Literary Fiction

Trust book cover


Hernán Díaz

FICTION Diaz Hernan
Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction

"An award-winning writer of absorbing, sophisticated fiction delivers a stylish and propulsive novel rooted in early 20th century New York, about wealth and talent, trust and intimacy, truth and perception. In glamorous 1920s New York City, two characters of sophisticated taste come together. One is a legendary Wall Street tycoon; the other, the brilliant daughter of penniless aristocrats. Steeped in affluence and grandeur, their marriage excites gossip and allows a continued ascent -- all at a moment when the country is undergoing a great transformation. This is the story at the center of Harold Vanner's novel Bonds, which everyone in 1938 New York seems to have read. But it isn't the only version. Provocative, propulsive, and repeatedly surprising, Hernan Diaz's TRUST puts the story of these characters into conversation with the "the truth"-and in tension with the life and perspective of an outsider immersed in the mystery of a competing account. The result is an overarching novel that becomes more exhilarating and profound with each new layer and revelation, engaging the reader in a treasure hunt for the truth that confronts the reality-warping gravitational pull of money, and how power often manipulates facts"--

Anne M's picture

What a book! There are many books that use the differing perspectives of a storyline, but I’ve never read anything quite like this. “Trust” is divided into essentially four different books about a marriage between a wealthy financier and an heiress philanthropist. Set in New York during the 1920’s and 1930’s, the first book is a fictional account of the marriage culminating in the aftermath of the 1929 crash and the wife’s treatment for mental illness. The context of this fiction is that it is widely read throughout New York and everyone knows who the book is about. The second part of “Trust” is the autobiography of Andrew Bevel, a response to the novel to clear his name and explain his own financial genius as well as his contributions to the country. Then there is the third part of the novel, a memoir by Ida Partenza, Andrew Bevel’s ghostwriter, who provides a completely different insight into the Wall Street tycoon. Lastly, we have the diaries of Mildred Bevel. Nothing aligns. Nothing adds up. Small details are threaded throughout but are so distorted, they only bear little resemblance from narrative to narrative. It is so compelling, so well written, and such an important narrative about the concept of truth. -Anne M

Black cloud rising : a novel book cover

Black cloud rising : a novel

David Wright Faladé

FICTION Wright Falade David
Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction

By fall of 1863, Union forces had taken control of Tidewater Virginia and established a toehold in eastern North Carolina, including along the Outer Banks. Thousands of freed slaves and runaways flooded the Union lines, but Confederate irregulars still roamed the region. In December, the newly formed African Brigade, a unit of these former slaves led by General Edward Augustus Wild-a one-armed, impassioned abolitionist-set out from Portsmouth to hunt down the rebel guerillas and extinguish the threat. From this little-known historical episode comes Black Cloud Rising, a dramatic, moving account of these soldiers-men who only weeks earlier had been enslaved, but were now Union infantrymen setting out to fight their former owners. At the heart of the narrative is Sergeant Richard Etheridge, the son of a slave and her master, raised with some privileges but constantly reminded of his place. Deeply conflicted about his past, Richard is eager to show himself to be a credit to his race. As the African Brigade conducts raids through the areas occupied by the Confederate Partisan Rangers, he and his comrades recognize that they are fighting for more than territory. Wild's mission is to prove that his troops can be trusted as soldiers in combat. And because many of the men have fled from the very plantations in their path, each raid is also an opportunity to free loved ones left behind. For Richard, this means the possibility of reuniting with Fanny, the woman he hopes to marry one day. With powerful depictions of the bonds formed between fighting men and heartrending scenes of sacrifice and courage, Black Cloud Rising offers a compelling and nuanced portrait of enslaved men and women crossing the threshold to freedom.

Anne M's picture

David Wright Faladé's deeply intimate portrait of Sergeant Richard Etheridge's experience in the Union Army as part of the African brigade. Newly freed, Sergeant Etheridge's mission, as well as his company's, is to face familiar territory and people as the Union tries to ensure its stronghold in North Carolina by removing rebel guerrilla fighters and their sympathizers. Etheridge's position there is complex--he is out to prove himself. He desires to be seen as a son by his paternal father, his former owner, as worthy as his other half-siblings. He desires to be seen as a brave soldier to his commanding officers in the Army as they speak about abolition but don't fully see their soldiers as equals. He also wants to be seen as his cousin Patrick's contemporary, a family member, a friend. Etheridge's desires of self-worth radically change through his experience fighting in North Carolina. It is a coming-of-age tale as Etheridge finds meaning in his life and this experience as well as learning to let go. It is a fantastic novel. If you are a fan of Geraldine Brooks or Nathan Harris, this novel will appeal to you. -Anne M

