Janis Cooke Newman, author of Mary: Mrs. A. Lincoln, once again brings history to life with her sophomore novel, A Master Plan for Rescue. Here, Newman explores New York City as World War II percolates across the Atlantic. Her remarkable novel is filled with stories within stories that recall the superhero serials that its gifted 12-year-old, Jack Quinlan, wholeheartedly believes in.
Three novels explore the hardships, complexities and a few triumphs within families, from the 1920s homestead to present-day Europe, make for great group discussion this month.
Inspect Europe today, and you would struggle to believe that its greatest scuffles were once about anything other than bailouts and shared currency, or Eurovision and football. Yet 2015 marks the bicentennial of a battle that stands as a summation of that continent's centuries of bloody wars, particularly those of the 20th: Waterloo. Two new books take different approaches to remembering this conflict.
When Judy Blume was a teenager in Elizabeth, New Jersey, three commercial jets crashed in her town within months of each other, each narrowly avoiding schools and orphanages. In retrospect, it’s shocking that she hasn’t considered telling this dramatic story before. But only now has Blume written about it in a novel, In the Unlikely Event.
Having grown up in Wisconsin, I was surprised to learn that German prisoners captured during World War II were shipped across the Atlantic to my home state. They were housed in rural areas—vacated schools, fairgrounds, migrant worker camps—and were put to work in canneries and on local farms. Between 1942 and 1946, Wisconsin housed POWs in 39 camps across the state.
For the irrepressible 12-year-old heroine of The Truth According to Us, growing up in the sleepy West Virginia mill town of Macedonia at the height of the Great Depression proves to be anything but depressing.
Mazie Phillips-Gordon was a real person. Born in 1897, she ran the ticket booth at New York’s Venice Theater from 1916 to 1938. You may not think that’s such a big achievement, but then you probably haven’t read the Joseph Mitchell New Yorker essay about her that inspired Jami Attenberg’s entertaining new novel, Saint Mazie.
Dolen Perkins-Valdez’s second novel, Balm, follows a group of refugees who meet in the bustling, reeking and bewildering city of Chicago.
Australian poet Robyn Cadwallader was researching a PhD thesis when she came across the story that inspired her first novel, The Anchoress, the richly told story of a woman who chose to live a very cloistered life in the name of religion. Here, Cadwallader explains how she stumbled upon one of history’s lesser known corners.
In Sarah McCoy’s new book, two protagonists tell the little-known history of Sarah Brown, daughter of John Brown, the staunch abolitionist who was executed for the attack he led on Harper’s Ferry.