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  • Sarah Skilton 1:30 pm on 2018/04/02 Permalink
    Tags: , , , new releases   

    April’s Best New Fiction 

    This month’s best fiction brings us new works from powerhouse writers including Meg Wolitzer, Charles Frazier, Julian Barnes, and Christopher Moore. It’s a literary feast of nostalgic love stories, satirical noir, lighthearted mysteries, and historical fiction, with Curtis Sittenfeld’s (PrepAmerican Wife) delectable collection of short stories providing the appetizers.

    Circe, by Madeline Miller
    Miller’s much buzzed-about followup to 2011’s The Song of Achilles is narrated by the dazzling, captivating, vengeful Circe, daughter of Helios, who is banished by Zeus after turning her ex’s new love into a sea monster. Dismissed as useless when she was a girl (when your dad is the sun god, there’s a lot to live up to), Circe’s true skills are her penchant for herbs and spellcasting. Circe’s infatuation with mortals is her biggest strength and greatest weakness, and you’ll breathlessly follow her witchy, thousands-of-years-in-the-making adventures.

    The Female Persuasion, by Meg Wolitzer
    Wolitzer’s fascinating, timely new book combines elements of her previous bestsellers The Interestings (with its theme of youthful expectation versus the realities of middle age) and The Wife (a dark tale of subverted female ambition). The central relationship of Persuasion is that of Greer Kadetsky, a young, shy, liberal arts–educated woman and her mentor, Faith Frank, a 60-something pioneering member of the feminist movement. Greer’s childhood sweetheart and best friend have their own compelling narratives as well. The quartet of fully realized characters will pull you in to their lives even as their respective connections with each other are potentially torn asunder.

    Varina, by Charlies Frazier
    As with his stunning, National Book Award–winning Cold Mountain (also a film starring Nicole Kidman and Jude Law), Varina is set during the Civil War. The novel is narrated as an oral memoir by the titular heroine, Jefferson Davis’s much-younger wife, whose views of the conflict did not necessarily match those of the Confederate President. Little has been written about the First Lady of the Confederacy, and the story depicted here is full of rich and often unexpected details about the antebellum south as well as Varina’s post–Civil War life in New York.

    Nantucket Wedding, by Nancy Thayer
    Widowed Alison didn’t expect to remarry, especially now that she’s a grandmother to toddlers, but when she meets David, sparks fly, and the two soon find themselves engaged. How will their adult children handle the news? Will the four new siblings find common ground with each other, or become common enemies? Most importantly, will the Nantucket wedding itself go off without a hitch or fall apart before the newly blended family has a chance to bond? Fun and fast-paced with plenty of location envy to make you drool, Wedding promises to be a perfect spring break/early summer read.

    You Think It, I’ll Say It: Stories, by Curtis Sittenfeld
    In her first collection of short stories, bestselling novelist Sittenfeld’s talent for lifting the curtain on the apparent successes of others is on full display. Protagonists irritated by social media perfection and chipper volunteers (not to mention the politics of the day) are fully relatable and lovable in their snarkiness. If you enjoyed “The Prairie Wife” (first published in the New Yorker last year), in which a wife and mother considers upending the perfect social media empire of a former love, you’ll adore the nine additional stories waiting for you here.

    Noir, by Christopher Moore
    Part satire and part homage to Raymond Chandler– and Dashiell Hammett–style gumshoe fiction, Moore’s novel sends his readers to the hardboiled, foggy mean streets of 1940s San Francisco, where bartender Sammy Tiffin falls fast for a dame whose disappearance seems to involve all manner of conspiracy. Whether he’s being interrogated or chased, Sammy keeps the wisecracks flowing. And then there’s the mysterious, possibly extraterrestrial Roswell connection…

    The Only Story, by Julian Barnes
    Nineteen-year-old Paul falls in love with forty-eight-year-old Susan at a tennis club outside London in 1963. Despite (or perhaps because of) societal and parental censure, they move in together and embark on an eventually public affair. Five decades later, older but not necessarily wiser, Paul looks back on their exhilarating and painful story, parsing it for meaning and pushing on the bruise of the “the only story” of his life he has deemed worth telling. This looks to be a heartbreaking, transformative read from the acclaimed author of The Sense of an Ending, for which he won the Man Booker Prize.

