Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon—the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell.” But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?
Born a generation apart and with very different ideas about love and family, Mariam and Laila are two women brought jarringly together by war, by loss and by fate. As they endure the ever escalating dangers around them-in their home as well as in the streets of Kabul-they come to form a bond that makes them both sisters and mother-daughter to each other, and that will ultimately alter the course not just of their own lives but of the next generation.
The beloved American classic about a young girl’s coming-of-age at the turn of the century, Betty Smith’s “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” is a poignant and moving tale filled with compassion and cruelty, laughter and heartache, crowded with life and people and incident. The story of young, sensitive, and idealistic Francie Nolan and her bittersweet formative years in the slums of Williamsburg has enchanted and inspired millions of readers for more than sixty years.
During WWI in the trenches of the Somme, five wounded French soldiers are reported “killed in the line of duty.” Mathilde, fiancée of Manech, one of the five, does not accept the official report, and in her attempt to reconstruct the days leading up to Manech’s reported death, she discovers things are not quite what they seem.
Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood is the stunning fictionalized account of the real-life 1843 double murder of Thomas Kinnear and his mistress, Nancy Montgomery. Accused in the murders are two of Kinnear’s servants, James McDermott, a stable hand, and sixteen year old Grace Marks, a maid.
Sister Evangeline was just a girl when her father entrusted her to the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in upstate New York. Now, at twenty-three, her discovery of a 1943 letter from the famous philanthropist Abigail Rockefeller to the late mother superior of Saint Rose Convent plunges Evangeline into a secret history that stretches back a thousand years: an ancient conflict between the Society of Angelologists and the monstrously beautiful descendants of angels and humans, the Nephilim.
Anna Westerby’s diaries, written in Danish over seventy years ago, are published to great acclaim by her daughter Swanny after Anna’s death. But, do the diaries also contain the revelations of a double mystery within their pages: the true identity of a lost child and an unsolved gruesome murder? Anna’s Book by Barbara Vine is a compelling novel that will keep you guessing until its final pages.
In Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie two young boys, the narrator age 17, and his best friend, Luo, age 18, are sent to a remote village in the mountainous Szechuan region of China in the 1970’s as part of Chairman Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution. The Cultural Revolution of China vilified intellectuals. Schools were closed and many of the educated-class were imprisioned or sent to live in the country for hard manual labor and re-education by the peasant-class. The two exiled friends meet the Little Seamstress, a young illiterate peasant girl, and, ironically, discover a secret cache of Western literature, which has a profound affect on both boys and the Little Seamstress.
This is a story of an elaborate birthday party gone wrong. The host is an unappreciated Vice President of a poor South American country. The birthday boy is a powerful businessman from Japan. The entertainment is a mesmerizing soprano that wins the heart of all who hear her sing.
When terrorists crash this party, the evening and the lives of everyone present will forever change.
Against the unforgettable backdrop of New York near the turn of the twentieth century, from the Gilded Age world of formal balls and opera to the immigrant poverty of the Lower East Side, bestselling author Susan Vreeland again breathes life into a work of art in this extraordinary novel, which brings a woman once lost in the shadows into vivid color.
Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières takes place on the Greek isle of Cephalonia under German and Italian occupation during Word War II.
The jovial Italian Captain Antonio Corelli is quartered with Dr. Iannis and his daughter Pelagia. Despite the fact that Captain Corelli is Italian and considered the enemy, his love of life, his kind joyful spirit, and his gifted ability on the mandolin, all work to win Pelagia’s heart.
Cutting for Stone is an engaging and witty novel about the traumatic origins of twin brothers who grew up in the shadows of a hospital in Ethiopia. Losing their mother and being abandoned by their father, they were raised by two physicians who instilled in them a love of medicine. Despite their bond, the twins could not be more different. However, it is their genetic similarities that gives life to one of them, but in the process destroys the other.
A mesmerizing young Irish seanchaí (storyteller) on a red 1950 Vincent Comet motorcycle pulls into town and into the lives of young school teacher, Fiona Walsh, her twin sisters, Aiofe and Róisín, and Aunt Moira. With riveting tales of long ago kingdoms, mighty battles, princes, princesses and wolves, Jim charms and seduces his listeners. But let the games begin when a jealousy-driven Fiona follows Jim and discovers a very dark secret.
