Fiction Reviews

BOOKS
Here is a list of books that I have read and LOVE! I am very picky about what I read; a book must be intelligent, witty, creative, and well written for me to keep turning the pages. If I can’t get past the first five pages, I’m going to quit reading. So for all of you looking for a good book to curl up with, here is my list. The descriptions of the books are taken from the author’s website or from a reputable site such as The New Yorker, etc.  I’ll send a Twitter or Facebook message when I add more books!

IF YOU KNOW OF A GOOD BOOK, PLEASE SHARE WITH US!!!

MARCH BY GERALDINE BROOKS
As the North reels under a series of unexpected defeats during the dark first year of the American Civil War, one man leaves behind his family to aid the Union cause. His experiences will utterly change his marriage and challenge his most ardently held beliefs. Riveting and elegant as it is meticulously researched, March is an extraordinary novel woven out of the lore of American history.
From Louisa May Alcott’s beloved classic Little Women, Geraldine Brooks has taken the character of the absent father, March, who has gone off to war leaving his wife and daughters. To evoke him, Brooks turned to the journals and letters of Bronson Alcott, Louisa May’s father, a friend and confidant of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.
In Brooks’ telling, March emerges as an idealistic chaplain in the little known backwaters of a war that will test his faith in himself and in the Union cause as he learns that his side, too, is capable of acts of barbarism and racism. As he recovers from a near mortal illness, he must reassemble his shattered mind and body, and find a way to reconnect with a wife and daughters who have no idea of the ordeals he has been through.
From the vibrant intellectual world of New England and the sensuous antebellum South, March adds adult resonance to Alcott’s optimistic children’s tale and portrays the moral complexity of war, a marriage tested by the demands of extreme idealism, and by the temptations of a powerful forbidden attraction.
http://www.geraldinebrooks.com/march.html
PEOPLE OF THE BOOK BY GERALDINE BROOKS
Available now, from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of March, an intricate, ambitious novel that traces the journey of a rare illuminated Hebrew manuscript from convivencia Spain to the ruins of Sarajevo, from the Silver Age of Venice to the sunburned rock faces of northern Australia.

Inspired by the true story of a mysterious codex known as the Sarajevo Haggadah, People of the Book is a sweeping adventure through five centuries of history. From its creation in Muslim-ruled, medieval Spain, the illuminated manuscript makes a series of perilous journeys: through Inquisition-era Venice, fin-de-siecle Vienna, and the Nazi sacking of Sarajevo.

In 1996, Hanna Heath, an Australian rare-book expert, is offered the job of a lifetime: analysis and conservation of the famed manuscript, which has been rescued once again from Serb shelling during the Bosnian war. Priceless and beautiful, the book is one of the earliest Jewish volumes ever to be illuminated with figurative paintings. When Hanna, a caustic loner with a passion for her work, discovers a series of tiny artifacts in its ancient binding—an insect wing fragment, wine stains, salt crystals, a white hair—she becomes determined to unlock the book’s mysteries. As she seeks the counsel of scientists and specialists, the reader is ushered into an exquisitely detailed and atmospheric past, tracing the book’s journey from its creation to its salvation.

In Bosnia during World War II, a Muslim risks his life to protect it from the Nazis. In the hedonistic salons of Vienna in 1894, the book becomes a pawn in an emerging contest between the city’s cultured cosmopolitanism and its rising anti-Semitism. In Venice in 1609, a Catholic priest saves it from Inquisition book burnings. In Tarragona in 1492, the scribe who wrote the text has his family destroyed amid the agonies of enforced exile. And in Seville in 1480, the reason for the Haggadah’s extraordinary illuminations is finally disclosed.

In Year of Wonders and March, Geraldine Brooks demonstrated an uncanny ability to hear and transmit the voices of a seventeenth century Derbyshire maid and an nineteenth century American abolitionist. People of the Book is filled with unforgettable voices from the past, but it is Hanna’s voice—edgy, contemporary—that makes People of the Book a compulsively readable adventure story that transcends the usual boundaries of historical fiction.
http://www.geraldinebrooks.com/people.html
THE 19TH WIFE BY DAVID EBERSHOFF
Sweeping and lyrical, spellbinding and unforgettable, David Ebershoff’s The 19th Wife combines epic historical fiction with a modern murder mystery to create a brilliant novel of literary suspense.

It is 1875, and Ann Eliza Young has recently separated from her powerful husband, Brigham Young, prophet and leader of the Mormon Church. Expelled and an outcast, Ann Eliza embarks on a crusade to end polygamy in the United States. A rich account of a family’s polygamous history is revealed, including how a young woman became a plural wife.

Soon after Ann Eliza’s story begins, a second exquisite narrative unfolds–a tale of murder involving a polygamist family in present-day Utah. Jordan Scott, a young man who was thrown out of his fundamentalist sect years earlier, must reenter the world that cast him aside in order to discover the truth behind his father’s death.

And as Ann Eliza’s narrative intertwines with that of Jordan’s search, readers are pulled deeper into the mysteries of love and faith.
http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9781400063970

BALZAC AND THE LITTLE CHINESE SEAMSTRESS BY DAI SIJIE
From Publishers Weekly
The Cultural Revolution of Chairman Mao Zedong altered Chinese history in the 1960s and ’70s, forcibly sending hundreds of thousands of Chinese intellectuals to peasant villages for “re-education.” This moving, often wrenching short novel by a writer who was himself re-educated in the ’70s tells how two young men weather years of banishment, emphasizing the power of literature to free the mind. Sijie’s unnamed 17-year-old protagonist and his best friend, Luo, are bourgeois doctors’ sons, and so condemned to serve four years in a remote mountain village, carrying pails of excrement daily up a hill. Only their ingenuity helps them to survive. The two friends are good at storytelling, and the village headman commands them to put on “oral cinema shows” for the villagers, reciting the plots and dialogue of movies. When another city boy leaves the mountains, the friends steal a suitcase full of forbidden books he has been hiding, knowing he will be afraid to call the authorities. Enchanted by the prose of a host of European writers, they dare to tell the story of The Count of Monte Cristo to the village tailor and to read Balzac to his shy and beautiful young daughter. Luo, who adores the Little Seamstress, dreams of transforming her from a simple country girl into a sophisticated lover with his foreign tales. He succeeds beyond his expectations, but the result is not what he might have hoped for, and leads to an unexpected, droll and poignant conclusion. The warmth and humor of Sijie’s prose and the clarity of Rilke’s translation distinguish this slim first novel, a wonderfully human tale. (Sept. 17)Forecast: Sijie’s debut was a best-seller and prize winner in France in 2000, and rights have been sold in 19 countries; it is also scheduled to be made into a film. Its charm translates admirably strong sales can be expected on this side of the Atlantic.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Lost Man’s River by Peter Mattiessen (This one is about my family)

The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown

Angels and Demons by Dan Brown

The Known World by Edward P. Jones

Before We Were Free by Julia Alvarez

In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez

The Time Travellers Wife by Audrey Niffengger

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

The House on the Lagoon by Rosario Ferrѐ

Saving Fish From Drowning by Amy Tan

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

The Kitchen God’s Wife by Amy Tan

Beloved by Toni Morrison

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

Empire Falls by Richard Russo

Paradise Lost by John Milton

The Bonesetter’s Daughter by Amy Tan

Hawaii by John Michener

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