    First Person, by Richard Flanagan
    Kif, a young writer frantic for cash to support his family, accepts an assignment that will test his writing chops and his sanity. If he succeeds in finishing the criminal memoir of Siegfried Heidl in six agonizing weeks, only then will he see a payday. But Heidl, an embezzler who’s been convicted of stealing $700 million from the Australian banking industry, doesn’t wish to be known, so he refuses to provide pertinent information to his ghost writer. Instead, Heidl has a penchant for turning the spotlight around and infiltrating Kif’s life. Readers are in excellent meta-fictional hands: Flanagan won the Man Booker for The Narrow Road to the Deep North.

    Paris by the Book, by Liam Callanan
    When her troubled husband Robert, who writes book for young people, disappears, left-behind Leah becomes the protagonist of her own mystery (and perhaps a romance). With her two daughters beside her, Leah follows the clues Robert left in his wake, which include plane tickets to Paris and a half-written manuscript. The manuscript, in turn, leads them to a bookshop in dire need of new owners. But will Leah’s unexpected, charmed new life in France fill the spaces where Robert used to be?

    Miss Julia Raises the Roof, by Ann B. Ross
    In Miss Julia’s nineteenth adventure, a light mystery set in small-town North Carolina, the outspoken, warm-hearted heroine is in top form as she seeks to uncover the truth about a planned group home for teenage boys, to be situated next door to her friend Hazel’s place. In theory, the project sounds good, but Julia’s hunch that something is seriously amiss proves well-founded. (“They Lord!” indeed.)

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

     
  • BN Editors 3:00 pm on 2018/03/21 Permalink
    Tags: , , , new releases,   

    The First Barnes & Noble Book Club Selection Read It Now and Join Us in Stores on May 2 

    People think of reading as a solitary activity—curling up with a book in a lonesome spot, a cup of tea nearby, a cat or two napping in your lap. But one of the great joys of reading books is talking about them: getting insights, arguing over characters and plot twists, swapping recommendations for another half-dozen you just have to read. Despite our tendency to get lost in a good book, readers are a deceptively chatty and social bunch.

    We have long been proud to serve as unofficial host to readers’ book clubs around the country. And now, to celebrate our readers and the power of shared book love, we’re announcing the launch of the Barnes & Noble Book Club.

    The first meeting will be held on May 2, 6–7 p.m., with local discussions hosted at all 630 stores in 50 states and led by our expert booksellers. The book club is free to all, and participants will be treated to a free tall, hot or iced coffee and cookie from the café. The first selection is in a special Barnes & Noble Book Club edition, which includes a Reading Group Guide and an essay by the author. One signed copy of the book will be given away at the book club.

    Our first B&N Book Club pick? The Female Persuasion, by Meg Wolitzer. The author of books including The Wife and The Interestings, Wolitzer packs her books with provocative ideas and unique views of the world. The Female Persuasion centers on idealistic but painfully shy college freshman Greer Kadetsky, who, after attending a lecture by feminist icon Faith Frank, is both electrified and intimidated by Frank’s intelligence, ferocity, and commitment to the cause. After graduation, Greer is thrilled to land a job with Frank’s foundation—but when her new life begins to crumble around her, Greer finds herself reevaluating her entire worldview, including her understanding of Frank and of what it means to be a feminist in the modern age.

    In other words, this is the sort of book you can talk about for days. Like all the best book club picks, it’s both a must-read and a “must talk about over coffee and cookies.”

    You can preorder your B&N Book Club Edition of The Female Persuasion in advance of its April 3 release, and sign up for the club at your local B&N. (If your local happens to be our location on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, get ready for author Wolitzer herself to join in the conversation!)

