Starred Review. This exquisite tour de force explores the dark roots of polygamy and its modern-day fruit in a renegade cult not recognized by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka the Mormon church). Ebershoff (The Danish Girl) brilliantly blends a haunting fictional narrative by Ann Eliza Young, the real-life 19th rebel wife of Mormon leader Brigham Young, with the equally compelling contemporary narrative of fictional Jordan Scott, a 20-year-old gay man whose mother, another 19th wife, is accused of murdering his polygamist father, a member of the fundamentalist First Latter-day Saints, in Mesadale, Ariz. Excommunicated from the church at 14, Jordan tirelessly works, with help from local sympathizers, to unmask his father’s true killer. In an author’s note, Ebershoff explains how his character differs from the actual Ann Eliza, who published two autobiographies, the first of which helped put pressure on the Mormon church to renounce polygamy in 1890. With the topic of plural marriage and its shattering impact on women and powerless children in today’s headlines, this novel is essential reading for anyone seeking understanding of the subject. (Aug.) Copyright Â© Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
This epic novel about the glory years of the American comic book (1939-1954) fulfills all the promise of Chabon’s two earlier novels (The Mysteries of Pittsburgh; Wonder Boys) and two collections of short stories (A Model World; Werewolves in Their Youth), and nearly equals them all together in number of pages. Chabon’s prodigious gifts for language, humor and wonderment come to full maturity in this fictional history of the legendary partnership between Sammy Klayman and Josef Kavalier, cousins and creators of the prewar masked comic book hero, the Escapist. Sammy is a gifted inventor of characters and situations who dreams the usual Brooklyn dreams of flight and transformation and escape. His contribution to the superhero’s alter ego, Tom Mayflower, is his own stick legs, a legacy of childhood polio. Joe Kavalier, a former Prague art student, arrives in Brooklyn by way of Siberia, Japan and San Francisco. This improbable route marks only the first in a lifetime of timely escapes. Denied exit from Nazi Czechoslovakia with the visa his family sold its fortune to buy him, Joe, a disciple of Houdini, enlists the aid of his former teacher, the celebrated stage illusionist Bernard Kornblum, in a more desperate escape: crouched inside the coffin transporting Prague’s famous golem, Rabbi Loew’s miraculous automaton, to the safety of exile in Lithuania. This melodramatic getawayDalmost foiled when the Nazi officer inspecting the corpse decides the suit it’s wearing is too fine to buryDis presented with the careful attention to detail of a true-life adventure. Chabon heightens realism through a series of inspired matches: the Escapist, who roams the globe coming to the aid of those who languish in tyranny’s chains, with Joe’s powerlessness to rescue his family from Prague; Kavalier & Clay’s Empire City with New York City in the early 1940s; and the comic industry’s avidity of unburdening America’s youth of the oppressive national mantle of tedium, ten cents at a time, with this fledgling art form’s ability to gratify the lust for power and the gaudy sartorial taste of a race of powerless people with no leave to dress themselves. Well researched and deeply felt, this rich, expansive and hugely satisfying novel will delight a wide range of readers. (Sept.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
In her engaging though sometimes preachy new book, Kingsolver recounts the year her family attempted to eat only what they could grow on their farm in Virginia or buy from local sources. The book’s bulk, written and read by Kingsolver in a lightly twangy voice filled with wonder and enthusiasm, proceeds through the seasons via delightful stories about the history of their farmhouse, the exhausting bounty of the zucchini harvest, turkey chicks hatching and so on. In long sections, however, she gets on a soapbox about problems with industrial food production, fast food and Americans’ ignorance of food’s origins, and despite her obvious passion for the issues, the reading turns didactic and loses its pace, momentum and narrative. Her daughter Camille contributes recipes, meal plans and an enjoyable personal essay in a clear if rather monotonous voice. Hopp, Kingsolver’s husband and an environmental studies professor, provides dry readings of the sidebars that have him playing Dr. Scientist, as Kingsolver notes in an illuminating interview on the last disc. Though they may skip some of the more moralizing tracks, Kingsolver’s fans and foodies alike will find this a charming, sometimes inspiring account of reconnecting with the food chain. Simultaneous release with the HarperCollins hardcover (Reviews, Mar. 26). (May) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
If you’ve ever wondered what your dog is thinking, Stein’s third novel offers an answer. Enzo is a lab terrier mix plucked from a farm outside Seattle to ride shotgun with race car driver Denny Swift as he pursues success on the track and off. Denny meets and marries Eve, has a daughter, Zoe, and risks his savings and his life to make it on the professional racing circuit. Enzo, frustrated by his inability to speak and his lack of opposable thumbs, watches Denny’s old racing videos, coins koanlike aphorisms that apply to both driving and life, and hopes for the day when his life as a dog will be over and he can be reborn a man. When Denny hits an extended rough patch, Enzo remains his most steadfast if silent supporter. Enzo is a reliable companion and a likable enough narrator, though the string of Denny’s bad luck stories strains believability. Much like Denny, however, Stein is able to salvage some dignity from the over-the-top drama. (May) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
Starred Review. Although Walters writes, It was not in my nature to be courageous, to be the first, her compulsively readable memoir proves otherwise. No one lasts on TV for more than 45 years without the ability to make viewers feel comfortable, and Walters’s amiable persona perfectly translates to the page. She gives us an entertaining panorama of a full life lived and recounted with humor and bracing honesty. Walters is surprisingly candid: about her older sister’s retardation, her father’s suicide attempt, her midlife affairs (including ones with John Warner–before and after his marriage to Elizabeth Taylor–and a very married Edward Brooke, the first African-American elected to the U.S. Senate since Reconstruction), her daughter’s troubled teen years and her acrimonious relationships with coanchors Frank McGee and Harry Reasoner. She vividly recounts her decision to leave NBC’s TodayShow after 14 years to become the first female nightly news coanchor, and tells of the firestorm of criticism she endured for accepting that pioneering position and its million-dollar salary. Alternating between tales of her personal struggles, professional achievements and insider anecdotes about the celebrities and world leaders she’s interviewed, this mammoth memoir’s energy never flags. 32 pages of photos. (One-day laydown May 6) Copyright Â© Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
A lay community of thoroughly mixed-up people is encamped outside Imber Abbey, home of an order of sequestered nuns. A new bell is being installed when suddenly the old bell, a legendary symbol of religion and magic, is rediscovered. And then things begin to change. Meanwhile the wise old Abbess watches and prays and exercises discreet authority. And everyone, or almost everyone, hopes to be saved, whatever that may mean. Originally published in 1958, this funny, sad, and moving novel is about religion, sex, and the fight between good and evil.
Griffin’s (The Devil Rides Outside) mid-century classic on race brilliantly withstands both the test of time and translation to audio format. Concerned by the lack of communication between the races and wondering what adjustments and discriminations he would face as a Negro in the Deep South, the late author, a journalist and self-described specialist in race issues, left behind his privileged life as a Southern white man to step into the body of a stranger. In 1959, Griffin headed to New Orleans, darkened his skin and immersed himself in black society, then traveled to several states until he could no longer stand the racism, segregation and degrading living conditions. Griffin imparts the hopelessness and despair he felt while executing his social experiment, and professional narrator Childs renders this recounting even more immediate and emotional with his heartfelt delivery and skillful use of accents. The CD package includes an epilogue on social progress, written in 1976 by the author, making it suitable for both the classroom and for personal enlightenment. (Jan.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
It is Ireland in the early 1990s. Helen, her mother, Lily, and her grandmother, Dora have come together to tend to Helen’s brother, Declan, who is dying of AIDS. With Declan’s two friends, the six of them are forced to plumb the shoals of their own histories and to come to terms with each other.Shortlisted for the Booker Prize, The Blackwater Lightship is a deeply resonant story about three generations of an estranged family reuniting to mourn an untimely death. In spare, luminous prose, Colm Tóibín explores the nature of love and the complex emotions inside a family at war with itself. Hailed as a genuine work of art(Chicago Tribune),this is a novel about the capacity of stories to heal the deepest wounds.
