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  • Jeff Somers 4:00 pm on 2019/07/18 Permalink
    Tags: , , , crime authors, curtain, , , Fiction, , , , new yorked, potter's field, rob hart, , sleeping murder, their time had come,   

    6 Crime Writers Who Ended a Series Voluntarily 


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    Having a hit series of books and a popular character that readers respond to is usually the dream of an author of an genre, but especially the authors of detective novels. But it can also become a burden, trapping the writer in a universe and a type of story that remains in literary amber. Still, most writers happily plug away at a series as long as readers keep showing up, and usually the only reason a popular detective stops accepting new cases is because the author retires…from this mortal coil. But not always; sometimes a writer decides to retire a character voluntarily for their own private reasons—like the six authors on this list.

    Sherlock Holmes, authored by Arthur Conan Doyle
    Doyle famously tried to walk away from Holmes in 1893’s The Final Problem, sending him over the Reichenbach Falls as he struggled with archenemy Professor Moriarity. Doyle regarded his Holmes stories as literary trifles and wanted to focus on more serious writing; he managed to resist the constant pleas for more Holmes stories for eight years before giving in and writing The Hound of the Baskervilles, published in 1901 and kicking off a second wave of Holmes stories that continued until Doyle passed away.

    Pete Fernandez, authored by Alex Segura
    Segura’s Pete Fernandez has been one of the most interesting noir detective characters in recent years, going from a shambling wreck of a life and career to something resembling stability over the course of four tightly plotted, Miami-infused novels. Segura has decided that Miami Midnight, the fifth book in the series, will be the last Fernandez mystery. Which is a shame, because Midnight digs deep into Pete as a character as he’s pulled from unofficial retirement from his unofficial career as a detective, asked by a local gang kingpin to look into the death of his son, a musician. One of the great things Segura has done with Fernandez is make his personal struggles as compelling as the cases he investigates without resorting to overblown mythology. Pete’s interesting because of the sort of personal mysteries we all carry around with us, and he’ll be missed.

    Ash McKenna, authored by Rob Hart
    McKenna’s an interesting character, a self-described “blunt instrument” who begins a journey to being a real, complete person in Hart’s New Yorked, and then continues that journey through three more books that take him all over the world. Hart’s decision to make Potter’s Field the last McKenna novel had everything to do with ending that story of personal development, of finishing the character’s tale purposefully. While he hasn’t ruled out another McKenna story at some point, it’s refreshing to see an author so in control of their character they end their series when the time feels right to them.

    Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, authored by Agatha Christie
    Christie is an unusual case, because she did, in fact, write about her two most popular characters, Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, until she died. But she also voluntarily ended both series—three decades earlier. During World War II Christie worried she might not survive, and worried that meant her greatest literary creations would be orphaned without a proper send off. Her solution was to write a final case for both Poirot and Marple, then lock them away with a stipulation that they not be published until she passed away. As a result, Poirot’s final novel, Curtain published in 1975 and Marple’s, Sleeping Murder, published in 1976 just after Christie’s death. While locking novels away for thirty years on the assumption that people will still care in the future is pretty presumptuous, it certainly paid off for Christie and her fans.

    Peter Wimsey, authored by Dorthy Sayers
    Dorothy Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey isn’t as famous as his contemporaries like Poirot, but he was one of the stars of early-20th century detective fiction—and the ultimate “gentleman detective” character. Wimsey was quite popular, but Sayers’ last Wimsey novel was 1937’s Busman’s Honeymoon, and aside from a short story and some references she never returned to the character. There’s speculation that Sayers, horrified at the violence and terror of World War II, decided she could no longer write about murders and the like. Which is a shame, because Wimsey, who began as a somewhat comical figure, developed into a marvelous and subtle character, and the world could have done with two or three more Wimsey novels.

