Miss Burma by Charmaine CraigIn 1939, Benny, an Anglo-Indian pugilist from Rangoon's Jewish quarter, falls in love with Khin, a Karen woman. Their daughter, Louisa, grows up to be a beauty queen and an unlikely symbol of unity in a divided nation. Based on author Charmaine Craig's own family history, this sweeping saga brings to life a tumultuous half-century in the history of Burma (Myanmar) that includes British colonial rule, World War II and Japanese occupation, independence, and military dictatorship.
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness
by Arundhati Roy
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness takes us on an intimate journey of many years across the Indian subcontinent—from the cramped neighborhoods of Old Delhi and the roads of the new city to the mountains and valleys of Kashmir and beyond, where war is peace and peace is war.
It is an aching love story and a decisive remonstration, a story told in a whisper, in a shout, through unsentimental tears and sometimes with a bitter laugh. Each of its characters is indelibly, tenderly rendered. Its heroes are people who have been broken by the world they live in and then rescued, patched together by acts of love—and by hope.
The tale begins with Anjum—who used to be Aftab—unrolling a threadbare Persian carpet in a city graveyard she calls home. We encounter the odd, unforgettable Tilo and the men who loved her—including Musa, sweetheart and ex-sweetheart, lover and ex-lover; their fates are as entwined as their arms used to be and always will be. We meet Tilo’s landlord, a former suitor, now an intelligence officer posted to Kabul. And then we meet the two Miss Jebeens: the first a child born in Srinagar and buried in its overcrowded Martyrs’ Graveyard; the second found at midnight, abandoned on a concrete sidewalk in the heart of New Delhi.
The Witchfinder's Sister: A Novel by Beth UnderdownWith the English Civil War raging and the country "falling apart at the seams," pregnant widow Alice returns to Manningtree, Essex, to live with her brother, the self-proclaimed "Witchfinder General" Matthew Hopkins. Unfortunately, in her absence Matthew has changed from a sensitive man young man set on joining the clergy to one whose mission in life is to put vulnerable women to death. Inspired by historical events, this compelling novel's leisurely pace builds to a dramatic climax as Alice gradually perceives the danger of the situation.
The Movement of Stars by Amy BrillAn oddity in her 19th-century Quaker community, 24-year-old amateur astronomer Hannah Price searches the skies above Nantucket with her telescope each night in the hope of discovering a new comet. Her father expects her to marry (and soon!), but Hannah only cares about astronomy -- until she meets Isaac Martin, a black sailor from the Azores who asks Hannah to teach him the science of navigation. Loosely based on the life of Maria Mitchell, the first American woman to become a professional astronomer, The Movement of Stars is a thought-provoking and dramatic story.
The Lieutenant: A Novel by Kate GrenvilleEighteenth-century English lieutenant Daniel Rooke is gifted at astronomy and mathematics, but hopeless when it comes to interacting with people. The one exception is his surprising friendship with Tagaran, a young Aboriginal girl whom Daniel meets when his ship, the HMS Resolution, arrives in New South Wales, Australia. While his intent is to build an observatory to search for an elusive comet, Daniel soon becomes fascinated by the life and language of Tagaran's people -- to the dismay of both of their cultures. Kate Grenville's novel of Australian history serves as a companion book to her previous novel, the Commonwealth Writer's Prize-winning The Secret River.
Equilateral: A Novel by Ken KalfusIs there life on Mars? Victorian astronomer Sanford Thayer thinks so and sets out to build an enormous signal beacon in the Sahara desert to contact the Martians. Despite generous backing by wealthy investors, the project is imperiled by malaria, a disgruntled local labor force, and Thayer's all-consuming obsession. Readers who enjoyed Arthur Phillips' The Egyptologist may appreciate this darkly humorous chronicle of scientific discovery and self-delusion in the desert.
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