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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I loved this! Based on two very interesting (actual) women. Well-written, interesting, engaging.
Excellent! A fierce, well-crafted story by the author of The Girl with the Pearl Earring.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
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.
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
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."