    Kurt Wallander, authored by Henning Mankell
    Mankell seemed to be planning the end of Kurt Wallander, the depressed, junk food-addicted Swedish detective, more or less since his debut in 1991’s Faceless Killers. Wallander aged with the march of time, and Mankell at one point tried to pivot into a spinoff series with a new character before returning to Wallander. 2009’s The Troubled Man was the definitive final adventure for Wallander, and the character was depicted as dealing with the first symptoms of oncoming dementia, perhaps the worst thing that could afflict a man who relies on his mind and his memory. Mankell continued to write until his death in 2015, but he never returned to Wallander.

    There’s a power in deciding when and where to end your creation. What’s your favorite character’s ending?

    The post 6 Crime Writers Who Ended a Series Voluntarily appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Tara Ariano 5:00 pm on 2019/07/17 Permalink
    Tags: cafe meetups, Fiction, hulu, , Ofmargaret, , , the testaments,   

    What Hints Does Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale Give Us About Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments? 


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    Last month, Barnes & Noble stores across the country hosted the first in a series of Cafe Meetups where fans of Hulu’s  The Handmaid’s Tale met to discuss the show and the Margaret Atwood novel upon which it is based. Many of the discussions focused on the differences and similarities between the show and the book—which got us thinking about what that might mean for Margaret Atwood’s forthcoming sequel, The Testaments, which will be published on September 10 in a Barnes & Noble Exclusive Edition. (Our next Cafe Meetup is scheduled for July 25. Find a participating store near you.)

    Speculative fiction was a new genre for Margaret Atwood when she published The Handmaid’s Tale in 1985, but over the past three-and-a-half decades, the novel has become one of her most gripping and indelible. In recent years, it has also taken on new relevance, thanks both to the politics of our era and a television adaptation that has brought it to the forefront of pop culture.

    Though the novel was earlier adapted as a film in 1990 (with a screenplay by Harold Pinter and a cast including Faye Dunaway, Robert Duvall, and the late Natasha Richardson), a standard movie runtime wasn’t sufficient to dramatize all the events and ideas it contains. In 2017, the TV series adaptation arrived on Hulu, with multiple Emmy-nominee Elisabeth Moss as its protagonist. Critical acclaim soon followed. But since, in our day, the content engines must be constantly stoked with new material lest the networks and platforms and streaming services stall out on the tracks, just covering the events of The Handmaid’s Tale wouldn’t do; the book didn’t supply enough events and ideas to fill multiple seasons of the show.

    For the first season, the plot of the series follows the novel’s with a great deal of fidelity: the U.S. government has been toppled in a theocratic coup, and while war continues between the Americans and Gilead, it’s happening far away from June (Moss). A fertile woman in a time when those are in short supply, she has been forced into the Gilead caste of Handmaid. She lives in the home of a Commander named Fred Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) and his wife Serena (Yvonne Strahovski); once a month, she submits to The Ceremony, as procreative rape is euphemistically known. Since female literacy has been outlawed, she has little to do with the rest of her time but shop for food, take short walks around her neighborhood (both in the company of her walking partner, a fellow Handmaid), and worry about her loved ones, whose fates she doesn’t know: her daughter Hannah (Jordana Blake) and her husband Luke (O-T Fagbenle).

    After a time, Commander Waterford invites her for clandestine hangouts in his study, where they scandalously play Scrabble and leaf through antique fashion magazines. Once Waterford is fairly sure June won’t snitch, he brings her with him to Jezebel’s, a brothel, where she has a chance reunion with her college friend Moira (Samira Wiley), who washed out as a Handmaid and ended up as a sex worker, a life she finds far more palatable.

    Back home, Serena is pretty sure June isn’t getting pregnant—because the Commander is sterile—and arranges for June to copulate with the household’s driver, Nick (Max Minghella); the two end up enjoying each other’s company (to say they fall in love would be kind of a reach), and June does get pregnant. She is shocked to find out that her pious walking partner, Ofglen (Alexis Bledel), is involved with a resistance movement known as Mayday, which recruits her to run ops.

