Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house during the previous week. Original host was Marcia at The Printed Page, but now on blog tour, with Rose City Reader is hosting during the month of January. (3) new books this week:
- Major Pettigrew's Last Stand; Helen Simonson (gift card purchase; so many of you are to blame for this one): -
In her charming debut novel, Simonson tells the tale of Maj. Ernest Pettigrew, an honor-bound Englishman and widower, and the very embodiment of duty and pride. As the novel opens, the major is mourning the loss of his younger brother, Bertie, and attempting to get his hands on Bertie's antique Churchill shotgun—part of a set that the boys' father split between them, but which Bertie's widow doesn't want to hand over. While the major is eager to reunite the pair for tradition's sake, his son, Roger, has plans to sell the heirloom set to a collector for a tidy sum. As he frets over the guns, the major's friendship with Jasmina Ali—the Pakistani widow of the local food shop owner—takes a turn unexpected by the major (but not by readers). The author's dense, descriptive prose wraps around the reader like a comforting cloak, eventually taking on true page-turner urgency as Simonson nudges the major and Jasmina further along and dangles possibilities about the fate of the major's beloved firearms. This is a vastly enjoyable traipse through the English countryside and the long-held traditions of the British aristocracy.
- Sing You Home; Jodi Picoult (Simon and Schuster) - color me excited about this one - Popular author Picoult tackles the controversial topic of gay rights in her latest powerful tale. When music therapist Zoe Baxter’s latest pregnancy ends in a stillbirth, her husband Max decides he can’t handle any more heartbreak and leaves her. As she picks up the pieces of her life, Zoe is surprised to find herself falling for a school counselor who happens to be a woman. While Zoe is finding happiness with Vanessa, Max falls off the wagon and is helped by a pastor from his brother’s evangelical church. Vanessa and Zoe wed in Massachusetts, and Vanessa offers to carry one of the fertilized embryos Zoe and Max stored. Excited by the prospect of being a mother, Zoe goes to Max to get him to release the embryos to her and is shocked when he instead sues her for custody of them, backed by his church. Told from the perspectives of all three major characters, Picoult’s gripping novel explores all sides of the hot-button issue and offers a CD of folk songs that reflect Zoe’s feelings throughout the novel.
- The Shadow of What We Were; Luis Sepulveda -Sepúlveda packs more than three decades of Chilean history into this lean and darkly humorous novel. Three aging revolutionaries—Cacho Salinas, Lolo Garmendia, and Lucho Arancibia—reunite to pull off one final, spectacular heist, gathering in a hideout to await the arrival of the Shadow, a legendary Robin Hood–type anarchist. As the comrades with their graying beards, thinning hair, and chubby physiques wait, they revisit the past and ruminate on losses: after Pinochet's coup, Cacho and Lolo fled to Europe, while Lucho, whose brothers were murdered by the regime, stayed and endured torture that has left him brain damaged. Meanwhile, and unbeknownst to the trio, the Shadow lies dead on the sidewalk, struck down by a freak accident. Although the narrator frequently runs away with the story, trailing off into history lessons, Sepúlveda maintains a high level of suspense as the police investigate the Shadow's death, and Cacho, Lolo, and Lucho decide whether to go through with their plan, turning their collective sorrows into a celebration of the resilience of the human spirit.Hope you received some terrific books this week as well.