There’s something for everyone to read now that summer’s winding down. Don’t let another day pass without carving out a few hours for yourself on a quiet porch, or in a nice air conditioned nook.
I’ve found some really imaginative novels; I’m in dumb awe of these authors, and eager to share their work.
Paul Malmont brilliantly weaves together fact, fiction, and science fiction in THE ASTOUNDING, THE AMAZING, AND THE UNKNOWN. The year is 1943, and the nation’s top science fiction writers are tapped to help the U.S. with the war effort. Germany is on the verge of something big, and only these literary visionaries can figure out the possible solutions to invisibility, force fields, death rays, and weather control. Led by Robert Heinlein, the “Kamikaze Group” includes Isaac Asimov and L. Ron Hubbard. A secret facility is set up at the Philadelphia Naval Yard, a locale that looms large in the myth of the “cloaking” of the Eldrich, a U.S. Navy destroyer escort ship which supposedly vanished. Throw in the rivalry of Edison and Tesla, and you’ve got a rip roaring adventure that challenges the mind.
Pam Lewis accesses family stories about her maternal grandmother for A YOUNG WIFE. Minke van Aisma is only fifteen when she travels to Amsterdam to care for the dying wife of a wealthy older man. Only hours after the woman’s death, Sander De Vries proposes to the teenage girl, and they begin a life together that leads them to the oil fields of Argentina, and then to America. Life is not easy for Minke, but the literary journey is well worth the trip.
EYES WIDE OPEN has author Andrew Gross taking a page from his own personal history. This story of two very different brothers, who are brought together by tragedy, involves a possible suicide, and a cult leader cut out of Charles Manson cloth. If the name Andrew Gross is familiar, it may be because he has co-written five number one bestsellers with James Patterson.
Violent death in the family is also at the heart of THE MURDERER’S DAUGHTERS, by Randy Susan Meyers. Two sisters are involved in a horrific tragedy. Their father murders their mother, wounds one of his daughters, and then tries to kill himself. How the girls cope with their lives and the fear that one day their father will be paroled from prison is a drama that covers thirty years. The fact that Meyers based the book on an incident from her own life, and worked with Boston’s Batterer Intervention Program, lends credence and makes this a good choice for reading groups. There’s a lot to discuss; this is definitely a book to be shared with other women.
Austin Wright’s TONY AND SUSAN was written in 1993, and has only recently been rediscovered. Susan Morrow is secure in her second marriage when she receives the manuscript her first husband has asked her to read. This book within a book is at times disturbing and even eerie, but how often do we get to experience what’s being called “a lost masterpiece of American fiction”?
Fans of Tony Hillerman and Margaret Coel will surely appreciate the work of Craig Johnson. In HELL IS EMPTY, the setting is Johnson’s native Wyoming. Seventh in a series featuring Sheriff Walt Longmire, this is a tale of mayhem, justice, and spiritual redemption.
Ernessa T. Carter is an author who is new to me, as is her publisher, Amistad. The imprint targets African Americans, a too often neglected segment of the reading public. 32 CANDLES introduces Davie Jones, a funny, endearing, and unique character who grabs our attention from the first page when she declares, “It’s impossible for a Southern black woman not to state a thing as she sees it.”
At the other end of the economic spectrum are THE RECESSIONISTAS. As ably described by Alexandra Lebenthal, they include pampered socialite Grigsby Somerset and friends, who live on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. It’s 2008, and the economy is about to collapse. Lebenthal is the ultimate Wall Street insider, and she dishes up the dirt from a unique and very entertaining perspective.
Don’t ever say nobody reads reviews. I picked up FRENCH LESSONS, by Ellen Sussman, because of a favorable write up in “People.” As irresistible as the Paris setting, this account of three lonely Americans learning the language while walking the city is racy and touching at the same time. So…perfect for end of the summer reading.
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Michall Jeffers is an accomplished Cultural Journalist and an avowed bibliophile. She writes extensively, both in print and online. Her eponymous cable TV show is syndicated throughout the tri-state area, and features celebrity interviews, reviews, and commentary. Michall is a voting member of National Book Critics Circle. www.michalljeffers.com