Booklists · Beyond Bestsellers: Notable New Fiction Titles (July 2011)
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.
Margaret Drabble is a prominent name in so many areas of contemporary literature ï¿½ British, feminist, postwar. Best known for her novels, she is an astute commentator on society and, in particular, the changing role of women in the late twentieth century. She only wrote a handful of short stories, collected here in one volume for the first time. These little snippets of British society, at home and traveling abroad, accentuate the themes in Drabbleï¿½s longer works and will be welcomed by her many fans.
When young Emily Stewart discovers a talent for otherworldly noise making, her twin brother thinks this would be a lark to entertain the neighborhood children. Of course the children canï¿½t keep a secret and soon Emily finds herself in demand, first by a gaggle of old ladies and later by a friendï¿½s father who needs to contact his son who was recently killed in the Great War. While Michael contemplates taking the show to a higher level, Emily starts to feel guilty as old family secrets come to light. An elegantly haunting tale.
Believing that ï¿½the biggest fear of someone who has loved a dead person is to forget that personï¿½, Goldman pens a riveting and moving memorial to his young wife who was tragically killed in a freak beach accident just before their second anniversary. Intertwining his lament, memories, and declarations of love for Aura with snippets of her life reconstructed from her many diaries, this nonfiction novel is a literary monument to the power of emotions set into words. Aura Estrada surely will not be forgotten.
Poor little rich girl Cora Cash (could that last name be more appropriate?) is saddled with an overbearing mama who is looking for the one thing money canï¿½t buyï¿½the social status of a title. So off they go to England where Cora falls for the very established, but short-of-cash, Duke of Wareham. But British gentry doesnï¿½t take to up-and-comers like Cora, and her brooding husband seems preoccupied. A smashing debut loosely based on American heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt, with shades of iconic historical romances like Wuthering Heights and Rebecca.
Griffiths follows up her spine-tingling debut, The Crossing Places (featured in a previous Beyond Bestsellers) with another tightly wound, multi-layer story involving forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway. Ruth is called to a demolition site when a childï¿½s skeleton, minus head, is found under the doorstep. The building was once a childrenï¿½s home and, indeed, a young girl and her brother went missing about the right time. Clues involving Roman rituals and sacrifices add to the intrigue.
The worlds of the living and dead coexist in the small town of Claysville, where it is up to two people, the Graveminder and the Undertaker, to be sure they stay separate. You see, Claysville has made a contract with Death and when itï¿½s not honoredï¿½ wellï¿½. Back for her grandmotherï¿½s funeral, Rebekkah inherits the job of tending to the departed citizens, providing a drink and murmuring the phrase ï¿½ Sleep well, and stay where I put you.ï¿½ Problem is the Undertaker is an old love interestï¿½ and thereï¿½s that thirsty teenager roaming the town too.
Gilded Age New York City provides an atmospheric setting for Pintoff, who doesnï¿½t skimp on period details. In this third outing for Detective Ziele and his criminologist friend Alistair Sinclair, the pair is called into action by the murder victimï¿½s wife although itï¿½s not Zieleï¿½s precinct and the police are leery of Sinclairï¿½s early attempts at forensics. Anarchistsï¿½ protests are turning violent, making them the policeï¿½s easy suspects, but symbols and ciphers at the crime scene lead in a different direction.
ï¿½If leaving Deerborn was so distasteful that both my grandfather and great-grandfather passed up a chance to play in the majors; if the town was so insular that my fatherï¿½s departure was seen as a defection; if it had never in all the years of its existence, been home to a soul who wasnï¿½t German, Polish, Norwegian, or French Canadian, imagine the shock of having to contemplate a daughter-in-law from Japan.ï¿½ Shades of To Kill a Mockingbird reverberate in a small town where a young Japanese-American girl is abandoned to her grandparentsï¿½ care.
Drug-running/border stories conjure up the heat of the Southwest, but there is another US border, the northern one. This action-packed debut makes great use of the natural beauty ï¿½ mountains, forests, and shoreline - that Washington State has to offer. All Phil Hunt really wants to do is raise a family with his wife on their horse ranch, but he canï¿½t quite make it without a little supplemental income. When this drug drop goes sour Hunt is pursued by a relentless lawman and a hired-to-kill psycho, and it goes from bad to worse.
When the new drama teacher at Eleanor Roosevelt High School chooses Lysistrata, it is unlike any other production in the schoolï¿½s history. ï¿½The Lysistrata spell was a phenomenon that very few people knew about, but it was real, and it was here.ï¿½ Suddenly the female staff and students are done with sexual relations, not in a conscious way, but overcome by a cold spell creeping into town. Amusing and compelling reading, Wolitzerï¿½s novel is full of wonderfully drawn, realistic characters. Tragedy or comedy? You decide.
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