Jeanne's Suggestions

  Jeanne Jard  
       
  Fiction    
       
 

Moonglow: Framed as a man's deathbed confession to his grandson, capturing the seesawing intensity of the American century, ranging from South Philadelphia's Jewish slums to the invasion of Germany to a Florida retirement village, covering sex, war, secrets keeping, deep-seated doubt, and mid-20th-century technological advancement, this grand saga blends imagination with acute historical detail.

 
       
 

Siracusa: It follows two wealthy married couples on holiday in Italy. They are childless New York writers Michael and Lizzie, and Lizzie's ex, Finn, with his wife, Taylor, and their unusual ten-year-old daughter, Snow. Told in first person, the narrative switches among the four points of view, which doesn't do these shallow, neurotic individuals any favors. Lizzie and Taylor are supposedly friends but are very judgmental of each other's behavior. Lizzie and Finn's long-dead romance is rekindled, and Michael is having an affair with a younger woman who follows them to Italy with disastrous results.

 
       
   

Shores of Tripoli: It is 1801 and President Thomas Jefferson has assembled a deep-water navy to fight the growing threat of piracy, as American civilians are regularly kidnapped by Islamist brigands and held for ransom, enslaved, or killed, all at their captors' whim. The Berber States of North Africa, especially Tripoli, claimed their faith gave them the right to pillage anyone who did not submit to their religion.
Young Bliven Putnam, great-nephew of Revolutionary War hero Israel Putnam, is bound for the Mediterranean and a desperate battle with the pirate ship Tripoli. He later returns under legendary Commodore Edward Preble on the Constitution, and marches across the Libyan desert with General Eaton to assault Derna--discovering the lessons he learns about war, and life, are not what he expected.
Rich with historical detail and cracking with high-wire action, The Shores of Tripoli brings this amazing period in American history to life with brilliant clarity.

 
       
 

Victoria: Drawing on Queen Victoria's diaries, which she first started reading when she was a student at Cambridge University, Daisy Goodwin, creator and writer of the new PBS/Masterpiece drama Victoria brings the young nineteenth-century monarch, who would go on to reign for 63 years to life.

 
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
 

Difficult Women: A powerful collection of short stories about difficult, troubled, headstrong, and unconventional women. Whether focusing on assault survivors, single mothers, or women who drown their guilt in wine and bad boyfriends, Gay's fantastic collection is challenging, quirky, and memorable.

 
       
 

The Spy: A novel about Mata Hari, the notorious and (in all likelihood) falsely accused World War I spy, hews closely to the facts. A prologue reveals what we already know from history: Mata Hari was executed by firing squad in Paris on Oct. 15, 1917. The rest of the book consists of Mata's fictional letter to her defense attorney, M. Clunet, written while on death row in the Saint-Lazare prison, and a similarly speculative letter of regret by Clunet. A sympathetic but sketchy portrait of a legend.

 
       
 

Fates and Furies: At age twenty-two, Lotto and Mathilde are tall, glamorous, madly in love, and destined for greatness. A decade later, their marriage is still the envy of their friends, but with an electric thrill we understand that things are even more complicated and remarkable than they have seemed. With stunning revelations and multiple threads, and in prose that is vibrantly alive and original, Groff delivers a deeply satisfying novel about love, art, creativity, and power that is unlike anything that has come before it. Profound, surprising, propulsive, and emotionally riveting, it stirs both the mind and the heart.

 
       
 

Girl in the Red Coat: Eight-year-old Carmel has always been different--sensitive, distracted, with a heart-stopping tendency to go missing. Her mother Beth, newly single, worries about her daughter's strangeness, especially as she is trying to build a new life for the two of them. When she takes Carmel to a local festival, her worst fear is realized: Carmel disappears into the crowd. Unable to accept the possibility that her daughter might be gone forever, Beth embarks on a mission to find her. Meanwhile, Carmel begins an extraordinary and terrifying journey of her own. But do the real clues to Carmel's disappearance lie in the otherworldly qualities her mother had only begun to guess at?

 
       
 

Gentleman in Moscow: When, in 1922, [Count Alexander Rostov] is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, [he's] sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel's doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him a doorway into a much larger world of emotional discovery.