    One thing leads to another, and both the book and the show’s first season end with Nick—not only a driver, but also an Eye (an officer of Gilead’s secret intelligence service)—telling June to trust him while two other Eyes remove her from the Waterfords’ house. For a novel, it’s an ambiguous ending; for a TV series, it’s a cliffhanger.

    June/Offred (her Handmaid name, based on that of her head of household) is the book’s narrator, so while she can report to the reader some of the stories she hears from other characters, the novel formally echoes the claustrophobic restrictions of her new life. Where the first season of the TV series diverges from the book is largely through showing us perspectives of other characters that June doesn’t know about.

    Emily/Ofglen, for instance, was married to a woman; the rise of Gilead meant their marriage was invalidated, but her Canadian wife was permitted to flee with their son. In the meantime, Emily started a relationship with a Martha (a domestic worker in her Commander’s household). When they were discovered, her partner was executed on the spot, and Emily was forced to watch. Emily’s fertility makes her, in the official Gilead estimation, more valuable, so her punishment is a cliterodectomy.

    Serena was a conservative pundit whose theories provided some of the basis for the founding fathers of Gilead. She was passionately in love with her husband and now must live each day knowing she helped define the laws currently oppressing all Gilead women, herself included, and wonder if it was worth it to assist a husband who now has no interest in sex with her if it’s non-procreative.

    Nick was a disaffected young man who saw blue-collar jobs leaving his community and was too angry to get hired for one of the few that remained, making him a prime target for recruitment by a radical anti-government militia that actually ended up achieving its treasonous mission. And Luke and Moira? They both make it out, crossing the border into Canada to start their lives over as refugees. They eventually find each other, and start working together to try to get June out.

    The second and third seasons have continued what the first started, building out the world of Gilead, proceeding from the glimpses afforded the Junes of both the novel and the series.

    There are the Colonies—territories ravaged by environmental and nuclear disasters, where “Unwomen” (those who can’t or or aren’t permitted to occupy any of the few castes available to them) work without protection to clean up the sites, subsisting on contaminated water and food until radiation sickness kills them.

    There’s an episode set in an Econo-household (disappointingly, we see the show’s Econowives’ uniforms are just gray, like the Marthas’, and not striped as in the book) in which June does end up being spirited away from the Waterfords’ household and goes on the run.

    In a particularly shocking episode, June and the Waterfords travel to D.C., where the Washington Monument has been turned into an enormous crucifix, the Lincoln Memorial has been destroyed, and, under tight collars that cover their mouths and necks, Handmaids’ lips are closed with metal rings.

    We also learn more about the world around Gilead: the other sovereign nations whose diplomats are now working out whether and how to recognize a government brutally abrogating the civil rights of half its residents; and see what life is like in Canada for the former Americans who’ve escaped but are still processing their traumas.

    Some scenes created for the show echo current events of our day: June holes up in the former offices of the Boston Globe, where evidence remains of staffers’ brutal executions; the episode aired just two months before the shooting at Annapolis’s Capital Gazette last year. In another episode, Emily and her wife Sylvia (Clea DuVall), try to escape and are detained at the airport by a power-tripping ICE agent who tells them their legal immigration protections have disappeared, as occurred when President Trump’s “Muslim ban” executive order was first signed in 2017.

    Though June’s story in the novel ends with her being marched out of the Waterfords’ house, there does follow a section of “Historical Notes,” transcribed from an academic symposium on Gileadean Studies held in 2195, that hint at the future that awaits her. A Prof. James Darcy Pieixoto, an archivist at Cambridge, speaks about reassembling a text—which he and a colleague have dubbed “The Handmaid’s Tale”—from voice recordings made on ’80s-era audio cassettes; he speaks about the details Offred may have changed or elided for safety’s sake, and what she couldn’t know about Gilead due to her limited vantage point.

