Chevalier, Tracy. The Last Runaway. Dutton. Jan. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9780525952992. $26.95 F
English Quaker Honor Bright wants nothing more than to lead a simple and righteous life, but when her engagement to her childhood sweetheart is broken, Honor sails for America and the great unknown of the Ohio frontier. Though she begins her journey with optimism, it quickly fades when tragedy strikes, and Honor finds herself alone and afraid in her new home, depending, for the first time, on the kindness of strangers. Swept up in America’s antislavery movement, forced to choose between loyalties to those she loves and the greater good, Honor discovers that the world is not as simple as she once believed. VERDICT Chevalier’s (The Girl with the Pearl Earring ; Remarkable Creatures ) writing continues to have that can’t-put-it-down quality, and her change in settings from Europe to 19th-century frontier America is a welcome one. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 7/9/12.] —Leigh Wright, Bridgewater, NJ
Crace, Jim. Harvest. Nan A. Talese: Doubleday. Feb. 2013. 224p. ISBN 9780385520775. $24.95. F
Crace (Being Dead) is a master at creating worlds at once familiar and startlingly sui generis. In a premodern English village, the biblical caution “As ye reap, so ye shall sow” proves true both literally and figuratively; with the hard work of planting and harvesting as backdrop, we see the villagers move inexorably toward a tragedy they’ve provoked. One morning, Master Kent’s stable is found burning, and strangers who have peaceably signaled their presence by sending up the customary smoke plume are blamed; their heads are shaved, and the two men are put in stocks. The only one to show them sympathy is odd Mr. Quill, hired to map the village lands. As suggested by the narrator, Walt—himself an outsider brought to the manor by Master Kent—that mapping heralds a foreboding shift in the village’s future that parallels its current troubles. VERDICT A quietly breathtaking work revealing how fate plays with us as we play with fate; highly recommended. [Prepub Alert, 8/27/12]—Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal
Kenney, John. Truth in Advertising. Touchstone: S.& S. Jan. 2013. 320p.
ISBN 9781451675542. $24.99. F
Finbar Dolan, a thirtysomething writer at a prominent New York advertising agency, is lost. Life in New York has no more appeal. And while he enjoys the perks of first-class travel and his large salary, writing diaper commercials has become meaningless. Distanced from his siblings, Fin is thrown off course when his brother calls with news that their estranged father is dying; Fin is further surprised to find himself at his father’s bedside at Christmas. Now with a deadline looming on a Super Bowl commercial, Fin struggles to forgive his parents, figure out what is important, and finally say what he means to those about whom he cares the most.VERDICT This debut novel by a frequent New Yorker contributor is not a coming-of-age tale, but it carries that same wonder of transition as you watch Fin Dolan grow and change. With wry wit, excellent pacing, and pitch-perfect, often hilarious, dialog, Kenney has created something remarkable: a surprisingly funny novel about an adult American male finally becoming a man. Highly recommended. —Jennifer Beach, Cumberland County P.L., VA
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The following titles are reviewed in the November 1 print issue. Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.
Benjamin, Melanie. The Aviator’s Wife. Delacorte. Dec. 2012. 416p. ISBN 9780345528674. $26 . F
Kricorian, Nancy. All the Light There Was. Houghton Harcourt. Mar. 2013. 288p. ISBN 9780547939940. $24. F
Leary, Ann. The Good House. St. Martin’s. Jan. 2013. 304p. ISBN 9781250015549. $24.99. F
Littlefield, Sophie. Garden of Stones. Mira: Harlequin. Feb. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9780778313526. pap. $14.95. F
Milchman, Jenny. Cover of Snow. Ballantine. Jan. 2013. 336p. ISBN 9780345534217. $26. F
Morrell, David. Murder as a Fine Art. Mulholland: Little, Brown. May 2013. 288p. ISBN 9780316216791. $25.99. F
Palmieri, Suzanne. The Witch of Little Italy. Griffin: St. Martin’s. Mar. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9781250015518. pap. $14.99 F
Rosenfeld, Lucinda. The Pretty One: A Novel About Sisters. Little, Brown. Feb. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9780316213554. $24.99. F
Tolkien, Simon. Orders from Berlin. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Dec. 2012. 320p. ISBN 9780312632144. $25.99. F