I am always surprised when ALL these new books are brought to my attention. How Did I Miss Them? This week, I thought these sounded pretty great:
A Feather on the Breath of God; Sigrid Nunez
A young woman looks back to the world of her immigrant parents: a Chinese-Panamanian father and a German mother, who meet in postwar Germany and settle in New York City. Growing up in a housing project in the 1950s and 1960s, the narrator escapes into dreams inspired both by her parents’ stories and by her own reading and, for a time, into the otherworldly life of ballet. A yearning homesick mother, a silent and withdrawn father, the ballet—these are the elements that shape the young woman’s imagination and her sexuality.
A story about displacement and loss, and about the tangled nature of relationships between parents and children, between language and love. Each of the characters remains in his or her way deeply rooted in the past and may be said to bear out the truth of Jane Austen’s observation that one does not love a place the less for having suffered in it.
The Laments; George Hagen
(author's website)......When Howard and Julia Lament secretly adopt Will, a baby switched at birth in a bizarre hospital debacle, it marks the beginning of a journey that takes them from Rhodesia to the Middle East, Britain to the New Jersey suburbs—for no matter where the Laments set up home, the grass always seems greener on the other side of the ocean.
The Laments was a New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice, a Wall Street Journal Editors’ Pick, A Book Sense Top Ten Pick, and a finalist in the Barnes & Noble Fall 2004 Discover Great New Writers Program, as well as a 2005 Summer Pick on Channel Four’s Richard & Judy’s Summer Read 2005, and won the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing.
“Part travelogue, part melodrama and part tall tale, The Laments is the playful and heartfelt story of a family and a world that can’t sit still.”
—Los Angeles Times Book Review
Misfortune; Wesley Stace
On a night in 1820, effeminate and ineffective (at least according to his mother) Lord Geoffroy Loveall, happens upon a baby abandoned in a trash heap. He brings it home to Love Hall, the grand estate that he is set to inherit, and pronounces the baby his daughter and heir. There's just one problem: the baby is a boy. Geoffroy refuses to accept this fact, but the happy news causes his ailing mother to die on the spot. The baby--named Rose--is raised as a cosseted and doted-on proper young lady, and the legitimate heir, a ruse that works beautifully until Rose begins to wonder about the facts of life: why, for example, does she suddenly feel the urge to pee standing up, like her friend Stephen, rather than squatting like his lovely sister, Sarah? Adolescence (and a few whiskers) only causes further confusion--as does the word "BOY," which begins to ominously appear around the estate.
Eventually, Rose's cover is blown, and the scandal prompts several sets of greedy relatives to descend, claiming the Loveall inheritance as their own. There's a huge cast of characters, plot twists aplenty, loads of historical detail (including original Victorian ballads) and a satisfying, tied-together ending that also, in two epilogues, manages to offer up a poignant take on historical interpretation. Yet this lengthy and involved tale makes for speedy reading. Best of all, Rose's original narrative voice is engaging from the get-go: smart, funny, observant, and even hip.