Posts Tagged ‘family secrets’

“One of the Brightest Stars of Literary Suspense”

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Jennifer McMahon’s sixth novel, the psychological thriller, The Winter People (Find this book in our catalog) may be her breakout. The L.A. Times called McMahon,  “One of the brightest new stars of literary suspense.”

Here is what it says about The Winter People in our catalog:

“The New York Times bestselling author of Promise Not to Tell returns with a simmering literary thriller about ghostly secrets, dark choices, and the unbreakable bond between mothers and daughters . . . sometimes too unbreakable.

West Hall, Vermont, has always been a town of strange disappearances and old legends. The most mysterious is that of Sara Harrison Shea, who, in 1908, was found dead in the field behind her house just months after the tragic death of her daughter, Gertie. Now, in present day, nineteen-year-old Ruthie lives in Sara’s farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and her younger sister, Fawn. Alice has always insisted that they live off the grid, a decision that suddenly proves perilous when Ruthie wakes up one morning to find that Alice has vanished without a trace. Searching for clues, she is startled to find a copy of Sara Harrison Shea’s diary hidden beneath the floorboards of her mother’s bedroom. As Ruthie gets sucked deeper into the mystery of Sara’s fate, she discovers that she’s not the only person who’s desperately looking for someone that they’ve lost. But she may be the only one who can stop history from repeating itself.” – (Random House, Inc.)


Longbourn : a novel by Jo Baker

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

Longbourn: a novel by Jo Baker (Find in our catalog).  “If Elizabeth Bennet had the washing of her own petticoats, Sarah often thought, she’d most likely be a sight more careful with them.”  Thus thinks the housemaid at Longbourn to herself as she watches Miss Elizabeth Bennet set off on her muddy walk across the park to Netherfield.  This delightful and absorbing story is much more than a clever twist on the classic, Pride and Prejudice; it is, according to its editor,  “a beautiful, fully realized work of fiction that casts its spell on its own terms.”  The new novel gives back to Jane Austin fans beloved figures such as Elizabeth and Jane and Mr, Darcy, and also delightfully echoes Pride and Prejudice with well-remembered Austin epigrams.  The plot of Pride and Prejudice runs all the while in the background; however, Longbourn is an entirely new story.

Longbourn takes us into the gritty particulars of the life faced by the lower classes in Regency England, particularly the people in domestic service.  Sarah, the housemaid is our heroine.  She is just out of her teens and increasingly restless.  She feels the injustices of her position keenly and longs to escape by travelling off into the world.  The rest of the domestic help is made up of the cook-housekeeper, Mrs. Hill and her husband, the butler.  There is a maid of all work, Polly, who is a mere child hired from the poorhouse.  Into their settled life of drudgery comes James, a mysteriously reticent footman.  Just as the coming of the Militia to the town raises longings in the breasts of the young ladies of the house, so the coming of James to below-stairs raises complex and secret emotions, not only in Sarah but all the staff.  We see that the lives of the staff are dramatically different from their masters’, and yet the aspirations of  masters and servants remain the same.  It’s when the two worlds cross one into the other that life gets messy.

This is not merely a pastiche of Austen.  The characters are new, genuine and engaging, the the observation is true, the setting absorbing.  The reader plunges in to the book - almost literally into a boiling copper of lye soap suds for the Monday wash-day.  We come to know very quickly what a life of drudgery it is to be a maid, as Sarah’s chilblains crack under the assault of the scalding water and the cold pump handle.  And yet we see that even in these circumstances humanity wins through: in the kitchen there is laughter to be had, and love.


The Rathbones – a Seafaring Story for Summer

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

The Rathbones by Janice Clark (Find this book in our catalog).

A gothic, literary adventure set in New England, Janice Clark’s haunting debut chronicles one hundred years of a once prosperous and now crumbling whaling family, told by its last surviving member, Mercy Rathbone.

