Thursday, January 15, 2015

Reading Ahead: February 2015, part 4

I get asked, often, for recommendations of books that would generate great discussions for book clubs. The three following titles? I think they'd each fit the bill quite nicely, for different reasons. I'm actually going to suggest several to my book club when it's time to choose titles again!

The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah. Hannah's new novel takes readers to France in 1939, as Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he leaves for the Front. She can't believe that the Nazis will invade France, but she is very, very wrong, as her home is requisitioned, forcing her to choose to live with the enemy, or find herself and her daughters on the street. Meanwhile, Vianne's younger sister, Isabelle, joins the Resistance in Paris after a heartbreaking betrayal. A novel of resilience, survival, love and freedom in the midst of chaos. Hannah is a reader favorite, and I think this may find her an even wider audience. Fans of Jojo Moyes's The Girl You Left Behind or Tatiana de Rosnay's Sarah's Key should make a point to pick this one up.

A Spool of Blue Thread, by Anne Tyler. The Whitshanks are one of those families that radiate togetherness: an indefinable, enviable kind of specialness. But they are also like all families, in that the stories they tell themselves reveal only part of the picture. Abby and Red and their four grown children have accumulated not only tender moments, laughter, and celebrations, but also jealousies, disappointments, and carefully guarded secrets. From Red’s father and mother, newly arrived in Baltimore in the 1920s, to Abby and Red’s grandchildren carrying the family legacy boisterously into the twenty-first century, here are four generations of Whitshanks, their lives unfolding in and around the sprawling, lovingly worn Baltimore house that has always been their anchor. Reviewers are raving, calling the novel "flawless", "stunning" and "luminous".

Funny Girl, by Nick Hornby. Set in 1960's London, Funny Girl is a lively account of the adventures of the intrepid young Sophie Straw as she navigates her transformation from provincial ingĂ©nue to television starlet amid a constellation of delightful characters. Insightful and humorous, Nick Hornby's latest does what he does best: endears us to a cast of characters who are funny if flawed, and forces us to examine ourselves in the process.

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