain was attacked by an
extremely rare illness. The part of the brain that controls thought and
emotion—and in essence makes us human— shut down completely. For seven days
Alexander lay in a hospital bed in a deep coma. Then, as his doctors weighed
the possibility of stopping treatment, Alexander’s eyes popped open. He had
Alexander’s recovery is by all accounts a medical miracle. But the real
miracle of his story lies elsewhere. While his body lay in coma, Alexander
journeyed beyond this world and encountered an angelic being who guided him
into the deepest realms of super-physical existence. There he met, and spoke
with, the Divine source of the universe itself.
This story sounds like the wild and wonderful imaginings of a skilled
fantasy writer. But it is not fantasy. Before Alexander underwent his journey,
he could not reconcile his knowledge of neuroscience with any belief in heaven,
God, or the soul. That difficulty with belief created an empty space that no
professional triumph could erase. Today he is a doctor who believes that true
health can be achieved only when we realize that God and the soul are real and
that death is not the end of personal existence but only a transition.
This story would be remarkable no matter who it happened to. That it
happened to Dr. Alexander makes it revolutionary. No scientist or person of
faith will be able to ignore it. Reading it will change your life.
The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Mathis, Ayana
*Starred Review* This was not the life smart and lovely Hattie expected to
live after fleeing Jim Crow Georgia in 1923 and settling in Philadelphia. Two
years later, married (at 16) to an irresponsible man, she is poor, cold,
hungry, and desperate as her twin babies sicken with pneumonia. Writing with
stunning authority, clarity, and courage, debut novelist Mathis pivots forward
in time, spotlighting intensely dramatic episodes in the lives of Hattie's nine
subsequent children (and one grandchild to make the twelve tribes ),
galvanizing crises that expose the crushed dreams and anguished legacy of the
Great Migration. While Hattie grows more stoic with each birth and each
betrayal, her children struggle with her survival strategies, which they
perceive as her coldness and anger. Hattie's daughters are epically depressed.
Two sons end up in the South, shocked by its backward country ways : Floyd, a
jazz musician painfully conflicted over his attraction to men, and badly
scarred Six, who discovers a gift for preaching. Late in life, Hattie thinks,
Here we are sixty years out of Georgia,
. . . and there's still the same wounding and the same pain. Mathis writes with
blazing insight into the complexities of sexuality, marriage, family
relationships, backbone, fraudulence, and racism in a molten novel of lives
racked with suffering yet suffused with beauty.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2010
Casual Vacancy J. K. Rowling
A big novel about a small town...
When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock.
Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war.
Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils...Pagford is not what it first seems.
And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity, and unexpected revelations?
A big novel about a small town, The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling's first novel for adults. It is the work of a storyteller like no other.
Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver
Starred Review* Drawing on both her Appalachian roots and her background in biology, Kingsolver delivers a passionate novel on the effects of global warming. Dellarobia Turnbow got pregnant in high school; now, some 11 years into her unhappy marriage, she's ready for a big change, and she thinks she's found it with a randy young telephone lineman. But on her way to a rendezvous, she is waylaid by the sight of a forest ablaze with millions of butterflies. Their usual migratory route has been disrupted, and what looks to be a stunningly beautiful view is really an ominous sign, for the Appalachian winter could prove to be the demise of the species. The phenomenon draws the whole world to Dellarobia's doorstep—scientists, the media, hordes of tourists—and gives her new and galvanizing insight into her poverty-stricken life on the sheep farm of her disapproving in-laws. Kingsolver, as always a fluent and eloquent writer, skillfully sets the hook of her fascinating story before launching into activist mode with more than a few pointed speeches delivered by an eminent scientist (and Kingsolver stand-in). By that time, though, readers will be well and truly smitten with feisty, funny, red-haired Dellarobia and her determined quest to widen the confines of her world. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: On the heels of the beloved author's best-selling The Lacuna (2009), which won the Orange Prize, her latest novel will receive a 500,000-copy first printing and be supported by an eight-city author tour. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.
Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks
Physician and prolific author Sacks (The Mind's Eye) gives readers another gem of a book, this time about hallucinations. He discusses his own experiences stemming from migraines or drug use: "My first pot experience was marked by a mix of the neurological and the divine." Hallucinations can involve any of the five senses or memory, or be caused by brain injury. They manifest as sleep paralysis and nightmares, ecstasy and panic, music, haunting images, revenants, and doubles. Sacks's more famous subjects here include Joan of Arc, Dostoyevsky, Freud, and William James. His commentary ranges widely, from hypnosis to post-traumatic stress disorder, imaginary companions to out-of-body experience. VERDICT With a fine sense of narrative, Sacks deftly integrates literature, art, and medical history around his very human, often riveting, case histories. This book is recommended for all readers, not just those with symptoms! This is a model of humane science made compellingly readable. [See Prepub Alert, 5/2/12.]—E. James Lieberman, George Washington Univ. Sch. of Medicine, Washington, DC (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Sacre Bleu by Christopher Moore
Baker-turned-painter Lucien Lessard and bon vivant Henri Toulouse-Lautrec
vow to discover the truth behind the untimely death of their friend Vincent van
Gogh, which leads them on a surreal odyssey and brothel-crawl deep into the art
world of late-nineteenth-century Paris.
Moore drops his readers into the
strange world of nineteenth-century France, where the line between past
and present, real and surreal, shifts with a mere brushstroke. A baker and
aspiring artist, protagonist Lucien Lessard grew up surrounded by Impressionist
painters, all of whom seem to have fallen under the magical spell of a
particular shade of blue. Van Gogh’s death and posthumous warning of a
dangerous villain, the Colorman, sets Lessard and his friend, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec,
off on a journey to discover the power behind the Colorman’s blue paint.
Entwined in their journey is the beautiful but mysterious Juliette. Mingling
comedy and mystery, Moore
crafts an intricate story that teases the reader with numerous twists and bawdy
humor. While Lessard is fictional, many of the characters are based on
historical figures, and their use of modern slang can be jarring.
Toulouse-Lautrec emerges vibrantly, but some of the other painters struggle to
come to life. Still, this is an imaginative and amusing look at the
Impressionist era, and Moore’s
prose is fresh and engaging.
Service by Marcus Luttrell and James D. Hornfischer.
Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell returned from his star-crossed mission in Afghanistan with his bones shattered and his heart broken. So many had given their lives to save him-and he would have readily done the same for them. As he recuperated, he wondered why he and others, from America's founding to today, had been willing to sacrifice everything-including themselves-for the sake of family, nation, and freedom.
In Service, we follow Marcus Luttrell to Iraq, where he returns to the battlefield as a member of SEAL Team 5 to help take on the most dangerous city in the world: Ramadi, the capital of war-torn Al Anbar Province. There, in six months of high-intensity urban combat, he would be part of what has been called the greatest victory in the history of U.S. Special Operations forces. We also return to Afghanistan and Operation Redwing, where Luttrell offers powerful new details about his miraculous rescue. Throughout, he reflects on what it really means to take on a higher calling, about the men he's seen lose their lives for their country, and the legacy of those who came and bled before.
A thrilling war story, Service is also a profoundly moving tribute to the warrior brotherhood, to the belief that nobody goes it alone, and no one will be left behind.
Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
The sequel to Hilary Mantel's 2009 Man Booker Prize winner and New
York Times bestseller, Wolf Hall delves into the heart of Tudor
history with the downfall of Anne Boleyn
Though he battled for seven years to marry her, Henry is disenchanted with Anne
Boleyn. She has failed to give him a son and her sharp intelligence and
audacious will alienate his old friends and the noble families of England. When
the discarded Katherine dies in exile from the court, Anne stands starkly
exposed, the focus of gossip and malice.
At a word from Henry, Thomas Cromwell is ready to bring her down. Over three
terrifying weeks, Anne is ensnared in a web of conspiracy, while the demure
Jane Seymour stands waiting her turn for the poisoned wedding ring. But Anne
and her powerful family will not yield without a ferocious struggle. Hilary
Mantel's Bring Up the Bodies follows the dramatic trial of the queen and
her suitors for adultery and treason. To defeat the Boleyns, Cromwell must ally
with his natural enemies, the papist aristocracy. What price will he pay for
Monday Morning by Sanjay Gupta
In the high-stakes profession of neurosurgery, the bigger you are, the harder you fall. Or so it seems in the nifty first novel by CNN's chief medical correspondent Gupta, who is also a practicing neurosurgeon and nonfiction author. At the Chelsea General Hospital in Michigan, Dr. Ty Wilson is suffering from a serious crisis in confidence after a child dies during an operation. His medical colleagues include George Villanueva, a hulking former NFL player turned ER doctor, and Tina Ridgeway, a meticulous neurosurgeon whose home life is a mess. For quirkiness, there's a patient who undergoes surgery for bleeding cerebral aneurysms and develops an unusual postoperative mania for sketching human ears. For irony, the perfectionist head of surgery makes a jumbo mistake, and a middle-aged Korean neurosurgeon is afflicted with a deadly brain tumor. Despite their flaws, these fictional physicians possess extremely high empathy quotients. They make clinical and personal blunders, yet some attain redemption, and nearly all experience epiphanies. You don't have to be a brain surgeon to write a novel, but with Monday Mornings, readers will be glad one did. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.
Defending Jacob by William Landay
A 14-year-old boy is stabbed to death in the park near his middle school in an upper-class Boston suburb, and Assistant District Attorney Andy Barber takes the case, despite the fact that his son, Jacob, was a classmate of the victim. But when the bloody fingerprint on the victim's clothes turns out to be Jacob's, Barber is off the case and out of his office, devoting himself solely to defending his son. Even Barber's never-before-disclosed heritage as the son and grandson of violent men who killed becomes potential courtroom fodder, raising the question of a "murder gene." Within the structure of a grand jury hearing a year after the murder, Landay gradually increases apprehension. As if peeling the layers of an onion, he raises personal and painful ethical issues pertaining to a parent's responsibilities to a child, to a family, and to society at large. Landay's two previous novels (Mission Flats, 2003; The Strangler, 2007) were award winners, but he reaches a new level of excellence in this riveting, knock-your-socks-off legal thriller. With its masterfully crafted characterizations and dialogue, emotional depth, and frightening implications, the novel rivals the best of Scott Turow and John Grisham. Don't miss it. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.
Bringing up BeBe, by Pamela Druckerman
Druckerman, a former staff reporter for the Wall Street Journal, found herself raising three children in France after following her British husband to Paris. She was taken aback at how well behaved French children are: most will sleep through the night at two months old, are on their best behavior in restaurants, eat a wide variety of foods, and don't interrupt adults when they are conversing. Mystified as well as embarrassed that her own children were not as well behaved, she began to research French parenting techniques and came across a treasure trove of helpful information. In crisp prose and an engaging voice, she explains how the French do not even have a word for discipline, instead referring to the concept as education. And French mothers have plenty of help in educating their children in the form of affordable, high-quality day care managed by experienced, certified child-care professionals. Within a strict cadre, or framework of rules, children are given plenty of autonomy to explore the world, without the aid of high-priced toys and gadgets. Insightful reading from a wise and funny writer. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.
The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach.
*Starred Review* Sports fiction has a built-in plot problem. The drama usually rides on a team's success or failure as it moves through a season to the Big Game. The team either overcomes adversity and wins, following in the cliché-strewn tradition of everything from The Bad News Bears to Rocky, or it loses, a literarily more resonant route, to be sure, but inevitably unsatisfying if the reader has become a fan along the way. First-novelist Harbach finds an inventive and thoroughly satisfying solution to the Big Game problem, and it works because the reader doesn't live or die with what happens on the field. This sprawling multiple-story saga follows the coming-of-age and midlife crises of five characters at Westish College, a small liberal-arts school in Wisconsin. At the center of it all is Henry Skrimshander, a shortstop of phenomenal ability who has led the school's baseball team to unprecedented heights. Then a wildly errant throw from Henry's usually infallible arm provides the catalyst for game-changing events not only in Henry's life but also in those of his roommate, Owen Dunne; his best friend and mentor, the team's catcher, Mike Schwartz; the school's president, Guert Affenlight; and the president's daughter, Pella. In an immediately accessible narrative reminiscent of John Irving, Harbach (cofounder of the popular literary journal n+1) draws readers into the lives of his characters, plumbing their psyches with remarkable psychological acuity and exploring the transformative effect that love and friendship can have on troubled souls. And, yes, it's a hell of a baseball story, too, no matter who wins. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.
