Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Meg's Picks: April 2016, part 1

For some, it's crocus and daffodils, or the blooming of forsythia. For others, it's the lengthening days. For this librarian, though, the surest sign of spring is a cascade of new books that readers will be clamoring for in a matter of moments. If you'd like to get in before the deluge, read on.

Eligible, by Curtis Sittenfeld. Curtis Sittenfeld is the best-selling author of several much-beloved novels (Prep, American Wife, etc.), so I would feel remiss if I didn't tell you about her newest novel, due out next month. This is a modern re-telling of Pride and Prejudice, but this version of the Bennet family—and Mr. Darcy—is one that you have and haven’t met before: Liz is a magazine writer in her late thirties who, like her yoga instructor older sister, Jane, lives in New York City. When their father has a health scare, they return to their childhood home in Cincinnati to help—and discover that the sprawling Tudor they grew up in is crumbling and the family is in disarray. Youngest sisters Kitty and Lydia are too busy with their CrossFit workouts and Paleo diets to get jobs. Mary, the middle sister, is earning her third online master’s degree and barely leaves her room, except for those mysterious Tuesday-night outings she won’t discuss. And Mrs. Bennet has one thing on her mind: how to marry off her daughters, especially as Jane’s fortieth birthday fast approaches. With Sittenfeld's signature charming, witty prose, this is sure to be a favorite beach-read this summer.

Glory Over Everything, by Kathleen Grissom. There was a little book back in 2010 that stole the hearts of many a reader: Grissom's debut, The Kitchen House, about a thriving plantation in Virginia in the decades leading up to the Civil War, a place where dark secrets loomed. Fans clamored to know what happened next, and Grissom has obliged. In this new novel, Grissom follows the story of Jamie Pyke, son of both a slave and master of Tall Oakes, whose deadly secret compels him to take a treacherous journey through the Underground Railroad. Fans of the first novel should absolutely be sure to pick this one up.

The Excellent Lombards, by Jane Hamilton. If you're sensing a theme here, there's a reason. Hamilton has written some beautiful, award-winning, critically-acclaimed novels you may have heard of: Disobedience, The Book of Ruth, A Map of the World. Her new novel, a heartfelt coming-of-age story, is truly a gift to readers. Mary Frances "Frankie" Lombard is fiercely in love with her family's sprawling apple orchard and the tangled web of family members who inhabit it. Content to spend her days planning capers with her brother William, competing with her brainy cousin Amanda, and expertly tending the orchard with her father, Frankie desires nothing more than for the rhythm of life to continue undisturbed. But she cannot help being haunted by the historical fact that some family members end up staying on the farm and others must leave. Change is inevitable, and threats of urbanization, disinheritance, and college applications shake the foundation of Frankie's roots. As Frankie is forced to shed her childhood fantasies and face the possibility of losing the idyllic future she had envisioned for her family, she must decide whether loving something means clinging tightly or letting go.

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