Thursday, September 23, 2010

Best Novels I've Read Lately

Here are three books I've read recently that I really enjoyed.

The Irresistible Henry House (Random House, 2010) by Lisa Grunwald is about a boy with many mothers. Henry is a practice baby in a college home ec program during the post WW II era. Later he is adopted by the program's strict, stalwart head teacher. When her extreme neediness emerges, Henry grows up hiding his problems and artistic talents. Eventually sent away to boarding school when he stops speaking, his teen years are largely spent developing his artistic skills and figuring out how to juggle girlfriends. His job as a Disney animator, time spent in London, as well as influences from the counterculture, influence his coming of age. Because this novel is darkly comic, expect both laughter and tears.

Going back a little further in time, The Postmistress (Putnam, 2010) by Sarah Blake opens during WW II, when a doctor leaves his small town on Cape Cod to volunteer in London. In case of his death, he leaves a letter for his wife with the town's postmistress. Meanwhile in Europe, a female radio journalist struggles to find and tell the stories of Jewish refugees. The doctor's wife and the postmistress listen to her broadcasts, little knowing that fate will tie the three of them together as the war marches on. Intriguingly moody, this is topnotch historical fiction with many compelling story lines.

The Scent of Rain and Lightning
(Ballantine, 2010) by Nancy Pickard kept me on the edge of my seat. As the book opens, Jody Linder learns that the man who went to prison for killing her father 23 years ago is back on the streets. Should she believe new rumors of his innocence? Also unresolved since the day of her father's murder is the disappearance of her mother. As surprise and suspense electrify a small ranching town in Kansas, readers too will feel agitated by the atmospheric changes. Pickard is the award-winning author of 18 mystery novels, and I hope to read more of them soon.

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