Readerly Top Picks In Paperback – March 2016

thelostsymphonyThe Lost Boys Symphony by Mark Andrew Ferguson (Little, Brown & Company) The nature of friendship and love is often complicated but Ferguson ups the ante of close friends, Henry, Val and Gabe’s sorrow filled love triangle with the appearance of two of Henry’s future incarnations. By turns philosophical and surreal, The Lost Boys Symphony escapes classification, but is instead a tense, beguiling and haunting read, which daringly explores the boundaries of love, addiction, madness and their influences on the construction of personal reality.

thenightsisterThe Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon (Anchor)  Letters to famed director Alfred Hitchcock, and the creepy, mostly abandoned Tower Motel (ghosts? monsters?) of London, Vermont take center stage in this atmospheric tale of sibling rivalry, declining family fortunes, and murder.  McMahon delves into three generations of strong and secretive women, several narrative perspectives and a time spanning nearly sixty years as she briefly introduces readers to a doomed wife, and mother, contemplating the demise of her family in the face of a deadly secret. You’ll guess until the very end as the layers of the past are revealed,  and clever writing with hairpin plot twists raise the stakes and tension as yet another family’s life hangs in the balance.

thebooksellerThe Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson (Harper)  Detroit, and Kitty—embattled bookstore owner who finds relief from the stress of the day in a rich dream life. There, she is Katharyn, the mother of two endearing children, and the wife of the perfect husband. As the dreams become more detailed, Kitty finds it hard to distinguish which life and family are real. Swanson brings the past and both identities to such vivid reality that it is a feat not to race through to find out if the blurred lines of both lives can find a satisfying resolution.

girlatwarGirl at War by Sara Novic (Random House) When most Americans think about the Balkan states and the wars which raged there in the second half of the 20th century we think about Bosnia or Kosovo. In Girl at War, Novic offers another perspective, that of a young woman caught up in the fear and heartache of the Croatian War for Independence. Whelan’s narration is very well balanced, striking the appropriate emotional notes without being melodramatic. 

The WellThe Well by Catherine Chanter (Washington Square Press) It should have been a bad time to move from the city to a farm, what with the persistent drought throughout not only the UK but all of Europe. But Ruth and her husband Mark are plagued by rumors and bad memories, and they are assured that the farm they are buying has a persistent water table. It is more than that at The Well, though. Here there is rain, crops grow prolifically. It doesn’t take long before their neighbors begin to resent them and their land becomes a magnet for the desperate. Chanter’s tale is enchanting, spinning a web which ensnares readers quickly into Ruth’s life and the dramatic events caused by the catastrophic drought.