Alexandra Fuller’s hardscrabble African lyricism returns in her third memoir, which focuses on the push-pull of her marriage to American adventurer Charlie Ross. Although much of Leaving Before the Rains Come is set in Wyoming, where Fuller settles uncomfortably into American domesticity, her war-torn childhood in colonial Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and the drunken pragmatism of her parents continue to shape her worldview.
Brooke Davis’ story of a little girl named Millie Bird turns child abandonment into an adventure. After her father dies and her mother leaves her in the ladies’ underwear department, Millie finds two improbable helpers: Karl, who types out everything he says or feels with his fingers, and Agatha, who writes complaint letters and catalogs her aging body’s daily changes. Karl and Agatha, both in their 80s and widowed, have lived long lives but don’t quite know how to live now. Millie’s predicament gives them a reason to try.
“When you stopped trying to be one perfect person, you could be many.” A small-town Tennessee girl flourishes into a classic, yet never cliché, femme fatale in Rebecca Scherm’s provocative coming-of-age debut, Unbecoming.
After eight years of unfulfilled promises, there may finally be a wedding at Twill Castle. In the second book in Tessa Dare's Castles Ever After series, Say Yes to the Marquess, Clio Whitmore has found independence and is ready to break her long engagement to the Marquess of Granville, but his brother is determined to see the two tie the knot. Of course, Rafe Brandon just has to keep from falling in love with Clio himself. We caught up with Dare and chatted about the allure of castles, her favorite historical era and more in a 7 questions interview.
Grandparents who love their only grandchild fiercely, but haven’t spoken since their divorce 50 years ago, incite her urgent question: What happened? As she writes in A Fifty-Year Silence: Love, War, and a Ruined House in France, Miranda Richmond Mouillot hopes to recreate a fairy tale of love found, and somehow lost, amid the turmoil of World War II. But her grandparents, Armand and Anna, are growing frail and their memories of fleeing Nazi-occupied France are painful.
O. Henry Prize winner Jan Ellison’s debut novel is a puzzle with the outside pieces finished. Reading it is like compulsively fitting all those revealing middle pieces together. Annie Black, a happily married 40-something San Francisco businesswoman, delves into her careless youth after her 21-year-old son is injured in a car accident. Spinning a tale of the three drunken months she spent in Europe in 1989, she demonstrates how the past can shape the future.
In 1971, 10-year-old Allen Kurzweil arrived at a Swiss boarding school called Aiglon. He was a Jewish boy from New York; his father had died, and his mother was “test-driving her third husband.” Kurzweil was happy to be back in the Alps—his Viennese father had brought him there for winter holidays and imbued him with a love of alpine hiking and skiing.
Amanda Eyre Ward had already finished writing The Same Sky, her moving novel about an 11-year-old Honduran girl attempting to reunite with her mother in the U.S., when the controversy about undocumented minors blew up along the border last summer.
Will’s entire world exists inside the walls of his house. Raised by an agoraphobic mother, he’s taught to fear the world outside—and the world inside, too, wearing a helmet constantly and donning body armor just to change a light bulb. He feels safe. Then he goes outside, and everything feels strange.
In Michael Crummey’s novel, Sweetland, a Newfoundlander named Queenie offers some literary criticism. Concerning books about her province, she says: “It was a torture to get through them. They were every one depressing. . . . Or nothing happened. Or there was no point to the story.” She adds that they are unrecognizable and probably written by outsiders.