Book Giveaway: LEAVING LUCY PEAR

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“The woman dropped her face into the blanket, as if sniffing. Bea thought she was trying to decide, but the woman was already decided. She knew the story of Ruth, even if Bea didn’t. A second later, she and…the baby were gone…The high, whining creak of oars in their locks, moving off-shore. Another whine, coming from Bea herself, a piercing, involuntary sound running from her stomach to her throat…She clamped a hand to her mouth, then vomited into the cupped palm as quietly as she could.” Anna Solomon, LEAVING LUCY PEAR

Publisher Synopsis: 

Set in 1920s New England, the story of two women who are both mothers to the same unforgettable girl—a big, heartrending novel from award-winning writer Anna Solomon

One night in 1917 Beatrice Haven sneaks out of her uncle’s house on Cape Ann, Massachusetts, leaves her newborn baby at the foot of a pear tree, and watches as another woman claims the infant as her own. The unwed daughter of wealthy Jewish industrialists and a gifted pianist bound for Radcliffe, Bea plans to leave her shameful secret behind and make a fresh start. Ten years later, Prohibition is in full swing, post-WWI America is in the grips of rampant xenophobia, and Bea’s hopes for her future remain unfulfilled. She returns to her uncle’s house, seeking a refuge from her unhappiness. But she discovers far more when the rum-running manager of the local quarry inadvertently reunites her with Emma Murphy, the headstrong Irish Catholic woman who has been raising Bea’s abandoned child—now a bright, bold, cross-dressing girl named Lucy Pear, with secrets of her own.

In mesmerizing prose, award-winning author Anna Solomon weaves together an unforgettable group of characters as their lives collide on the New England coast. Set against one of America’s most turbulent decades, Leaving Lucy Pear delves into questions of class, freedom, and the meaning of family, establishing Anna Solomon as one of our most captivating storytellers.

Giveaway:

Because I am immersed in my own research, I have a pile of novels tapping their feet, waiting for me to review them. I don’t want to let this one pass by before I’ve had time to dig in, so I’m giving away the gorgeous hardcover Viking sent to me, and keeping the ARC for my future reading pleasure.

Sue Monk Kidd (bestselling author of countless novels) says: “From the first page, I was under Anna Solomon’s spell.”

Publishers Weekly says: “Ambitious and satisfying…[a] lushly written look at two women’s haunting choices.”

Beautiful endorsements!

To win a copy of LEAVING LUCY PEAR simply comment below about your favorite dramatic historical fiction, and share the giveaway on social media. The drawing will run until Friday, July 29th at 9 PM EST. (US only, please.)

Good luck!

Giveaway: THE LIGHT OF PARIS

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“I didn’t set out to lose myself. No one does, really. No one purposely swims away from the solid, forgiving anchor of their heart. We simply make the tiniest of compromises, the smallest of decisions, not realizing the way those small changes add up to something larger until we are forced, for better or worse, to face the people we have become.” Eleanor Brown, THE LIGHT OF PARIS

PUBLISHER SYNOPSIS:

The Light of Paris is the miraculous new novel from New York Times–bestselling author Eleanor Brown, whose debut, The Weird Sisters, was a sensation beloved by critics and readers alike.
 
Madeleine is trapped—by her family’s expectations, by her controlling husband, and by her own fears—in an unhappy marriage and a life she never wanted. From the outside, it looks like she has everything, but on the inside, she fears she has nothing that matters.

In Madeleine’s memories, her grandmother Margie is the kind of woman she should have been—elegant, reserved, perfect. But when Madeleine finds a diary detailing Margie’s bold, romantic trip to Jazz Age Paris, she meets the grandmother she never knew: a dreamer who defied her strict, staid family and spent an exhilarating summer writing in cafés, living on her own, and falling for a charismatic artist.

Despite her unhappiness, when Madeleine’s marriage is threatened, she panics, escaping to her hometown and staying with her critical, disapproving mother. In that unlikely place, shaken by the revelation of a long-hidden family secret and inspired by her grandmother’s bravery, Madeleine creates her own Parisian summer—reconnecting to her love of painting, cultivating a vibrant circle of creative friends, and finding a kindred spirit in a down-to-earth chef who reminds her to feed both her body and her heart.

Margie and Madeleine’s stories intertwine to explore the joys and risks of living life on our own terms, of defying the rules that hold us back from our dreams, and of becoming the people we are meant to be.

GIVEAWAY:

Because I am immersed in my own research, I have a pile of novels tapping their feet, waiting for me to review them. I don’t want to let this one pass by before I’ve had time to dig in, so I’m giving away the gorgeous hardcover Putnam sent to me, and keeping the ARC for my future reading pleasure.

Jojo Moyes (bestselling author of ME BEFORE YOU) says THE LIGHT OF PARIS is, “So lovely and bighearted–it made me long for Paris.” 

Paula McLain (bestselling author of THE PARIS WIFE) says, “Wry, affecting, and deeply rewarding, THE LIGHT OF PARIS will keep you thinking–and smiling–long after the last page is turned.”