    We’ll be hosting book club meetings four times a year, so watch out for details on our next pick. And don’t forget to join us May 2 for an exciting evening of book nerdery, new friends, and Wolitzer’s fantastic new novel.

    The post The First Barnes & Noble Book Club Selection Read It Now and Join Us in Stores on May 2 appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Sarah Skilton 4:00 pm on 2018/02/28 Permalink
    Tags: , alternate side, , auntie poldi and the sicilian lions, christina lynch, , , i'll be your blue sky, italian teacher, , john brownjohn, kristin harmel, leah stewart, mario giordano, marisa de los santos, new releases, not that i could tell, speak no evil, the italian party, the room on rue amelie, , uzodinma iweala, what you don't know about charlie outlaw   

    The Best New Fiction of March 2018 

    This month brings us several poignant family dramas and plenty of neighborhood intrigue, from a wealthy New York City enclave to a scandal-plagued Ohioan suburb. A heart-pounding thriller aboard an airplane; a TV star’s abduction; and three books set in Italy will have you staying up late turning pages and practicing your grazies and pregos! Lastly, a long-awaited second novel from Beasts of No Nation author Uzodinma Iweala promises to leave you gasping.

    Accidental Heroes, by Danielle Steel
    This thriller set in the not-so-friendly skies finds a Homeland Security agent racing against the clock to prevent tragedy aboard a flight from New York to San Francisco. Assisting him in his tense mission are a group of “everyday people” whose fates have converged. Some of them work for the airport or the airline, and some of them are strangers thrown together from across the country. None of them expected to be heroes. Now boarding: A character study wrapped around an action-packed drama.

    Alternate Side, by Anna Quindlen
    A bestselling novelist (Miller’s ValleyObject Lessons) and advice-giver (A Short Guide to a Happy LifeBeing Perfect), Quindlen centers her latest novel on an elite neighborhood in Manhattan. Nora and Charlie Nolan, and the rest of their secluded, close-knit community, are thrown into chaos when an act of violence with racial undertones forces them to take stock of who and what they really are.

    The Italian Teacher, by Tom Rachman
    As with his first, critically lauded book The Imperfectionists, Rachman’s latest takes place in Rome, this time in the 1950s art world. Charles “Pinch” Bavinsky is one of seventeen kids produced by a philandering, impossible-to-pin-down father, Bear Bavinsky, who also happens to be a genius painter. At first, Pinch yearns to follow in his father’s footsteps, or at least become his biographer. Will Pinch’s job as a language instructor in London bring him the fulfillment he hopes for, or will his complicated relationship with his father be the only legacy available to him?

    Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions, by Mario Giordano (translated by John Brownjohn)
    Determined to spend her twilight years drinking wine and enjoying the beauty of Sicily, 60-year-old Auntie Poldi, a former costume designer with a wide variety of wigs, quickly discovers that a relaxing retirement is not in the cards. Eager to solve the mystery of her handyman’s disappearance, she throws herself into the official search, despite her lack of investigative credentials. It doesn’t hurt that the lead detective, Vito Montana, is dashingly handsome. The first in a decidedly cozy series, Lions is filled with humor, heart, and stunning locales.

    The Room on Rue Amelie, by Kristin Harmel
    Harmel’s poignant novels always tug at the heartstrings, whether they concern the past (When We Meet Again), the present (The Life Intended), or both (The Sweetness of Forgetting). With Amelie, she whisks readers to occupied Paris in 1939, where three people’s lives converge: an American newlywed unsure if her marriage can last, a Jewish child fearful of deportation, and a British RAF pilot who has lost his mother to the Blitz and now finds himself cut off behind enemy lines.

