Tuesday, March 4, 2014

February Books

** An Officer and a Spy  by Robert Harris is the story of the infamous Dreyfus affair told as a chillingly dark, hard-edged novel of conspiracy and espionage. In 1895, a young Jewish officer is convicted of treason and sentenced to life imprisonment at Devil’s Island . Georges Picquart is promoted to head  the counterespionage agency that “proved” Dreyfus's guilt and stumbles on information that leads him to suspect another spy and a coverup in the French military. Harris tells a "tale of uncanny timeliness––a witch hunt, secret tribunals, out-of-control intelligence agencies, the fate of a whistle-blower--richly dramatized with the singular storytelling mastery."

*Still Life With Bread Crumbs
by Pulitizer prize winner Anna Quindlen record the pilgramage of a once world-famous photographer who moves to a small country cabin to reduce the expense of living in New York city. Slowly, he makes new friends, and begins to see the world around her in new, deeper dimensions while evaluating second chances at love, career, and self-understanding.  It is exquisite "chick lit," but  "brilliantly written, powerfully observed.  Still Life with Bread Crumbs is a deeply moving and often very funny story of unexpected love, and a stunningly crafted journey into the life of a woman."

by Geraldine Brooks takes the absent father from Little Women as its central character.  March is an idealistic chaplain in the Civil War who leaves his wife and daughters to serve what he believes is a noble cause.  To evoke the period and add authenticity, Brooks turned to the journals and letters of Bronson Alcott, Louisa May’s father—a friend and confidant of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. From the intellectual world of Concord and the sensuous antebellum South, March adds adult resonance to Alcott’s optimistic children’s tale to portray the moral complexity of war.

*The 19th Wife
by David Ebershoff  intertwines the history of polygamy in the Mormon Church and the story of Ann Eliza Young, the nineteenth wife of Brigham Young, with a modern mystery in which a polygamous man has been found murdered and one of his wives is accused of the crime. It is engaging and well written, but the movement between the two narriatives is confusing at times.

*The Husband's Secret
by Lilian Morarity is " a knowing, touching, and entertaining page-turner." Discovering a tattered letter that says she is to open it only in the event of her husband's death, Cecelia is unable to resist reading the letter and discovers a secret that shatters her life and the lives of two other women. "Shocking, complex and thought-provoking, this is a story reading groups will devour."

Scyamore Row by John Gresham brings A Time to Kill's  Jake Brigance back fora dramatic courtroom showdown that probes the sordid history of Ford County, where racism, intrigue, suspense and plot twists challenge a small Mississippi town's concept of of justice.When wealthy Seth Hubbard hangs himself from a sycamore tree and leaves his fortune to his black maid, Jake Brigance once again finds himself embroiled in a controversial trial.   It is classic Gresham, formulaic, yet   well-written, lively and fun to read.

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