This is what it says about The Rathbones in our catalog:  “ Mercy Rathbone, fifteen years old, is the diminutive scion of the Rathbone clan. Her father, the last in the beleaguered dynasty, has been lost at sea for seven years – ever since the last whale was seen off the coast of Naiwayonk, Connecticut. Mercy’s memories of her father grow dimmer each day, and she spends most of her time in the attic hideaway of her reclusive uncle Mordecai, who teaches her the secrets of Greek history and nautical navigation through his collection of specimens and moldering books. But when a strange, violent visitor turns up one night, Mercy and Mordecai are forced to flee the crumbling mansion and set sail on a journey that will bring them deep into the haunted history of the Rathbone family, and the reasons for its undoing.

As Mercy and Mordecai sail from island to island off the Connecticut coast, encountering dangers and mysteries, friends and foes, they untangle the knots of the Rathbone story, discovering secrets long encased in memory. They learn the history of the family’s founder and patriarch, Moses Rathbone, and the legendary empire he built of ships staffed with the sons of his many, many wives. Sons who stumbled in their father’s shadow, distracted by the arrival of the Stark sisters, a trio of “golden” girls, whose mesmerizing beauty may have sparked the Rathbone’s decline.

From the depths of the sea to the lonely heights of the widow’s walk; from the wisdom of the worn Rathbone wives to the mysterious origins of a sinking island, Mercy and Mordecai’s journey will bring them to places they never thought possible. But will they piece together a possible future from the mistakes of the past, or is the once great family’s fate doomed to match that of the whales themselves?

Inspired by The Odyssey by way of Edgar Allan Poe and Moby Dick, The Rathbones is an ambitious, mythic, and courageous tour de force that marks the debut of a dazzling new literary voice.” – (Random House, Inc.)


The Rich at the Beach

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussmann (Find in our catalog).

This suspenseful family drama, spanning three decades from just after World War II to the sixties, set among the summer places of the rich has elicited critics’ comparisons to The Great Gatsby.

Here’s what it says in our catalog:  “Nick and her cousin, Helena, have grown up sharing sultry summer heat, sunbleached boat docks, and midnight gin parties on Martha’s Vineyard in a glorious old family estate known as Tiger House. In the days following the end of the Second World War, the world seems to offer itself up, and the two women are on the cusp of their ‘real lives’: Helena is off to Hollywood and a new marriage, while Nick is heading for a reunion with her own young husband, Hughes, about to return from the war. Soon the gilt begins to crack. Helena’s husband is not the man he seemed to be, and Hughes has returned from the war distant, his inner light curtained over. On the brink of the 1960s, back at Tiger House, Nick and Helena–with their children, Daisy and Ed–try to recapture that sense of possibility. But when Daisy and Ed discover the victim of a brutal murder, the intrusion of violence causes everything to unravel. The members of the family spin out of their prescribed orbits, secrets come to light, and nothing about their lives will ever be the same. Brilliantly told from five points of view, with a magical elegance and suspenseful dark longing, Tigers in Red Weather is an unforgettable debut novel from a writer of extraordinary insight and accomplishment”– Provided by publisher.


The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

This grand novel (Find it in our catalog) spreads across two centuries, from England to Australia & back again. Abandoned on a ship leaving England just before the first World War, Nell O’Connor is taken in by the childless couple Hugh & Lil, who conceal the details of her arrival in Australia. On the night of her twenty-first birthday, Nell is told a secret that will change her life & set her on a path to discover her past. Her search will take her back to England, but it will be her grand-daughter, Cassandra, who will finally reveal who Nell really is. Ms. Morton’s wonderful story reveals many layers of secrets. She vividly describes bleak Blackhurst Manor on the coast of Cornwall & the unhappy lives of those who live there, the beautiful hidden garden of Cliff Cottage with its sense of refuge & peace, & the poverty stricken backstreets of London in the early 1900′s. Tragedy, fairy tales, & love combine in a story of identity & belonging.