I cannot think of higher praise!

To win a copy of THE LIGHT OF PARIS simply comment below about your favorite Parisian-inspired novel or film, and share the giveaway on social media. The drawing will run until Tuesday, July 26th at 9 PM EST. (US only, please.)

Bonne chance! 

 

Book Recommendation: EUPHORIA

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“It’s that moment about two months in, when you think you’ve finally got a handle on the place. Suddenly it feels within your grasp. It’s a delusion–you’ve only been there eight weeks–and it’s followed by the complete despair of ever understanding anything. But at that moment the place feels entirely yours. It’s the briefest, purest euphoria.” Lily King, EUPHORIA

Publisher Synopsis:

A New York Times Bestseller

Winner of the 2014 Kirkus Prize

Winner of the 2014 New England Book Award for Fiction

A Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award

A Best Book of the Year for:

New York Times Book Review, Time, NPR, Washington Post, Entertainment Weekly,Newsday, Vogue, New York Magazine, Seattle Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, The Guardian, Kirkus Reviews, Amazon, Publishers Weekly, Our Man in Boston, Oprah.com, Salon

Euphoria is Lily King’s nationally bestselling breakout novel of three young, gifted anthropologists of the ‘30’s caught in a passionate love triangle that threatens their bonds, their careers, and, ultimately, their lives. Inspired by events in the life of revolutionary anthropologist Margaret Mead, Euphoria is “dazzling … suspenseful … brilliant…an exhilarating novel.”—Boston Globe

My Recommendation:

Hallmarks of the writing of Ernest Hemingway include faraway settings, powerful and spare prose, characters with pasts they want to outrun, and relationships fraught with passion, complexity, and drama. The same can be said for Lily King’s EUPHORIA.

Highly prized and decorated, King’s EUPHORIA is a report from the field: 1930s New Guinea, to be precise. Two married anthropologists–very much out of their elements and battle-scarred from barely surviving cultures alien to them–meet another researcher, also world-weary and at a breaking point. Their mutual craving for familiar civilization translates into obsession with one another, boundaries crossed, betrayal, and all matter of unsustainable interactions, leading to inevitable tragedy.

This is a novel that at turns challenges, captivates, offends, and thrills. If you haven’t already read EUPHORIA, I highly recommend it. I cannot stop thinking about it. If you have read the book, I’d love to hear what you think.

Book Recommendation: GUESTS ON EARTH

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“Perhaps you feel that I am straying from my announced subject, which is Mrs. Fitzgerald. Yet it is impossible, as you see, for me to single her out from among all those others who composed the larger picture of our life as we lived it there upon that mountain at that time. Sometimes I see a vast painting like a diorama, yet in the style of Brueghel, densely populated with colorful people spread out over the rolling slopes doing odd things perhaps, yet each one integral to the whole, and safe within the frame.” Lee Smith, GUESTS ON EARTH

Publisher Synopsis:

It’s 1936 when orphaned thirteen-year-old Evalina Toussaint is admitted to Highland Hospital, a mental institution in Asheville, North Carolina, known for its innovative treatments for nervous disorders and addictions. Taken under the wing of the hospital’s most notable patient, Zelda Fitzgerald, Evalina witnesses cascading events that lead up to the tragic fire of 1948 that killed nine women in a locked ward, Zelda among them. Author Lee Smith has created, through a seamless blending of fiction and fact, a mesmerizing novel about a world apart–in which art and madness are luminously intertwined.

My Recommendation:

I have avoided reading GUESTS ON EARTH for some time because the end of Zelda Fitzgerald’s life is painful for me to encounter, and the Zelda “trend” (three Zelda novels releasing around the same time my own novel CALL ME ZELDA was published) caused me a degree of stress I do not remember fondly. More than a year later, I was finally able to dig in, and though I found some unsettling similarities between my novel and GUESTS that I can only attribute to the power of Jung’s collective unconscious I’m very glad I read it.

GUESTS ON EARTH is taut and captivating, a vivid and moving account of one girl’s life as she progresses from a difficult childhood to an even more difficult adulthood. As Smith reveals in the author’s note, she has special insight into the subject of mental illness because both her father and her son were patients at Highland Hospital in Asheville, NC. Smith’s handling of mental illness is controlled, insightful, and gives new understanding.

Zelda is a character in the novel, but is not featured prominently, so if you are looking for a more biographical account in novel form, read Therese Fowler’s Z or R. Clifton Spargo’s BEAUTIFUL FOOLS. Book clubs, in particular, will get much out of reading GUESTS ON EARTH, especially in tandem with the other Zelda novels. I highly recommend the book to anyone who enjoys character-driven historical fiction; it has a cast the reader will not forget.

Have you read GUESTS ON EARTH? Have you read any of the other Zelda novels? How do you think they compare?

