Memoirist and literary agent Bill Clegg (Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man) has now conquered the world of literary fiction with his searing debut, Did You Ever Have a Family. As a boy “wakes to the sound of sirens,” we learn that an explosion has taken the life of a bride and groom just before their wedding day. Clegg then slowly, intricately reveals the wider ramifications of this unthinkable tragedy through the eyes of more than a dozen characters.
Board the Alaska-bound Zuiderdam, a luxury cruise ship, alongside Harriet Chance. The 78-year-old widow has set sail using a pair of tickets purchased by her late husband, Bernard. Although he never mentioned the trip, Harriet is touched by his thoughtfulness and determined to take advantage of his last romantic gesture. Despite her children’s worry that Harriet is infirm, she sets sail alone, accompanied only by a letter from her best friend, Mildred.
No one writes about history like Judith Flanders. Reading her work (The Victorian City, Inside the Victorian Home) is like going back in time with an expert guide at your side. In her new book, The Making of Home, Flanders ventures beyond one city or time period to explore the political, religious, economic and social factors that led to the notions of home that still influence us today.
Virginia Speedwell, the Victorian sleuth in A Curious Beginning, is observant, outspoken and a bit risqué. Fans of Deanna Raybourn’s Lady Julia series will be delighted with this intrepid new heroine in what promises to be a vastly entertaining series.
“The sleep of reason produces monsters.” These words can be found in an etching by Francisco Goya, reproduced at the beginning of Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights (or 1,001 nights, that magical number). It’s a nightmarish image of a young man asleep, slumped over a table as a horde of wide-eyed and shadowy creatures bear down upon him.
Constance Kopp has never quite fit in: She is tall and broad-shouldered, and she doesn’t care much for keeping house—a rarity for women in 1914. She sticks close to her sisters, Norma and Fleurette, and together they form an odd but functional trio. Norma is stoic and reserved; Constance is bold and proud; and Fleurette, the youngest, is wide-eyed and excitable. Since the death of their mother, the sisters have become closer than ever, living in the countryside after the need to keep secrets forced their move from the city more than 15 years prior.
Madeline hasn’t left her house for 17 years and only comes in daily contact with her mother (who is, coincidentally, also her doctor) and her nurse Carla. Madeline suffers from SCID (Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Disease), making her essentially allergic to being outside. As a result, her home is sterile, with a special air filtration system, an air lock at the front door and a decontamination treatment for anyone who needs to visit her. She reads a lot of books and does all of her schooling via Skype. She has made peace with her life as she knows it—until a new family moves in next door.
Lauren Groff explored the strengths of community in her first two novels, The Monsters of Templeton and Arcadia. In Fates and Furies, she narrows her focus to the ultimate microcosm: a marriage. Told in two parts, first by a husband and then a wife, this unsettling novel looks at the myriad ways even the most devoted of couples keep secrets, betray one another and risk deceiving themselves.
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.
In Supersymmetry, Walton returns to the near-future world of Jacob Kelley and his family, this time focusing on his now-adult daughters, Alex and Sandra. Alex and Sandra are more than twins: They are actually two versions of the same person, an as-yet uncollapsed wave-form of two quantum potentialities left over by the events of the first book.