January 5th 2010 by Knopf
Hardcover 288 pages
From the incomparable Anne Tyler, a wise, gently humorous, and deeply compassionate novel about a schoolteacher, who has been forced to retire at sixty-one, coming to terms with the final phase of his life.
Liam Pennywell, who set out to be a philosopher and ended up teaching fifth grade, never much liked the job at that run-down private school, so early retirement doesn’t bother him. But he is troubled by his inability to remember anything about the first night that he moved into his new, spare, and efficient condominium on the outskirts of Baltimore. All he knows when he wakes up the next day in the hospital is that his head is sore and bandaged.
His effort to recover the moments of his life that have been stolen from him leads him on an unexpected detour. What he needs is someone who can do the remembering for him. What he gets is—well, something quite different.
We all know a Liam. In fact, there may be a little of Liam in each of us. Which is why Anne Tyler’s lovely novel resonates so deeply.
In the early nineteenth century, a windswept beach along the English coast brims with fossils for those with the eye! From the moment she's struck by lightning as a baby, it is clear Mary Anning is marked for greatness. When she uncovers unknown dinosaur fossils in the cliffs near her home, she sets the scientific world alight, challenging ideas about the world's creation and stimulating debate over our origins.
In an arena dominated by men, however, Mary is soon reduced to a serving role, facing prejudice from the academic community, vicious gossip from neighbours, and the heartbreak of forbidden love. Even nature is a threat, throwing bitter cold, storms, and landslips at her.
Luckily Mary finds an unlikely champion in prickly, intelligent Elizabeth Philpot, a middle-class spinster who is also fossil-obsessed. Their relationship strikes a delicate balance between fierce loyalty and barely suppressed envy. Despite their differences in age and background, Mary and Elizabeth discover that, in struggling for recognition, friendship is their strongest weapon. Remarkable Creatures is Tracy Chevalier's stunning new novel of how one woman's gift transcends class and gender to lead to some of the most important discoveries of the nineteenth century. Above all, it is a revealing portrait of the intricate and resilient nature of female friendship.
In this sensuous, funny, and heartbreaking new book, Amy Bloom explores the unexpected patterns that all forms of love and loss weave into our lives. With her dazzling prose, strong voice, and unmistakable and generous wit, this award-winning author takes us to the margins and centers of real people’s lives, introducing us to some of her most unforgettable characters yet. A young woman struggles to come to terms with her roommate’s murder; a man and his daughter-in-law confess their sins in the most unlikely of places. In one set of interlocking stories, two middle-aged friends, married to others, find themselves surprisingly, comically drawn to one another, risking all for all and never underestimating the costs. In another, we follow a mother and son for thirty years as their small and uncertain family becomes an irresistible tribe.
Secrets of Eden/ Chris Bohjalian
Shaye Areheart Books
Hardcover 400 pages
"There," says Alice Hayward to Reverend Stephen Drew, just after her baptism, and just before going home to the husband who will kill her that evening and then shoot himself. Drew, tortured by the cryptic finality of that short utterance, feels his faith in God slipping away and is saved from despair only by a meeting with Heather Laurent, the author of wildly successful, inspirational books about . . . angels.
Heather survived a childhood that culminated in her own parents' murder-suicide, so she identifies deeply with Alice’s daughter, Katie, offering herself as a mentor to the girl and a shoulder for Stephen – who flees the pulpit to be with Heather and see if there is anything to be salvaged from the spiritual wreckage around him.
But then the State's Attorney begins to suspect that Alice's husband may not have killed himself. . .and finds out that Alice had secrets only her minister knew.
Secrets of Eden is both a haunting literary thriller and a deeply evocative testament to the inner complexities that mark all of our lives. Once again Chris Bohjalian has given us a riveting page-turner in which nothing is precisely what it seems. As one character remarks, “Believe no one. Trust no one. Assume all of our stories are suspect.”
Secrets of Eden/ Chris Bohjalian
Happy Reading... stay tuned for Part Two of this list on Wednesday!
The Coconut Librarian
(descriptions of the books taken from Goodreads)