With the arrival of all things autumn, there is a near-universal return among us booklovers to our To Be Read piles that somehow we just didn’t get to during the summer months, despite all that relaxed reading time the long nights are supposed to afford us. I’ve got five sure-to-be fabulous books for my Fall Reading Gala that I can’t wait to get to (down from 20 when I decided to take a more realistic approach). And here they are:
The Forgotten Garden: After I finished The House At Riverton by Kate Morton, I knew I wanted to get my hands on her newest. I’ve actually started this one already and am quite taken with Morton’s ability to let us time travel without getting dizzy. A four-year-old girl is found alone on a ship that sailed from London to Australia in 1913. The harbormaster and his wife take her in, and many months later – well after this couple has learned to love this child – someone comes looking for her. The harbormaster and his wife move far away from the port where they found her, convincing themselves that anyone who could misplace a child for months is not fit to have her. When the child begins to forget the little she remembers of her other life, the couple simply ceases to talk about it. The story takes us to the point of view of that child, Nellie, as an adult and now aware of her origins, to the point of view of her granddaughter some years after Nell’s death, to the point of view of the long-ago mother who lost her. Three time zones, lots of mental sailing, rich prose, clever storytelling, but hold onto the rail or you will forget where you are. And you don’t want to do that. It’s shaping up so nicely.
I am also many pages into A Slow Burn by my very dear friend, Mary DeMuth. I will actually set aside The Forgotten Garden for a few days to finish A Slow Burn, the second in her Defiance, Texas series about the affects of a young girl’s disappearance on a slow-moving Texas town. Mary will be my guest on Friday and we’ll talk about this book and its place in the series, which began with Daisy Chain, one of my favorite reads from 2009. Mary writes with depth and charm, a nice mix these days when it seems like many books sacrifice one for the other. Come back Friday for more.
Since it came out earlier this year, I’ve been itching to get into The Passion of Mary Margaret, the latest by one of my favorite authors, Lisa Samson. Publishers Weekly sez: “Samson mixes quirky with mysticism, seasons it with social justice, and the result is a page-turner with characters so fresh, funny and indelible the reader wants another 50 pages or so, please. Samson envisions a Jesus even an atheist would enjoy talking to, a Jesus whom the titular Mary-Margaret Fischer, a religious sister, talks to and gets direction from, as mystics quite naturally do. An even more compelling figure than Jesus, or at least someone with more lines and hence more characterization, is Mary-Margaret’s childhood friend, Jude Keller, a ne’er-do-well with a soul needing saving encased in a body so good-looking it’s hard for a body to resist. The required Christian progression to redemption is a natural in this story that slips between past and present-somewhat confusingly at first-and ranges from Maryland to Africa. The plot holds a few surprises that make some of the final, far-flung episodes more narratively and theologically satisfying. Quirk works; this is a deeply engaging book deserving of a broad audience.” I happen to LOVE quirk.
Despite its troubling storyline, I loved the way Audrey Niffeneggar wove The Time Traveler’s Wife together. It was a completely orignal story with highly memorable characters. You don’t see too many stories like that. You see memorable characters but they are by and large wrapped in a good plot we’ve seen before. So, I’ve been anxious for Niffeneggar’s next offering and here it is: Her Fearful Symmetry, which will release tomorrow. Her publisher sez: “Six years after the phenomenal success of The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger has returned with a spectacularly compelling and haunting second novel set in and around Highgate Cemetery in London. . . Niffenegger weaves a captivating story in Her Fearful Symmetry about love and identity, about secrets and sisterhood, and about the tenacity of life — even after death.” There is apparently a ghost in this story, and I happen to like intelligent ghost stories. Not the creepy kind. The “What if?” kind. . .
And I’ve already mentioned in an earlier post that I am so looking forward to Anita Diamant’s newest, Day After Night. I read The Red Tent a number of years ago and enjoyed that book so much. And since I like stories that take me to the past, I am hoping to be swept away again by Diamant’s flair for storytelling from another time.
So that’s the line-up! Wish I could read them all and not have to do anything else . . .
What’s on your fall reading list?
See you on Friday. Mary DeMuth will be in the house. . .