What a bargain to have D!az’s short story collection, Drown, included (on the last five CDs) with the talented, emerging Dominican-American writer’s first novel. Davis reads both superbly. He captures not only the fat, virginal, impractical Oscar, but he also gives a sexy vigor to Yunior, who serves as narrator and Oscar’s polar opposite. Davis also gives voice to Oscar’s mother, Beli, whose fuk# curse infects the entire family, except for Oscar’s sister, Lola, performed in a flat voice by Snell, whose performance overlooks Lola’s energy and resolve. Both Snell and Davis move easily from English to Spanish/Spanglish and back again, as easily as the characters emigrate from the Dominican Republic to Paterson, N.J., only to be drawn back inexorably to their native island. Listeners unfamiliar with Spanish may have difficulty following some of the dialogue. However, it’s better to lose a few sentences than to miss Davis’s riveting performance, perfect pace and rich voice, which are perfectly suited to D!az’s brilliant work. Simultaneous release with the Riverhead hardcover (Reviews, June 18). (Sept.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Booker and Whitbread prize-winner Lively begins her 14th novel, a multigenerational love story, in a London park in 1935, ends it nearly 70 years later after covering several lifetimes of love and heartbreak. The story starts when Lorna Bradley and Matt Faraday meet in St. James Park; they are instantly drawn to one another despite her upper-crust upbringing and Matt’s tradesman profession. After their marriage, they settle in the country where Matt works as an engraver and Lorna fulfills her domestic role as a wife and mother to their daughter, Molly. It is an idyllic situation until Matt is drafted and sent to Egypt, where he is killed in action. Lorna and young Molly relocate to London, and Lorna works with Matt’s friend Lucas at his small printing press. Predictably, Lucas and Lorna marry, but she dies giving birth to Simon. The narrative diverges as grown-up Molly finds employment as a library assistant and has an affair with a wealthy man who fathers her child, Ruth. Grown and with children of her own, Ruth’s curiosity about her ancestors sends her on a journey that brings the novel full circle. Lively (A Stitch in Time; Moon Tiger) has crafted a fine novel: intricate, heartbreaking and redemptive. (June) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
For use in schools and libraries only. In the unusual world of Green Town, Illinois, a twelve-year-old discovers the wonders of reality and the power of imagination during the summer of 1928.
Tyler (Breathing Lessons) encompasses the collision of cultures without losing her sharp focus on the daily dramas of modern family life in her 17th novel. When Bitsy and Brad Donaldson and Sami and Ziba Yazdan both adopt Korean infant girls, their chance encounter at the Baltimore airport the day their daughters arrive marks the start of a long, intense if sometimes awkward friendship. Sami’s mother, Maryam Yazdan, who carefully preserves her exotic outsiderness despite having emigrated from Iran almost 40 years earlier, is frequently perplexed by her son and daughter-in-law’s ongoing relationship with the loud, opinionated, unapologetically American Donaldsons. When Bitsy’s recently widowed father, Dave, endearingly falls in love with Maryam, she must come to terms with what it means to be part of a culture and a country. Stretching from the babies’ arrival in 1997 until 2004, the novel is punctuated by each year’s Arrival Party, a tradition manufactured and comically upheld by Bitsy; the annual festivities gradually reveal the families’ evolving connections. Though the novel’s perspective shifts among characters, Maryam is at the narrative and emotional heart of the touching, humorous story, as she reluctantly realizes that there may be a place in her heart for new friends, new loves and her new country after all. (May 9) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Elected the first black president of the Harvard Law Review, Obama was offered a book contract, but the intellectual journey he planned to recount became instead this poignant, probing memoir of an unusual life. Born in 1961 to a white American woman and a black Kenyan student, Obama was reared in Hawaii by his mother and her parents, his father having left for further study and a return home to Africa. So Obama’s not-unhappy youth is nevertheless a lonely voyage to racial identity, tensions in school, struggling with black literatureÂ‘with one month-long visit when he was 10 from his commanding father. After college, Obama became a community organizer in Chicago. He slowly found place and purpose among folks of similar hue but different memory, winning enough small victories to commit himself to the workÂ‘he’s now a civil rights lawyer there. Before going to law school, he finally visited Kenya; with his father dead, he still confronted obligation and loss, and found wellsprings of love and attachment. Obama leaves some lingering questionsÂ‘his mother is virtually absentÂ‘but still has written a resonant book. Photos not seen by PW. Author tour. (June)
The enthralling international bestseller. We are in the center of Paris, in an elegant apartment building inhabited by bourgeois families. Rene, the concierge, is witness to the lavish but vacuous lives of her numerous employers. Outwardly she conforms to every stereotype of the concierge: fat, cantankerous, addicted to television. Yet, unbeknownst to her employers, Rene is a cultured autodidact who adores art, philosophy, music, and Japanese culture. With humor and intelligence she scrutinizes the lives of the building’s tenants, who for their part are barely aware of her existence. Then there’s Paloma, a twelve-year-old genius. She is the daughter of a tedious parliamentarian, a talented and startlingly lucid child who has decided to end her life on the sixteenth of June, her thirteenth birthday. Until then she will continue behaving as everyone expects her to behave: a mediocre pre-teen high on adolescent subculture, a good but not an outstanding student, an obedient if obstinate daughter. Paloma and Rene hide both their true talents and their finest qualities from a world they suspect cannot or will not appreciate them. They discover their kindred souls when a wealthy Japanese man named Ozu arrives in the building. Only he is able to gain Paloma’s trust and to see through Rene’s timeworn disguise to the secret that haunts her. This is a moving, funny, triumphant novel that exalts the quiet victories of the inconspicuous among us.
Excellent Womenis one of Barbara PymÂ’s richest and most amusing high comedies. Mildred Lathbury is a clergymanÂ’s daughter and a mild-mannered spinster in 1950s England. She is one of those Â“excellent women,Â” the smart, supportive, repressed women who men take for granted. As Mildred gets embroiled in the lives of her new neighborsÂ—anthropologist Helena Napier and her handsome, dashing husband, Rocky, and Julian Malory, the vicar next doorÂ—the novel presents a series of snapshots of human life as actually, and pluckily, lived in a vanishing world of manners and repressed desires.
From the author of The House at Riverton comes a story of outer and inner journeys. An homage to the power of storytelling, The Forgotten Garden is filled with unforgettable characters who weave their way through its intricate plot to astounding effect.
Between running her Manhattan yarn shop, Walker & Daughter, and raising her 12-year-old biracial daughter, Dakota, Georgia Walker has plenty on her plate in Jacobs’s debut novel. But when Dakota’s father reappears and a former friend contacts Georgia, Georgia’s orderly existence begins to unravel. Her support system is her staff and the knitting club that meets at her store every Friday night, though each person has dramas of her own brewing. Jacobs surveys the knitters’ histories, and the novel’s pace crawls as the novel lurches between past and present, the latter largely occupied by munching on baked goods, sipping coffee and watching the knitters size each other up. Club members’ troubles don’t intersect so much as build on common themes of domestic woes and betrayal. It takes a while, but when Jacobs, who worked at Redbook and Working Woman, hits her storytelling stride, poignant twists propel the plot and help the pacing find a pleasant rhythm. (Jan.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Starred Review. Cases rarely come much colder than the decades-old disappearance of teen heiress Harriet Vanger from her family’s remote island retreat north of Stockholm, nor do fiction debuts hotter than this European bestseller by muckraking Swedish journalist Larsson. At once a strikingly original thriller and a vivisection of Sweden’s dirty not-so-little secrets (as suggested by its original title, Men Who Hate Women), this first of a trilogy introduces a provocatively odd couple: disgraced financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist, freshly sentenced to jail for libeling a shady businessman, and the multipierced and tattooed Lisbeth Salander, a feral but vulnerable superhacker. Hired by octogenarian industrialist Henrik Vanger, who wants to find out what happened to his beloved great-niece before he dies, the duo gradually uncover a festering morass of familial corruption—at the same time, Larsson skillfully bares some of the similar horrors that have left Salander such a marked woman. Larsson died in 2004, shortly after handing in the manuscripts for what will be his legacy. 100,000 first printing. (Sept.) Copyright Â© Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Uncanny hacker Salandar-The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo-takes center stage in this follow-up to Larsson’s huge hit, as two reporters breaking the story of sex trafficking between Eastern Europe and Sweden are found murdered. Alas, Salandar’s prints are on the murder weapon. Significantly, there’s a reading group guide-not so common with thrillers.
