"Hurricanes of entitlement, all swirl and noise and destruction, nothing at their centers."
~ from Lauren Groff's Fates and Furies
Harriet Wolf's Seventh Book of Wonders by Julianna BaggottFiction. This sweeping family saga introduces four complex women: reclusive author Harriet Wolf, who survived a grim upbringing at the Maryland Home for Feeble-Minded Children to become a literary sensation; Harriet's daughter Eleanor, the reluctant "gatekeeper" of her mother's legacy; and Eleanor's daughters, runaway Ruth and sensitive, slightly ethereal Tilton. Fueling familial discord are rumors about a lost (or hidden, or destroyed) manuscript for the seventh and final volume of Harriet's iconic Wonder series, which holds up a distorted mirror to the women's shared secret history.
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth GilbertSelf-Help. "A creative life is an amplied life," says author Elizabeth Gilbert, who believes that all of us are capable of creativity. In six sections, "Courage," "Enchantment," "Permission," "Persistence," "Trust," and "Divinity," Gilbert dispels myths (forget about tortured artists), dispenses advice (mine the "strange jewels" within), and describes her philosophy of art as a life-enhancing spiritual force.
Fates and Furies by Lauren GroffFiction. Marry in haste, repent at leisure. At least, that's what everyone expects when charismatic 22-year-old Lancelot "Lotto" Satterwhite weds enigmatic Mathilde Yoder after a five-week courtship. Against all odds, the glamorous couple's relationship endures for decades, despite the secrets at the heart of their marriage. The first half of this compelling, intricately plotted portrait of a complicated relationship is Lotto's, the second, Mathilde's. Their parallel narratives, which unfold in lyrical language, complement and contradict each other in startling ways.
The Shepherd's Crown by Terry PratchettYA Fiction. Fans of the late Terry Pratchett will cherish this final installment of the author's Tiffany Aching series, which began with The Wee Free Men. Picking up where I Shall Wear Midnight left off, The Shepherd's Crown finds heroine Tiffany taking over Granny Weatherwax's witchery duties while preparing for an invasion by the elves of Fairyland. Myth and magic, an abundance of puns, and characters both familiar (Death, the irrepressible Nac Mac Feegles) and new (an elven revolutionary, (male) apprentice witch Geoffrey) should keep Discworld enthusiasts smiling from start to finish.
Lookaway, Lookaway: A Novel by Wilton BarnhardtFiction. Witness one wealthy North Carolina clan's fall from grace and descent into the ranks of the merely middle class in this biting satire of Southern mores and manners. In alternating chapters, listeners meet each member: matriarch Jerene Jarvis Johnston, a steely socialite; Jerene's husband, Duke, the descendant of a famous Confederate general; and the couple's four children, real estate tycoon Annie; debutante Jerilyn; minister Bo, and retail sales associate Josh. "Dixieland was never so dishy nor dysfunctional," says Booklist of this family drama.
August: Osage County by Tracy LettsDrama. In Pawhuska, Oklahoma, alcoholic poet Beverly Weston hires Joanna, a Cheyenne woman, as a live-in caretaker for his wife Violet, a cancer patient. Shortly afterwards, Beverly disappears, throwing the household into turmoil as the Westons' extended family shows up to lend their support. August: Osage County won the 2008 Tony Award for Best Play; this full-cast production combines dark humor and family dysfunction to devastating effect.
The Children's Crusade: A Novel by Ann PackerFiction. Upon his discharge from the Navy in 1954, physician Bill Blair purchases a plot of land near Palo Alto, California, and marries Penny Greenaway, with whom he has four children. All is well (or seems to be) until Penny begins to withdraw and the family slowly unravels. Decades later, the remaining Blairs -- solemn, depressed doctor Robert, hypervigilant psychiatrist Rebecca, gentle schoolteacher Ryan, and troubled drifter James -- reunite at the family home, now standing stubbornly in the midst of Silicon Valley, and tell their stories in this moving, character-driven domestic saga.
Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria SempleFiction. As a reward for her academic achievements, eighth-grader Bee Branch has been promised a trip to Antarctica (Bee's choice) by her parents, tech guru Elgin Branch and architect Bernadette Fox. However, Bee's dream soon becomes a nightmare when Bernadette -- whose creative genius is outstripped only by her social anxiety and agoraphobia -- is first committed to a mental health facility and then disappears. Now it's up to Bee to track down her mother. Author Maria Semple, a television writer whose credits include Arrested Development, crafts a madcap comedic caper with satirical bite.
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