1Q84 by Haruki Murakami ; translated from the Japanese by Jay Rubin and Philip Gabriel
*Starred Review* Murakami writes two kinds of novels: short, intimate, crystalline portraits of lovers, often trapped in alternate worlds or struggling between secret selves (After Dark, 2007), and much longer, broad-canvas epics (The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, 1997) that submerge the reader in a tidal wave of story. His latest definitely falls into the latter camp, and, yet, it clings resolutely to the intimacy of the shorter works. This foray into what is unquestionably Murakami's most vividly imagined parallel world begins simply, with two seemingly ordinary events: two lonely 10-year-olds, a boy and a girl, Tengo and Aomame, hold hands in an empty classroom, and for the next 20 years, while never seeing one another, they dream of meeting but are strangely paralyzed to make it happen. Then Aomame, a 30-year-old woman in 1984—and an assassin who kills men who abuse women—walks down an emergency exit from a Tokyo expressway and finds herself in another world, which she calls 1Q84, a world overseen by two moons and ruled, apparently, by the quixotic "little people." Meanwhile, Tengo has rewritten a novel by an enigmatic 17-year-old girl that accurately describes the world of 1Q84. As the lives of Tengo, Aomame, and a Dostoyevskian private investigator, who works for a religious cult that worships the little people, swirl closer and closer together, Murakami draws the reader deeper and deeper into this utterly baffling universe, switching narration between the three principal characters, each of whom grasps only a small part of their two-mooned world. Gradually but inexorably, the tension builds, as we root passionately for Tengo and Aomame to find one another and hold hands again, so simple a human connection offering a kind of oasis in the midst of the unexplainable and the terrifying. When Murakami melds fantasy and realism, mystery and epic, it is no simple genre-bending exercise; rather, it is literary alchemy of the highest order. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Murakami, whose work has been translated into 40 languages, is one of our most-honored international fiction writers. His latest will attract great interest in literary circles. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.
Thinking, Fast and Slow By Daniel Kahneman
Decision making tends to be intuitive rather than logical. Kahneman has
dedicated his academic research to understanding why that is so. This
work distills his and colleagues' findings about how we make up our
minds and how much we can trust intuition. Clinical experiments on
psychology's traditional guinea pigs—college students—abound and
collectively batter confidence in "System 1," as Kahneman calls
intuition. All sorts of biases, sporting tags like "the halo effect"
(i.e., unwarranted attribution of positive qualities to a thing or
person one likes), bedevil accurate appraisal of reality. According to
Kahneman, intuitive feelings often override "System 2," or thinking
that requires effort, such as simple arithmetic. Exemplifying his
points in arenas as diverse as selecting military officers, speculating
in stocks, hiring employees, and starting up businesses, Kahneman
accords some reliability to intuitive choice, as long as the decision
maker is aware of cognitive illusions (the study of which brought
Kahneman the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics). Kahneman's insights will
most benefit those in leadership positions yet they will also help the
average reader to become a better car buyer. Copyright 2011 Booklist
Maphead : Charting the Wide, Weird World of Geography Wonks by Ken Jennings.
Considering Jennings' calling card—he's the Jeopardy!
multimillionaire—readers might expect a light, trivia-filled book.
Well, that's half right. It's breezily written, but it's not trivial.
In fact, it demonstrates that Jennings, a software engineer before his
game-show triumph, could have a long career as a writer. There is some
trivia in it (e.g., there's no evidence pirates ever used treasure
maps), but mainly it's a serious and passionate look at the importance
of geography and, by extension, the ability to use and understand
maps—for students, historians, political leaders, pop-culture
innovators, and, indeed, everyone. Jennings peppers the book with
humorous comments and personal asides (he admits up front that he's "a
bit of a geography wonk"), but his mission is to rescue geography from
irrelevance, to make us realize that geographic illiteracy is not
merely "comic shorthand for stupidity" but a real and pervasive
problem. A fascinating book that blends humor, memoir, and serious
analysis. Comparisons to Bill Bryson's magnificent A Really Short
History of Nearly Everything (2009) are entirely apt. Copyright 2011
The Tiger's Wife by Téa Obreht
NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST •
In a Balkan country mending from
war, Natalia, a young doctor, is compelled to unravel the mysterious
circumstances surrounding her beloved grandfather’s recent death.
Searching for clues, she turns to his worn copy of The Jungle Book
and the stories he told her of his encounters over the years with “the
deathless man.” But most extraordinary of all is the story her
grandfather never told her—the legend of the tiger’s wife.
The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt
gloriously learned page-turner, both biography and intellectual
history, Harvard Shakespearean scholar Greenblatt (Will in the World)
turns his attention to the front end of the Renaissance as the origin
of Western culture's foundation: the free questioning of truth. It
hinges on the recovery of an ancient philosophical Latin text that had
been neglected for a thousand years. In the winter of 1417 Italian
oddball humanist, smutty humorist, and apostolic secretary Poggio
Bracciolini stumbled on Lucretius' De rerum natura. In an obscure
monastery in southern Germany lay the recovery of a philosophy free of
superstition and dogma. Lucretius' "On the Nature of Things" harked
back to the mostly lost works of Greek philosophers known as atomists.
Lucretius himself was essentially an Epicurean who saw the restrained
seeking of pleasure as the highest good. Poggio's chance finding lay
what Greenblatt, following Lucretius himself, terms a historic swerve
of massive proportions, propagated by such seminal and often heretical
truth tellers as Machiavelli, Giordano Bruno, and Montaigne. We even
learn the history of the bookworm—a real entity and one of the enemies
of ancient written-cultural transmission. Nearly 70 pages of notes and
bibliography do nothing to spoil the fun of Greenblatt's marvelous
tale. 16 pages of color illus. (Sept. 19)
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Debut author Morgenstern doesn't miss a beat in this smashing tale of
greed, fate, and love set in a turn of the 20th-century circus. Celia
is a five-year-old with untrained psychokinetic powers when she is
unceremoniously dumped on her unsuspecting father, Hector Bowen, better
known as Le Cirque des Reves' Prospero the Entertainer. Hector
immediately hatches a sinister scheme for Celia: pit her against a
rival's young magician in an epic battle of magic that will, by design,
result in the death of one of the players, though neither Celia nor her
adversary, Marco, is informed of the inevitable outcome. What neither
Hector nor his rival count on is that Celia and Marco will eventually
fall in love. Their mentors—Marco's mentor, Alexander, plucked him from
the London streets due to his psychic abilities—attempt to intervene
with little success as Celia and Marco barrel toward an unexpected and
oddly fitting conclusion. Supporting characters—such as Bailey, a farm
boy who befriends a set of twins born into the circus who will
drastically influence his future; Isobel, a circus employee and onetime
girlfriend of Marco's; and theatrical producer Chandresh Christophe
Lefèvre—are perfectly realized and live easily in a giant, magical
story destined for bestsellerdom. This is an electric debut on par with
Special Topics in Calamity Physics. (Sept.)
