Set in upstate New York just after the Civil War, Jeffrey Lent’s latest book is a bit puzzling. To be blunt, it ends just when things are getting really interesting. It’s not that things haven’t been interesting from the beginning: By page three we’ve been witness to a double murder. The murderer’s name is Malcolm Hopeton, and he’s returned from the war only to find that half of his farm has been sold out from under him and his wife is canoodling with his hired man—the type who, in the old days, would have been called a cur. In his fury, Malcolm even injures his hired boy, Harlan Davis, who has witnessed the whole tawdry mess. As for Malcolm, he resigns himself to the gallows. But will he hang, after all?
Three of 2014's most acclaimed novels are now out in paperback and are sure to spark thoughtful discussion in reading groups this month.
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.
Historical novels that use real people, eras and achievements as a springboard can sometimes become overworked lessons of the history on which they’re treading. Other times, they can be inspired, original works that remind us of both the importance of history and the timeless concerns of our own humanity. Thankfully, The Architect’s Apprentice is the latter.
A search for an elusive sea monster at the height of World War II sounds like the plot of a genre-mashup movie. But in At the Water’s Edge, the latest novel from Water for Elephants author Sara Gruen, what starts out as a lark on the part of rich, entitled friends turns into a quest that is at times frightening, liberating and even comical.
Readers who know Elizabeth Wein’s award-winning books Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire, both set during World War II, may be surprised by the 1930s Ethiopian setting of her warm-hearted, ambitious new novel, Black Dove, White Raven.
Debut novelist Daniel Torday puts a fresh spin on World War II in The Last Flight of Poxl West, a page-turning literary tale about truth, lies and forgiveness. Eli Goldstein idolizes his uncle Poxl, a Hungarian Jew who served in Britain's Royal Air Force during WWII. The novel alternates between the adult Eli's voice and the pages of Poxl's memoir as the two coming-of-age stories converge.
It’s 1849 in rural Missouri, and 15-year-old Samantha Young is the only daughter of a Chinese immigrant. Like many fortune-seeking pioneers during the Gold Rush, Samantha’s father has plans to move out West—until a tragedy leaves Samantha orphaned and penniless. To make matters worse, she is then attacked, and though quick thinking saves her life, she accidentally leaves the attacker dead.
A dose of dark humor, a captivating historical novel and the 2014 National Book Award winner for fiction make great selections for reading groups this month.
Young William Wyeth sets out from St. Louis as part of a fur-trapping brigade in 1826, hoping to prove to his family back East that his wandering, capricious nature can be put to good use. Wrestling with his insecurities spurs him forward into the relatively uncharted land west of the settled United States, filled with wild game, angry natives and endless potential.