    The Italian Party, by Christina Lynch
    A sumptuous, detail-rich debut packed with secrets, it’s part spy novel, part political thriller, part mystery, and part relationship drama. Oh, and there’s satirical humor, too! Party takes place in Siena, Italy, in 1956, where just-married “American innocents,” Scottie and Michael Messina, have arrived for Michael’s job with Ford tractors. There are many problems with this scenario: Scottie is protecting a troubling personal secret, Michael is hiding an explosive professional one; and he also wouldn’t mind being reunited with his former (male) lover while they’re in town. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg…

    Speak No Evil, by Uzodinma Iweala
    A stunning, powerful follow-up to Iweala’s 2005 debut Beasts of No NationSpeak takes place in an America where immigrants continue to struggle with cultural integration. A Nigerian-American senior in high school living in Washington, DC, Niru has a bright future ahead of him, including a slot at Harvard in the fall. His homosexuality is a secret he must keep from his strict Nigerian parents, whose “cure” for his “corruption” includes physical abuse and a forced visit to Nigeria, a country Niru has never considered home. His white best friend, Meredith, in an attempt to help him, makes the situation exponentially worse. Their two stories will undoubtedly stick with readers for months to come.

    I’ll be Your Blue Sky, by Marisa de los Santos
    The compelling friendship between Cornelia Brown and her surrogate daughter Clare (first explored in the bestselling, warmhearted Love Walked In and Belong to Me) continues, alternating between the present and the past. Now a grown woman, Clare is engaged to a man whose temperament swings between charming and controlling. When an elderly acquaintance, Edith, helps Clare realize the situation’s inherent danger, Clare gets a new lease on life. The two women’s stories are further connected when Clare inherits Edith’s Delaware beach house, which served as a shelter for abused women in the 1950s.

    What You Don’t Know About Charlie Outlaw, by Leah Stewart
    Charlie Outlaw, a TV actor overwhelmed by his recent fame, seeks refuge at a secluded island, where he’s kidnapped for ransom. Josie Lamar, the woman who dumped him, struggles with her own life in the spotlight—or, rather, out of it; the superhero she played on a cult TV show twenty years ago remains her defining role, and she’d love to move on with a new character. Despite their break-up, their love story isn’t over by a long shot, and readers will eagerly devour this showbiz-filled adventure.

    Not That I Could Tell, by Jessica Strawser
    Think Desperate Housewives meets Big Little Lies, with a dash of Where’d You Go, Bernadette thrown in for good measure. A thriller set in small-town Ohio, the mystery kicks off when Kristin, a soon-to-be-divorced mother of twins, disappears. The neighborhood moms can’t fathom what caused her to flee, and their curiosity about their friend’s secret forces them to examine their own home lives in greater detail.

    What new fiction are you excited to read in March?

    The post The Best New Fiction of March 2018 appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Miwa Messer 4:15 pm on 2018/02/22 Permalink
    Tags: , , , new releases,   

    Educated: A Memoir Author Tara Westover Shares The Books That Taught Her the Most About Writing 

    It’s no exaggeration to say that Mary Karr’s The Liars’ Club set the world on fire when it was first published in 1995; a national bestseller for over a year, the darkly comic story of Mary’s East Texas childhood made memoir as we know it today, well, a thing. Then came Jeanette Walls with The Glass Castle in 2005, a powerful account of the author’s unconventional, impoverished childhood that went on to spend a total of 261 weeks atop the New York Times bestseller list. Joining those books in 2012 was Cheryl Strayed’s massive, massive hit, Wild, winner of our Discover Award.

    To this trio of indelible voices add Tara Westover and her profound, deeply inspirational debut, Educated: A Memoir, a Spring 2018 Discover Great New Writers selection. This is storytelling at its finest: emotionally honest and frank, beautifully written, driven by a narrative velocity that had the Discover selection committee readers holding their breath. Tara is unsparing—of herself, her family, and her community—as she recounts her extraordinary journey from an Idaho junkyard to a master’s program at England’s Cambridge University and doctoral program at Harvard. Tara might still be living and working with her family on an Idaho mountain had things continued as her parents—and she herself—once imagined; she only began to think of leaving after her older brother turned violent. This shockingly original story is not only a testament to the power reading has to change a person’s trajectory, but also an intensely honest and often heartbreaking story of one young woman’s decision to save her own life.