Civilization : The West and the Rest by Niall Furguson
by critics and enemies, Western civilization has an apologist in
popular financial historian Ferguson. In this analytical overview, he
illuminates the loss of confidence by elites and masses in Western
civilization by asking how, in the first place, West European countries
vaulted ahead of Asian, Middle Eastern, African, and South American
countries. Giving six explanations, he pulls from the past five
centuries particular examples of commercial competition, scientific
advancement, property rights, medical progress, consumerism, and the
work ethic. His statistics-based arguments anticipate the rejoinders of
Western civilization's critics, but he's hardly a complacent
cheerleader. He details much ghastliness in the colonial and imperial
eras, yet he holds that sins can't refute that, wherever Western ideas,
technology, and goods erupted, ordinary people embraced them and, if
allowed to by rulers and conditions, outdistanced adherents to local
tradition. Ultimately, Ferguson tackles the proposition that the West's
present ailments presage its eclipse by China and/or Islam. Since
marketing will include "op-eds at publication," expect more requests
than the standing army of decline-of-the-West genre fans alone may
generate. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.
Another Woman: A Novel by Penny Vincenzi
Penny Vincenzi, queen of riveting family drama, delivers her most
page-turning saga yet in this novel of intrigue, sure to please her
legions of fans. The night before her lavish wedding, Cressida Forrest
went to bed serene and happy. By morning she had vanished--without
apparent cause, and without a trace. Shocked, anxious, and
uncomprehending, the two families face a long day of revelations, as a
complex, fragile web of sexual, marital, and financial secrets is
ripped apart by Cressida's disappearance.
House I loved by Tatiana De Rosnay
Paris, France: 1860's.
Hundreds of houses are being razed, whole neighborhoods reduced to
ashes. By order of Emperor Napoleon III, Baron Haussman has set into
motion a series of large-scale renovations that will permanently alter
the face of old Paris, moulding it into a “modern city.” The reforms
will erase generations of history—but in the midst of the tumult, one
woman will take a stand.
Rose Bazelet is determined to
fight against the destruction of her family home until the very end; as
others flee, she stakes her claim in the basement of the old house on
rue Childebert, ignoring the sounds of change that come closer and
closer each day. Attempting to overcome the loneliness of her daily
life, she begins to write letters to Armand, her beloved late husband.
And as she delves into the ritual of remembering, Rose is forced to
come to terms with a secret that has been buried deep in her heart for
thirty years. The House I Loved is both a poignant story of one
woman's indelible strength, and an ode to Paris, where houses harbor
the joys and sorrows of their inhabitants, and secrets endure in the
Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman
Hoffman makes ancient history live and breathe in
this compelling story, set in 70 CE, detailing the siege of the mountain
stronghold Masada, where 900 Jews held out for months against the
Romans. Hoffman's novel follows four extraordinary women. Red-haired
Yael has long been shunned by her father, a renowned assassin, because
of her mother's death in childbirth. Forced to flee from Jerusalem, she
makes a tortuous journey across the desert, during which she becomes
involved with a married man, and after finally reaching Masada, is
assigned to the dovecote, where she meets three charismatic women:
Revka, a baker's wife who witnessed her daughter's horrific death at the
hands of Roman soldiers; Shirah, a tattooed wisewoman; and Shirah's
daughter Aziza, a warrior of uncommon skill. Forced to deal with the
outside forces intent on eradicating them and with their people's
patriarchal system, which is quick to condemn unconventional behavior,
the women draw great strength from their own inner resources and from
each other. This is both a feminist manifesto and a deeply felt tribute
to courageous men and women of faith, told with the cadence and imagery
of a biblical passage. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The latest novel from
the best-selling and prolific Alice Hoffman will be suppported by a
national ad campaign, an author tour, and a reading-group guide. Will
the biblical subject matter—quite a change of pace for Hoffman—prove as
popular as her domestic dramas? Stay tuned. Copyright 2011 Booklist
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
Marina Singh gave up a career as a doctor after
botching an emergency delivery as an intern, opting instead for the more
orderly world of research for a pharmaceutical company. When office
colleague Anders Eckman, sent to the Amazon to check on the work of a
field team, is reported dead, Marina is asked by her company's CEO to
complete Anders' task and to locate his body. What Marina finds in the
sweltering, insect-infested jungles of the Amazon shakes her to her
core. For the team is headed by esteemed scientist Annick Swenson, the
woman who oversaw Marina's residency and who is now intent on keeping
the team's progress on a miracle drug completely under wraps. Marina's
jungle odyssey includes exotic encounters with cannibals and snakes, a
knotty ethical dilemma about the basic tenets of scientific research,
and joyous interactions with the exuberant people of the Lakashi tribe,
who live on the compound. In fluid and remarkably atmospheric prose,
Patchett captures not only the sights and sounds of the chaotic jungle
environment but also the struggle and sacrifice of dedicated scientists.
HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The award-winning, New York Times
best-selling author's latest novel is being supported with an author
tour, a national advertising campaign, blogger outreach, and a
reading-group guide. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.
