When the strength of the ties that bind are tested, good stories ensue. Such is the new propulsive novel (by the author of the bestseller The Nest) which examines the creative family that forms around a theatrical company and what happens when a long held secret is revealed, changing lives and upending relationships previously assumed solid.
"Reno Divorce" entered the lexicon because a divorce could be processed there after only 30 days residency. Naturally a cottage industry sprung up to house the visitors (almost exclusively women) cooling their heels until they could get unhitched. This delightful romp of a novel is a flashback from one of the cowboys who worked at a dude ranch catering to these women in the 1940's and the many hijinks that ensued.
This new massive, but surprisingly quick reading, biography stands out from the plethora of Plath books in two important ways-it uses previously unavailible materials (especially medical documents) and it seeks to put the emphasis squarely on the work, not the personality cult built around the poet in the years since her suicide. This approach is refreshing and eyeopening whether the reader is new to Plath, or a huge fan.
In her second standalone, Tana French takes the American crime subgenre 'grit lit' across the pond. Though the plot description sounds hoary-Chicago cop escapes urban crime in the Irish countryside only to get mixed up in a dangerous missing person hunt- with a healthy dollop of Western trappings (mysterious lawman comes to town among others) and her own ear for pitch perfect dialogue, French makes it all vivid and fresh.
Willy Vlautin is the perfect author for 2020. Unsparing and unsentimental, he writes about the unlucky poor, the forgotten and the marginalized, bestowing earned grace on lives not usually portrayed on bestseller lists. The Free, which tells the story of the desparate intersecting lives at a veteran's group home, is now available in an exclusive small format Olive Edition.
The bookseller in me loves Monogamy because it accurately and lovingly portrays indie bookstore life. The heart in me loves it for its unblinking look at a longterm relationship. And the sad in me loves how it depicts grief-not only not linear at all but at times not even sensical.
Other authors may be writing the officially endorsed novels featuring her classic characters, but readers know the true Agatha Christie standard bearer is Ruth Ware. Her ability to make a traditional 'locked room' mystery seem new and of the moment keeps satisfying fans with each book. The newest, a twist on And Then There Were None set at tech retreat at a snowed in ski chalet, is propulsive and gripping-just the thing when attention bandwidth may be limited.
Fallout tells the backstory of John Hersey's Hiroshima, the first work of reportage to document the extent of the damage on the civilian population of that destroyed city. Published in its entirety in The New Yorker magazine in August 1946 (it took up the entire issue) the story focused on six everyday people and it did for a war weary American public what no photo could-made the devastation personal.
If you are looking for a well written read that's sure to delight you can do no better than Christine Coulson's debut novel, which takes the reader behind the scenes at New York's Met Museum, ground the author knows well from her 25 years of service there. Told in bite sized vignettes that range from randy to poignant, everyone from the museum director to the man who minds the bags in the gift shop (even the art itself) all are brought vividly to life. Do your anxious pysche a favor and read this book!
This collection of essays from the bestselling mystery writer reads like a rambling, rollicking conversation, over wine, with your smartest girl friend. Topics range from aging, the workplace, men to late motherhood-topics too often dismissed or diminished.
A lovely picture book with a Day of the Dead setting,Gustavo tells the story of a shy ghost who lets fear get in the way of making the friends he craves until he hatches a plan to turn his weakness into a strength. Just the gentle nudge timid readers need, with crayon illustrations that unlock more detail with each rereading, this sweet picture book will delight all year round!
This powerful memoir about the author's decade long struggle with the mysterious title illness is sad, gruesome and infuriating. It is also inspiring and could well be a lifeline for the right reader. Her points about women being unheard or dismissed as patients and how wearying the medical merry-go-round is will ring true to fellow sufferers, which may be the book's greatest contribution-the much needed message that 'you are not alone'.
It seems impolite to laugh at a protaganist who is lost, unsure and absolutely not finding anything on their journey to find themself but when they are as smart and sardonic as Ava, the heroine (?) of this debut you can't not laugh. Often billed as the new Sally Rooney, Nolan does have the gift for capturing the voices of the young but with more tenderness and humor than her fellow Irishwoman. One to watch!
Large and intimidating? Yes. Absolutely necessary for understanding how we got here? Also yes. Besides highlighting educational gaps, of which the average reader will likely find many, Dr. Kendi's book provides a clear throughline through American history that clarifies the rotten systemic whole. Grab a highlighter and prepare to have your mind blown.
The Vanishing Half tells the story of two African American twins and how, when they flee their small Louisiana town as teens, one passes as white. How her choice echoes and haunts the family for generations allows Bennett to probe racism from fresh perspectives. Thought provoking and masterfully written, this one deserves every bit of praise it's receiving and then some.
Like Fates & Furies on a boat, this HE SAID/SHE SAID story chronicles a family who left everything behind to make the husband's dream voyage. How it both brings them together and tears them apart makes a for a compelling read that is equal part adventure and rich interior drama.