    This 13-page epilogue condenses a huge amount of data the show has mined for plot and worldbuilding: this season, we’ve seen June record her voice to send to Luke, perhaps creating the account the archivists will pore over in more than a hundred years’ time (the idea that this story is being told via whatever audio storage media is available would explain some of the more egregious needle drops this season. “Que Sera Sera”?).

    In the book, Prof. Pieixoto refers to Gilead’s “racist policies”; the show has been criticized for ignoring race, and given our current political moment, it’s impossible to imagine that the theocratic movement that created Gilead wouldn’t also be white supremacist—though we did get a moment in a recent episode in which Lydia (Ann Dowd) and two fellow Aunts are considering Handmaid assignments and indicate that one won’t be acceptable to a couple who’ve refused to take a “Handmaid of color.”

    Prof. Pieixoto singles the Aunts out for special note, calling them a “crack female control agency” and citing an architect of Gilead who believed “that the best and most cost-effective way to control women for reproductive and other purposes was through women themselves”—a notion that just played out on the show in an episode flashing back to Lydia’s origin story as a kindly elementary school teacher who, after a romantic rejection, turned her rage against a student’s single mother by exploiting newly restrictive laws to get the child sent to foster care for spurious reasons.

    The Handmaid’s Tale is about to end its third season, with the finale dropping on Hulu July 24. The imminent publication of Atwood’s sequel, The Testaments, will bring a whole new vein of material to be mined in potential future seasons. As a critic of the show, I have sometimes been frustrated by moments when characters seemed to be making decisions for the sake of the plot; the idea that June would, in the Season 2 finale, be on the verge of escaping Gilead with her baby and decide to give up her chance on the groundless hope that she might also someday free Hannah from her new family is preposterous. But even in moments like these, characters’ essential natures have remained true to their portrayal in Atwood’s novel. That, paired with the fact that Atwood has been a consulting producer throughout the run of the show thus far, would lead one to believe that, while The Testaments will vault us 15 years past the end of June’s story in The Handmaid’s Tale, she and her fellow Gileadean narrators will still be recognizable to those of us who’ve been watching her on Hulu for the past three seasons. It also seems likely that we shouldn’t be too optimistic about where Atwood will leave June this time.

    Do you have opinions to share about the similarities and differences between Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale and Margaret Atwood’s novel? Do you want to speculate about what readers might discover in The Testaments? On July 25, many Barnes & Noble stores are hosting Handmaid’s Tale Cafe Meetups where fans can come together to discuss the show, book, and more. Find a participating store near you.

    The post What Hints Does Hulu’s <i>The Handmaid’s Tale</i> Give Us About Margaret Atwood’s <i>The Testaments</i>? appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Jen Harper 3:00 pm on 2019/07/12 Permalink
    Tags: , , , book club readalikes, , , , , , , , emily giffin commonwealth, Fiction, , , little fires everythwere, , , , , swing time, the female persuasion, , ,   

    9 Books to Read If You Loved Mrs. Everything, June’s B&N Book Club Selection 


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    The Barnes & Noble Book Club selection for June, Jennifer Weiner’s Mrs. Everything, opens in 1950s Detroit with the Kaufman family living in a house that could have been pulled from the pages of sisters Jo and Bethie’s Dick and Jane books. But life for rebellious tomboy Jo and traditional good girl Bethie turns out to be far from storybook perfect as they endure loss, trauma, and tragedy.

    In an engrossing story that unfurls against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement, and women’s liberation, Weiner beautifully explores the complicated relationship between these two sisters, who are on very different paths, and how they ultimately find common ground. But what is a reader to do after finishing Mrs. Everything and discussing it at your local B&N Book Club meeting on July 16 at 7 p.m.? Well, we’ve rounded up your next nine reads to keep you busy until next month. Check out our readalike picks for Mrs. Everything.