Sea of Tranquility : a novel book cover

Sea of Tranquility : a novel

Emily St. John Mandel

FICTION Mandel Emily
Science Fiction, Literary Fiction

"The award-winning, best-selling author of Station Eleven and The Glass Hotel returns with a novel of art, time, love, and plague that takes the reader from an island off Vancouver in 1912 to a dark colony of the moon three hundred years later, unfurling a story of humanity across centuries and planets. Edwin St. Andrew is eighteen years old when he crosses the Atlantic by steamship, exiled from polite society following an ill-conceived diatribe at a dinner party. He enters the forest, spellbound by the beauty of the Canadian wilderness, and suddenly hears the notes of a violin echoing in an airship terminal -- an experience that shocks him to his core. Two centuries later a famous writer named Olive Llewellyn is on a book tour. She's traveling all over Earth, but her home is the second moon colony, a place of white stone, spired towers, and artificial beauty. Within the text of Olive's best-selling pandemic novel lies a strange passage: a man plays his violin for change in the echoing corridor of an airship terminal as the trees of a forest rise around him. When Gaspery-Jacques Roberts, a detective in the black-skied Night City, is hired to investigate an anomaly in the North American wilderness, he uncovers a series of lives upended: The exiled son of an earl driven to madness, a writer trapped far from home as a pandemic ravages Earth, and a childhood friend from the Night City who, like Gaspery himself, has glimpsed the chance to do something extraordinary that will disrupt the timeline of the universe. "--

Anne M's picture

Emily St. John Mandel seems to brilliantly encapsulate all of modern fears in the sum of 255 pages. Or are they just human fears? This book, spanning centuries, from the 1910's to the 2300's, takes on post-traumatic stress disorder, pandemics, technological shifts, and the fragility of Earth and its nations. And like always, St. John Mandel leaves me with more questions than answers. -Anne M

Fresh water for flowers book cover

Fresh water for flowers

Valérie Perrin

FICTION Perrin Valerie
Literary Fiction

"Violette Toussaint is the caretaker at a cemetery in a small town in Bourgogne. Her life is lived to the predictable rhythms of the often funny, always moving confidences that casual mourners, regular visitors, and sundry colleagues share with her. Violette's routine is disrupted one day by the arrival of Julien Sole--local police chief--who has come to scatter the ashes of his recently deceased mother on the gravesite of a complete stranger. It soon becomes clear that Julien's inexplicable gesture is intertwined with Violette's own complicated past" --

Anne M's picture

This was recommended to me by members of TRAIL. It was a wonderful book! A quiet read, yet layered and complex. It builds upon itself, slowly and intentionally. It is very well-written. A popular book in France and Italy during the depths of the pandemic, this novel resonated with me in a time that we all approach working through grief and loss. -Anne M

Small things like these book cover

Small things like these

Claire Keegan

FICTION/Keegan, Claire
Literary Fiction, Fiction

"It is 1985 in a small Irish town. During the weeks leading up to Christmas, Bill Furlong, a coal merchant and family man faces into his busiest season. Early one morning, while delivering an order to the local convent, Bill makes a discovery which forces him to confront both his past and the complicit silences of a town controlled by the church. Already a bestseller in France and certain to be read worldwide for generations to come, Small Things Like These is a deeply affecting story of hope, quiet heroism, and empathy from one of our most critically lauded and iconic writers"--

Anne M's picture

This is a December book. Bill Furlong, who has an ordinary and content existance, delivers an order of coal to a local convent that houses young and unwed mothers. That one ordinary, simple order sets him on a path of rethinking who he is, what his life means, and the importance of empathy and compassion for others. It is a small, but mighty book. -Anne M

The Lincoln highway book cover

The Lincoln highway

Amor Towles

FICTION Towles Amor
Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Fiction

"The bestselling author of A Gentleman in Moscow and Rules of Civility and master of absorbing, sophisticated fiction returns with a stylish and propulsive novel set in 1950s America In June, 1954, eighteen-year-old Emmett Watson is driven home to Nebraska by the warden of the juvenile work farm where he has just served fifteen months for involuntary manslaughter. His mother long gone, his father recently deceased, and the family farm foreclosed upon by the bank, Emmett's intention is to pick up his eight-year-old brother, Billy, and head to California where they can start their lives anew. But when the warden drives away, Emmett discovers that two friends from the work farm have hidden themselves in the trunk of the warden's car. Together, they have hatched an altogether different plan for Emmett's future, one that will take them all on a fateful journey in the opposite direction-to the City of New York. Spanning just ten days and told from multiple points of view, Towles's third novel will satisfy fans of his multi-layered literary styling while providing them an array of new and richly imagined settings, characters, and themes"--

Anne M's picture

I very much enjoyed Towles latest novel. He is a talented writer and I think this book is Towles at his best. If you enjoy adventure novels, different perspectives, and a narrative that builds upon itself, I highly recommend this book. The audiobook is very well done. Towles has essentially written an American Odyssey; the read would make a great companion for any travel. -Anne M