    We can’t wait for readers everywhere to meet Westover. Here, she shares her own picks for the life-changing books that taught her about writing.

    So here’s the thing: some people grow up reading all kinds of literature, so by the time they think about writing a book, they have, it seems, read a whole library. I was not one of those people. I grew up in a family where reading was very much encouraged; however, the texts to hand were most often scriptures or sermons (those weren’t the only books in the house, but they made up the bulk of what I read). After that, I read academic papers and textbooks until I was twenty-eight, which is the age when I decided to write my own book and realized that, sadly, I really hadn’t read enough of them.

    Luckily, there isn’t any magic combination of books that a person needs to read to learn how to write. There is no definitive list. Writing is like painting: every book you read gives your prose a different hue, a new color with which you can paint your words. These are the books I found most helpful in painting mine.

    Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
    Austen’s writing is elegant—every sentence seems designed with the care of an architect—but what I found most instructive about it was the pace of it, and the careful construction of the plot. All the characters are just where they need to be, doing just what they need to do, for the story to unfold. Jane must become ill so Lizzy can visit her, so she can become trapped at Netherfield long enough for Mr. Darcy to fall in love with her. Mr. Collins must visit, and during that visit he must be utterly ridiculous, augmenting the ridiculousness of Mrs. Bennet, so Mr. Darcy can display his outrageous pride and insult Lizzy when he proposes. And ultimately, Mr. Wickham must run away with Lydia so Mr. Darcy has the opportunity to put away his pride and do the thing which is most distasteful to him, in order to help Lizzie, in order to prove himself to the reader. There is a rhythm to the unfolding of these events that is so perfect as to be reminiscent of the ball at Netherfield.

    The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
    From Toni Morrison, I first began to comprehend point of view and the importance of finding the right narrator for a story. The Bluest Eye is about a young girl, Pecola, who is used sexually by her father and becomes pregnant, but while much of the novel is told in the first person, the first person is not Pecola but another girl her age, named Claudia. This allows the reader to see Pecola as peripheral, to see her brushed aside by other characters with swifter bodies and louder voices. Since that brushing aside is part of the tragedy of Pecola and what happened to her, this point of view is powerful, more powerful than if the story were told by Pecola. We get a sense of sadness, even of regret, from the narrator of Claudia, who is telling this story as an adult, that the child Claudia does not seem to feel. To her child self Pecola is a nuisance; to her adult self, Pecola is a regret. This layering of perspectives creates tension and adds a richness to the atmosphere of the story. 

    Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls, by David Sedaris
    I read “Loggerheads” when I was first trying to wrap my head around the concept of the “short story,” and what I took from it was the classic principle that sometimes the best narratives are not about what they seem to be about; they are about something else. “Loggerheads” seems to be the story of some baby turtles the author and his friend Shaun found on a beach, then slowly starved to death. In the story’s structure, the turtles are in the foreground. They set the pace of the story. But the emotional punch comes not with the death of the turtles, and not with the death of Shaun’s father, but with the revelation, some eighteen years later, that Shaun’s father had drunk himself to death, and Shaun had never told the author. You could read these parallel stories any number of ways: you could make the turtles into metaphors, or take them more literally as straightforward evidence of the boys’ cruelty. However you choose to conceptualize it, the story of Shaun and the author is enhanced by situating the two together. For me, the two narratives come together powerfully on the final page, when the author goes to a library to research turtles and discovers the following: “A female might reach four hundred pounds, and, of all the eggs she lays in a lifetime, only one in a thousand will make it to adulthood. Pretty slim odds when, by ‘making it,’ you mean simply surviving.”