    The Most Fun We Ever Had, by Claire Lombardo
    Like Weiner’s Mrs. Everything, Lombardo’s stunning debut novel spans the decades, following one family through the many seasons of their complicated lives and loves. David and Marilyn fell in love in the 1970s and had what their daughters—Violet, Wendy, Liza, and Grace—saw as a perfect partnership filled with passion and affection. But in 2016, the four Sorrenson offspring are all struggling to replicate the relationship their parents had as they find their lives filled with tumultuous complications—addiction, an unwanted pregnancy, lies, self-doubt, and more. As the sisters uncover secrets about each other, they also begin to learn that perhaps their parents’ union wasn’t as perfect as it seemed. In the same spirit of Mrs. Everything, The Most Fun We Ever Had navigates the complexity of family dynamics in a rich page-turner that Weiner’s fans won’t be able to put down.

    Summer of ’69, by Elin Hilderbrand
    For readers who loved taking a step back in time with the Kaufman sisters in Weiner’s latest, Hilderbrand delivers a perfect warm-weather read with her new novel set against the backdrop of an iconic American summer in 1969 Nantucket. The four Levin siblings have always looked forward to spending summers at their grandmother’s house, but like everything else going on around them in America, the only constant for the family seems to be change. Blair, the oldest sister, is pregnant with twins and stuck in Boston; civil rights activist Kirby has taken a summer job elsewhere; the family’s only son, Tiger, has been drafted and sent to Vietnam; and 13-year-old Jessie is the only one at the Nantucket home with her disconnected grandmother and worried mother, who’s taken to drinking. Like Weiner, Hilderbrand weaves an intriguing tale of finding strength in siblinghood.

    City of Girls, by Elizabeth Gilbert
    “At some point in a woman’s life, she just gets tired of being ashamed all the time,” muses Gilbert’s City of Girls protagonist Vivian Morris. “After that, she is free to become whoever she truly is.” The same sentiment could well have come from either of Weiner’s strong female leads in Mrs. Everything, and readers will be similarly drawn into Vivian’s tale, which begins in 1940 when she’s just 19 years old and follows her all the way to 89 years old, now reflecting on her life. When Vivian is expelled from Vassar in 1940, her parents send her to live in New York with her Aunt Peg, who owns a rundown theater. It’s against this backdrop that free-spirited Vivian begins to explore her own independence and sexuality, eventually becoming embroiled in a professional scandal that will impact her for years to come in Gilbert’s striking new work.

    The Female Persuasion, by Meg Wolitzer
    Writing about female power and the exploration of women’s role in society is nothing new for Wolitzer, but her latest read is especially timely and incredibly compelling. Like Mrs. Everything, The Female Persuasion deftly takes on some difficult topics like sexual assault and how these horrific events shape her heroine. Greer Kadetsky is a college freshman when she is groped at a party by a repeat offender, and in the aftermath, a friend takes Greer to see a speech by famed feminist magazine editor Faith Frank, who alters the course of Greer’s life in unimaginable ways. Wolitzer’s book about ambition, power, and what it means to be a woman in an ever-changing world is filled with complex female characters that will have readers quickly turning the pages, yet not wanting the book to end.

    First Comes Love, by Emily Giffin
    Giffin is a master when it comes to crafting tales of romance, family, and friendship, and the case is no different with First Comes Love. Much like Weiner’s Kaufman sisters, Josie and Meredith Garland had a loving relationship growing up, but following a family tragedy, their bond fractures. Now 15 years later, the anniversary of their shared loss looms, and the two women, now both in their 30s, are on very different paths. Single Josie feels like she’s done with dating but desperately wants a child. Meredith has a picture-perfect life on the outside—successful career, husband, and a 4-year-old daughter—but inside she feels restless and dissatisfied. As secrets begin to surface and the women are forced to confront the issues that pulled them apart, they also find the courage to listen to their own hearts about what’s really important.

    Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett
    Drawing on her own life story, Patchett has crafted a memorable tale of the aftermath of a drunken kiss that ultimately destroys two marriages. After Bert Cousins and Beverly Keating leave their spouses to be with each other, the six Cousins and Keatings children form a lasting bond over their shared disillusionment with their parents while spending summers together in Virginia. In her 20s, one of the siblings, Franny, shares the family’s story with a prominent author, and suddenly, the Cousins’ and Keatings’ story—including a tragic shared loss—is no longer their own. Patchet’s nonlinear timeline and rotating cast of characters show how the differing points of view affect how events both major and everyday are remembered, lending even more depth to a story sure to be loved by fans of Mrs. Everything.

    Swing Time, by Zadie Smith
    Smith expertly weaves together moments of the present day and of memories from the past in her extraordinary book about two girls who dream of being dancers—but only one has the skills to make it. Tracey, who has a white mother and a black father, is an incredible tap dancer, while her good friend—the unnamed narrator—is hampered by her flat feet. The two have a close but complicated childhood friendship, which comes to a sudden end in their early 20s, the effects of which continue to reverberate for many years to come. Readers who were enthralled with the complex relationship between the sisters in Weiner’s Mrs. Everything will love Smith’s Swing Time.

    Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng
    Those who couldn’t put Mrs. Everything down will likely find themselves staying up into the wee hours to finish Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere. In the compelling drama, free-spirited artist Mia moves with her teenage daughter, Pearl, to a home owned by the Richardson family in Shaker Heights, an affluent Cleveland suburb where everyone is expected to follow the town’s social status quo. Mia quickly befriends Elena Richardson and her family, who are all drawn to the enigmatic single mom. So when Mia opposes the Richardson’s family friends’ controversial custody battle for a Chinese-American baby, Elena Richardson turns against her, determined to uncover Mia’s closely held secrets at all costs.

    The Nest, by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
    Lots of families have dysfunction, but the Plumb family in The Nest really kicks it up a notch. The author expertly infuses dark humor into the tale of the now-middle-aged Plumb siblings—Leo, Beatrice, Jack, and Melody—who are awaiting the division of their trust fund, or “the nest” as the foursome call it, that their father left them following his untimely death when the kids were adolescents. The nest has been growing ever since, to be divvied up when the youngest turns 40. All of the siblings are desperate to get their hands on their share of the money, only to learn that it’s now in jeopardy thanks to the medical bills of a young woman who was badly injured when a drunk and high Leo crashed his car with her as the passenger. Beatrice, Jack, and Melody all prepare to confront their brother, fresh out of rehab, in this intoxicating story of how family has the power to both let you down and pull you back up, which will surely appeal to those who have just finished Weiner’s latest read.

    What books would you recommend for readers who loved Mrs. Everything?

    The post 9 Books to Read If You Loved <i>Mrs. Everything</i>, June’s B&N Book Club Selection appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Cristina Merrill 4:30 pm on 2019/07/09 Permalink
    Tags: Fiction, hot new reads, , , , , ,   

    A Picture-Perfect Family Masks a Dark Secret in Nora Roberts’ Gripping Under Currents 


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    Family and community and the bonds an individual forms with each of them are themes that run deeply throughout Nora Roberts’ work, and the author takes this to a whole new level in her latest book, Under Currents. There is romance aplenty in this tome, not to mention suspense, but equally thrilling are the relationships the two main characters form with their community—and the love and support they get in return.

    Under Currents follows its protagonist, Zane Bigelow, from his teenage years through adulthood. When we first meet Zane, he is 14 years old and dreams of becoming a professional baseball player. He lives with his father, a successful surgeon who is considered a pillar of the local community, his mother, a stay-at-home wife who basks in her family’s money and high standing, and his younger sister, who, like Zane, knows better than to be impressed by any of this.

    The dark secret Zane’s picture-perfect family holds is that his father is physically, verbally, and emotionally abusive to everyone in the household—and that his mother tolerates and even enables her husband’s horrible behavior. All of this results in a painful childhood for both of their children.