Starred Review. In a splendid flowering of the talent previously demonstrated in his crime fiction (Gone, Baby, Gone; Mystic River), Lehane combines 20th-century American history, a gripping story of a family torn by pride and the strictures of the Catholic Church, and the plot of a multifaceted thriller. Set in Boston during and after WWI, this engrossing epic brings alive a pivotal period in our cultural maturation through a pulsing narrative that exposes social turmoil, political chicanery and racial prejudice, and encompasses the Spanish flu pandemic, the Boston police strike of 1919 and red-baiting and anti-union violence.Danny Coughlin, son of police captain Thomas Coughlin, is a devoted young beat cop in Boston’s teeming North End. Anxious to prove himself worthy of his legendary father, he agrees to go undercover to infiltrate the Bolsheviks and anarchists who are recruiting the city’s poverty-stricken immigrants. He gradually finds himself sympathetic to those living in similar conditions to his fellow policemen, who earn wages well below the poverty line, work in filthy, rat-infested headquarters, are made to pay for their own uniforms and are not compensated for overtime. Danny also rebels by falling in love with the family’s spunky Irish immigrant maid, a woman with a past. Danny’s counterpart in alienation is Luther Laurence, a spirited black man first encountered in the prologue when Babe Ruth sees him playing softball in Ohio. After Luther kills a man in Tulsa, he flees to Boston, where he becomes intertwined with Danny’s family. This story of fathers and sons, love and betrayal, idealism and injustice, prejudice and brotherly feeling is a dark vision of the brutality inherent in human nature and the dire fate of some who try to live by ethical standards. It’s also a vision of redemption and a triumph of the human spirit. In short, this nail-biter carries serious moral gravity. (Sept.) Copyright Â© Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Freelance writer Walls doesn’t pull her punches. She opens her memoir by describing looking out the window of her taxi, wondering if she’s overdressed for the evening and spotting her mother on the sidewalk, rooting through a Dumpster. Walls’s parents-just two of the unforgettable characters in this excellent, unusual book-were a matched pair of eccentrics, and raising four children didn’t conventionalize either of them. Her father was a self-taught man, a would-be inventor who could stay longer at a poker table than at most jobs and had a little bit of a drinking situation, as her mother put it. With a fantastic storytelling knack, Walls describes her artist mom’s great gift for rationalizing. Apartment walls so thin they heard all their neighbors? What a bonus-they’d pick up a little Spanish without even studying. Why feed their pets? They’d be helping them by not allowing them to become dependent. While Walls’s father’s version of Christmas presents-walking each child into the Arizona desert at night and letting each one claim a star-was delightful, he wasn’t so dear when he stole the kids’ hard-earned savings to go on a bender. The Walls children learned to support themselves, eating out of trashcans at school or painting their skin so the holes in their pants didn’t show. Buck-toothed Jeannette even tried making her own braces when she heard what orthodontia cost. One by one, each child escaped to New York City. Still, it wasn’t long before their parents appeared on their doorsteps. Why not? Mom said. Being homeless is an adventure. Agent, Jennifer Rudolph Walsh. (Apr.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Noted journalist and bestselling author Marton (Hidden Power) offers a haunting tale of the wartime Hungarian diaspora. The nine illustrious Hungarians she profiles were all double outsiders, for, as well as being natives of a small, linguistically impenetrable, landlocked country, they were all Jews. Fleeing fascism and anti-Semitism for the New World, each experienced insecurity, isolation and a sense of perpetual exile. Yet all achieved world fame. The scientists Leo Szilard, Edward Teller and Eugene Wigner, along with game theorist and computer pioneer, John von Neuman, spurred Albert Einstein to persuade Franklin Roosevelt to develop the atomic bomb. Robert Capa and Andre Kertesz became legendary photojournalists. Alexander Korda was the savior of the British film industry, and Michael Curtiz directed Casablanca. Arthur Koestler penned the monumental anti-Communist novel Darkness at Noon. Marton intricately charts each man’s career in the context of WWII and Cold War history. Herself Hungarian-born, the daughter of journalists who escaped Soviet-occupied Hungary in 1957, Marton captures her fellow Hungarians’ nostalgia for prewar Budapest, evoking its flamboyant cafes, its trams, boulevards and cosmopolitan Jewish community. Marton writes beautifully, balancing sharply defined character studies of each man with insights into their shared cultural traits and uprootedness. 16 pages of photos, map. (Nov.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
The letters comprising this small charming novel begin in 1946, when single, 30-something author Juliet Ashton (nom de plume Izzy Bickerstaff) writes to her publisher to say she is tired of covering the sunny side of war and its aftermath. When Guernsey farmer Dawsey Adams finds Juliet’s name in a used book and invites articulate–and not-so-articulate–neighbors to write Juliet with their stories, the book’s epistolary circle widens, putting Juliet back in the path of war stories. The occasionally contrived letters jump from incident to incident–including the formation of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society while Guernsey was under German occupation–and person to person in a manner that feels disjointed. But Juliet’s quips are so clever, the Guernsey inhabitants so enchanting and the small acts of heroism so vivid and moving that one forgives the authors (Shaffer died earlier this year) for not being able to settle on a single person or plot. Juliet finds in the letters not just inspiration for her next work, but also for her life–as will readers. (Aug.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
Walls’s The Glass Castle was nothing short of spectacular (Entertainment Weekly). Now Walls presents this magnificent, true-life novel based on her no-nonsense, resourceful, hardworking, and spectacularly compelling grandmother.
When the Igbo people of eastern Nigeria seceded in 1967 to form the independent nation of Biafra, a bloody, crippling three-year civil war followed. That period in African history is captured with haunting intimacy in this artful page-turner from Nigerian novelist Adichie (Purple Hibiscus). Adichie tells her profoundly gripping story primarily through the eyes and lives of Ugwu, a 13-year-old peasant houseboy who survives conscription into the raggedy Biafran army, and twin sisters Olanna and Kainene, who are from a wealthy and well-connected family. Tumultuous politics power the plot, and several sections are harrowing, particularly passages depicting the savage butchering of Olanna and Kainene’s relatives. But this dramatic, intelligent epic has its lush and sultry side as well: rebellious Olanna is the mistress of Odenigbo, a university professor brimming with anticolonial zeal; business-minded Kainene takes as her lover fair-haired, blue-eyed Richard, a British expatriate come to Nigeria to write a book about Igbo-Ukwu art-and whose relationship with Kainene nearly ruptures when he spends one drunken night with Olanna. This is a transcendent novel of many descriptive triumphs, most notably its depiction of the impact of war’s brutalities on peasants and intellectuals alike. It’s a searing history lesson in fictional form, intensely evocative and immensely absorbing. (Sept. 15) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Ford’s strained debut concerns Henry Lee, a Chinese-American in Seattle who, in 1986, has just lost his wife to cancer. After Henry hears that the belongings of Japanese immigrants interned during WWII have been found in the basement of the Panama Hotel, the narrative shuttles between 1986 and the 1940s in a predictable story that chronicles the losses of old age and the bewilderment of youth. Henry recalls the difficulties of life in America during WWII, when he and his Japanese-American school friend, Keiko, wandered through wartime Seattle. Keiko and her family are later interned in a camp, and Henry, horrified by America’s anti-Japanese hysteria, is further conflicted because of his Chinese father’s anti-Japanese sentiment. Henry’s adult life in 1986 is rather mechanically rendered, and Ford clumsily contrasts Henry’s difficulty in communicating with his college-age son, Marty, with Henry’s own alienation from his father, who was determined to Americanize him. The wartime persecution of Japanese immigrants is presented well, but the flatness of the narrative and Ford’s reliance on numerous cultural cliches make for a disappointing read. (Feb.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
Starred Review. Robinson’s beautiful new novel, a companion piece to her Pulitzer Prize–winning Gilead, is an elegant variation on the parable of the prodigal son’s return. The son is Jack Boughton, one of the eight children of Robert Boughton, the former Gilead, Iowa, pastor, who now, in 1957, is a widowed and dying man. Jack returns home shortly after his sister, 38-year-old Glory, moves in to nurse their father, and it is through Glory’s eyes that we see Jack’s drama unfold. When Glory last laid eyes on Jack, she was 16, and he was leaving Gilead with a reputation as a thief and a scoundrel, having just gotten an underage girl pregnant. By his account, he’d since lived as a vagrant, drunk and jailbird until he fell in with a woman named Della in St. Louis. By degrees, Jack and Glory bond while taking care of their father, but when Jack’s letters to Della are returned unopened, Glory has to deal with Jack’s relapse into bad habits and the effect it has on their father. In giving an ancient drama of grace and perdition such a strong domestic setup, Robinson stakes a fierce claim to a divine recognition behind the rituals of home. (Sept.) Copyright Â© Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
(Book Jacket Status: Jacketed) Introduction by Peter Washington; Translation by William Weaver Italo Calvinoâ€™s masterpiece combines a love story and a detective story into an exhilarating allegory of reading, in which the reader of the book becomes the bookâ€™s central character. Based on a witty analogy between the readerâ€™s desire to finish the story and the loverâ€™s desire to consummate his or her passion, IF ON A WINTERâ€™S NIGHT A TRAVELER is the tale of two bemused readers whose attempts to reach the end of the same bookâ€”IF ON A WINTERâ€™S NIGHT A TRAVELER, by Italo Calvino, of courseâ€”are constantly and comically frustrated. In between chasing missing chapters of the book, the hapless readers tangle with an international conspiracy, a rogue translator, an elusive novelist, a disintegrating publishing house, and several oppressive governments. The result is a literary labyrinth of storylines that interrupt one anotherâ€”an Arabian Nights of the postmodern age.