 
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
 

The Sympathizer: April 1975 saw the fall of Saigon--or its liberation, if you take the North Vietnamese perspective. For the narrator of this ambitious debut, it's both; he's a Communist sympathizer working as a double agent in the role of trusted captain to a South Vietnamese general while sustaining intense loyalty for friends devoted to the South's cause. His next assignment: flee with refugees heading for America and report back on their activities.

 
       
 

The Summer Before the War: It's the summer of 1914 and life in the sleepy village of Rye, England is about to take an interesting turn. Agatha Kent is expecting an unusual candidate to be the school's Latin teacher: Beatrice Nash, a young woman of good breeding in search of a position after the death of her father. Agatha's nephews, meanwhile, have come to spend the summer months, as always, both with dreams of their own. When Hugh is sent to pick up Beatrice from the train station - life, of course, changes. Here, these characters and others we come to love and root for become characters we hope and pray for when the shadow of the Great War looms ever closer to home.

 
       
 

The perennially bestselling and acclaimed classic of the little bird who chose human companionship over other quail. Eschewing freedom and the mating calls of other birds, Robert the quail preferred to greet household guests and discipline unruly children. Ranks among the great nature tales of all time

 
       
  Non-Fiction     
       
 

Shoe Dog: A great American story about luck, grit, know-how, and the magic alchemy of a handful of eccentric characters who came together to build Nike. This is Phil Knight, one on one, no holds barred. The lessons he imparts about entrepreneurship and the obstacles one faces in trying to create something, are priceless.

 
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
 

The Six: Thompson presents here is a commentary on the once-famous Mitford family rather than an informative narrative biography. These six daughters of British aristocrats (Nancy, Pamela, Diana, Unity, Jessica, and Deborah), in the public eye during the 1930s and 1940s, responded differently and sometimes scandalously to the explosive political passions of the time.

 
       
 

Caesar Kleberg and the King Ranch: This book celebrates the life of an exceptional ranch manager on a legendary Texas ranch, a visionary for wildlife and modern ranch management, and an extraordinarily dedicated and generous man. Caesar Kleberg went to work on the King Ranch in 1900. For almost thirty years he oversaw the operations of the sprawling Norias division, a vast acreage in South Texas where he came to appreciate the importance of rangeland not only for cattle but also for wildlife.
Creating a wildlife management and conservation initiative far ahead of its time, Kleberg established strict hunting rules and a program of enlightened habitat restoration. Because of his efforts and foresight, by his death in 1946 there were more white-tailed deer, wild turkey, bobwhite quail, javelinas, and mourning dove on the King Ranch than in the rest of the state.

 
       
 

Other Minds: What happens when a scuba-diving philosopher observing an octopus realizes that the octopus is observing him? Godfrey-Smith weaves his undersea experiences with octopuses and cuttlefish with scientific and philosophical analysis. Conscious awareness has evolved more than once, Godfrey-Smith explains, as he investigates these otherworldly creatures and their ways of experiencing their aquatic environment. Avoiding technical scientific data, he focuses instead on a few key evolutionary concepts explained by means of simple analogies comprehensible to the general reader.

 
       
 

Clementine: A portrait of Winston Churchill's wife and her lesser-known role in World War II discusses her relationship with political mentor Eleanor Roosevelt, her role in safeguarding Churchill's health throughout key historical events, and her controversial family priorities.

 
       
 

The Soul of an Octopus: This book's big reveal may be up front in the title, but that doesn't detract from the delight of discovering just what, exactly, an octopus's soul might look like. Naturalist Montgomery admirably demonstrates the complexity, intellect, and personalities of the octopuses she has come to know at the Boston Aquarium. Her science is accessible but not overly simple, and the details she offers about these creatures bring them into sharp focus: they are sophisticated camouflage artists, can solve puzzles, and show distinct preferences for people, places, and tastes. Along with an abundance of fascinating octopus lore, Montgomery illuminates her own quest to understand the creatures better and paints vivid portraits of the people who are similarly drawn to them. Her affection for her subjects, both human and cephalopod, shines through.

 
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
  The Speed of Light: Light is one of the most important parts of our lives, through which we perceive the universe around us. L. Riofrio worked as a scientist at NASA in Houston. While studying the Moon at Johnson Space Center, Riofrio found evidence that light is slowing down. In evocative and easy-to-read prose, Riofrio describes the history of light, starting with a child's eyes opening.