THE BONDS OF FRIENDSHIP
In her enthralling third novel, Falling Together, Marisa de los Santos explores the powerful nature of female friendship. Cat, Pen and Will meet in college, forming a strong bond that lasts throughout their university years. After college, the girls live together until lively, vibrant Cat gets married—a decision that destroys the trio’s special relationship. The friends fall out of touch for six years until an email from Cat summons them to their college reunion. Will and Pen both attend, but Cat’s husband, Jason, shows up instead of Cat, and reveals that she has been missing for weeks. Pen and Will soon embark on a search for Cat—a journey takes them around the world and into uncharted emotional territory. De los Santos is an expert at portraying the interior lives of women. Her latest novel is a sensitively rendered, insightful look at the personal ties that bind us all.

A JOURNEY ACROSS TIME
Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell’s magnificent, century-hopping novel, comes to the big screen this month in a film adaptation featuring Tom Hanks and Halle Berry. Originally published in 2004, the book is now available in a movie tie-in edition. In six intertwined narratives, Mitchell tells an ambitious story about the unexpected connections that link individual lives. The book features a cast of sharply drawn characters, each with his or her own fascinating plotline. Intrepid journalist Luisa Rey goes after sinister dealings at a nuclear power plant in 1970s California. In Belgium in 1931, aspiring musician Robert Frobisher serves as assistant to a famous composer, recounting his adventure-filled tenure in letters to his lover. In a grimly futuristic Hawaii, Zachry leads a life of crude survival after a catastrophe wipes out civilization. By book’s end the threads of the narrative come together like an act of magic. Mitchell, author of the best-selling Black Swan Green, writes about different time periods with ease and authority. This is a challenging yet rewarding novel from a master storyteller.

TOP PICK FOR BOOK CLUBS
In The Odds—his 13th novel—Stewart O’Nan tells the story of Marion and Art Fowler, an out-of-work couple in Cleveland whose lives are falling apart. Facing foreclosure on their home and struggling to keep their marriage afloat, the Fowlers throw caution to the wind one Valentine’s Day weekend and risk everything on a gambling trip to Niagara Falls. For what they envision as a second honeymoon, the Fowlers drain the funds from their savings account and take a bridal suite at a fancy hotel. They enjoy all Niagara Falls has to offer, including its casinos, where they hope to win big. O’Nan captures both the delicate moments and the passionate incidents that make up a marriage. His novel is a compelling examination of the fragility of relationships and the resilience that’s required to sustain them over time.

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