The rituals of traditional Indian domesticityÃ„curry-making, hair-vermilioningÃ„both buttress the characters of Lahiri’s elegant first collection and mark the measure of these fragile people’s dissolution. Frequently finding themselves in Cambridge, Mass., or similar but unnamed Eastern seaboard university towns, Lahiri’s characters suffer on an intimate level the dislocation and disruption brought on by India’s tumultuous political history. Displaced to the States by her husband’s appointment as a professor of mathematics, Mrs. Sen (in the same-named story) leaves her expensive and extensive collection of saris folded neatly in the drawer. The two things that sustain her, as the little boy she looks after every afternoon notices, are aerograms from homeÃ„written by family members who so deeply misunderstand the nature of her life that they envy herÃ„and the fresh fish she buys to remind her of Calcutta. The arranged marriage of This Blessed House mismatches the conservative, self-conscious Sanjeev with ebullient, dramatic TwinkleÃ„a smoker and drinker who wears leopard-print high heels and takes joy in the plastic Christian paraphernalia she discovers in their new house. In A Real Durwan, the middle-class occupants of a tenement in post-partition Calcutta tolerate the rantings of the stair-sweeper Boori Ma. Delusions of grandeur and lament for what she’s lostÃ„such comforts you cannot even dream themÃ„give her an odd, Chekhovian charm but ultimately do not convince her bourgeois audience that she is a desirable fixture in their up-and-coming property. Lahiri’s touch in these nine tales is delicate, but her observations remain damningly accurate, and her bittersweet stories are unhampered by nostalgia. Foreign rights sold in England, France and Germany; author tour. (June)
In this entertaining follow-up to 2004′s Founding Mothers: The Women who Raised Our Nation, Roberts recounts the lives of first ladies, and their associates, from the John and Abigail Adams White House up through Monroe’s 1818-1825 term. Though it’s well known women at the time couldn’t vote or own property, it’s surprising how respected, and influential, Roberts’s subjects were. As sitting President, Thomas Jefferson urged all the Â‘heads of departments’ in Washington to read Mercy Warren’s history of the American Revolution, which prompted Alexander Hamilton to declare, [f]emale genius in the United States has outstripped the male. Other intriguing figures include Louisa Catherine Adams, wife to John Quincy, whose story takes her into the court-life of Russia and Austria; the sociable Dolley Payne Madison, known affectionately as Queen Dolley; Elizabeth Monroe, a staid (and sickly) return to formality; and a host of children, acquaintances, advisors and socialites (including Federalist Rosalie Stier Calvert and Republican Margaret Bayard Smith, whose letters often read as a political point counterpoint).While Roberts’ aim is to see the period from her subjects’ point of view, she is not uncritical; for instance, Roberts casts blame on Mrs. Adams’s uncompromising partisanship in the undoing of her husband. With a little-seen perspective and fascinating insight into the culture of the day, this is popular history done right. (Apr.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
In 1994, Rwandan native Ilibagiza was 22 years old and home from college to spend Easter with her devout Catholic family, when the death of Rwanda’s Hutu president sparked a three-month slaughter of nearly one million ethnic Tutsis in the country. She survived by hiding in a Hutu pastor’s tiny bathroom with seven other starving women for 91 cramped, terrifying days. This searing firsthand account of Ilibagiza’s experience cuts two ways: her description of the evil that was perpetrated, including the brutal murders of her family members, is soul-numbingly devastating, yet the story of her unquenchable faith and connection to God throughout the ordeal uplifts and inspires. Her account of the miracles that protected her is simple and vivid. Her Catholic faith shines through, but the book will speak on a deep level to any person of faith. Ilibagiza’s remarkable path to forgiving the perpetrators and releasing her anger is a beacon to others who have suffered injustice. She brings the battlefield between good and evil out of the genocide around her and into her own heart, mind and soul. This book is a precious addition to the literature that tries to make sense of humankind’s seemingly bottomless depravity and counterbalancing hope in an all-powerful, loving God. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
A violent incident on a Nigerian beach has tragic echoes in posh London in Cleave’s beautifully staged if haphazardly plotted debut novel. British couple Andrew O’Rourke and his wife, Sarah, are on vacation when they come across two sisters, Little Bee and Nkiruka, on the run from the killers who have massacred everyone else in their village-in the pay, it turns out, of an oil company seeking the land. Soon the killers arrive and propose a not-quite-credible deal: they will trade the girls if Andrew and Sarah each cut off a finger. Andrew can’t do it, but Sarah does, and the killers drag the girls away. So two years later, when Little Bee shows up at Sarah’s house on the day of the funeral for Andrew, who has killed himself, it seems almost miraculous. Later, however, it’s revealed that Little Bee has been hiding around the O’Rourke place, and that Andrew seeing her set off his suicide. Sarah nevertheless determines to help Little Bee get refugee status. Cleave has a sharp cinematic eye, but the plot is undermined by weak motivations and coincidences. (Feb.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
Kalish?s memoir of her Iowa childhood, set against the backdrop of the Depression, captures a vanished way of traditional living and a specific moment in American history in a story both illuminating and memorable. Kalish lived with her siblings, mother and grandparents-seven in all-both in a town home and, in warmer weather, out on a farm. The lifestyle was frugal in the extreme: The only things [my grandparents] spent money on were tea, coffee, sugar, salt, white flour, cloth and kerosene. But in spite of the austere conditions, Kalish?s memories are mostly happy ones: keeping the farm and home going, caring for animals, cooking elaborate multi-course meals and washing the large family?s laundry once a week, by hand. Here, too, are stories of gossiping in the kitchen, digging a hole to China with the Big Kids and making head cheese at butchering time. Kalish skillfully rises above bitterness and sentiment, giving her memoir a clear-eyed narrative voice that puts to fine use a lifetime of careful observation: Observing the abundance of life around us was just so naturally a part of our days on the farm that it became a habit. Simple, detailed and honest, this is a refreshing and informative read for anyone interested in the struggles of average Americans in the thick of the Great Depression. (May 29) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
In this chronicle of a unique love triangle, the Nobel laureate’s trademark “ironic vision and luminous evocation of South America” persist. “It is a fully mature novel in scope and perspective, flawlessly translated, as rich in ideas as in humanity,” praised PW . 250,000 first printing. (Apr.)
Horan’s ambitious first novel is a fictionalization of the life of Mamah Borthwick Cheney, best known as the woman who wrecked Frank Lloyd Wright’s first marriage. Despite the title, this is not a romance, but a portrayal of an independent, educated woman at odds with the restrictions of the early 20th century. Frank and Mamah, both married and with children, met when Mamah’s husband, Edwin, commissioned Frank to design a house. Their affair became the stuff of headlines when they left their families to live and travel together, going first to Germany, where Mamah found rewarding work doing scholarly translations of Swedish feminist Ellen Key’s books. Frank and Mamah eventually settled in Wisconsin, where they were hounded by a scandal-hungry press, with tragic repercussions. Horan puts considerable effort into recreating Frank’s vibrant, overwhelming personality, but her primary interest is in Mamah, who pursued her intellectual interests and love for Frank at great personal cost. As is often the case when a life story is novelized, historical fact inconveniently intrudes: Mamah’s life is cut short in the most unexpected and violent of ways, leaving the narrative to crawl toward a startlingly quiet conclusion. Nevertheless, this spirited novel brings Mamah the attention she deserves as an intellectual and feminist. (Aug.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Edwards’s assured but schematic debut novel (after her collection, The Secrets of a Fire King) hinges on the birth of fraternal twins, a healthy boy and a girl with Down syndrome, resulting in the father’s disavowal of his newborn daughter. A snowstorm immobilizes Lexington, Ky., in 1964, and when young Norah Henry goes into labor, her husband, orthopedic surgeon Dr. David Henry, must deliver their babies himself, aided only by a nurse. Seeing his daughter’s handicap, he instructs the nurse, Caroline Gill, to take her to a home and later tells Norah, who was drugged during labor, that their son Paul’s twin died at birth. Instead of institutionalizing Phoebe, Caroline absconds with her to Pittsburgh. David’s deception becomes the defining moment of the main characters’ lives, and Phoebe’s absence corrodes her birth family’s core over the course of the next 25 years. David’s undetected lie warps his marriage; he grapples with guilt; Norah mourns her lost child; and Paul not only deals with his parents’ icy relationship but with his own yearnings for his sister as well. Though the impact of Phoebe’s loss makes sense, Edwards’s redundant handling of the trope robs it of credibility. This neatly structured story is a little too moist with compassion. Agent, Geri Thoma. (July) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
I have no wish to play the pontificating fool, pretending that I’ve suddenly come up with the answers to all life’s questions. Quite that contrary, I began this book as an exploration, an exercise in self-questing. In other words, I wanted to find out, as I looked back at a long and complicated life, with many twists and turns, how well I’ve done at measuring up to the values I myself have set. -Sidney Poitier In this luminous memoir, a true American icon looks back on his celebrated life and career. His body of work is arguably the most morally significant in cinematic history, and the power and influence of that work are indicative of the character of the man behind the many storied roles. Sidney Poitier here explores these elements of character and personal values to take his own measure-as a man, as a husband and a father, and as an actor. Poitier credits his parents and his childhood on tiny Cat Island in the Bahamas for equipping him with the unflinching sense of right and wrong and of self-worth that he has never surrendered and that have dramatically shaped his world. In the kind of place where I grew up, recalls Poitier, what’s coming at you is the sound of the sea and the smell of the wind and momma’s voice and the voice of your dad and the craziness of your brothers and sisters…and that’s it. Without television, radio, and material distractions to obscure what matters most, he could enjoy the simple things, endure the long commitments, and find true meaning in his life. Poitier was uncompromising as he pursued a personal and public life that would honor his upbringing and the invaluable legacy of his parents. Just a few years after his introduction to indoor plumbing and the automobile, Poitier broke racial barrier after racial barrier to launch a pioneering acting career. Committed to the notion that what one does for a living articulates to who one is, Poitier played only forceful and affecting characters who said something positive, useful, and lasting about the human condition. Here is Poitier’s own introspective look at what has informed his performances and his life. Poitier explores the nature of sacrifice and commitment, price and humility, rage and forgiveness, and paying the price for artistic integrity. What emerges is a picture of a man in the face of limits-his own and the world’s. A triumph of the spirit, The Measure of a Man captures the essential Poitier.