The year is 1878, peak of the Texas cattle trade. The place is Dodge City, Kansas, a saloon-filled cow town jammed with liquored-up adolescent cowboys and young Irish hookers. Violence is random and routine, but when the burned body of a mixed-blood boy named Johnnie Sanders is discovered, his death shocks a part-time policeman named Wyatt Earp. And it is a matter of strangely personal importance to Doc Holliday, the frail twenty-six-year-old dentist who has just opened an office at No. 24, Dodge House.
Set in the rich farmland of California’s Salinas Valley, this sprawling and often brutal novel follows the intertwined destinies of two families—the Trasks and the Hamiltons—whose generations helplessly reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel. Here Steinbeck created some of his most memorable characters and explored his most enduring themes: the mystery of identity; the inexplicability of love; and the murderous consequences of love’s absence.
Elizabeth Gilbert was in her 30s when she realized the life she had made for herself was not the life she wanted. Dealing with divorce, depression and an unhealthy love affair, she plans a year long voyage to find those things that were missing in her life. She heads to Rome to experience the pleasures in life, India to learn about meditation and devotion and Bali to experience balance.
Back in 1985, Frank Mackey was nineteen, growing up poor in Dublin’s inner city, and living crammed into a small flat with his family on Faithful Place. But he had his sights set on a lot more. He and Rosie Daly were all ready to run away to London together, get married, get good jobs, break away from factory work and poverty and their old lives.
Francesca Campanile is a widow with adult children preoccupied with their own lives. Not being able to shake this my-kids-don’t-need-me-anymore feeling, Francesca decides to apply for a nanny position to get herself out of the house and start living her life instead of just passing the time.
A terrifying encounter with an escaped convict in a graveyard on the wild Kent marshes; a summons to meet the bitter, decaying Miss Havisham and her beautiful, cold-hearted ward Estella; the sudden generosity of a mysterious benefactor—these form a series of events that changes the orphaned Pip’s life forever, and he eagerly abandons his humble origins to begin a new life as a gentleman.
When Elspeth Noblin dies of cancer, she leaves her London apartment to her twin nieces, Julia and Valentina. These two American girls never met their English aunt, only knew that their mother, too, was a twin, and Elspeth her sister. Julia and Valentina are semi-normal American teenagers–with seemingly little interest in college, finding jobs, or anything outside their cozy home in the suburbs of Chicago, and with an abnormally intense attachment to one another.
“In Korea in those days, newborn girls were not deemed important enough to be graced with formal names, but were instead given nicknames, which often reflected the parents’ feelings on the birth of a daughter: I knew a girl named Anger, and another called Pity. As for me, my parents named me Regret.”
The Panama Hotel, once the gateway to Seattle’s Japantown, is the hotel at the corner of bitter and sweet. In 1986, Henry Lee hears that the belongings of 37 Japanese families interned during WWII are found in the basement of the Panama Hotel. This event sends Henry, a Chinese-American, on a journey back to the 1940s when his best friends were a Japanese-American named Keiko Okabe and a local Jazz musician named Sheldon. Henry was 12 years old and was struggling with his relationship with his father, his feelings for Keiko and the events taking place in wartime Seattle.
Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri is a collection of short stories about Indian culture, both in India and the United States, as well as the joys and difficulties of relationships that someone of any culture can identify with. Some of the stories have a thread of sadness in them such as “A Temporary Matter” while others are quirky such as “This Blessed House” (my two favorite stories).
In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself.
Jane Eyre is the story of a young woman’s struggles to uphold her convictions despite her painful upbringing and the strictures of society and religion. Jane does not compromise, even at risk to her own happiness and health, that which she holds as truths. She is an ageless heroine for all young girls today.
Penned by Charlotte Brontë under a pseudonym in 1847, Jane Eyre, at the time, was criticized as having an anti-Christian slant. Today this semi-autobiographical novel is considered one of the top literary classics of all-time.
She is an overweight reporter who is looking for love and recognition in life. Jemima J is secretly in love with her handsome co-worker but is sure he would never give her the time of day. Persuaded by a friend to try online dating, Jemima J starts a journey to finding out what is truly important to her and what true love is.