Valentine exposes life in the underside of a boomtown by tracking the fallout from a violent rape as it spreads through a group of disparate women in 1976 Odessa,Texas. A debut novel that reads like anything but.
Emma Straub believes in families and her latest celebrates the ties that bind, no matter how complicated or messy. When Astrid, the widowed matriarch of the Strick family, witnesses a fatal accident it forces her to re-examine her life and her parenting and sets her on a path to make her later years her most authentic. With its lived in characters, sharp crisp descriptions and rich payoff, All Adults Here presents a family so appealing in their imperfection the reader will want to join it.
As a reader I admire writers who cast a wide story net, full of disparate threads that don’t seem to have anything in common, then pull it all tightly together. Emily St John Mandel excels at that in her latest, non dystopian, novel. The Glass Hotel is a story of ghosts, Ponzi schemes and feeling lost in your own life but more important than any mere plot description is the feeling this novel rises in the reader, feelings that aren’t easy to shake even when the last page is turned.
Jiles' usual wry, laconic style is in full bloom in this Western quest story about a poor musician seeking love and a home in messy Post Civil War Texas. Her gifted characterizations and deft hand at making the historical not at all old fashioned give her work a personal urgency sure to please readers.
Bob is back! The irascible stray with a heart of gold gets to be the hero and save the day in this sweet and redemptive sequel to The One and Only Ivan. Full of warmth, with appearances by Ivan, Ruby and all the gang, this sequel is so welcome. Fans of the original will not be disappointed.
Filled with creeping dread and contagion, this historical novel tells the story of an out of favor Transendentalist and his daughter who start a school for girls in 1871. When things start to go terribly wrong in ways that challenge their beliefs and bond, the results make this imaginary history seem all too timely.
You survived a cult-great job! Now what? You have no life skills for the 'real world'. (Your herbal medicine skills and the other end of world prep only gets you so far when the Armageddon you readied for has yet to materialize). You also have no belief system to replace the old, which leaves you susceptibile to dark overtures from the other surviving cultists who are coping even worse than you. A pitch black "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"-that's the juicy premise of The Poison Garden. Gripping and full of rich psychological detail!
Both meanings of the word blood are explored in this aptly titled poetic memoir-violence and the ties that bind. The murder suicide of her parents when she was a child has cast a long shadow over the life and career of singer/songwriter Alison Moorer. Though never directly referred to, it has been the open secret that colored everything. Finally, in this memoir (and its accompanying record) she seeks to restore her parents to more than a horrifying tragedy by filling in the blanks in their story, making them real people-beyond the simple roles of victim and murderer-and worthy of forgiveness.
If history belongs to the victors, true crime belongs to the perpetrators. When it comes to Jack the Ripper more people can name the suspects-the prince, the artist, the Polish barber-than the victims killed. In an effort to rectify this, historian Hallie Rubenheld not only brings the women fully to life (or as fully as possible given the sketchy records of the poor in Victorian England) and in doing so, sheds some new light on the long cold case.
For example, despite the story that everyone thinks they know, the women were not all prostitutes, most were destitute women ‘sleeping rough’. Detailed explanation of the welfare at the time (basically Scrooge’s ‘prisons and workhouses’) help the modern reader comprehend the women’s plight. Rebenheld also points out that Jack must have killed as they slept, explaining how he could murder so viciously without attention being drawn by struggle or screaming (hence his many close escapes).
Most reviews will surely say this book is a must for Ripperologists, and it is, but it is also a compelling and necessary history which restores personhood to victims formerly seen as the least interesting part of the story.
Plucky Emmeline Lake just wants to do her part for the war effort. When she lands a job at the London Evening Chronicle she pictures herself as FEMALE WAR CORROSPONDENT. Alas, the job is actually assisting the formidible Henrietta Bird, the maddening advice columnist who refuses to actually offer any. So softhearted Emmy decides to answer a few letters on the sly because what could go wrong? How she copes with real life in wartorn London with her vibrant spirit intact makes for a delicious and uplifting treat for readers.
This unrelenting portrait of the greedy squandering of our precious natural resources is both a beautiful excursion into the heart of human darkness and a brutal story that squarely combats the myth of the West. A forerunner of Cormac McCarthy, this is an underappreciated great that clamors for a wider audience.
When Jessilyn Harney, a protaganist True Grit's Maddie Ross would call kin, is orphaned in the post Civil War West she disguises herself as a boy and sets out to find her outlaw brother, who's become something of a folk hero. Told in a wry and weary voice, in this debut Western, as in all the classic ones, the journey takes the measure of and makes the man.
SPOILER ALERT: Women Talking could have been subtitled Canadian Mennonite Women Break Down the Patriarchy for You. Both angering and funny, this wise novel (sadly based on a true story) takes on heavy questions-'What is faith and a faith community?' 'What would you do for love?' and 'Is there a God and what does God expect from us?'-with a lightness to admire. My book of year for 2019!