I love modern fiction that is fabulously well written (according to my own idiosyncratic sensibility, of course).  Once that stipulation is met, I lean toward serious (but non-devastating) novels with a sense of humor.  Family dynamics always interest me, as does other psychologically complicated terrain.


Becoming Cover Image
ISBN: 9781524763138
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Crown - November 13th, 2018

Michelle Obama's Becoming is an excellent book: interesting, poignant, funny and well written.  Michelle tells of her life, from her childhood and family background to her stint as FLOTUS.  All along the way, she faces tough choices about ethics, work, family, and all the intersections in between.  Her exploration of race, class and gender is straightforward and experiential rather than theoretical.  The book is a fascinating ride as well as a page-turner.

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Once Upon a River: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780743298070
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Atria/Emily Bestler Books - December 4th, 2018

This absolutely wonderful and spellbinding novel is a treat! By the author of The Thirteenth Tale (#1 New York Times bestseller), it follows the mysterious events that take place along the river Thames, beginning with a small girl who comes back to life hours after drowning. Filled with a fascinating cast of characters, the novel is powerful, rich and absolutely delicious.

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The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062859952
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper - September 11th, 2018

Witty, sharp and beautifully written, this rollicking tale, set in 18th century London, immerses the reader in places never before visited. And fear not, there is no cutesy mermaid here!  In a style reminiscent of Dickens, the novel sweeps you off your feet while skewering the time period and its difficulties of gender, race and class. The incredible cast of characters is beautifully drawn, the setting superbly rendered.

Amal Unbound Cover Image
ISBN: 9780399544682
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Nancy Paulsen Books - May 8th, 2018

This excellent young adult novel tells the story of a Pakistani girl who suffers terribly because of an unfair social system – but ultimately triumphs. After inadvertently angering a rich and powerful man, she is forced to become a servant in his household, with dwindling hope of ever returning to her family. Through a combination of luck and personal strength, she continues to educate herself, and then to extricate herself.  This is a book about the meaning of indentured servitude.

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The Dark Flood Rises: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250160058
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Published: Picador - February 13th, 2018

Wow! This gorgeously written novel, full of startling insight and subtle wit, explores the paths of an aging cast of characters in England and off the coast of Spain. This book will be your cup of tea if you like a slightly dense, character-driven novel peppered with a bit of history, and written with great style.

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The War I Finally Won Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525429203
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Dial Books - October 3rd, 2017

My favorite read this year was a truly wonderful book called The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley.  Written for young adults, it has nevertheless entirely won over several of my adult acquaintances.  Beautifully written with excellent, well developed characters, the book tells the story of Ada, a strong, stubborn 11 year old whose past includes neglect and suffering.  The book tells of her journey and also of her struggle to begin to learn to accept the kindness and love of the woman who (unwillingly at first) took her in during the war.  The author is very talented and writes with psychological acuity.  The sequel to the Newbery Honor book The War that Saved my Life, it's a book for all ages -- 10 to adult -- and though it is a sequel, it stands alone.  I read it first, then I read the prequel, and then I read this one again.  I highly recommend it!

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The War That Saved My Life Cover Image
ISBN: 9780147510488
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Puffin Books - May 31st, 2016

Wonderful book! (As is the sequel, The War I Finally Won). The main character, Ada, is an evacuee from London during WWII. It turns out she and her little brother are escaping an abusive mother. Ada is a fantastic character, very believable, with much to recover from. The unwilling woman who takes them in turns out to be the perfect match for scrappy Ada.

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Before We Visit the Goddess: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781476792019
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster - April 25th, 2017

This beautifully written novel tells the story of three generations of women. Sabitri and her daughter Bela, born in India, and Tara, born in the U.S. Their lives are complicated, leading them to unwittingly pass on challenges for the next generation.

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Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250113320
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Published: St. Martin's Press - January 17th, 2017

Wonderful fictionalized account of a unique character as she walks NYC on New Year’s Eve in her 85th year. A woman who wanted to make her own choices in a pre-feminist era, she became a success in the 1930s and 1940s with her wit and poetry. Great writing. Much fun.

The House at the Edge of Night: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780812998795
Availability: Special Order
Published: Random House - July 12th, 2016

Excellent! This novel spins the tale (and the tales within the tale) of a family from a small island off the coast of Italy. Spanning several generations, including wonderful characters, this is a great read.

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News of the World: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062409201
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: William Morrow - October 4th, 2016

Magnificent book! I absolutely loved this fascinating, well written novel. The time is 1870 and the place is an unstable, largely ungoverned Texas.  When a 72 year old man agrees to return a 10 year old girl, captured by Indians 4 years earlier, to her nearest relatives, he finds he has his hands full.  She has lost all memory of her early life and language and sees herself as his captive.

The book explores many themes: the "taming" of the West, culture clashes, human flaws and decency, toughness, kindness and the role of luck, to name just a few. Very highly recommended.

What Ho, Automata Cover Image
ISBN: 9781611383942
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Book View Cafe - October 7th, 2014

Fabulous! If you like quirky and ridiculous British humor (a la P.G. Wodehouse), this is the book for you. It's hilarious and quite well done, and stars a steam-powered robot valet who helps our hero solve mysteries.

Circling the Sun: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780345534200
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Ballantine Books - May 31st, 2016

Excellent novel about Beryl Markham, a fascinating woman who grew up in Kenya in the early 1900s to become many things, including an aviator, an enigma, and a woman far ahead of her time. By the author of The Paris Wife.

Remarkable Creatures: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780452296725
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Books - October 26th, 2010

I loved this! Based on two very interesting (actual) women. Well-written, interesting, engaging.


At the Edge of the Orchard: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143110972
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Books - January 31st, 2017

Excellent! A fierce, well-crafted story by the author of The Girl with the Pearl Earring.