I didn’t become an advice columnist on purpose, writes Dickinson (author of the syndicated column Ask Amy) in her chapter titled Failing Up. In the summertime of 2002, after spending months living off of her credit cards between freelance writing jobs, Dickinson sent in an audition column to the Chicago Tribune and became the paper’s replacement for the late Ann Landers. Here, Dickinson traces her own personal history, as well as the history of her mother’s family whose members make up the Mighty Queens of Freeville, N.Y., the small town where Dickinson was raised, and where she raised her own daughter between stints in London; New York City; Washington, D.C.; and Chicago. Dickinson writes with an honesty that is at once folksy and intelligent, and brings to life all of the struggles of raising a child (Dickinson was a single mother) and the challenges and rewards of having a supportive extended family. I’m surrounded by people who are not impressed with me, Dickinson humorously laments. They don’t care that my syndicated column has twenty-two million readers. Dickinson’s irresistible memoir reads like a letter from an upbeat best friend. (Feb.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
Hard-boiled crime fiction has never seen the likes of Lionel Essrog, the barking, grunting, spasmodically twitching hero of Lethem’s gonzo detective novel that unfolds amidst the detritus of contemporary Brooklyn. As he did in his convention-smashing last novel, Girl in Landscape, Lethem uses a blueprint from genre fiction as a springboard for something entirely different, a story of betrayal and lost innocence that in both novels centers on an orphan struggling to make sense of an alien world. Raised in a boys home that straddles an off-ramp of the Brooklyn Bridge, Lionel is a misfit among misfits: an intellectually sensitive loner with a bad case of Tourette’s syndrome, bristling with odd habits and compulsions, his mind continuously revolting against him in lurid outbursts of strange verbiage. When the novel opens, Lionel has long since been rescued from the orphanage by a small-time wiseguy, Frank Minna, who hired Lionel and three other maladjusted boys to do odd jobs and to staff a dubious limo service/detective agency on a Brooklyn main drag, creating a ragtag surrogate family for the four outcasts, each fiercely loyal to Minna. When Minna is abducted during a stakeout in uptown Manhattan and turns up stabbed to death in a dumpster, Lionel resolves to find his killer. It’s a quest that leads him from a meditation center in Manhattan to a dusty Brooklyn townhouse owned by a couple of aging mobsters who just might be gay, to a zen retreat and sea urchin harvesting operation in Maine run by a nefarious Japanese corporation, and into the clutches of a Polish giant with a fondness for kumquats. In the process, Lionel finds that his compulsions actually make him a better detective, as he obsessively teases out plots within plots and clues within clues. Lethem’s title suggests a dense urban panorama, but this novel is more cartoonish and less startlingly original than his last. Lethem’s sixth sense for the secret enchantments of language and the psyche nevertheless make this heady adventure well worth the ride. Author tour. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
In Jordan’s prize-winning debut, prejudice takes many forms, both subtle and brutal. It is 1946, and city-bred Laura McAllan is trying to raise her children on her husband’s Mississippi Delta farm-a place she finds foreign and frightening. In the midst of the family’s struggles, two young men return from the war to work the land. Jamie McAllan, Laura’s brother-in-law, is everything her husband is not-charming, handsome, and haunted by his memories of combat. Ronsel Jackson, eldest son of the black sharecroppers who live on the McAllan farm, has come home with the shine of a war hero. But no matter his bravery in defense of his country, he is still considered less than a man in the Jim Crow South. It is the unlikely friendship of these brothers-in-arms that drives this powerful novel to its inexorable conclusion. The men and women of each family relate their versions of events and we are drawn into their lives as they become players in a tragedy on the grandest scale. As Kingsolver says of Hillary Jordan, Her characters walked straight out of 1940s Mississippi and into the part of my brain where sympathy and anger and love reside, leaving my heart racing. They are with me still.
Bestseller Picoult (My Sister’s Keeper) takes on another contemporary hot-button issue in her brilliantly told new thriller, about a high school shooting. Peter Houghton, an alienated teen who has been bullied for years by the popular crowd, brings weapons to his high school in Sterling, N.H., one day and opens fire, killing 10 people. Flashbacks reveal how bullying caused Peter to retreat into a world of violent computer games. Alex Cormier, the judge assigned to Peter’s case, tries to maintain her objectivity as she struggles to understand her daughter, Josie, one of the surviving witnesses of the shooting. The author’s insights into her characters’ deep-seated emotions brings this ripped-from-the-headlines read chillingly alive. (Mar.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Novella by John Steinbeck, published in 1937. The tragic story, given poignancy by its objective narrative, is about the complex bond between two migrant laborers. The book, which was adapted by Steinbeck into a three-act play (produced 1937), earned him national renown. The plot centers on George Milton and Lennie Small, itinerant ranch hands who dream of one day owning a small farm. George acts as a father figure to Lennie, who is large and simpleminded, calming him and helping to rein in his immense physical strength. When Lennie accidentally kills the ranch owner’s flirtatious daughter-in-law, George shoots his friend rather than allow him to be captured by a vengeful lynch mob.
Thirteen linked tales from Strout (Abide with Me, etc.) present a heart-wrenching, penetrating portrait of ordinary coastal Mainers living lives of quiet grief intermingled with flashes of human connection. The opening Pharmacy focuses on terse, dry junior high-school teacher Olive Kitteridge and her gregarious pharmacist husband, Henry, both of whom have survived the loss of a psychologically damaged parent, and both of whom suffer painful attractions to co-workers. Their son, Christopher, takes center stage in A Little Burst, which describes his wedding in humorous, somewhat disturbing detail, and in Security, where Olive, in her 70s, visits Christopher and his family in New York. Strout’s fiction showcases her ability to reveal through familiar details-the mother-of-the-groom’s wedding dress, a grandmother’s disapproving observations of how her grandchildren are raised-the seeds of tragedy. Themes of suicide, depression, bad communication, aging and love, run through these stories, none more vivid or touching than Incoming Tide, where Olive chats with former student Kevin Coulson as they watch waitress Patty Howe by the seashore, all three struggling with their own misgivings about life. Like this story, the collection is easy to read and impossible to forget. Its literary craft and emotional power will surprise readers unfamiliar with Strout. (Apr.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
The former White House correspondent for Time magazine examines his stormy relationship with his legendary mother, Nancy Dickerson–the first female member of the Washington, D.C., television news corps and the first female host of the Today show. of photos.
