Leah Hager Cohen’s new novel, No Book but the World, takes its title from a quote by philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Ava and her younger brother, Fred, were raised by progressive parents who followed Rousseau’s “free” education and parenting model, letting their children discover the world on their own and without inhibitions or formal constrictions. Memories of their imaginative childhood in the woods flood forth as an adult Ava visits the town where her brother is now in jail.
The story of the once-successful novelist trapped in the throes of writer’s block, personal woes and emotional contemplation is a favorite of many novelists, from Stephen King to Michael Chabon, but lesser versions of the tale often veer into the realm of plodding semi-autobiographical navel-gazing and serve the writer more than the book itself. With her latest novel, Tatiana de Rosnay not only avoids the pitfalls of the struggling-novelist story, but also obliterates them with a lush, beautifully rendered saga layered with secrets, scandal and, yes, an exploration of what it means to be a writer who’s terrified of having nothing left to say.
Irish-born author Emma Donoghue returns to historical fiction with her first novel since the 2010 runaway bestseller Room. Frog Music was inspired by a real-life unsolved murder in 1876 San Francisco, a good three decades after the Gold Rush. Cross-dressing Jenny, a voice of surprising common sense amid the wild culture of the time, was shot in cold blood at her friend Blanche’s house, and the murderer was never found.
Worst. Person. Ever., Douglas Coupland’s new novel, is engaging, funny and a rocking good read. As the title implies, the main character, Raymond Gunt, is not a nice person. The book is written in the first person, in what is known as the “unreliable narrator” style. Ray Gunt is a highly unreliable narrator.
There’s a stranger in Claudia Morgan-Brown’s house. The Birmingham, England, social worker has what should be an enviable life: Newly married to a wealthy naval officer, she lives in a palatial house and is step-parenting his adorable twin boys. And after a string of heartbreaking miscarriages with her ex, she’s finally expecting a baby girl of her own. But there’s a problem: the new live-in nanny, Zoe Harcomb.
Best-selling author Nevada Barr is well known for her unique mystery series featuring national park ranger Anna Pigeon. Beginning with the award-winning Track of the Cat (1993), set in Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas, the Anna Pigeon novels have treated readers to the unique scenic beauty of an array of national parks scattered across the country. Seventeen books later, we’re still enjoying Ranger Pigeon’s thrilling adventures set in both backcountry and urban park settings.
In Blossom Street Brides, beloved author Debbie Macomber returns to the thriving community of women who frequent a knitting shop on Seattle’s Blossom Street. This time around, Lydia Goetz, the owner of A Good Yarn Shop, is worried the future of her business, while newlywed Bethanne Scranton is struggling to maintain her long-distance marriage, and Lauren Elliott has just broken up with the man she was certain she would marry.
The automobile is one of the inanimate objects most subject to the practice of personification. How many besotted car owners have referred to their shiny vehicle as “she” and stroked the hood as one would perhaps stroke a woman? In All I Have in This World, novelist Michael Parker’s eighth novel, a sky blue Buick Electra is as much a character as any other. Readers follow the car, in nonlinear fashion, from its birth to death; what comes in between is compelling, although the story takes a bit of time to rev up.
In Vintage, author and secondhand store enthusiast Susan Gloss weaves together the lives of three very different women in a story filled with humor and heart.
Violet Turner, the 30-something proprietor of Hourglass Vintage, has a passion for making something out of the hand life has dealt.
Getting to “happily ever after” may not be easy for characters in romance novels, but it is always guaranteed. Unfortunately, that’s far from the case in real life, of course, which is the basis for Elizabeth Maxwell’s wryly funny debut novel Happily Ever After.