Cat Out of Hell Cover Image
ISBN: 9781612195193
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Melville House - March 8th, 2016

Oh my! This is a fabulous read, very funny but with touches of Gothic horror.  It's beautifully written by the author of Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation, so of course it has perfect syntax and punctuation. It made me laugh out loud many times, and then actually get scared of my own cats!

My Brilliant Friend: Neapolitan Novels, Book One Cover Image
By Elena Ferrante, Ann Goldstein (Translated by)
ISBN: 9781609450786
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Europa Editions - September 25th, 2012

A great read! Interesting story about two girls growing up in post-war Italy, and a fascinating look at the culture of an Italian neighborhood.

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Brooklyn Cover Image
ISBN: 9781501106477
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Scribner - September 8th, 2015

I very much enjoyed this delicate novel about the unfolding of a young woman's life after she immigrates from a small town in Ireland to the US in the 1950's.  Quiet and precise, Toibin's writing drew me in.  He does quite an amazing job of describing emotions and internal decisions.

Carrying Albert Home: The Somewhat True Story of a Man, His Wife, and Her Alligator Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062325907
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: William Morrow Paperbacks - July 5th, 2016

What a great read! This book was extremely entertaining and also well written. Enjoy!

"Homer Hickam weaves together family lore, historical accuracies, comedy and a touch of sadness... It is those blurred lines between truth, the unreliability of memories and the way stories become stretched and exaggerated over time that give this novel its charm." -- Associated Press

How to Grow Up: A Memoir Cover Image
ISBN: 9780142181195
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Plume - January 27th, 2015

I loved this book (and I rarely read nonfiction). She is such a good writer, mixing humor and depth with a lovely ease, telling us all the gruesome stages of her growing and sobering up with such a beautiful writing style. I took my time reading just for the joy of it. The chapters on Buddhism and "how to break up" are masterpieces!

The Abundance: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250045096
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Picador - April 8th, 2014

I really loved this quiet, beautiful novel about an older couple from India, now living in the Midwest, and their adult first-generation children.  Amit Majmudar has created a very fine portrayal of complicated family dynamics, as well as of the pains, pleasures and challenges of merging cultures.

A Spool of Blue Thread: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780553394399
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Anchor - April 26th, 2016

The Tyler magic is back!  I love her quiet, poignant and shrewd portraits of families, and this is a beauty.  I didn't love her last two novels, but thoroughly enjoyed this one.

"In her twentieth gleaming novel, Tyler is as fleet and graceful as a skater, her prose as transparent as ice, dazzling qualities that distract us, initially, from just how profoundly dimensional a tale this is. We get swept up in the spin of conversations, the slipstream of consciousness, and the glide and dip of domestic life, then feel the sting of Tyler's quick and cutting insights into unjust assumptions about class, gender, age, and race."  --Booklist

The Signature of All Things: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143125846
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Riverhead Books - June 24th, 2014

This novel really took me by surprise, because it could not be more different from her recent bestseller, Eat, Pray, Love. The Signature of All Things is a beautifully written, good old fashioned novel with pitch perfect voice, fascinating characters, depth of content, and an intriguing story.  Born in the 19th century, the main character, Alma Whitaker, grows up from a sturdy little explorer of gardens into a first class botanist.

Life After Life: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316176491
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Back Bay Books - January 7th, 2014

I loved this fabulous and well written novel.  It opens twice: first in Germany in 1930 with an English woman shooting Hitler from across a cafe table, then in England in 1910 when a baby arrives, stillborn. And then it opens again: still in 1910, still in England, but this time the baby lives. That baby is Ursula Todd, and her life is well worth reading about as she wends her way through the century.  This is the best book I've read this year.

"One of the best novels I've read this century. Kate Atkinson is a marvel. There aren't enough breathless adjectives to describe Life after Life: Dazzling, witty, moving, joyful, mournful, profound."  --Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl

The Chaperone Cover Image
ISBN: 9781594631436
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Riverhead Books - June 4th, 2013

This was a fabulous novel!  Well written, historically interesting, with great characters and a plot that keeps you reading late into the night.  The main character is a Kansas woman named Cora, who (for unnamed reasons of her own) volunteers to chaperone a young and sullen fifteen-year-old Louise Brooks (silent movie actress and great beauty of the 1920's) on a trip to New York City, where Louise has been accepted into a prestigious dance class. Cora, it turns out, is not the simple midwestern housewife she seems. She has an interesting past, and a fascinating future. And then there's Louise!

"It's impossible not to be completely drawn in by The Chaperone. Laura Moriarty has delivered the richest and realest possible heroine in Cora Carlisle, a Wichita housewife who has her mind and heart blown wide open, and steps -- with uncommon courage -- into the fullness of her life. What a beautiful book. I loved every page."  --Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780812983456
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - March 26th, 2013

This was a wonderful novel, entertaining and poignant.  I could hardly put it down.

National bestseller.  Named one of the best books of the year by The Washington Post.

"Meet Harold Fry, recently retired. He lives in a small English village with his wife, Maureen, who seems irritated by almost everything he does. Little differentiates one day from the next. Then one morning a letter arrives, addressed to Harold in a shaky scrawl, from a woman he hasn't heard from in twenty years. Queenie Hennessy is in hospice and is writing to say goodbye. But before Harold mails off a quick reply, a chance encounter convinces him that he absolutely must deliver his message to Queenie in person. In his yachting shoes and light coat, Harold Fry embarks on an urgent quest. Determined to walk six hundred miles to the hospice, Harold believes that as long as he walks, Queenie will live. A novel of charm, humor, and profound insight into the thoughts and feelings we all bury deep within our hearts."