One Thousand White Women is the story of May Dodd and a colorful assembly of pioneer women who, under the auspices of the U.S. government, travel to the western prairies in 1875 to intermarry among the Cheyenne Indians. The covert and controversial Brides for Indians program, launched by the administration of Ulysses S. Grant, is intended to help assimilate the Indians into the white man”s world. Toward that end May and her friends embark upon the adventure of their lifetime. Jim Fergus has so vividly depicted the American West that it is as if these diaries are a capsule in time. Jim Fergus is field editor and monthly columnist for Sports Afield magazine and also writes a monthly feature on the AllOutdoors.com web site. His work has appeared in numerous national magazines and newspapers, and he is also the author A Hunter”s Road , a work of nonfiction. One Thousand White Women is a widely celebrated debut novel that will appeal equally to students of American history and historical fiction. Here is the story of one May Dodd, who in 1875Ã¢Â€Â”under the auspices of the U.S. governmentÃ¢Â€Â”led a colorful assembly of pioneer women westward to intermarry among the Cheyenne Indians. The covert and controversial Brides for Indians program, launched by the Grant administration, was intended to help assimilate the Indians into the white man”s world. This novel approaches that telling yet little-remembered chapter of American history in a splendid, fresh, engaging, [and] strikingly original manner (Jim Harrison, author of Legends of the Fall ). Throughout the book, Fergus is gifted in his ability to portray the perceptions and emotions of women. He writes with tremendous insight and sensitivity about the individual community [of would-be brides] and the political and religious issues of the time, many of which are still relevant today. This book is artistically rendered with meticulous attention to small details that bring to life the daily concerns of a group of hardy souls at a pivotal time in U.S. history ( Booklist ). A most impressive novel that melds the physical world to the spiritual. One Thousand White Women is engaging, entertaining, well-written, and well-told. It will be widely read for a long time, as will the rest of Jim Fergus”s work.Ã¢Â€Â” Rick Bass, author of Where the Sea Used to Be Jim Fergus knows his country in a way that”s evocative of Dee Brown and all the other great writers of the American West and its native peoples. But One Thousand White Women is more than a chronicle of the Old West. It”s a superb tale of sorrow, suspense, exultation, and triumph that leaves the reader waiting to turn the next page and then wonderfully wrung out at the end.Ã¢Â€Â” Winston Groom, author of Forrest Gump The best writing transports readers to another time and place, so that when they reluctantly close the book, they are astonished to find themselves returned to their everyday lives. One Thousand White Women is such a book. Jim Fergus so skillfully envelopes us in the heart and mind of the main character, May Dodd, that we weep when she mourns, we shake our fist at anyone who tries to sway her course, and our hearts pound when she is in danger.Ã¢Â€Â” The Gazette (Colorado Springs) In a word One Thousand White Women is terrific! What Jim Fergus has done within these pages is give life and voice to an aspect of the American West and its native peoples that has been, if not covered up, too long overlooked. It is a tremendous achievement by a remarkable writer.Ã¢Â€Â” David Seybold, editor of Boats and Fathers and Sons Jim Fergus”s powerful first novel is a surefire winner. I read it nonstop and would now like to propose a hundred-year moratorium on all books about white women in the Old West, since it will take the rest of us at least that long to amass the researchÃ¢Â€Â”not to mention the compassionÃ¢Â€Â”needed to equal this fine work. A masterful job!Ã¢Â€Â” Robert F. Jones, author of Tie My Bones to Her Back d This is a rich, beautifully
Louise Erdrich’s mesmerizing new novel, her first in almost three years, centers on a compelling mystery. The unsolved murder of a farm family haunts the small, white, off-reservation town of Pluto, North Dakota. The vengeance exacted for this crime and the subsequent distortions of truth transform the lives of Ojibwe living on the nearby reservation and shape the passions of both communities for the next generation. The descendants of Ojibwe and white intermarry, their lives intertwine; only the youngest generation, of mixed blood, remains unaware of the role the past continues to play in their lives.
Evelina Harp is a witty, ambitious young girl, part Ojibwe, part white, who is prone to falling hopelessly in love. Mooshum, Evelina’s grandfather, is a seductive storyteller, a repository of family and tribal history with an all-too-intimate knowledge of the violent past. Nobody understands the weight of historical injustice better than Judge Antone Bazil Coutts, a thoughtful mixed blood who witnesses the lives of those who appear before him, and whose own love life reflects the entire history of the territory. In distinct and winning voices, Erdrich’s narrators unravel the stories of different generations and families in this corner of North Dakota. Bound by love, torn by history, the two communities’ collective stories finally come together in a wrenching truth revealed in the novel’s final pages.
The Plague of Doves is one of the major achievements of Louise Erdrich’s considerable oeuvre, a quintessentially American story and the most complex and original of her books.
Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom, morbidly depressed, overweight and living with wife Janice in a Florida retirement community, recovers from a heart attack and is led astray by his libido one last time. “Updike is razor-sharp and mordantly funny,” said PW. “If this novel is in some respects an elegy to Rabbit’s bewildered existence, it is also a poignant, humorous, instructive guidebook to the aborted American dream.” The book took a Pulitzer Prize. (Oct.)
Yates’s debut 1961 novel revealed a growing and present malaise about middle-class existence as seen through the eyes of protagonists Frank and April. Believing themselves a cut above the rest of their neighbors and friends, the two set their sights upon a scheme to move to France and live a nontraditional life. However, much like the illusion of the white picket fence home, their dreams are not enough to stave off the reality of their unhappy life. Mark Bramhall sways back and forth between successful and annoying narration. Some character voices are caricatures, grating on the listeners’ ears without much justification from the text. For others, the chosen voice helps to emphasize the sense (or source) of alienation that Frank and April feel about the people in their lives. However, Bramhall’s tone does wonders for eliciting the ironic throughout Yates’s prose. A Vintage paperback. (Dec.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
McCarthy’s latest novel, a frightening apocalyptic vision, is narrated by a nameless man, one of the few survivors of an unspecified civilization-ending catastrophe. He and his young son are trekking along a treacherous highway, starving and freezing, trying to avoid roving cannibal armies. The tale, and their lives, are saved from teetering over the edge of bleakness thanks to the man’s fierce belief that they are the good guys who are preserving the light of humanity. In this stark, effective production, Stechschulte gives the father an appropriately harsh, weary voice that sways little from its numbed register except to urge on the weakening boy or soothe his fears after an encounter with barbarians. When they uncover some vestige of the former world, the man recalls its vanished wonder with an aching nostalgia that makes the listener’s heart swell. Stechschulte portrays the son with a mournful, slightly breathy tone that emphasizes the child’s whininess, making him much less sympathetic than his resourceful father. With no music or effects interrupting Stechschulte’s carefully measured pace and gruff, straightforward delivery, McCarthy’s darkly poetic prose comes alive in a way that will transfix listeners. Copyright Â© Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Set over a period of 24 hours, Run shows how worlds of privilege and poverty can coexist only blocks apart from each other, and how family can include the most unlikely of people, in this novel about secrets, duty, responsibility, and the lengths people will go to protect their children.
De Rosnay’s U.S. debut fictionalizes the 1942 Paris roundups and deportations, in which thousands of Jewish families were arrested, held at the Velodrome d’Hiver outside the city, then transported to Auschwitz. Forty-five-year-old Julia Jarmond, American by birth, moved to Paris when she was 20 and is married to the arrogant, unfaithful Bertrand Tezac, with whom she has an 11-year-old daughter. Julia writes for an American magazine and her editor assigns her to cover the 60th anniversary of the Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundups. Julia soon learns that the apartment she and Bertrand plan to move into was acquired by Bertrand’s family when its Jewish occupants were dispossessed and deported 60 years before. She resolves to find out what happened to the former occupants: Wladyslaw and Rywka Starzynski, parents of 10-year-old Sarah and four-year-old Michel. The more Julia discovers-especially about Sarah, the only member of the Starzynski family to survive-the more she uncovers about Bertrand’s family, about France and, finally, herself. Already translated into 15 languages, the novel is De Rosnay’s 10th (but her first written in English, her first language). It beautifully conveys Julia’s conflicting loyalties, and makes Sarah’s trials so riveting, her innocence so absorbing, that the book is hard to put down. (July) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
The latest from Barry (whose A Long Way was shortlisted for the 2005 Booker) pits two contradictory narratives against each other in an attempt to solve the mystery of a 100-year-old mental patient. That patient, Roseanne McNulty, decides to undertake an autobiography and writes of an ill-fated childhood spent with her father, Joe Clear. A cemetery superintendent, Joe is drawn into Ireland’s 1922 civil war when a group of irregulars brings a slain comrade to the cemetery and are discovered by a division of Free-Staters. Meanwhile, Roseanne’s psychiatrist, Dr. Grene, investigating Roseanne’s original commitment in preparation for her transfer to a new hospital, discovers through the papers of the local parish priest, Fr. Gaunt, that Roseanne’s father was actually a police sergeant in the Royal Irish Constabulary. The mysteries multiply when Roseanne reveals that Fr. Gaunt annulled her marriage after glimpsing her in the company of another man; Gaunt’s official charge was nymphomania, and the cumulative fallout led to a string of tragedies. Written in captivating, lyrical prose, Barry’s novel is both a sparkling literary puzzle and a stark cautionary tale of corrupted power. (June) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
