Tuesday, December 4, 2012


*The Lower River by Paul Theroux “wrestles with questions of good intentions and harsh reality...” Ellis Hock runs an old-fashioned menswear store in a small town where he dreams about  the four years he spent in Malawi with the Peace Corps.  When his wife leaves him, he realizes that the place for him to go is back to his on the remote Lower River, where he can be happy again. He finds dusty village transformed.  The school he built is a ruin, the church and clinic are gone, and poverty and apathy have worsened. They remember and welcome him, but is his new life an escape or a trap?  Updating Thomas Wolfe, Theroux proves you can’t go home to Africa either.


Gilded Age by Claire McMillan  re-imagines  Wharton’s The House of Mirth as a modern story set amid the upper crust of Cleveland instead of New York. While the book hews to the original in terms of plot, “the dialogue is sharp and witty, and the characters inhabit a world of their own making.” It’s a tragic comedy that’s alternately humorous and heartbreaking.


Double Fault by Lionel Shriver is described as “a brilliant and unflinching novel” as it explores the depths of conflict between professional and personal commitment. Tennis has been the love of Willy Novinsky's life since she first picked up a racquet at four. A middle-ranked pro at twenty-three, she's meets her match in Eric Oberdorf, a low-ranked, untested Princeton grad who also intends to make his mark on the international tennis circuit. Eric becomes Willy's first passion off the court, and eventually they marry. But while the marriage begins well, full-tilt competition soon puts a strain on their relationship.


Girl in the Park by Mariah Fredricks is the story of a “Preppie Murder” and called a haunting psychological thriller.” When Wendy Geller's body is found in Central Park, shy Rain, once Wendy's best friend, knows there was more to Wendy than the newspaper hyperbole.  As she struggles to separate the friend she knew from the tangle of gossip and headlines, Rain becomes determined to discover the truth about the murder. Written in a voice at often riveting, and convincing, Frederick's mystery exposes the cracks in the New York City world of privilege.


Drawing Conclusions by Donna Leon explores the death of a retired teacher who was helping abused women escape offers a sensitive exploration of a contemporary social problem. It also delivers a typically Leon-style ambiguous ending in which traditional justice is either less important than or even detrimental to Brunetti's real concern: doing his best to set things right for the troubled people he encounters in the course of his investigation. This is a popular series set in Venice and is particularly pleasant to read while in the area.

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