Reading Recommendations · Beyond Bestsellers: Notable New Fiction Titles (September 2012)
Only a few books reach the top of the fiction bestseller charts, but there are many more terrific new titles available at the Library. Here are some recent favorites.
An unusual heroine, a female horologist, works on a 19th century contraption to appease her anguish over her lover’s death. Besides the pieces of the mechanical device, Catherine discovers journals written by the man who designed and commissioned the work for his frail and ailing son. Catherine becomes obsessed with the man from the past as she works through her sorrow, accompanied by that eerie sense that ”anyone who has ever observed a successful automaton… remembers that particular fear, that confusion about what is alive and what cannot be born.”
Long-listed for Britain’s prestigious Orange Prize, Whatever You Love is the story of a mother’s grief. In the first few pages, the inevitable occurs – nine-year-old Betty is killed by an errant driver who flees the scene. The rest of the book is her mother Laura’s recollections of life before, and narrative of life after, losing her child. When the verdict comes back an accident, Laura becomes preoccupied with knowing the driver and finding something precious to him that she can take away. Raw grief and emotional passages carry the tragic story.
“Victorian London is a cesspool of crime,” and Scotland Yard has formed a specialized group of twelve detectives in response to the Jack the Ripper cases. But it is a woeful number considering the thousands of crimes that occur in the city every month. When Inspector Little of the “murder squad” turns up as a victim, the group cannot let this affront rest unsolved or let the killer begin a spree that dwindles the ranks of available crime-fighters. This atmospheric novel involving the beginnings of forensic science will be a hit with Sherlock Holmes and Anne Perry fans.
Not only did Hurricane Katrina bring down the levees in New Orleans, it also destroyed the barrier between the living and the dead. Voodoo summons are no longer necessary as the alleyways of The Big Easy are now crowded with pirates, black magic queens, and other unsavory characters. Wizard Drusilla “DJ” Jaco is one of the sentinels who send the undead back where they belong, but with the current state of affairs she’s given a partner. Of course, Alex is handsome, a bit of a shapeshifting Rambo, making things interesting in this new urban fantasy series.
In 1923 China, Eva English accompanies her sister on a missionary crusade, although Eva has a plan of a considerably less spiritual nature. In present-day London, Frieda befriends an illegal Yemeni immigrant just as she inherits a flat and all its contents from an unknown relative. The connection between these stories is revealed in a tale of startling cultural differences. From the haunting landscape of the famed Silk Road to the intriguing furnishings of a modern day flat, rich details portray the political and social moods of contrasting time periods.
Herman Melville’s great-great-great-granddaughter’s novel of family secrets has been much the buzz the last few months. The plot revolves around two cousins, close as sisters, who have summered together at the family estate on Martha’s Vineyard. At the beginning of the novel, World War II has just ended and both girls are off to reclaim normality through married life. Moving through the next 25 years the story, told by five unique character voices, discusses the paths life has taken them on and leads up to a tragedy that breaks the tranquility of summer life.
It’s one very long day for Clare Moorhouse, wife of the number two British diplomat in Paris. She’s planning for a dinner that they have, just the evening before, been asked to host. If all goes well, it could mean an ambassador position in Ireland. But as the day progresses, Clare is more distracted than focused on the dinner. Her son has problems at boarding school, and while running errands she inadvertently comes upon information that would free a murder suspect. Plus if her husband knew why she never wanted to even visit Ireland, it could end their marriage.
Lanchester’s novel of British manners concerns the homes of Pepys Road in south London. Originally built in the early twentieth century to be affordable for lower middle-class workers, the houses on Pepys Road have seen the ebb and tide of real estate pricing, but by 2007 have become highly desired and renovated to be worth millions. The residents vary in socio-economic status, depending on when they moved onto the street. When postcards start appearing on their doorsteps declaring “We want what you have,” the scrutiny begins. What do they have?
Even though she weighs 220 pounds, there just doesn’t seem to be enough of Ada to go around with a whole congregation, daycare children, and family needing her attention. But an invitation to a school reunion, accompanied by a personal note from an old flame, sends Preach’s wife into a tizzy to work her way to a size 10. Ada draws up some rules, one per week for the year until the reunion date, to get her bigness under control. Randall, author of the best-selling The Wind Done Gone, keeps spirits up as she tackles the issue of image in the black community.
If you like big gushy romances like Diana Gabaldon writes, this is the book for you. Time travel allows the romantic couple of Kate and Julian to meet both in 1916 and 2005, falling passionately in love each time. In 2005, Wall Street trader Kate can’t fathom why high profile Julian is so smitten with her. In 1916 Julian is a soldier on the front line, visited by the mysterious Kate warning him off from a battle in order to save his life and their future together. Corporate intrigue plagues the couple, and friends are not always as they seem in either setting.
Need more suggestions? Contact your local branch and our staff will be happy to assist you!