Cloud cuckoo land : a novel book cover

Cloud cuckoo land : a novel

Anthony Doerr

FICTION Doerr Anthony
Literary Fiction, Fiction

Constantinople, 1453: Anna lives in a convent where women toil all day embroidering the robes of priests. She learns the story of Aethon, who longs to be turned into a bird so that he can fly to the paradise of Cloud Cuckoo Land, a better world, and reads it to her sister as the walls of Constantinople are bombarded by armies of Saracens. Lakeport, Idaho, 2020: Seymour, an activist bent on saving the earth, sits in the public library with two homemade bombs in pressure cookers. Upstairs, eighty-five-year old Zeno, a former prisoner-of-war, and an amateur translator, rehearses five children in a play adaptation of Aethon's adventures. The future: On an interstellar ark called The Argos, Konstance, alone in a vault with access to all the information in the world, knows Aethon's story through her father, who has sequestered her to protect her. All are dreamers, misfits on the cusp of adulthood in a world the grown-ups have broken. -- adapted from publisher info

Anne M's picture

If you read “All the Light We Cannot See,” Anthony Doerr’s 2014 novel about two young people living in war-torn Europe, you know it was phenomenal. This is the much-anticipated next novel. It was worth the wait. This novel spans places and time. It has an interweaving narrative from characters living during the collapse of the Byzantine Empire to 20th century Idaho to sometime in the non-distinct future. What anchors them and puts them together is a book and libraries. It is specifically about a lost book (lost multiple times in history), the aforementioned “Cloud Cuckoo Land” and found again by the characters and what this Greek comedy meant to each person. I can’t recommend it enough. -Anne M

The women of Troy : a novel book cover

The women of Troy : a novel

Pat Barker

FICTION Barker Pat
Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction

"Troy has fallen and the victorious Greeks are eager to return home with the spoils of an endless war--including the women of Troy themselves. They await a fair wind for the Aegean; it does not come, because the gods are offended. The body of King Priam lies unburied and desecrated, and so the victors remain in suspension, camped in the shadows of the city they destroyed as the coalition that held them together begins to unravel. Old feuds resurface and new suspicions and rivalries begin to fester. Largely unnoticed by her captors, the one time Trojan queen Briseis, formerly Achilles's slave, now belonging to his companion Alcimus, quietly takes in these developments. She forges alliances when she can, with Priam's aged wife the defiant Hecuba and with the disgraced soothsayer Calchas, all the while shrewdly seeking her path to revenge."--Jacket flap.

Anne M's picture

There are so many books coming out right now reimagining the Greek myths, poetry, and plays that it definitely has become its own genre. I'm perfectly happy with this and have indulged in many over the last few years. But I am moved by Pat Barker's novels the most. Her fiction has a humanity about it: well written, focused on characters and their relationships to others, lush in description. The second novel following the character of Briseis, Barker often writes in trilogies. I hope this means there will be a third. -Anne M

Of women and salt book cover

Of women and salt

Gabriela Garcia

FICTION Garcia Gabriela
Fiction, Literary Fiction

Present-day Miami. Jeanette is battling addiction. Daughter of Carmen, a Cuban immigrant, she is determined to learn more about her family history from her reticent mother and makes the snap decision to take in the daughter of a neighbor detained by ICE. Carmen, still wrestling with the trauma of displacement, must process her difficult relationship with her own mother while trying to raise a wayward Jeanette. Steadfast in her quest for understanding, Jeanette travels to Cuba to see her grandmother and reckon with secrets from the past destined to erupt. -- adapted from jacket

Anne M's picture

I really enjoy novels that contain intricately interwoven stories. Gabriela Garcia's "Of Women and Salt" is a generational saga set in early 19th Century Cuba to present day Miami. And it is anything but straightforward. Garcia jumps through time from character to character and back again. If you pay attention, you find the anchors. Objects, words, fears, and feelings transcend the barriers of time and place. It is a lovely book. -Anne M

Feldy's girl : a novel book cover

Feldy's girl : a novel

Joseph Dobrian

FICTION Dobrian, Joseph
Fiction, Literary Fiction

Set in the university town of State City, Iowa, Feldy’s Girl is about a coming-of-age woman named Teresa who is the daughter of a local football legend. Teresa is a serious, motivated young woman attending State University during the Sixties Revolution—and must reconcile societal changes with her own upbringing and identity. She’s dating the star quarterback of the State University Rivercats, and making friends with leaders of the New Left movement. In this coming-of-age, literary masterpiece, join Teresa as she finds herself navigating a world of political, social, and spiritual conflict and strife—and striving to stay true to herself and her principles--

Beth's picture

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