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Literary Fiction

  • So Brave, Young and Handsome

    So Brave, Young and Handsome: A Novel by Leif Enger. "Gorgeous, gorgeous writing by the author of Peace Like a River. A story about couple of fugitives, a lot of close escapes, and some fascinating secondary characters. A sympathetically written allegory similar in tone and feel to the movie ‘Oh Brother, Where Art Thou.’" (Ed: Peace Like a River is one of my all-time favorite books. Please read it if you haven't already!)

  • Songs Without Words

    Songs without Words by Ann Packer. Follow-up novel by the author of Dive from Clausen's Pier (which I loved).  "Liz and Sarabeth were childhood neighbors in the suburbs of northern California, brought as close as sisters by the suicide of Sarabeth’s mother when the girls were just sixteen. In the decades that followed–through Liz’s marriage and the birth of her children, through Sarabeth’s attempts to make a happy life for herself despite the shadow cast by her mother’s act–their relationship remained a source of continuity and strength. But when Liz’s adolescent daughter enters dangerous waters that threaten to engulf the family, the fault lines in the women’s friendship are revealed, and both Liz and Sarabeth are forced to reexamine their most deeply held beliefs about their connection."

  • Story of Beautiful Girl

    The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon. Several of you mentioned this new release. From Amazon: “It is 1968. Lynnie, a young white woman with a developmental disability, and Homan, an African American deaf man, are locked away in an institution, the School for the Incurable and Feebleminded, and have been left to languish, forgotten. Deeply in love, they escape, and find refuge in the farmhouse of Martha, a retired schoolteacher and widow. But the couple is not alone-Lynnie has just given birth to a baby girl.” Reviewers have used words like "enthralling" and "captivating."

  • Story of Edgar Sawtelle

    The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski. "I read all bazillion pages in about four days (on vacation). I liked it (loved it even), but rather wish I'd known it was based on Hamlet."  "I would put it at the top of my list. Absolute favorite book of the last few years. It is one of those absorbing books where you can actually ignore everything around you and read. Perfect vacation book! Amazing character development and story line. I wish I could write or even just imagine like him."  From Amazon:  "Born mute, speaking only in sign, Edgar Sawtelle leads an idyllic life with his parents on their farm in remote northern Wisconsin. For generations, the Sawtelles have raised and trained a fictional breed of dog whose thoughtful companionship is epitomized by Almondine, Edgar's lifelong friend and ally. But with the unexpected return of Claude, Edgar's paternal uncle, turmoil consumes the Sawtelles' once peaceful home. When Edgar's father dies suddenly, Claude insinuates himself into the life of the farm—and into Edgar's mother's affections.  Grief-stricken and bewildered, Edgar tries to prove Claude played a role in his father's death, but his plan backfires—spectacularly. Forced to flee into the vast wilderness lying beyond the farm, Edgar comes of age in the wild, fighting for his survival and that of the three yearling dogs who follow him. But his need to face his father's murderer and his devotion to the Sawtelle dogs turn Edgar ever homeward."

  • Sweet Tooth

    Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan.  “A spy novel told by a twenty-something MI-5 agent in the 1970s about coming into the service and her life as a young, independent woman.  The novel focuses on her mission, ‘Sweet Tooth’ and how she blurs the line between work and her personal personal life.  Give it a few chapters – it took me a while to get into, but once you are immersed in her world it is difficult to leave it until you’ve read the last page.”

  • Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

    The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell. “Mitchell can take spit globules, gout, puss, blood letting, beatings, anal exploratories, overall bad hygiene, and organized rape and turn it into poetry. I'll admit that the idea of a historical novel set in a 1799 Dutch trading post off the coast of Japan didn't readily appeal to me. And the dialect of the first section (something like garbled cockney that Mitchell calls ‘bygonese’ in an interview in the back of the book) was a little difficult to process at first. Give it time and let yourself absorb Mitchell's deliberate language and vivid imagery. You are in the hands of a master storyteller. A Thousand Autumns pulls in elements of romance, action, political thriller and high seas adventure. His characters are varied and complex - even minor characters have multi-dimensions that add depth to the story. By the end of the book I was fully invested, cheering and mourning the various outcomes of each character's fate.”

  • Unaccustomed Earth

    Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri.“BEAUTIFULLY written, loved this book, although a bit tragic/dark like her other books.” "Almost as good as her first book of short stories.” “subtle prose masks rich, intricate family relations.”

  • Visit from the Goon Squad

    A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. Each chapter in this novel, which won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, is told from a different character’s point of view –friends and associates of a music producer/former punk rocker. Contributor comments: "Smart, modern, and well-written book dealing with the aging of a generation of hip youngsters." … "This is a fun but thoughtful book about...well...about a whole bunch of people who all have some connection to each other, some more than others, all dealing with different stages of life, and we meet several of them over again as they age or in their past. Confused? You won't be. I never felt out of place or out of time in this book. Egan does a great job of quickly establishing where you are at and with which character and then you fall completely into their story."

  • Wolf Hall

    Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel.  Winner of the Booker prize, a novel about Thomas Cromwell, the villain of "A Man for all Seasons" (but not of Wolf Hall). "Lovely tempo and atmospheric style of writing in an historical setting. Quite a successful combination." "Who knew one could feel sympathy towards Oliver Cromwell?  If you love the Tudor age and no detail is too much, this is the book for you.  The writing style bugged friends of mine, I think they found it pompous, but it didn't bother me.  I loved the book and enjoyed the different twist on an old and well-known storyline.”  (Ed: It is indeed brilliant, but like many readers, I was beyond annoyed by Mantel’s ambiguous use of the pronoun "he." A hint to increase your enjoyment: If she says "he," she generally means Cromwell.  She did better with this in the sequel.)

  • Young Wife

    A Young Wife by Pam Lewis (Publishing insider recommendation – release date 6/14/2011) “About the Book: When fifteen-year-old Minke van Aisma travels to Amsterdam to care for the dying wife of an older, wealthy man named Sander DeVries, she has no idea what awaits her. Within hours of his wife's death, Sander proposes marriage, and within days the couple sets sail for the burgeoning oil fields of Argentina. But the future that seemed so bright takes a dark turn the morning their son, Zef, is kidnapped. Dire circumstances dictate that Sander immigrate to New York at once, leaving Minke little choice but to wait for their new baby's arrival, follow Sander to America, and abandon her firstborn. What follows is a triumphant turn-of-the-century saga of love, betrayal, and redemption that takes readers from the opulent life in Amsterdam during the 1900s to rough life on the Argentine coast to the impoverished life of a recent immigrant in New York.”