    The White Album, by Joan Didion
    Joan Didion taught me that I cannot write like Joan Didion. The first time I read “On Self-Respect,” Didion’s voice seemed so strong it was overpowering—it echoed in my head as if God were speaking the words. I tried for a time to write like Didion, but the results were dreadful. It wasn’t that the mimicry was wrong, although it certainly was. Actually, some of the worst sentences I wrote were those that, on a technical or grammatical level, were closest to hers. But they sounded false, like the words themselves were in disguise, somehow impersonating other words. In time I accepted the reality that, although I admired her writing very much, so much it thrilled me to read it, hers was not a voice I could imitate in my search for my own. I was looking for something else. Funnily enough, once I’d found it, I realized that more and more of Didion began creeping into my writing in ways I loved.

    The post Educated: A Memoir Author Tara Westover Shares The Books That Taught Her the Most About Writing appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Sarah Skilton 9:00 am on 2017/09/29 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , fresh complaint: stories, , hiddensee: a tale of the once and future nutcracker, , , manhattan beach, mark helprin, new releases, paris in the present tense, rules of magic, , the stolen marriage, Tom Hanks, uncommon type: some stories, , winter solstice   

    October’s Best New Fiction 

    If you’re in the mood for spooky witches this fall, Alice Hoffman’s Rules of Magic—a prequel to Practical Magic—delivers chills, thrills, and sibling strife. October also brings mystical retellings of the Nutcracker and Cinderella; two historicals set in North Carolina; and Jennifer Egan’s first novel since A Visit From the Goon Squad won the PulitzerRounding out the list are two short story collections. The first is by Jeffrey (Middlesex) Eugenides, and the second introduces us to a little-known, up-and-comer by the name of Tom Hanks.

    Uncommon Type: Some Stories, by Tom Hanks
    Whichever role you most associate with Hanks—boy who wishes himself Big; perpetually annoyed women’s softball coach; partner to Hooch—cast it aside and prepare for a new one: short story author. With 17 tales to choose from, one of which concerns showbiz life, and all of which involve typewriters (the actor’s a fan), this collection of character-driven and nostalgic stories will charm Hank’s acting fans and avid readers alike. Whet your appetite with Hanks’ 2014 piece from the New Yorker.

    Fairytale, by Danielle Steel
    If fairytale updates and mash-ups are your jam, add this to your stack, ASAP: a modern retelling of Cinderella, set in a Napa Valley winery called Chateau Joy. Tragic Parental Deaths? Check. Evil, mesmerizing stepparent (in this case a Parisian countess)? Check. Handsome prince and fairy godmother? Absolutely. Add a Harvest Ball, plenty of Steel’s trademark romance, and a dash of magic and you’ll never want to leave Chateau Joy behind. Within the story’s Cinderella roots, Steel brings her own unexpected twists to a classic story. 

    Hiddensee: A Tale of the Once and Future Nutcracker, by Gregory Maguire
    The author of the bestselling book and Broadway smash Wicked invites you to take a fresh look at the Nutcracker in this “double origin” story of the famous wooden toy and its creator, Drosselmeier. Who is Klara’s mysterious godfather, born a German peasant and seemingly fated to provide her with the sensational trinket? And what dark enchantment did he experience in his youth? Combining myths and historical legends, and written in the style of a Brothers Grimm tale, Hiddensee promises to delight and intrigue.

    Winter Solstice, by Elin Hilderbrand
    The fourth in her heart-and-hearth-warming “Winter” series, which are always set in Nantucket at Christmas, Solstice treats us to a reunion with the eggnog-guzzling Quinn family (patriarch Kelley, who owns the Winter Street Inn, and his four grown children). Each of them need help with romantic, business, or military entanglements. This year, heavy issues rise to the surface, from PTSD to hospice care and late-in-life regret. But with patience, love, and the bonds of family, the Quinns will pull each other through the tough times in this touching story.