The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian
"*Starred Review* In his suspenseful thirteenth novel, Bohjalian wraps a family drama in an eerie ghost story. Pilot Chip Linton is haunted by the crash-landing of his 70-seat regional jet in the waters of Lake Champlain, which claimed the lives of 39 persons. He and his wife, Emily, decide to make a fresh start and move with their 10-year-old twin daughters to northern New Hampshire, where an eccentric group of women known as herbalists welcomes them and seems especially interested in the twins. Not long after, Chip discovers a mysterious door in the basement, sealed shut with 39 carriage bolts. Increasingly haunted by memories of the crash and by the belief that he can hear three dead passengers speaking to him, Chip is a far-diminished version of the confident man he used to be, causing his family to fear him even as they grieve the father and husband they have lost. Bohjalian pits the vulnerability of a traumatized family against the cold manipulation of the herbalists in a page-turner of uncommon depth. Guilt, egotism, and fear all play parts in the genre-bending novel, which rivals the spooky twists and turns of Stephen Irwin's The Dead Path (2010)." Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.
Why Read Moby-Dick? by Nathaniel Philbrick
*Starred Review* "What
a book Melville has written!" Hawthorne
exclaimed upon first reading Moby Dick. More than 150 years later, Philbrick echoes
enthusiasm. Although he repudiates the various interpretations of Melville's
White Whale as a symbol of this or that human nemesis, Philbrick sees in
Melville's story of the whale a mythically capacious emblem of the nation that
incubated it—pulsing with poetic imagination, threatened by grim
contradictions, and doomed to a devastating catastrophe. Readers thus come to
recognize, for instance, how Melville's portrayal of the Pequod's pious but
hard-hearted owners mirrors the bifurcation separating the nation's
high-spirited idealism from its real-world addiction to the profits of slavery.
And in its harrowing denouement, this prescient novel anticipates the carnage
of Cold Harbor and Antietam. To be sure,
Philbrick sees in the novel more than a symbol of America's tragically flawed
history; he marvels, in fact, at how deeply Melville plumbs mysteries that defy
time and geography. By probing the circumstances surrounding Melville's writing
of the novel, Philbrick illuminates the intense creative process through which
the brooding author melded the darkest elements from the art of Hawthorne and
Shakespeare in the crucible of his own fervent agnosticism. Sure to swell the
readership of Melville's masterpiece. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.
Rin TIn TIn by Susan Orlean
"*Starred Review* Rin
Tin Tin, the smart, athletic German shepherd who became "the archetypal
dog hero," was born on a battlefield in France in 1918 and rescued by Lee
Duncan, an American soldier. Duncan, whose love
for animals was rooted in a childhood of abandonment, brought Rin Tin Tin to California, where
diligent training, talent, and luck turned "Rinty" into a universally
beloved movie star. The Rin Tin Tin character lived on after the original dog's
death in 1932 (the world mourned) as Duncan, utterly devoted to his creation,
worked with a series of German shepherds to keep Rin Tin Tin in the movies and
on television for nearly four more decades. In her first from-scratch
investigative book since The Orchid Thief (1999), New Yorker staff writer
Orlean incisively chronicles every facet of the never-before-told, surprisingly
consequential, and roller-coaster–like Rin Tin Tin saga, including the rapid
evolution of the film and television industries, the rise of American pet
culture, how Americans heeded the military's call and sent their dogs into
combat during WWII, and even what the courageous canine meant to her own
family. Orlean's engrossing, dynamic, and affecting biography of a dog who
became an icon of loyalty and valor will reignite Rin Tin Tin fever in yet
another time when heroes are in acute demand. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Move over
Seabiscuit, Rin Tin Tin will be the most-talked-about animal hero of the year
and beyond as best-selling Orlean presents a spectacularly compelling
portrait." Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.
The Greater Journey : Americans in Paris by David McCullough.
*Starred Review* Paris in the 1920s is one of those romantic
place-and-time moments every writer wishes to have been part of. But
popular historian McCullough, much-respected author of Truman (1992) and
John Adams (2001), chose not to retell the story of the so-called Lost
Generation. Instead, he relates a less-familiar but no-less-engaging
tale: that of the many Americans, most of them in the arts, who were
soul-drawn to Paris between 1830 and 1900. He reminds us that in the
century of great American expansion, "not all pioneers went west."
McCullough's research is staggering to perceive, and the interpretation
he lends to his material is impressive to behold as he chronicles a long
but never thinly analyzed list of expatriates who settled in Paris for
varying lengths of time to take advantage of the heady environment—the
city as muse—to elevate their talents in their particular fields,
whether it be painting (Mary Cassatt and John Singer Sargent), sculpture
(Augustus Saint-Gaudens), writing (Henry James and James Fenimore
Cooper), or learning medicine (Elizabeth Blackwell, the first female
doctor in America, and Oliver Wendell Holmes). HIGH-DEMAND
BACKSTORY: McCullough's track record says it all: expect his latest book
to ascend the best-seller lists and be given a place on the year-end
best lists. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.
Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks
*Starred Review* Brooks, winner of the Pulitzer
Prize for her Civil War novel, March (2006), here imagines the life of
Caleb Cheeshahteaumauk, the first Native American to graduate from
Harvard. The story is told by Bethia Mayfield, the daughter of a
preacher who traveled from England to Martha's Vineyard to try and
"bring Christ to the Indians." In 1660, when Bethia is 12, the family
takes Caleb, a Wampanoag Indian, into their home to prepare him for
boarding school. Bethia is a bright scholar herself, and though
education for women is discouraged, she absorbs the lessons taught to
Caleb and her brother Makepeace like a sponge. She struggles through the
deaths of her mother, a younger sister, another brother, and her
father. When Caleb and Makepeace are sent to Cambridge, Bethia
accompanies them as an indentured servant to a professor. She marries a
Harvard scholar, journeys with him to Padua, and finally returns to her
beloved island. In flashbacks, Brooks relates the woes of the Indian
Wars, the smallpox epidemic, and Caleb's untimely death shortly after
his graduation with honors. Brooks has an uncanny ability to reconstruct
each moment of the history she so thoroughly researched in stunningly
lyrical prose, and her characters are to be cherished. Copyright 2011
Silver Girl by Elin Hilderbrand
rug is pulled out from under Meredith Martin Delinn when her husband is
accused of operating a Ponzi scheme and sentenced to 150 years in
prison, and she is treated as a pariah. With no home, no friends, and no
money, she turns to childhood friend Connie Flute. They have not spoken
for three years, yet Connie promptly picks Meredith up in Manhattan and
takes her to her summer home on Nantucket. Both women have wounds to
deal with. Meredith is the object not only of scorn but also of a
federal investigation. Connie is coping with the death of her husband
and estrangement from her daughter. Meredith's arrival gives Connie the
excuse to start living again, but their once golden lives are no more,
and now, once someone discovers that Meredith is staying at Connie's
place, they even have to face threats and danger. Another winner from
Hilderbrand (The Castaways, 2009), who in this sensitive and suspenseful
tale succeeds in portraying a seemingly unlikable character, besieged
Meredith, and making her human. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.
