Charlotte Brontë makes her way to 21st-century New York City by way of Korea in this latest spin on Jane Eyre from first-time author Patricia Park. The title character is Jane Re, “a honhyol, a mixed-blood,” with a Korean mother and American father. As if the “Koreanish” Jane (as she describes herself) does not already feel like an outsider, her parents die, and she is shipped off to live with her gruff uncle in Flushing, Queens—an enclave that is “all Korean, all the time,” and where “your personal business was communal property.”
What do two twin sisters who star in a Coney Island sideshow, a woman whose mother-in-law may have had her committed to an insane asylum, and a sanitation worker who finds an orphaned baby girl while completing his rounds one night have in common? The question sounds like the set up to a rather ghoulish joke, and yet untangling this mystery forms the basis of Leslie Parry’s dazzling debut, Church of Marvels.
Much like Ana, the heroine of her engrossing debut novel, Sara Nović isn’t entirely sure where to call home. “This is what I’m trying to figure out,” the author says, laughing, in a recent interview. “I really don’t know.”
Fans of authors like Sarah Waters and Michel Faber will thrill to Anna Freeman's debut, The Fair Fight, an exciting historical novel set in the little-known world of women's bare-knuckle boxing.
Tolstoy is famous for writing, “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” What he doesn’t mention is that each member of the family can be happy and unhappy in their own individual ways. That’s where Angela Flournoy picks up in The Turner House, the story of a big African-American family struggling with the decision of what to do with their family home.
Venetia Stanley was a great beauty of her day, sought after by poets and painters eager to pay homage to her good looks. Her early death in 1633 has remained a mystery over the centuries, some accusing her husband, Sir Kenelm Digby, of murder and others ascribing her demise to the toxic beauty treatments she was rumored to have used. Hermione Eyre’s brilliant debut, Viper Wine, explores the perils of achieving beauty at all costs, set against a backdrop of the political and social upheaval of 17th-century London.
The story of a young woman trying to make it in Hollywood is familiar to most. However, Shanna Mahin turns this common tale into a simultaneously heartbreaking and heartwarming story. Oh! You Pretty Things gives readers a glimpse of the destruction that celebrity (and the obsession with it) can cause in day-to-day life. Encompassing humor, wit, irony and sheer sass, this story shows that even in glitzy Hollywood, life can be filled with hardships.
There is a strong tradition of Irish writers—William Trevor, Edna O’Brien and Colm Tóibín come immediately to mind—who can turn the everyday details of an ordinary life into art. Add to these ranks Mary Costello, whose deceptively slender first novel, Academy Street, takes in the full measure of one woman’s quietly tragic life in fewer than 200 pages.
If you were born in 1800, there was a 50 percent chance that you would die before your fifth birthday. Popular sports of the day were often bloody: bear- or badger-baiting, cockfighting and, of course, bare-knuckle boxing.
“Anna was a good wife, mostly.” So opens Jill Alexander Essbaum’s remarkable debut novel, the mesmerizing story of Anna Benz, an American expatriate who has lived in Zurich for nine years with her husband, Bruno—a Swiss banker—and their three children.