Read more about Kate Morton on her website

A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

(Find this book in our catalog) Big (Ginny) decides to cut down the willow tree in her back yard so that she can build a swimming pool for her daughter’s water exercise therapy. Liza has had a stroke & Big is determined to do all she can to help her recovery. When the remains of a baby are unearthed among the tree’s roots, family secrets also begin to rise to the surface, secrets that could destroy the relationship between Big, her daughter, Liza, & her granddaughter, Mosey. Each of the three characters gives voice to the enfolding events, Big, who must stay strong throughout, Liza who is imprisoned between a dreamworld & reality, & Mosey, a strong-willed young girl who is determined to discover the secrets her mother is unable to reveal. Ms. Jackson takes a look at family relationships in this absorbing & humorous tale, as she  explores themes of marriage & divorce, friendships & betrayal, cheating spouses &  the strength of love. This was the Abingdon Book Group read for October. Everyone enjoyed the story & there was a lot of material for discussion. It is meaningful & the humor makes it very entertaining reading.

Some of Ms. Jackson’s other titles are The Girl Who Stopped Swimming & Gods in Alabama. Other titles can be found on the author’s website

“A mesmerizing tale of a family coping with the revelation of a secret that will change their lives. . . Jackson’s most absorbing book yet, a lush, rich read with three very different but equally compelling characters at its core.” – Kristine Huntley, Booklist (Starred Review)

Posted by Julia

Thriller Awards

Friday, August 5th, 2011

Winners of the 2011 Thriller Awards, sponsored by the International Thriller Writers:

  Best Hard Cover Novel: Bad Blood by John Sandford (Find in our catalog)

This is what it says in our catalog: “One late fall Sunday in southern Minnesota, a farmer brings a load of soybeans to a local grain elevator- and a young man hits him on the head with a steel bar, drops him into the grain bin, waits until he’s sure he’s dead, and then calls the sheriff to report the “accident.” Suspicious, the sheriff calls in Virgil Flowers, who quickly breaks the kid down…and the next day the boy’s found hanging in his cell. Remorse? Virgil isn’t so sure, and as he investigates he begins to uncover a multigeneration, multifamily conspiracy-a series of crimes of such monstrosity that, though he’s seen an awful lot in his life, even he has difficulty in comprehending it…and in figuring out what to do next.”

  Best Paperback Original Novel: The Cold Room by J.T. Ellison (Find in our catalog)

Homicide Detective Taylor Jackson thinks she’s seen it all in Nashville–from the Southern Strangler to the Snow White Killer. But she’s never seen anything as perverse as The Conductor.

  Best First Novel: Still Missing by Chevy Stevens (Find in our catalog)

On the day she was abducted, Annie O’Sullivan, a thirty-two year old realtor, had three goals–sell a house, forget about a recent argument with her mother, and be on time for dinner with her ever- patient boyfriend. The open house is slow, but when her last visitor pulls up in a van as she’s about to leave, Annie thinks it just might be her lucky day after all. Interwoven with the story of the year Annie spent as the captive of psychopath in a remote mountain cabin, which unfolds through sessions with her psychiatrist, is a second narrative recounting events following her escape–her struggle to piece her shattered life back together and the ongoing police investigation into the identity of her captor. The truth doesn’t always set you free. Still Missing is that rare debut find–a shocking, visceral, brutal and beautifully crafted debut novel.


Annie’s ghosts : a journey into a family secret by Steve Luxenberg

Friday, February 5th, 2010

Yesterday, Thursday, February 4, the Bel Air branch hosted a “Meet the Author” evening with Steve Luxenberg, author of Annie’s Ghosts : a journey into a family secret. (Find this book in our catalog)

Annie’s Ghosts is part detective story, part social history, and part memoir. Here is what it says about the book in our catalog:

“Combining the power of reportage with the intrigue of mystery, “Annie’s Ghosts” explores the nature of self-deception and self-preservation. The result is equal parts memoir and riveting detective story as one son seeks to uncover family secrets.”

Library Journal said this: “When Washington Post senior editor Luxenberg’s mother passed away, the family discovered that she had a sister, Annie, who was confined to a mental institution in 1940, when she was 21. Along with 5000 others, Annie’s existence was treated as a shameful secret, until she was nearly forgotten entirely. Luxenberg uses his tools as an investigative journalist to unearth the circumstances surrounding Annie’s commitment and in doing so sheds welcome light on a heartbreaking chapter in American history.”