BookPage Fiction Top Pick, February 2014
“The first time I saw a sleeper, I was nine years old.” Best-selling author Jennifer McMahon (Promise Not to Tell) opens her new novel, The Winter People, with a sentence that offers a tantalizing glimpse of the horrors to come in this marvelously creepy page-turner.
“Rebecca Winter” remains a household name, thanks to the iconic photograph “Still Life with Bread Crumbs” that catapulted her art career into the public eye. But Rebecca Winter, the person, has changed significantly in the decades since she captured that domestic image of her kitchen counter after her husband and son retired for the evening. She’s no longer married, for one. And it’s been so long since she made a significant sale that she can no longer afford the upscale Manhattan apartment that contains the kitchen immortalized in that famous picture.
I was skeptical when I found out the author of The Widow’s Guide to Sex and Dating stars on “The Real Housewives of New York.” And when the epigram was a Lady Gaga quote, I thought I was in for a long slog. What a pleasant surprise, then, when the book turned out to be one of the richest, most deeply satisfying stories I’ve read in a long time.
In her second book, My Life in Middlemarch, New Yorker staff writer Rebecca Mead offers a thoughtful examination of the book that has turned out to be a touchstone of her life. We caught up with Mead to ask her a few questions about this personal look at a beloved classic.
What are the effects of children on their parents? Academics have long studied the question, and most readers have some back-of-the-hand knowledge of the subject. But rarely have those two groups been in conversation—until now. Jennifer Senior successfully connects a barrage of scholarship with the real experiences of moms and dads, and the resulting book, All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood, is completely fascinating.
Fourteen-year-old Victoria Secord loves nothing more than her 16 Alaskan huskies. Like her dad, she loves racing, and she races to win. But after her father’s untimely death, Vicky and her mom are at odds. Vicky could never leave Alaska, but her mom keeps talking about moving back to Seattle.
This month's best new mysteries include an inventive debut novel from a Nigerian phenom, a stellar 19th installment in a World War I mystery series, a release from the next Steig Larsson and more.
Patrick Ness has made a well-deserved name for himself in the realm of young adult fiction, where he’s crafted magical tales full of sensitivity and raw emotional energy. With The Crane Wife, he brings all of those talents to a story for adults, and the result is a viscerally beautiful, subtly magical and instantly memorable realistic fairy tale that will linger in your brain.
It takes a certain kind of person to parlay tearful, angry-door-slamming sibling rivalry into a series of popular novels.
But Jill Shalvis is nothing if not creative, so she combined her romance-writer instincts (50 novels and counting) with her motherly concerns, and kicked off her best-selling Lucky Harbor series.
First the woman behind Frank Lloyd Wright and now Robert Louis Stevenson’s wife—author Nancy Horan has carved a niche for herself as a novelist who gives voice to strong, influential yet largely forgotten women.
“Women have been underrepresented in the history books,” Horan says by phone from her home on an island near Seattle. “I’ve chosen to write about two women who were very strong in their own right.”