Unbroken : a World War II story of survival, resilience, and redemption by Laura Hillenbrand.
A second book by the author of Seabiscuit (2001) would get noticed,
even if it weren't the enthralling and often grim story of Louie
Zamperini. An Olympic runner during the 1930s, he flew B-24s during
WWII. Taken prisoner by the Japanese, he endured a captivity harsh even
by Japanese standards and was a physical and mental wreck at the end of
the war. He was saved by the influence of Billy Graham, who inspired
him to turn his life around, and afterward devoted himself to
evangelical speeches and founding boys' camps. Still alive at 93,
Zamperini now works with those Japanese individuals and groups who
accept responsibility for Japanese mistreatment of POWs and wish to see
Japan and the U.S. reconciled. He submitted to 75 interviews with the
author as well as contributing a large mass of personal records.
Fortunately, the author's skills are as polished as ever, and like its
predecessor, this book has an impossible-to-put-down quality that one
commonly associates with good thrillers. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: This
departure from the author's previous best-seller will nevertheless be
promoted as necessary reading for the many folks who enjoyed the first
one or its movie version. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.
Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff.
For those who think they know enough about Cleopatra or have the
enigmatic Egyptian queen all figured out, think again. Schiff,
demonstrating the same narrative flair that captivated readers of her
Pulitzer Prize–winning Véra (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov) (1999), provides a
new interpretation of the life of one of history's most enduringly
intriguing women. Rather than a devastatingly beautiful femme fatale,
Cleopatra, according to Schiff, was a shrewd power broker who knew how
to use her manifold gifts—wealth, power, and intelligence—to negotiate
advantageous political deals and military alliances. Though long on
facts and short on myth, this stellar biography is still a page-turner;
in fact, because this portrait is grounded so thoroughly in historical
context, it is even more extraordinary than the more fanciful legend.
Cleopatra emerges as a groundbreaking female leader, relying on her
wits, determination, and political acumen rather than sex appeal to
astutely wield her power in order to get the job done. Ancient Egypt
never goes out of style, and Cleopatra continues to captivate
successive generations. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.
The Paris Wife: a Novel by Paula McLain
History is sadly neglectful of the supporting
players in the lives of great artists. Fortunately, fiction provides
ample opportunity to bring these often fascinating personalities out
into the limelight. Gaynor Arnold successfully resurrected the
much-maligned Mrs. Charles Dickens in Girl in a Blue Dress (2009), now
Paula McLain brings Hadley Richardson Hemingway out from the formidable
shadow cast by her famous husband. Though doomed, the Hemingway
marriage had its giddy high points, including a whirlwind courtship and
a few fast and furious years of the expatriate lifestyle in 1920s
Paris. Hadley and Ernest traveled in heady company during this
gin-soaked and jazz-infused time, and readers are treated to intimate
glimpses of many of the literary giants of the era, including Gertrude
Stein, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. But the real
star of the story is Hadley, as this time around, Ernest is firmly
relegated to the background as he almost never was during their years
together. Though eventually a woman scorned, Hadley is able to
acknowledge without rancor or bitterness that "Hem" had "helped me to
see what I really was and what I could do." Much more than a
"woman-behind-the-man" homage, this beautifully crafted tale is an
unsentimental tribute to a woman who acted with grace and strength as
her marriage crumbled. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.
Left Neglected by Lisa Genova
First-person narrator Sarah Nickerson is a
37-year-old, overachieving multitasker with a Harvard MBA and a
demanding job as vice president of human relations at a Boston
consulting firm. Her husband, Bob, works at a struggling tech start-up
and shares in the upbringing of their three young children in an
affluent suburb. Then there's a car accident on a rainy November
morning, and a traumatic brain injury leaves Sarah with "left neglect,"
a lack of awareness of anything to her left, including the left side of
her own body. The one person who can help when insurance runs out is
Sarah's mother, Helen, yet their relationship has been rocky ever since
Helen was a virtually absentee mother for Sarah after Sarah's brother,
Nate, died in childhood. As Sarah's struggles parallel those of her
7-year-old son, Charlie, just diagnosed with ADHD, there is healing of
body, mind, and mother-daughter relationship and acceptance that
"normal is overrated." Neuroscientist Genova (Still Alice, 2009) once
again personalizes an actual disabling brain condition to create
irresistibly readable and moving fiction. Copyright 2010 Booklist
Fall of Giants by Ken Follett
Fall of Giants
is his magnificent new
historical epic. The first novel in The Century Trilogy, it follows the
fates of five interrelated families-American, German, Russian, English,
and Welsh-as they move through the world-shaking dramas of the First
World War, the Russian Revolution, and the struggle for women's
Thirteen-year-old Billy Williams enters a man's
world in the Welsh mining pits...Gus Dewar, an American law student
rejected in love, finds a surprising new career in Woodrow Wilson's
White House...two orphaned Russian brothers, Grigori and Lev Peshkov,
embark on radically different paths half a world apart when their plan
to emigrate to America falls afoul of war, conscription, and
revolution...Billy's sister, Ethel, a housekeeper for the aristocratic
Fitzherberts, takes a fateful step above her station, while Lady Maud
Fitzherbert herself crosses deep into forbidden territory when she
falls in love with Walter von Ulrich, a spy at the German embassy in
These characters and many others find their lives
inextricably entangled as, in a saga of unfolding drama and intriguing
complexity, Fall of Giants
moves seamlessly from Washington to
St. Petersburg, from the dirt and danger of a coal mine to the
glittering chandeliers of a palace, from the corridors of power to the
bedrooms of the mighty. As always with Ken Follett, the historical
background is brilliantly researched and rendered, the action
fast-moving, the characters rich in nuance and emotion. It is destined
to be a new classic.
In future volumes of The Century
Trilogy, subsequent generations of the same families will travel
through the great events of the rest of the twentieth century, changing
themselves-and the century itself. With passion and the hand of a
master, Follett brings us into a world we thought we knew, but now will
never seem the same again.
Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
From the National Book Award-winning author of The Corrections, a darkly comedic novel about family
and Walter Berglund were the new pioneers of old St. Paul—the
gentrifiers, the hands-on parents, the avant-garde of the Whole Foods
generation. Patty was the ideal sort of neighbor, who could tell you
where to recycle your batteries and how to get the local cops to
actually do their job. She was an enviably perfect mother and the wife
of Walter’s dreams. Together with Walter—environmental lawyer, commuter
cyclist, total family man—she was doing her small part to build a
But now, in the new millennium, the Berglunds
have become a mystery. Why has their teenage son moved in with the
aggressively Republican family next door? Why has Walter taken a job
working with Big Coal? What exactly is Richard Katz—outré rocker and
Walter’s college best friend and rival—still doing in the picture? Most
of all, what has happened to Patty? Why has the bright star of Barrier
Street become “a very different kind of neighbor,” an implacable Fury
coming unhinged before the street’s attentive eyes?
In his first novel since The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen has given us an epic of contemporary love and marriage. Freedom comically
and tragically captures the temptations and burdens of liberty: the
thrills of teenage lust, the shaken compromises of middle age, the
wages of suburban sprawl, the heavy weight of empire. In charting the
mistakes and joys of Freedom’s intensely realized characters as
they struggle to learn how to live in an ever more confusing world,
Franzen has produced an indelible and deeply moving portrait of our
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
Focusing on the world of medicine, this epic first novel by well-known
doctor/author Verghese (My Own Country) follows a man on a mythic quest
to find his father. It begins with the dramatic birth of twins slightly
joined at the skull, their father serving as surgeon and their mother
dying on the table. The horrorstruck father vanishes, and the now
separated boys are raised by two Indian doctors living on the grounds
of a mission hospital in early 1950s Ethiopia. The boys both gravitate
toward medical practice, with Marion the more studious one and Shiva a
moody genius and loner. Also living on the hospital grounds is Genet,
daughter of one of the maids, who grows up to be a beautiful and
mysterious young woman and a source of ruinous competition between the
brothers. After Marion is forced to flee the country for political
reasons, he begins his medical residency at a poor hospital in New York
City, and the past catches up with him. The medical background is
fascinating as the author delves into fairly technical areas of human
anatomy and surgical procedure. This novel succeeds on many levels and
is recommended for all collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 10/1/08.]—Jim
Coan, SUNY Coll. at Oneonta
TheThousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet : a novel by David Mitchell.
*Starred Review* Two-time Booker finalist Mitchell applies his
wide-ranging talents to this innovative historical epic. Dejima, an
artificial island created as a trading outpost in Nagasaki Harbor,
proves fertile ground for exploring intercultural relations, trust and
betrayal, racial and gender boundaries, the search for identity, and
unexpected love in a changing world. In 1799, when the Netherlands held
a trade monopoly with isolationist Japan, Jacob de Zoet, a clerk for
the Dutch East Indies Company, is charged with uncovering fraud in his
predecessors' ledgers. As Jacob doggedly pursues an honest course, he
becomes romantically intrigued by Orito Aibagawa, a gifted, disfigured
midwife granted special permission to study on Dejima. Mitchell
incorporates diverse styles, and he expertly adapts tone and dialogue
to reflect his situations. In the main plotline, incisive commentary on
decisions and unforeseen consequences filters through a jaunty,
slang-filled tale in which Japanese and Dutchmen arrange public and
private deals. Interlinked subplots offer creepy gothic drama,
seafaring adventure, and race-against-time suspense. Despite the
audacious scope, the focus remains intimate; each fascinating
character—interpreter, herbalist, magistrate, slave—has the opportunity
to share his or her story. Everything is patched together seamlessly
and interwoven with clever wordplay and enlightening historical details
on feudal Japan. First-rate literary fiction and a rousing good yarn,
too. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.
Women, food and God : an unexpected path to almost everything by Geneen Roth
While "God" is in the title of this latest work by best-selling author
Roth (When Food Is Love), she touches only lightly on religion,
focusing instead on why some people use food to mask their emotions.
Overeating numbs feelings and erases unpleasant life experiences, Roth
says; eating ends up being about bloating and indigestion, not about
enjoying food. Through a series of inquiries, Roth helps overeaters
find the underlying reasons for using food as an emotional buffer. Roth
also provides seven basic guidelines for eating (which do not include
counting calories) and other therapeutic self-help tools. Whether the
trap is eating brownies or shopping in excess, Roth's advice could be
applied to any addiction. VERDICT This is an excellent book for anyone
tired of quick-fix diets. Having experienced the ups and downs of
emotional eating herself, Roth offers readers genuine and heartfelt
Empire of the Summer Moon : Quanah Parker and the rise and fall of the Comanches, the most powerful Indian tribe in American history Gwynne, S
The vast, semi-arid grasslands of the southern
Great Plains could be dominated by hunters and warriors on horseback.
In the first half of the nineteenth century, the Comanches, often
referred to as "lords of the Plains," were the single most powerful
military force in the region, to the frustration of both the Mexican
and U.S. governments. In this engrossing chronicle, award-winning
journalist Gwynne traces the rise of the Comanche people from their
roots as primitive bands of hunter-gatherers to their mastery of the
horse and emergence as the feared power brokers of the area. At the
center of the narrative is the charismatic Quanah Parker, who
skillfully navigated the gaps between his traditional culture and the
emerging, settled culture of the late-nineteenth century. Quanah was
the son of a Comanche warrior and a woman named Cynthia Ann Parker, who
was kidnapped at the age of nine and chose to stay with the Comanches.
Quanah was a brilliant, feared war chief who guided his people in
adapting to new realities after their final suppression by the U.S.
Calvary. An outstanding addition to western-history collections.
Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.
Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls
In her best-selling memoir, The Glass Castle (2005), Walls chronicled her painfully enlightening childhood. She now loops back to tell the even more gripping tale of her maternal grandmother, the formidable horse-training, poker-playing rancher and teacher Lily Casey Smith. Because she patched the story together from reminiscences, used her imagination to fill in the gaps, and decided to have Lily narrate so we could all experience her sharp-shooter's directness, Walls wisely calls this a novel. Walls does her grandmother proud in this historically revealing and triumphant novel of a fearless, progressive woman who will not be corralled.