    Zane, however, has it much harder than his sister, and Roberts does a fantastic job of establishing Zane’s background in the first part of the book. His day-to-day life, while it doesn’t lack its joys, is still a struggle. His goal is to simply survive living in his house until he can obtain a college baseball scholarship. In the meantime, he does what he can to survive and also gives his sister advice on how to cope until she is old enough to make her own escape.

    Everything changes after a particularly violent episode at home one night, one that results in Zane being sent to a juvenile detention facility. Eventually, Zane and his sister are taken in by their mother’s sister, Emily, who was always suspicious of her sister’s picture-perfect life and proceeds to raise her niece and nephew with the love and support they have lacked.

    Fast forward many years, and Zane is a successful lawyer. He decides to return to his hometown and put down roots, and he does this just as newcomer Darby McCray, a professional landscaper, is getting settled in. She has decided to settle in Zane’s hometown in part due to the business opportunities there, and she starts off doing work for his aunt. Darby’s extraordinary talent quickly escalates the local demand for her services.

    Zane is instantly intrigued by Darby when he first meets her. Like Zane, Darby has also experienced abuse, but unlike Zane, she grew up with a loving mother. She is more open and matter-of-fact about her background, whereas Zane has a history of being more reserved. Considering his past, this is absolutely understandable, but he feels differently around Darby and he is more open with her than he has been with any other woman. Their attraction is a very natural one, and it’s truly fun to see their bond strengthen.

    There are several other plot points in play as Zane and Darby’s relationship progresses. Zane becomes reintegrated into his community and opens up a law practice. The current whereabouts of Zane’s parents are brought up more than once. The town also faces a mysterious string of crimes, including vandalism. Love may be in the air for both Zane and Darby, but their journey to peace and tranquility is far from over.

    The important thing is that they are not alone. They have each other, for one, and the support of a community that cares about them both. It’s clear that one of the main reasons Zane hasn’t morphed into a bitter adult is because of love. He’s always had the love of his aunt, his sister, and the father of a close friend who became a sort of surrogate father to him, to name a few. (Indeed, one would argue that Zane’s Aunt Emily is the real hero in Under Currents. One of the best moments in the story is when she tells off a local police officer, one she’s known since grade school, and threatens to complain about him to his mother.) Those bonds are strengthened when Zane comes home, and his life is highlighted by Darby’s presence and her own love of her new community and her successful integration into it.

    Indeed, this strong sense of community is why Roberts’ romances work so well. Romances and romantic themes will weave in and out throughout the plot of a Roberts book, and the possibility of finding true love will provide plenty of motivation for the author’s heroes and heroines. That being said, these heroes and heroines are also rewarded with a deeper sense of community and family and belonging by the end of the story. This is often a crucial part of their journey and story arc, and it brings them just as much joy as finding a romantic partner. Indeed, the romance flourishes because of it, and this is certainly the case in Under Currents. Zane and Darby’s romance itself is certainly satisfying, but having a strong support network of family and friends to cheer them on is its own reward.

    The post A Picture-Perfect Family Masks a Dark Secret in Nora Roberts’ Gripping <i>Under Currents</i> appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Sarah Skilton 2:00 pm on 2019/06/27 Permalink
    Tags: chances are, deep river, dragonfly, Fiction, surside sisters, tell me everything, the golden hour, the nickel boys,   

    July’s Best New Fiction 


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    As you head to fireworks, cookouts, and daytrips this summer, you’ll want to make room in your beach bag for these new releases. Whether you’re in the mood for mystery-dramas that span decades, World War II spy thrillers, a trip to 1900s Russia, or more lighthearted fare set in modern-day Nantucket, the characters you meet this month will stay with you long after summer ends.