Book Recommendation: THE TRUTH ABOUT AWITI

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“[I]f one believes–or at a minimum has a bit of curiosity–regarding the connection between the mind, body, and spirit, specifically as it relates to traumatic experiences, the theory of spiritual retribution is difficult to ignore.” C. P. Patrick

Publisher Synopsis:

There is a commonly held belief the tropical storms and hurricanes that form off the coast of West Africa are not natural disasters, but rather they are retaliation by restless spirits impacted by one of the darkest chapters of world history—the trans–Atlantic slave trade.

Awiti’s destiny was forever changed the day the slave raiders arrived at her village. She made a life-altering decision with the hope of being reunited with her family, only to discover her effort was in vain. For centuries, her sadness raged within the winds and rain, resulting in tropical storms that devastated the South. But there is more to Awiti than creating hurricanes, as those who have encountered her love and wrath will attest. The truth is, there is so much more.

Follow her story from mid-fifteenth-century Africa to twenty-first-century New Orleans in this historical fantasy that will leave you questioning the impact of the trans–Atlantic slave trade on the physical and spiritual realms.

My Recommendation:

I have been drawn to study the history of the trans-Atlantic slave trade since college, when I read Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave in conjunction with Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved. My pursuits on the topic ranged from the academic to the emotional, and are driven by something I cannot name. From my first novel, Receive Me Falling, to my current, untitled work in progress, the division between races and class recurs in my themes, even when I do not deliberately set out to address it.

I met C. P. Patrick at a book signing, and when we began speaking about her writing, she mentioned her novel The Truth about Awiti. Never having heard the theory that hurricanes were born of restless slave spirits, I was immediately drawn to the legend, and the fact that before each major hurricane recounted in her book (including the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 in the Florida Keys, featured in my novel, Hemingway’s Girl), a grave crime against an African slave, an African-American, or indigenous American had been committed. Because I am also drawn to mysticism and spirituality, I connected with the idea.

The Truth about Awiti is a difficult book to read. I had to put it down repeatedly because it so unflinchingly portrays those grave crimes against black humanity that I needed time to process and to grieve. There were many stories I never knew, and these people and places and horrors must never be forgotten.

In terms of the writing, I was struck by how perfectly Patrick embodies the voice of each new character. It was as if I could hear their languages, dialects, and voices in my ear. Patrick is able to capture the immediacy and potency of oral tradition in narrative form, which makes for an intimate reading experience. It’s like sitting at a fire listening to stories from the mouths of survivors.

The Truth about Awiti is one of the best books I have read in 2016. Book clubs should consider adding it to their rosters. The discussion the novel stimulates will be profound. C. P. Patrick has a forever-fan in me, and I cannot wait to read her next book. I give The Truth about Awiti my highest recommendation.

Book Recommendation: FATHER’S DAY

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“Being so far away made Harvey feel their closeness. The physical separation was harder for [her father] because he knew she would never live at home again…She sensed the emptiness she had left behind, a future animated by past–and how the best years of her father’s life had only been the beginning of hers.” Simon Van Booy, FATHER’S DAY

Publisher Synopsis:

For more on Simon Van Booy and his marvelous work, visit his website.

 

Book Recommendation: THE ECLIPTIC

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If you construct a room in paint, you haunt it. Your life rests in every stroke. So paint only the rooms that you can bear to occupy forever. Or paint the stars instead.” Benjamin Wood, THE ECLIPTIC

Publisher Synopsis:

On a forested island off the coast of Istanbul stands Portmantle, a gated refuge for beleaguered artists. There, a curious assembly of painters, architects, writers and musicians strive to restore their faded talents.

Elspeth ‘Knell’ Conroy is a celebrated painter who has lost faith in her ability and fled the dizzying art scene of 1960s London. On the island, she spends her nights locked in her blacked-out studio, testing a strange new pigment for her elusive masterpiece.

But when a disaffected teenager named Fullerton arrives at the refuge, he disrupts its established routines. He is plagued by a recurring nightmare that steers him into danger, and Knell is left to pick apart the chilling mystery. Where did the boy come from, what is ‘The Ecliptic’, and how does it relate to their abandoned lives in England?

My Recommendation: 

When a star dies it swells to a shimmering mass, collapses in on itself, and eventually bursts outward. That is an apt metaphor for my brain while reading THE ECLIPTIC.

Mind. Blown.

I hate to build up a book so much, but I must make an exception for this novel.

The characters: highly sympathetic and unique. You will want to spend time with them, will want to learn about their pasts, and will wish them well in their futures. If you are a creative person of any sort, read with a highlighter; you will find yourself nodding your head along with the descriptions of the processes, the cycles, the cost of the vocation. If you are not creative, you will be eager to unravel the psychology of what brought the artists to Portmantle, and how their lives are connected.

THE ECLIPTIC is a novel for book clubs. It requires thought and begs to be discussed. I suspect many will want to reread it once it’s finished, myself included. Full of insights, at times frightening, and artfully rendered, Wood has written a modern masterpiece destined to become a classic.

I should note that I was in a five-book reading slump before beginning THE ECLIPTIC, and I now have such a serious book hangover, I might need to take a break before I start anything new.

Here is a link to the book trailer. Are you intrigued? The novel releases on May 3rd.