In novels like Year of Wonders, People of the Book and the Pulitzer Prize-winning March, Geraldine Brooks has demonstrated an ability to transform history into compelling, distinctive fiction. That talent is undiminished in The Secret Chord, a vivid re-creation of the life of King David.
If James Joyce can devote an entire novel to one day in the life of the people of Dublin, why can’t Homer Hickam devote a novel to the delivery of Albert the alligator to Florida? Especially when that journey treats readers to labor strikes, car chases, hijinks on the high seas, Hollywood movies and a fateful hurricane—not to mention cameo appearances by literary competitors John Steinbeck and Ernest Hemingway. Add to this a rooster perched imperturbably on Albert’s head, and you have the makings of an intentionally improbable, bizarre trip through Southern Americana that is a tall tale blend of fact and fiction.
Clare Clark’s novel of the dislocations that befall an aristocratic English family during and right after World War I is beautifully written and enjoyable, but the reader has to wonder if it would have been published had we not been living in the age of “Downton Abbey.” Of course it might have, as the popular TV show has plenty of collateral ancestors of its own: Think Brideshead Revisited and those nice books by Nancy Mitford. Still, the full name of one of the characters of We That Are Left includes the name Crawford. It’s not Crawley, but it’s close enough for jazz, as they say.
Few writers seem to understand the difficult balance between historical detail and suspense better than Edgar Award finalist Matthew Guinn. His second novel, The Scribe, is a master class in historical mystery.
For me, the story of Sai Jinhua begins on a summery day in Shanghai. It is the final day of a trip I very much fear will be the last one that I and my husband will take with our two sons, both of whom are poised to leave on journeys that are suddenly, although hardly unexpectedly, becoming their own next chapters.
Take a seat, front row center, and get ready for a show, as Elly Griffiths weaves her authorial magic on a new stage. Leaving her popular Ruth Galloway series aside for the moment, Griffiths enters the world of showmanship and sleight of hand, focusing on a very special troupe of magicians.
In the town of Steeple Chase, Pennsylvania, there’s not much for a poor farm girl other than a life of looming drudgery. And this is why, in The Hired Girl, the farmer’s daughter wises up and escapes the farm toil, striking out on her own to push back against the societal, cultural and patriarchal confines that threaten the rest of her days.
British mystery master Elly Griffiths enters the world of illusionists with The Zig Zag Girl, the first in a new series that has us looking behind the curtain in a whole new way.
A beloved true story of adventure, a harrowing story of underground survival and an artfully woven historical make for great group discussion this month.
Tom Piazza’s new novel is a crisply told tale of race relations in Philadelphia a few years before the Civil War, one that brings into sharp relief the tensions that beset Northern society even as it was about to go to war to rid the nation of slavery.