    The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead  
    Fresh off the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award for The Underground Railroad, Whitehead returns with a novel about two philosophically opposed black students at a notorious reform school, the Nickel Academy, in the Jim Crow South of the early 1960s. Though the school claims to turn delinquents into “honorable and honest men,” via “physical, intellectual and moral training,” in truth it’s an appalling place, full of corruption and abuse of every type. Elwood Curtis tries to emulate his hero, Dr. King, during the hellish internment, as a means of keeping his own humanity close, but his friend Turner is more cynical about the world. The boys’ disparate survival techniques culminate in a plan that will impact the rest of their lives.

    Chances Are…, by Richard Russo
    It’s been ten years since Russo’s last stand-alone novel, and Chances combines the best of Russo’s signature style—family bonds, unrequited love, humor—with a mystery that’s haunted three best friends for forty years. When 60-somethings Teddy, Mickey, and Lincoln decide to meet up in Martha’s Vineyard, what’s notable about their reunion is the person who’s not there: Jacy, the woman they each adored, who disappeared without a trace during a Memorial Day party in 1971. Each man brings his own secrets to the present-day gathering, and readers will eagerly pore over the details of their shared past to uncover the truth.

    Dragonfly, by Leila Meacham
    Five young Americans from wildly different backgrounds—a female fencer, an orphaned fashion designer, a destitute fly fisherman, a businessman’s son, and an athlete with German roots—are recruited to become spies, tasked with infiltrating the Third Reich in this thrilling World War II historical set in Paris. Blending in, communicating on the sly, staying on target, and surviving the dangers thrown at them becomes second nature to the group, collectively codenamed Dragonfly. But then one of them gets caught…

    Surfside Sisters, by Nancy Thayer
    After a series of personal and professional setbacks, Keely Green, a successful writer living in New York City, returns to the Nantucket island of her childhood to care for her ailing mother. But for Keely, this isn’t an easy homecoming; it means acknowledging that her former best friend, Isabelle, and Keely’s ex-boyfriend (whom Isabelle stole) have made a family together. It also means spending time with Isabelle’s older brother, Keely’s unrequited crush. It’s not easy to forgive someone who’s wronged you, even if it means a chance at a different kind of happiness.

    The Golden Hour, by Beatriz Williams
    Fresh off last year’s hit, The Summer Wives, Williams returns with a historical novel set in the Bahamas in the early 1940s, where the infamous Duke and Duchess of Windsor have been exiled from England. Lulu Randolph is determined to find a place for herself in the couple’s social circle so she can report on their goings-on to a glossy American magazine. What she finds instead is a doomed romance with a British spy, Benedict Thorpe. How their relationship relates to a different love story set in 1900 is one of several tantalizing mysteries readers will happily pursue.

    Deep River, by Karl Marlantes
    A trio of siblings, Finnish immigrants, leave Russian-occupied Finland in the early 1900s to forge a new life in the Pacific Northwest, and their hardships and tenacity are rendered in vivid detail. Eldest son Ilmari Koski is the first to arrive in Washington state, followed by middle son Matti, who joins him in high-risk logging. Youngest daughter Aino is the last to make it out. She leaves behind her political tormenters but not her ideals; her determination to help the Industrial Workers of thyye World achieve their goals (spurred on by the dangers she witnesses in the logging industry) lands in her prison, far from her brothers. Inspired by the author’s family history, with lush descriptions of Finland and Pacific Northwest wilderness, this epic historical novel looks to be completely immersive.

    Tell Me Everything, by Cambria Brockman
    Attention unreliable narrator fans: this highly binge-able debut twists and turns right up to the very end. It’s freshman year at Hawthorne College, a small liberal arts school in Maine, and Malin Ahlberg ruthlessly sheds the skin of her loner past to embrace a clique as quickly as possible. Her tight-knit friend group sticks with her for the next few years, until graduation looms and the relationships fall apart. Malin’s attempt to repair the rift seems to culminate in murder, but if you think you know where the story is going, you’re wrong.

    The post July’s Best New Fiction appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
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