Fiction Reviews | October 15, 2013

redstar Doctorow, E.L. Andrew’s Brain. Random. Jan. 2014. 200p. ISBN 9781400068814. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780812995046. F

In Doctorow’s The March, readers are led into the mind of Union army general William Tecumseh Sherman as his troops burn their way through the Carolinas, leaving a wake of physical and psychological destruction. Here, the story master delivers the confined thoughts of Andrew, a troubled cognitive scientist, whose conversation with an unknown questioner details the dissolution of his own relationships, career, and connection with his child. Andrew’s frantic language paints an increasingly fragmented worldview marred by disorientation. Though sardonic, he also injects a heavy dose of levity into his retellings, speaking to an optimistic humanism in the face of despair. Periodically challenged by the questioner, Andrew is forced to confront his tendency toward a revisionist history and critically focus on the emotional impact of his actions. VERDICT Through this dialectic narrative, Doctorow connects to the common theme seen throughout his work: one’s history is often a battle between memory and self-struggle to maintain an image of morality and adequacy. Doctorow deftly captures the complex but beautiful vagaries of life in clean, simple language. [See Prepub Alert, 6/24/13.]—Joshua Finnell, Denison Univ. Lib., Granville, OH

redstar Faulks, Sebastian. Jeeves and the Wedding Bells. St. Martin’s. Nov. 2013. 256p. ISBN 9781250047595. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781427237828. F

What ho, I see there’s a new Jeeves and Wooster yarn on the shelves. Best fetch my glasses to read the small print. What’s this, then? “An homage to P.G. Wodehouse by Sebastian Faulks.” Isn’t Faulks the bloke who wrote that World War I wheeze Birdshot, or was it Birdsong? Did that James Bond pastiche Devil May Care, as well? His new tale revolves around a girl, of course, but not of the Bond variety. In this instance, she’s a chocolate-eyed beauty whose voice has the sound of a frisky brook cascading over the strings of a well-tuned harp. You know the effect. Georgiana Meadowes’s father is having problems maintaining the old manse and, to gain funds, has betrothed her to another. To the rescue trots Bertie Wooster posing as Mr. Wilberforce, a gentleman’s personal gentleman, in service to Jeeves, disguised as Lord Etringham. Many plans, as well as boobies, have to be hatched to keep this state of topsy-turviness afloat. All of them, according to Bertie, are foolproof. Of course, Jeeves is there to assure that they are so. VERDICT Let word go forth, from Mayfair to Herald Square, from Piccadilly to Kansas City: Jeeves and Wooster are back and in fine fettle. After sampling this tasty bonbon, Wodehouse fans and new readers will want to go back to the original series. [See Prepub Alert, 5/13/13.]—Bob Lunn, Kansas City, MO

redstar Martin, Valerie. The Ghost of the Mary Celeste. Nan A. Talese: Doubleday. Jan. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9780385533508. $25.95. F

In 1872, the sailing ship Mary Celeste was discovered off the coast of Africa fully equipped, fully intact, and uninhabited. The crew had disappeared forever, and the mystery has not been solved. Martin perches her story atop this truly fascinating tale, adding two additional strings from that time in history: self-professed spirit mediums were increasingly patronized by the wealthy, and a man named Arthur Conan Doyle was beginning to make his mark as a writer. With tales from the sea, there is always loss; with spiritualists, there is always skepticism; and with the creator of Sherlock Holmes, there are always surprising twists and turns. Populated with delicate women, strong women, and adventurous men, the seemingly disparate plotlines are skillfully woven together to create a novel that is well crafted, intriguing, and suspenseful, perhaps as a homage to Sir Conan Doyle himself. VERDICT Martin’s seafaring story contains history, suspense, and heartbreak in equal measures as it slowly builds to an enigmatic conclusion. Highly recommended for all readers who appreciate quality historical fiction. [See Prepub Alert, 7/22/13.]—Susanne Wells, Indianapolis

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Alameddine, Rabih. An Unnecessary Woman. Grove. Feb. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9780802122148. $24. F

Alarcón, Daniel. At Night We Walk in Circles. Riverhead. Nov. 2013. 384p. ISBN 9781594631719. $27.95. F

Ball, Jesse. Silence Once Begun. Pantheon. Jan. 2014. 256p. ISBN 9780307908483. $23.95; ebk. ISBN 9780307908490. F

redstar Balson, Ronald H. Once We Were Brothers. Griffin: St. Martin’s. Oct. 2013. 400p. ISBN 9781250046390. pap. $15.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466846708. F

