Week ending September 28, 2012
Hill, Melissa. A Gift from Tiffany’s. Griffin: St. Martin’s. Oct. 2012. c.416p. ISBN 9781250020222. pap. $14.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
A traffic accident in front of Tiffany’s causes a holiday mixup of major proportions for two separate couples in New York from England and Ireland for the holidays when their little blue boxes are switched in the chaos and the wrong couple ends up “engaged.” A lack of communication ensures that the chaos continues as the couples head home. While things are all sorted out in the end, it takes some major meddling on the part of a pragmatic, well-meaning friend. A smart, perceptive eight-year-old hooks readers from the start and keeps them engaged in this multilayered story that has a number of well-drawn characters (although not all are likable) and more than one unexpected twist.
Verdict Nothing turns out quite as expected in this chick lit romp that has a whimsical charm and is rich with modern Irish ambiance. Hill (The Charm Bracelet) is a popular Irish author and lives in Dublin. This title was first published in 2011 in the UK as Something from Tiffany’s; this is its first American release.—Kristin Ramsdell, Libn. Emerita, California State Univ.–East Bay
Kiesbye, Stefan. Your House Is on Fire, Your Children All Gone. Penguin. Oct. 2012. c.196p. ISBN 9780143121466. pap. $15. F
Welcome to Hemmersmoor, a quaint German village full of apprehension and intrigue. Four of the town’s children share their own peculiar, intertwined accounts of the village and its curious residents. A brother suffocates his baby sister to deliver her soul to a traveling carnival worker. Infant skeletons are unearthed at a neighbor’s house when it is discovered that the neighbor had been hiding her pregnancies. A father drinks himself to death after watching his teenage daughter’s body swell with the baby with which he impregnated her. There’s even a town clairvoyant and a grand manor that menacingly sits on the hilltop.
Verdict Supernatural elements mixed with unnerving human atrocities mark this dark and atmospheric novel by an award-winning German-born writer (Next Door Lived a Girl) that is guaranteed to linger in the reader’s mind. Shirley Jackson, Joyce Carol Oates, Susan Hill, and Ray Bradbury are apt comparisons. Eloquently written in a style that could be mistaken for a classic gothic novel, this is best suited for literary enthusiasts rather than casual horror fiction readers.—Carolann Curry, Mercer Medical Lib., Macon, GA
Richardson, Barbara K. Tributary. Torrey House. Sept. 2012. c.352p. ISBN 9781937226046. pap. $16.95. F
In 1871, after growing up as an adopted Morman and feeling set apart owing to the large birthmark on her face, Clair Martin concludes that the Utah Territory is not for her. Having survived an attempted rape, she sets out for New Orleans. Ada Null, her eccentric Morman benefactor, hates to see Clair go, but their paths will cross again. Clair works as a laundress in a hospital and adopts an African American boy, Tierre. Together they move to the Mississippi Gulf, but eventually they end up back near Utah Territory, working their fingers to the bone on a sheep ranch owned by Stephen Null, Ada’s son. Although rarely far from starvation and often unlucky at love, Clair is blessed with an appreciation for nature and solitude.
Verdict The author’s Morman heritage and keen sense of history are apparent. Her tour de force second novel (after Guest House) gives us a plucky heroine to admire and should appeal to readers who enjoyed Sandra Dallas’s Prayers for Sale or Lee Smith’s Fair and Tender Ladies. [The publisher’s 2% to the West program donates two percent of its sales to nonprofit environmental programs and a writing scholarship at colleges in the West.—Ed.].—Keddy Ann Outlaw, formerly with Harris Cty. P.L., Houston, TX
Woodman, Richard. For King or Commonwealth. Severn House. Sept. 2012. c.215p. ISBN 9780727881724. $28.95. F
After rising from obscurity into naval authority in A Ship for the King, Kit Faulkner is now a captain without a country, exiled to Denmark with his mistress, Katherine Villiers, while England is wracked by a civil war pitting Parliamentarians against Royalists. Running raids against Parliament’s new navy, Kit is caught and thrown into the dreaded Tower of London. His only means of support comes from his jilted wife, whom he betrayed for his mistress. After years of negotiating for his freedom, Kit must serve on the high seas, where he rises through the ranks all over again. He must fight for the new government and turn the ragtag navy into a supreme maritime force.
Verdict Filled with nautical adventure, betrayals, and twists of fate, maritime scholar and novelist Woodman’s latest Capt. Faulkner chronicle vividly details the seafaring life and harrowing battles that make history come alive on the page. A sure bet for Patrick O’Brian fans and readers who enjoy historical fiction with a nautical flavor.—Ron Samul, New London, CT