The Postmistress by Sarah Blake
Weaving together the stories of three very
different women loosely tied to each other, debut novelist Blake takes
readers back and forth between small town America and war-torn Europe
in 1940. Single, 40-year-old postmistress Iris James and young newlywed
Emma Trask are both new arrivals to Franklin, Mass., on Cape Cod. While
Iris and Emma go about their daily lives, they follow American reporter
Frankie Bard on the radio as she delivers powerful and personal
accounts from the London Blitz and elsewhere in Europe. While Trask
waits for the return of her husband—a volunteer doctor stationed in
England—James comes across a letter with valuable information that she
chooses to hide. Blake captures two different worlds—a naïve nation in
denial and, across the ocean, a continent wracked with terror—with a
deft sense of character and plot, and a perfect willingness to take on
big, complex questions, such as the merits of truth and truth-telling
in wartime. (Feb.)
Secrets of Eden by Chris Bohjalian
Bohjalian (Law of Similars) has built
a reputation on his rich characters and immersing readers in diverse
subjects—homeopathy, animal rights activism, midwifery—and his latest
surely won’t disappoint. The morning after her baptism into the Rev.
Stephen Drew’s Vermont Baptist church, Alice Hayward and her abusive
husband are found dead in their home, an apparent murder-suicide.
Stephen, the novel’s first narrator, is so racked with guilt over his
failure to save Alice that he leaves town. Soon, he meets Heather
Laurent, the author of a book about angels whose own parents’ marriage
also ended in tragedy. Stephen’s deeply sympathetic narration is
challenged by the next two narrators: deputy state attorney Catherine
Benincasa, whose suspicions are aroused initially by Stephen’s abrupt
departure (and then by questions about his relationship with Alice),
and Heather, who distances herself from Stephen for similar reasons and
risks the trip into her dark past by seeking out Katie, the Haywards’
now-orphaned 15-year-old daughter who puts into play the final pieces
of the puzzle, setting things up for a touching twist. Fans of
Bohjalian’s more exotic works will miss learning something new, but
this is a masterfully human and compassionate tale. Starred Review
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
Set aside a full day to savor Simon
Slater’s delightful reading of the Booker Prize–winning tale of Henry
VIII’s court, seen through the eyes of his adviser Thomas Cromwell.
Mantel’s revisionist take turns Cromwell—so frequently vilified as in A
Man for All Seasons—into a modern sort of hero, shrewd and adaptable.
Slater’s narration is nuanced and precise; he breathes feeling and
subtle shades of emotion into every exchange of dialogue. His is a
heroic undertaking, and he does admirable justice to Mantel’s lucid
prose and juicy plot. A Holt hardcover (Reviews, Aug. 17). (Dec.)
The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
Kingsolver's ambitious new novel, her
first in nine years (after the The Poisonwood Bible), focuses on
Harrison William Shepherd, the product of a divorced American father
and a Mexican mother. After getting kicked out of his American military
academy, Harrison spends his formative years in Mexico in the 1930s in
the household of Diego Rivera; his wife, Frida Kahlo; and their
houseguest, Leon Trotsky, who is hiding from Soviet assassins. After
Trotsky is assassinated, Harrison returns to the U.S., settling down in
Asheville, N.C., where he becomes an author of historical potboilers
(e.g., Vassals of Majesty) and is later investigated as a possible
subversive. Narrated in the form of letters, diary entries and
newspaper clippings, the novel takes a while to get going, but once it
does, it achieves a rare dramatic power that reaches its emotional peak
when Harrison wittily and eloquently defends himself before the House
Un-American Activities Committee (on the panel is a young Dick Nixon).
“Employed by the American imagination,” is how one character describes
Harrison, a term that could apply equally to Kingsolver as she
masterfully resurrects a dark period in American history with the
assured hand of a true literary artist. (Nov.)
Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom
As America struggles with hard times and people turn more to their beliefs, Albom and the two men of God explore issues that perplex modern man: how to endure when difficult things happen; what heaven is; intermarriage; forgiveness; doubting God; and the importance of faith in trying times. Although the texts, prayers, and histories are different, Albom begins to recognize a striking unity between the two worlds--and indeed, between beliefs everywhere.
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Limited and persecuted by racial divides in 1962 Jackson, Mississippi, three women, including an African-American maid, her sassy and chronically unemployed friend, and a recently graduated white woman, team up for a clandestine project against a backdrop of the budding civil rights era
That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo
In a comic family saga by a best-selling Pulitzer Prize winner, Jack and Joy Griffin's lives seem to always come back to Cape Cod, where they honeymooned, as they experience the ups and downs of life, including the deaths of Jack's parents, the marriage of their daughter, and Jack and Joy's divorce.
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
The larger-than-life world of Olive Kitteridge, a retired school teacher and unofficial town crier in a small coastal town in Maine, is revealed in a series of luminous stories that explore her diverse roles in many lives, including a lounge singer haunted by a past love, a young man grieving over his lost mother, her stoic husband, and her own resentful son
Wisdom Trail : In the Footsteps of Remarkable Women by Janet Lieberman and Julie Hungar
The Wisdom Trail
follows the life trajectories of extraordinary women, now in their seventies and eighties, who share to a remarkable extent a set of qualities that produced their successful lives. The vital women whose voices are captured in this book look back with well-earned perspective on the crises and opportunities, the decisions and accidents that marked their varied but ultimately satisfying paths.
The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson
On the eve of the publication of a sex-trafficking exposé, two reporters responsible for the magazine story are murdered, and the fingerprints on the murder weapon belong to Lisbeth Salander, a genius hacker, prompting the magazine's publisher, Mikael Blomkvist, to launch his own investigation to vindicate Lisbeth, just as she becomes the prey of a murderous hunt. From the author of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
The best-selling author of Blink identifies the qualities of successful people, posing theories about the cultural, family, and idiosyncratic factors that shape high achievers, in a resource that covers such topics as the secrets of software billionaires, why certain cultures are associated with better academic performance, and why the Beatles earned their fame.
Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'Connor by Brad Gooch
|Evaluates the ways in which the mid-twentieth-century novelist reflected American culture and influenced literature, in a portrait that includes coverage of her relationships with such contemporaries as Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Hardwick, and James Dickey.