Brown, Carrie. Last First Day. Pantheon. 2013. 304p. ISBN 9780307908032. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9780307908049. F

redstar Carpenter, Scott Dominic. Theory of Remainders. Winter Goose. 2013. 284p. ISBN 9780988904903. $28.99; pap. ISBN 9780988904910. $16.99. F

Davis, Kathryn. Duplex. Graywolf. 2013. 208p. ISBN 9781555976538. $24; ebk. ISBN 9781555970819. F

Dolnick, Ben. At the Bottom of Everything. Pantheon. 2013. 256p. ISBN 9780307907981. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9780307907998. F

redstar Drndic´, Daša. Trieste. Houghton Harcourt. Jan. 2014. 368p. tr. from Serbo-Croatian by Ellen Elias-Bursa. photos. ISBN 9780547725147. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780547725819. F

Fields, Hilary. Bliss. Redhook: Hachette. Nov. 2013. 350p. ISBN 9780316277389. pap. $16; ebk. 9780316277341. F

Fu, Kim. For Today I Am a Boy. Houghton Harcourt. Jan. 2014. 256p. ISBN 9780544034723. $23; ebk. ISBN 9780544032408. F

Glickman, Mary. Marching to Zion. Open Road. Nov. 2013. 254p. ISBN 9781480435629. pap. $16.99; ebk. ISBN 9781480435582. F

Longo, Davide. The Last Man Standing. MacLehose: Quercus. Oct. 2013. 352p. tr. from Italian by Silvester Mazzarella. ISBN 9781623650346. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9781623650353. F

Mutch, Barbara. The Housemaid’s Daughter. St. Martin’s. Dec. 2013. 416p. ISBN 9781250016300. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250031969. F

Myers, Alex. Revolutionary. S. & S. Jan. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9781451663327. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781451663358. F

Nesbit, Tarashea. The Wives of Los Alamos. Bloomsbury USA. Feb. 2014. 240p. ISBN 9781620405031. $25. F

Padura, Leonardo. The Man Who Loved Dogs. Farrar. Dec. 2013. 576p. tr. from Spanish by Anna Kushner. ISBN 9780374201746. $35; ebk. ISBN 9781466837102. F

Radziwill, Carole. The Widow’s Guide to Sex and Dating. Holt. Feb. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9780805098846. $25. F

Stinson, Susan. Spider in a Tree. Small Beer. Oct. 2013. 300p. ISBN 9781618730695. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9781618730701. F

van Heugten, Antoinette. The Tulip Eaters. Mira: Harlequin. Nov. 2013. 368p. ISBN 9780778313885. pap. $15.95; ebk. ISBN 9781460320884. F

Wagner, Bruce. The Empty Chair. Blue Rider. Dec. 2013. 304p. ISBN 9780399165887. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101630747. F

Walker, Rebecca. Adé: A Love Story. Houghton Harcourt. Oct. 2013. 128p. ISBN 9780544149229. $20. F

Wilde, James. The Winter Warrior: A Novel of Medieval England. Pegasus. Nov. 2013. 384p. ISBN 9781605984841. $25.95. F


redstar Banks, Russell. A Permanent Member of the Family. Ecco. Nov. 2013. 243p. ISBN 9780061857652. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062096746. F

redstar Boyle, T.C. T.C. Boyle Stories II. Viking. Oct. 2013. 918p. ISBN 9780670026258. $45. F

Hammett, Dashiell. The Hunter and Other Stories. Mysterious: Grove/Atlantic. Nov. 2013. 256p. ed. by Richard Layman & Julie M. Rivett. ISBN 9780802121585. $25. F

Hogan, Desmond. The House of Mourning and Other Stories. Dalkey Archive. 2013. 264p. ISBN 9781564788559. pap. $15; ebk. ISBN 9781564789808. F

redstar Perrotta, Tom. Nine Inches: Stories. St. Martin’s. 2013. 256p. ISBN 9781250034700. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250034694. F

redstar Yu Hua. Boy in the Twilight: Stories of the Hidden China. Pantheon. Jan. 2014. 208p. tr. from Chinese by Allan H. Barr. ISBN 9780307379368. $24; ebk. ISBN 9780307908643. F