Life After Life

by Kate Atkinson
December 9, 2014

On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born, the third child of a wealthy English banker and his wife. She dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in any number of ways. Ursula’s world is in turmoil, facing the unspeakable evil of the two greatest wars in history. What power and force can one woman exert over the fate of civilization — if only she has the chance?

Defending Jacob

by William Landay
October 14, 2014

Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney in his suburban Massachusetts county for more than twenty years. He is respected in his community, tenacious in the courtroom, and happy at home with his wife, Laurie, and son, Jacob. But when a shocking crime shatters their New England town, Andy is blindsided by what happens next: His fourteen-year-old son is charged with the murder of a fellow student. Every parental instinct Andy has rallies to protect his boy. Jacob insists that he is innocent, and Andy believes him. Andy must. He is his father. But as damning facts and shocking revelations surface, as a marriage threatens to crumble and the trial intensifies, as the crisis reveals how little a father knows about his son, Andy will face a trial of his own, between loyalty and justice, between truth and allegation, between a past he has tried to bury and a future he cannot conceive.

The Chaperone

by Laura Moriarty
July 29, 2014

A novel about the friendship between an adolescent, pre-movie-star Louise Brooks, and the 36-year-old woman who chaperones her to New York City for a summer, in 1922, and how it changes both their lives.

Caleb’s Crossing

by Geraldine Brooks
July 3, 2014

Bethia Mayfield is a restless and curious young woman growing up in Martha’s vineyard in the 1660s amid a small band of pioneering English Puritans. At age twelve, she meets Caleb, the young son of a chieftain, and the two forge a secret bond that draws each into the alien world of the other. Bethia’s father is a Calvinist minister who seeks to convert the native Wampanoag, and Caleb becomes a prize in the contest between old ways and new, eventually becoming the first Native American graduate of Harvard College. Inspired by a true story and narrated by the irresistible Bethia, Caleb’s Crossing brilliantly captures the triumphs and turmoil of two brave, openhearted spirits who risk everything in a search for knowledge at a time of superstition and ignorance.

The Kitchen House

by Kathleen Grissom
April 1, 2014

Lavinia, a seven-year-old Irish orphan with no memory of her past, arrives on a tobacco plantation where she is put to work as an indentured servant. Placed with the slaves in the kitchen house under the care of Belle, the master’s illegitimate daughter, Lavinia becomes deeply bonded to her new adopted family, even though she is forever set apart from them by her white skin. As Lavinia is slowly accepted into the world of the big house, where the master is absent and the mistress battles an opium addiction, she finds herself perilously straddling two very different worlds. When Lavinia marries the master’s troubled son and takes on the role of mistress, loyalties are brought into question, dangerous truths are laid bare and lives are put at risk. The Kitchen House is a tragic story of page-turning suspense, exploring the meaning of family, where love and loyalty prevail.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

by Jamie Ford
February 4, 2014

In the opening pages of Jamie Ford’s stunning debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Henry Lee comes upon a crowd gathered outside the Panama Hotel, once the gateway to Seattle’s Japantown. It has been boarded up for decades, but now the new owner has made an incredible discovery: the belongings of Japanese families, left when they were rounded up and sent to internment camps during World War II. As Henry looks on, the owner opens a Japanese parasol.  This simple act takes old Henry Lee back to the 1940s, at the height of the war.

The Story Sisters

by Alice Hoffman
December 3, 2013

Alice Hoffman’s novel charts the lives of three sisters–Elv, Claire, and Meg. Each has a fate she must meet alone: one on a country road, one in the streets of Paris, and one in the corridors of her own imagination. Inhabiting their world are a charismatic man who cannot tell the truth, a neighbor who is not who he appears to be, a clumsy boy in Paris who falls in love and stays there, a detective who finds his heart’s desire, and a demon who will not let go.

The Swan Thieves

by Elizabeth Kostova
October 8, 2013

Psychiatrist Andrew Marlowe, devoted to his profession and the painting hobby he loves, has a solitary but ordered life. When renowned painter Robert Oliver attacks a canvas in the National Gallery of Art and becomes his patient, Marlow finds that order destroyed. Desperate to understand the secret that torments the genius, he embarks on a journey that leads him into the lives of the women closest to Oliver and a tragedy at the heart of French Impressionism.

State of Wonder

by Ann Patchett
August 6, 2013

Marina Singh is a pharmaceutical researcher sent deep into the Amazon jungle to inquire about the death of a colleague. It is there that the company is looking into a miracle drug based on a tree bark used by a native tribe. Upon her arrival Marina must find out the circumstances of her colleague’s death, as well as find out why work has slowed to a crawl on the drug. That means dealing with Annick Swenson, a determined researcher who Marina has a complicated relationship with.

Rules of Civility

by Amor Towles
June 4, 2013

Consider 1930s New York: the era fascinates, and this debut novel likely will, too. Starting on New Year’s Eve in Greenwich Village, smart, cool, and ambitious Katey Kontent makes a mad dash from the secretarial pool to New York high society and starts learning that it is her choices that matter. Less fairy tale than the sort of dry-eyed look at American social structure that James or Wharton might provide, this book seems set to recall a glamorous time and place just out of reach.

Towles delivers a sophisticated and entertaining debut novel about an irresistible young woman with an uncommon sense of purpose. Elegant and captivating, “Rules of Civility” turns a Jamesian eye on how spur of the moment decisions define life for decades to come.

Sarah’s Key

by Tatiana de Rosnay
April 2, 2013

Sarah’s Key follows an American journalist’s present-day investigation into the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup of Jews in German-occupied Paris in 1942. It tells the story of young girl Sarah’s experiences during and after these events, illustrating the participation of the French bureaucracy while also showing how other French citizens hid and protected Sarah from Vichy France authorities.[3]

Forgotten Country

by Catherine Chung
December 2, 2012

On the night Janie waits for her sister, Hannah, to be born, her grandmother tells her a story: Since the Japanese occupation of Korea, their family has lost a daughter in every generation, so Janie is charged with keeping Hannah safe. As time passes, Janie hears more stories, while facts remain unspoken. Years later, when Hannah inexplicably cuts all ties and disappears, Janie embarks on a mission to find her sister and finally uncover the truth beneath her family’s silence. To do so, she must confront their history, the reason for her parents’ sudden move to America twenty years earlier, and ultimately her conflicted feelings toward her sister and her own role in the betrayal behind their estrangement.

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

by Lisa See
October 2, 2012

An evocative story of friendship set against the backdrop of a nineteenth-century China in which women suffered from foot binding, isolation, and illiteracy follows an elderly woman and her companion as they communicate their hopes, dreams, joys, and tragedies through a unique secret language.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

by Junot Diaz
July 31, 2012

Diaz immerses us in the tumultuous life of Oscar Wao and the history of his family at large, rendering with genuine warmth and dazzling energy, humor, and insight on the Dominican-American experience, and, ultimately, the endless human capacity to persevere in the face of heartbreak and loss.