    Manhattan Beach, by Jennifer Egan
    After winning the Pulitzer Prize for A Visit From the Good Squad (2010), Egan’s highly anticipated follow-up appears to be less experimental than her previous works, but just as moving. Set in New York City during the Depression and World War II, Manhattan Beach follows the struggles of Anna Kerrigan, first as an adolescent accompanying her father on a desperate job-seeking mission, and later at 19, after her father has disappeared and Anna is charged with supporting her sister and mother by working at the Brooklyn Naval Yard as its sole female diver. A chance encounter with her father’s mobster boss begins to shed light on the truth about Anna’s dad. You may want to have tissues on hand for this detail-rich, feminist historical, which has already been long-listed for the National Book Award.

    Rules of Magic, by Alice Hoffman
    In this illuminating, entertaining prequel to Hoffman’s bestselling Practical Magic (also a 1998 film starring Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock), readers will learn what it was like for witchy sisters Franny and Bridget (Jet) Owens to grow up in 1950s/1960s New York City with a frustratingly strict mother (understandable, given the family curse: any man who falls in love with an Owens woman will meet a gruesome end). In Rules, we meet a charming younger brother, Vincent, who also grows up ignoring Mom’s warnings, with far-reaching consequences. Will any of the rules-averse siblings figure out a way to outwit their fates? If you loved the adolescent longings and heartaches of Hoffman’s poignant, private school-set River King, you’ll especially appreciate this coming-of-age tale.

    Fresh Complaint: Stories, by Jeffrey Eugenides
    The first short story collection from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Middlesex, Fresh Complaint depicts several relationships prior to implosion, including that of a young Indian-American woman who plans to ditch her arranged marriage; a poet-turned-criminal; and a friendship affected by dementia. Fans of The Marriage Plot will enjoy spending time with lovelorn Mitchell Grammaticus as he travels to Thailand in the story “Air Mail,” and there’s also a check-in with Dr. Luce of Middlesex fame, who throws himself into the study of intersex conditions after losing a patient to suicide. Written between the years of 1980-2017, this collection showcases Eugenides’ incredible ability to empathize with and write about people from atypical backgrounds.

    The Last Ballad, by Wiley Cash
    Juggling a 70-hour, night-shift work week at a textile mill (for which she’s paid crushingly low wages), marital abandonment, and four children who need feeding, Ella May Wiggins finds herself in the middle of a union dispute in 1929 North Carolina. The idea of a living wage, equal pay for equal work, and a 5-day work week sounds like a fantasy to her and her friends. Rather than give a speech, Ella May composes a song during a rally, a way to give voice to herself and the other workers. She and her cohorts are branded communists, but their devotion to creating a world worth living in for their children is especially prescient today, and the fact that it’s based on a true story is inspiring.

    The Stolen Marriage, by Diane Chamberlain
    Bestseller Chamberlain’s latest concerns an aspiring nurse trapped in a marriage-of-convenience in a small North Carolina town where she is disliked and mistrusted. It’s 1943, and Tess’s life just took a hard left: Impregnated by a man not her fiancée, she casts off her dream of a medical career alongside her true love and moves away with Henry, the baby’s father, who is uninterested in Tess’s potential. It soon becomes clear Henry is hiding things from Tess. With the polio epidemic in full swing, Tess gets a chance to use her nursing skills at last, but the home front remains as unsettling and mysterious as ever in this suspense-filled, World War II-era tale.

    Paris in the Present Tense, by Mark Helprin
    74-year-old Jules Lacour, a teacher at the Sorbonne reeling from his wife’s death and inaccurately believing himself a failure, thinks it’s about time he left behind the earthly plane as well. But his leukemia-ridden baby grandson needs him to find the money for treatment, and he hasn’t yet made peace with the tragic, seminal events in his life, including the deaths of his family members in the Holocaust. Perhaps there is yet time to play the cello, fall in love again, and save the day, if he’s willing to take a few risks. Paris looks to be invigorating and haunting read.

    What new fiction are you excited to read this month?

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

     
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