The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins. This debut psychological thriller from Hawkins is creating quite a stir among reviewers already, and the release date is still a month away. Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning, flashing past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost. And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes completely entangled in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good? Reviews are calling it gripping, compulsively readable, and enthralling. It is already on my list of must-reads this winter.
GalapagosRegained, by James Morrow. Chloe Bathurst is an unemployed Victorian actress who finds work on Charles Darwin’s estate, nurturing the strange birds, exotic lizards, and giant tortoises he brought back from his trip around the world. When Chloe gets wind of the Great God Contest, sponsored by the Percy Bysshe Shelley Society—£10,000 to the first petitioner who can prove or disprove the existence of a Supreme Being—she decides that Mr. Darwin’s materialist theory of speciation might just turn the trick. (If Nature gave God nothing to do, maybe He was never around in the first place.) Before she knows it, her ambitions send her off on a wild adventure—a voyage by brigantine to Brazil, a steamboat trip up the Amazon, a hot-air balloon flight across the Andes—bound for the Galápagos archipelago, where she intends to collect the live specimens through which she might demonstrate evolutionary theory to the contest judges. Indiana Jones meets Jules Verne in a delightfully epic adventure.