Sofer’s family escaped from Iran in 1982 when she was 10, an experience that may explain the intense detail of this unnerving debut. On a September day in 1981, gem trader Isaac Amin is accosted by Revolutionary Guards at his Tehran office and imprisoned for no other crime than being Jewish in a country where Muslim fanaticism is growing daily. Being rich and having had slender ties to the Shah’s regime magnify his peril. In anguish over what might be happening to his family, Isaac watches the brutal mutilation and executions of prisoners around him. His wife, Farnaz, struggles to keep from slipping into despair, while his young daughter, Shirin, steals files from the home of a playmate whose father is in charge of the prison that holds her father. Far away in Brooklyn, Isaac’s nonreligious son, Parviz, struggles without his family’s money and falls for the pious daughter of his Hasidic landlord. Nicely layered, the story shimmers with past secrets and hidden motivations. The dialogue, while stiff, allows the various characters to come through. Sofer’s dramatization of just-post-revolutionary Iran captures its small tensions and larger brutalities, which play vividly upon a family that cannot, even if it wishes to, conform. (Aug.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
See’s engrossing novel set in remote 19th-century China details the deeply affecting story of lifelong, intimate friends (laotong, or old sames) Lily and Snow Flower, their imprisonment by rigid codes of conduct for women and their betrayal by pride and love. While granting immediacy to Lily’s voice, See (Flower Net) adroitly transmits historical background in graceful prose. Her in-depth research into women’s ceremonies and duties in China’s rural interior brings fascinating revelations about arranged marriages, women’s inferior status in both their natal and married homes, and the Confucian proverbs and myriad superstitions that informed daily life. Beginning with a detailed and heartbreaking description of Lily and her sisters’ foot binding (Only through pain will you have beauty. Only through suffering will you have peace), the story widens to a vivid portrait of family and village life. Most impressive is See’s incorporation of nu shu, a secret written phonetic code among women-here between Lily and Snow Flower-that dates back 1,000 years in the southwestern Hunan province (My writing is soaked with the tears of my heart,/ An invisible rebellion that no man can see). As both a suspenseful and poignant story and an absorbing historical chronicle, this novel has bestseller potential and should become a reading group favorite as well. Agent, Sandra Dijkstra. Author tour. (July) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Scurrying back to his office one day, Lopez, a columnist for the L.A. Times, is stopped short by the ethereal strains of a violin. Searching for the sound, he spots a homeless man coaxing those beautiful sounds from a battered two-string violin. When the man finishes, Lopez compliments him briefly and rushes off to write about his newfound subject, Nathaniel Ayers, the homeless violinist. Over the next few days, Lopez discovers that Nathaniel was once a promising classical bass student at Juilliard, but that various pressures-including being one of a few African-American students and mounting schizophrenia-caused him to drop out. Enlisting the help of doctors, mental health professionals and professional musicians, Lopez attempts to help Nathaniel move off Skid Row, regain his dignity, develop his musical talent and free himself of the demons induced by the schizophrenia (at one point, Lopez arranges to have Ayers take cello lessons with a cellist from the L.A. Symphony). Throughout, Lopez endures disappointments and setbacks with Nathaniel’s case, questions his own motives for helping his friend and acknowledges that Nathaniel has taught him about courage and humanity. With self-effacing humor, fast-paced yet elegant prose and unsparing honesty, Lopez tells an inspiring story of heartbreak and hope. (Apr.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
Charleston, S.C., gossip columnist Leopold Bloom King narrates a paean to his hometown and friends in Conroy’s first novel in 14 years. In the late ’60s and after his brother commits suicide, then 18-year-old Leo befriends a cross-section of the city’s inhabitants: scions of Charleston aristocracy; Appalachian orphans; a black football coach’s son; and an astonishingly beautiful pair of twins, Sheba and Trevor Poe, who are evading their psychotic father. The story alternates between 1969, the glorious year Leo’s coterie stormed Charleston’s social, sexual and racial barricades, and 1989, when Sheba, now a movie star, enlists them to find her missing gay brother in AIDS-ravaged San Francisco. Too often the not-so-witty repartee and the narrator’s awed voice (he is very fond of superlatives) overwhelm the stories surrounding the group’s love affairs and their struggles to protect one another from dangerous pasts. Some characters are tragically lost to the riptides of love and obsession, while others emerge from the frothy waters of sentimentality and nostalgia as exhausted as most readers are likely to be. Fans of Conroy’s florid prose and earnest melodramas are in for a treat. (Aug.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
Umrigar’s schematic novel (after Bombay Time) illustrates the intimacy, and the irreconcilable class divide, between two women in contemporary Bombay. Bhima, a 65-year-old slum dweller, has worked for Sera Dubash, a younger upper-middle-class Parsi woman, for years: cooking, cleaning and tending Sera after the beatings she endures from her abusive husband, Feroz. Sera, in turn, nurses Bhima back to health from typhoid fever and sends her granddaughter Maya to college. Sera recognizes their affinity: They were alike in many ways, Bhima and she. Despite the different trajectories of their lives-circumstances… dictated by the accidents of their births-they had both known the pain of watching the bloom fade from their marriages. But Sera’s affection for her servant wars with ingrained prejudice against lower castes. The younger generation-Maya; Sera’s daughter, Dinaz, and son-in-law, Viraf-are also caged by the same strictures despite efforts to throw them off. In a final plot twist, class allegiance combined with gender inequality challenges personal connection, and Bhima may pay a bitter price for her loyalty to her employers. At times, Umrigar’s writing achieves clarity, but a narrative that unfolds in retrospect saps the book’s momentum. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Fans of Louise Fitzhugh’s iconic Harriet the Spy will welcome 11-year-old sleuth Flavia de Luce, the heroine of Canadian journalist Bradley’s rollicking debut. In an early 1950s English village, Flavia is preoccupied with retaliating against her lofty older sisters when a rude, redheaded stranger arrives to confront her eccentric father, a philatelic devotee. Equally adept at quoting 18th-century works, listening at keyholes and picking locks, Flavia learns that her father, Colonel de Luce, may be involved in the suicide of his long-ago schoolmaster and the theft of a priceless stamp. The sudden expiration of the stranger in a cucumber bed, wacky village characters with ties to the schoolmaster, and a sharp inspector with doubts about the colonel and his enterprising young detective daughter mean complications for Flavia and enormous fun for the reader. Tantalizing hints about a gardener with a shady past and the mysterious death of Flavia’s adventurous mother promise further intrigues ahead. (Apr.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
HighBridge has chosen exceptional readers for these remarkable novellas. Oreskes reads Storm in June in a clear, low storyteller’s voice, changing tone to designate characters without trying to act out or be those characters. He handles Nemirovsky’s black humor and irony with intelligence, and understates to great effect reactions from haughtiness to decency in the midst of panic and death as masses suddenly rush from Paris in the wake of Nazi bombings in 1940. Rosenblat has a husky Lauren Bacall voice that draws you into the dialectically complex relationship between French villagers and German occupiers in Dolce. This is not a diary or a novel written years later in cool contemplation. These are historical novellas written while the author lived through the events. Yet with the detachment of hindsight and the craft of a fine, experienced author (she had successfully published nine novels), Nemirovsky shapes into novel form the stories of a small gallery of French Parisians and villagers and occupying German officers and soldiers, each with his or her national and personal idiosyncrasies and destinies. This was to have been the first of five novellas in an ongoing war saga, but in 1942 the Germans discovered the Jewish writer living in a small village. She was arrested and shipped to Auschwitz, and died a month later. Simultaneous release with the Knopf hardcover (Reviews, Mar. 13). (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
This final memoir in the trilogy that started with Angela’s Ashes and continued in ‘Tis focuses almost exclusively on McCourt’s 30-year teaching career in New York City’s public high schools, which began at McKee Vocational and Technical in 1958. His first day in class, a fight broke out and a sandwich was hurled in anger. McCourt immediately picked it up and ate it. On the second day of class, McCourt’s retort about the Irish and their sheep brought the wrath of the principal down on him. All McCourt wanted to do was teach, which wasn’t easy in the jumbled bureaucracy of the New York City school system. Pretty soon he realized the system wasn’t run by teachers but by sterile functionaries. I was uncomfortable with the bureaucrats, the higher-ups, who had escaped classrooms only to turn and bother the occupants of those classrooms, teachers and students. I never wanted to fill out their forms, follow their guidelines, administer their examinations, tolerate their snooping, adjust myself to their programs and courses of study. As McCourt matured in his job, he found ingenious ways to motivate the kids: have them write excuse notes from Adam and Eve to God; use parts of a pen to define parts of a sentence; use cookbook recipes to get the students to think creatively. A particularly warming and enlightening lesson concerns a class of black girls at Seward Park High School who felt slighted when they were not invited to see a performance of Hamlet, and how they taught McCourt never to have diminished expectations about any of his students. McCourt throws down the gauntlet on education, asserting that teaching is more than achieving high test scores. It’s about educating, about forming intellects, about getting people to think. McCourt’s many fans will of course love this book, but it also should be mandatory reading for every teacher in America. And it wouldn’t hurt some politicians to read it, too. (Nov. 15) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Pulitzer Prize-winner Goodwin (No Ordinary Time) seeks to illuminate what she interprets as a miraculous event: Lincoln’s smooth (and, in her view, rather sudden) transition from underwhelming one-term congressman and prairie lawyer to robust chief executive during a time of crisis. Goodwin marvels at Lincoln’s ability to co-opt three better-born, better-educated rivals-each of whom had challenged Lincoln for the 1860 Republican nomination. The three were New York senator William H. Seward, who became secretary of state; Ohio senator Salmon P. Chase, who signed on as secretary of the treasury and later was nominated by Lincoln to be chief justice of the Supreme Court; and Missouri’s distinguished elder statesman Edward Bates, who served as attorney general. This is the team of rivals Goodwin’s title refers to. The problem with this interpretation is that the metamorphosis of Lincoln to Machiavellian master of men that Goodwin presupposes did not in fact occur overnight only as he approached the grim reality of his presidency. The press had labeled candidate Lincoln a fourth-rate lecturer, who cannot speak good grammar. But East Coast railroad executives, who had long employed Lincoln at huge prices to defend their interests as attorney and lobbyist, knew better. Lincoln was a shrewd political operator and insider long before he entered the White House-a fact Goodwin underplays. On another front, Goodwin’s spotlighting of the president’s three former rivals tends to undercut that Lincoln’s most essential Cabinet-level contacts were not with Seward, Chase and Bates, but rather with secretaries of war Simon Cameron and Edwin Stanton, and Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles. These criticisms aside, Goodwin supplies capable biographies of the gentlemen on whom she has chosen to focus, and ably highlights the sometimes tangled dynamics of their team within the larger assemblage of Lincoln’s full war cabinet. Agent, Amanda Urban. 400,000 first printing; BOMC, History Book Club main selection; film rights to Steven Spielberg/DreamWorld Entertainment. (Nov.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
The frigid isolation of European immigrants living on the 19th-century Canadian frontier is the setting for British author Penney’s haunting debut. Seventeen-year-old Francis Ross disappears the same day his mother discovers the scalped body of his friend, fur trader Laurent Jammet, in a neighboring cabin. The murder brings newcomers to the small settlement, from inexperienced Hudson Bay Company representative Donald Moody to elderly eccentric Thomas Sturrock, who arrives searching for a mysterious archeological fragment once in Jammet’s possession. Other than Francis, no real suspects emerge until half-Indian trapper William Parker is caught searching the dead man’s house. Parker escapes and joins with Francis’s mother to track Francis north, a journey that produces a deep if unlikely bond between them. Only when the pair reaches a distant Scandinavian settlement do both characters and reader begin to understand Francis, who arrived there days before them. Penney’s absorbing, quietly convincing narrative illuminates the characters, each a kind of outcast, through whose complex viewpoints this dense, many-layered story is told. (July) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Tropper returns with a snappy and heartfelt family drama/belated coming-of-age story. Judd Foxman’s wife, Jen, has left him for his boss, a Howard Stern-like radio personality, but it is the death of his father and the week of sitting shivah with his enjoyably dysfunctional family that motivates him. Jen’s announcement of her pregnancy-doubly tragic because of a previous miscarriage-is followed by the dramas of Judd’s siblings: his sister, Wendy, is stuck in an emotionless marriage; brother Paul-always Judd’s defender-and his wife struggle with infertility; and the charming youngest, Phillip, attempts a grown-up relationship that only highlights his rakishness. Presided over by their mother, a celebrated parenting expert despite her children’s difficulties, the mourning period brings each of the family members to unexpected epiphanies about their own lives and each other. The family’s interactions are sharp, raw and often laugh-out-loud funny, and Judd’s narration is unflinching, occasionally lewd and very keen. Tropper strikes an excellent balance between the family history and its present-day fallout, proving his ability to create touchingly human characters and a deliciously page-turning story. (Aug.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
Some failures lead to phenomenal successes, and this American nurse’s unsuccessful attempt to climb K2, the world’s second tallest mountain, is one of them. Dangerously ill when he finished his climb in 1993, Mortenson was sheltered for seven weeks by the small Pakistani village of Korphe; in return, he promised to build the impoverished town’s first school, a project that grew into the Central Asia Institute, which has since constructed more than 50 schools across rural Pakistan and Afghanistan. Coauthor Relin recounts Mortenson’s efforts in fascinating detail, presenting compelling portraits of the village elders, con artists, philanthropists, mujahideen, Taliban officials, ambitious school girls and upright Muslims Mortenson met along the way. As the book moves into the post-9/11 world, Mortenson and Relin argue that the United States must fight Islamic extremism in the region through collaborative efforts to alleviate poverty and improve access to education, especially for girls. Captivating and suspenseful, with engrossing accounts of both hostilities and unlikely friendships, this book will win many readers’ hearts. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
The beloved American classic about a young girl’s coming-of-age at the turn of the century, Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a poignant and moving tale filled with compassion and cruelty, laughter and heartache, crowded with life and people and incident. The story of young, sensitive, and idealistic Francie Nolan and her bittersweet formative years in the slums of Williamsburg has enchanted and inspired millions of readers for more than sixty years. By turns overwhelming, sublime, heartbreaking, and uplifting, the daily experiences of the unforgettable Nolans are raw with honesty and tenderly threaded with family connectedness — in a work of literary art that brilliantly captures a unique time and place as well as incredibly rich moments of universal experience.
From the internationally best-selling, Pulitzer Prize winning author, a superbly crafted new work of fiction: eight stories ”longer and more emotionally complex than any she has yet written” that take us from Cambridge and Seattle to India and Thailand as they enter the lives of sisters and brothers, fathers and mothers, daughters and sons, friends and lovers. In the stunning title story, Ruma, a young mother in a new city, is visited by her father, who carefully tends the earth of her garden, where he and his grandson form a special bond. But he’s harboring a secret from his daughter, a love affair he’s keeping all to himself. In “A Choice of Accommodations,â€ a husband’s attempt to turn an old friend’s wedding into a romantic getaway weekend with his wife takes a dark, revealing turn as the party lasts deep into the night. In “Only Goodness,â€ a sister eager to give her younger brother the perfect childhood she never had is overwhelmed by guilt, anguish, and anger when his alcoholism threatens her family. And in “Hema and Kaushik,” a trio of linked stories “a luminous, intensely compelling elegy of life, death, love, and fate” we follow the lives of a girl and boy who, one winter, share a house in Massachusetts. They travel from innocence to experience on separate, sometimes painful paths, until destiny brings them together again years later in Rome. Unaccustomed Earth is rich with Jhumpa Lahiri’s signature gifts: exquisite prose, emotional wisdom, and subtle renderings of the most intricate workings of the heart and mind. It is a masterful, dazzling work of a writer at the peak of her powers.
With its spotlight on elephants, Gruen’s romantic page-turner hinges on the human-animal bonds that drove her debut and its sequel (Riding Lessons and Flying Changes)-but without the mass appeal that horses hold. The novel, told in flashback by nonagenarian Jacob Jankowski, recounts the wild and wonderful period he spent with the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth, a traveling circus he joined during the Great Depression. When 23-year-old Jankowski learns that his parents have been killed in a car crash, leaving him penniless, he drops out of Cornell veterinary school and parlays his expertise with animals into a job with the circus, where he cares for a menagerie of exotic creatures, including an elephant who only responds to Polish commands. He also falls in love with Marlena, one of the show’s star performers-a romance complicated by Marlena’s husband, the unbalanced, sadistic circus boss who beats both his wife and the animals Jankowski cares for. Despite her often clich?d prose and the predictability of the story’s ending, Gruen skillfully humanizes the midgets, drunks, rubes and freaks who populate her book. (May 26) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Two of D. H.Lawrence’s most renowned novelsÂ—now with new packages and new introductions Widely regarded as D. H.Lawrence’s greatest novel, Women in Lovecontinues where The Rainbowleft off, with the third generation of the Brangwens. Focusing on Ursula Brangwen and her sister GudrunÂ’s relationshipsÂ—the former with a school inspector and the latter with an industrialist and then a sculptorÂ—Women in Loveis a powerful, sexually explicit depiction of the destructiveness of human relations.
Ackerman (A Natural History of the Senses) tells the remarkable WWII story of Jan Zabinski, the director of the Warsaw Zoo, and his wife, Antonina, who, with courage and coolheaded ingenuity, sheltered 300 Jews as well as Polish resisters in their villa and in animal cages and sheds. Using Antonina’s diaries, other contemporary sources and her own research in Poland, Ackerman takes us into the Warsaw ghetto and the 1943 Jewish uprising and also describes the Poles’ revolt against the Nazi occupiers in 1944. She introduces us to such varied figures as Lutz Heck, the duplicitous head of the Berlin zoo; Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapira, spiritual head of the ghetto; and the leaders of Zegota, the Polish organization that rescued Jews. Ackerman reveals other rescuers, like Dr. Mada Walter, who helped many Jews pass, giving lessons on how to appear Aryan and not attract notice. Ackerman’s writing is viscerally evocative, as in her description of the effects of the German bombing of the zoo area: …the sky broke open and whistling fire hurtled down, cages exploded, moats rained upward, iron bars squealed as they wrenched apart. This suspenseful beautifully crafted story deserves a wide readership. 8 pages of illus. (Sept.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.