Posts Tagged ‘family conflict’

Jane Smiley Draws on Family History in “Private Life”

July 27th, 2011 No comments

Novelist Jane Smiley has written on a variety of subjects in several genres from the Pulitzer Prize winning family drama A Thousand Acres to the animal loving children’s series A Good Horse. For her 13th piece of fiction, the alumna of the prestigious Iowa Writers’ Workshop has drawn from her own family history to create Private Life, telling of the difficult marriage between Capt. Andrew Jackson Jefferson Early and Margaret Mayfield. The novel spans the late 19th century to the mid-20th century, moving from Missouri to California’s Bay Area, and addresses the balance of power in a marriage and gender roles. The author used elements from the lives of her great aunt and uncle to shape her characters. Read more…


Baldacci Takes New Direction in Latest Novel

July 25th, 2011 No comments

Since the release of his first novel, Absolute Power in 1996, David Baldacci has established himself as a master of the political thriller. But the bestselling author has taken a new writing direction with his latest book One Summer (Grand Central Publishing, 352pgs), exploring family drama; a genre he experimented with early in his career. In an interview with Reuters, the writer discussed his experience crafting this sentimental story: “In some ways it was liberating. I didn’t have to lay out a lot of red herrings and clues. I could delve more deeply into the characters. Obviously, it’s a different sort of genre. But those sorts of stories were what I started with. I wrote short stories for 10 years before I became a thriller writer, and their themes were more like the themes explored in One Summer.” Read more…


New Release: Please Look After Mom

April 12th, 2011 No comments

By Kyung-sook Shin
Knopf | 256pgs
Release Date: April 5, 2011

Korean literary star Kyung-sook Shin makes her English language debut with the heartrending Please Look After Mom. Translated by Chi-Young Kim, the story deals with a grief stricken family searching for a mother who has disappeared from a bustling Seoul subway station. Voiced in four distinct narratives: the son, daughter, father, and finally the mother, Park So-nyo’s own point of view, a family portrait is drawn full of love, guilt and regret. Park So-nyo has spent a lifetime delaying her own dreams for the benefit of her family, but it is not until she is absent from their lives that her children and husband appreciate the enormity of her sacrifices. Though they love her, they realize they do not truly know her. Read more…


New Release: The Weird Sisters

February 15th, 2011 No comments

41x7oeCi7KL._SL160_By Eleanor Brown
Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam | 336pgs
Release Date: January 20, 2011

Sisterly love comes to the fore in Eleanor Brown’s debut novel The Weird Sisters. When their mother is diagnosed with breast cancer, three sisters unite at their childhood home to help care for her. The girls, all named after Shakespearean characters by their father, a Bard scholar, each bring their own personal baggage back to their mid-western homestead. The oldest sister, Rose (named after Rosalind in As You Like It) has remained in their small town of Barnwell, pursuing a career as college math professor. But, the comfortable, structured life she has carefully built becomes threatened when her fiancé is offered a job in England. Middle sister Bean (named after Bianca in The Taming of the Shrew) is escaping a disastrous life in New York, where she was recently fired from her job and accused of embezzlement. Baby sister Cordy (named after Cordelia in King Lear) has been living a free-spirited vagabond life, until she finds herself unexpectedly pregnant, without any real idea of where to settle down or how to raise a family. Dealing with their ailing mother, their eccentric father who communicates primarily in Shakespearean verse, and their own inner turmoil brings the sisters closer together and cements not just love, but a genuine liking and respect for one another. Read more…


Murder and Scandal in the Gilded Age

September 10th, 2010 No comments

51R1KKsoqCL._SL160_Library of America editor in chief Geoffrey O’Brien mines a trove of historical records and documents to illustrate the real-life events surrounding the 1873 murder of Mansfield Walworth in The Fall of the House of Walworth: A Tale of Madness and Murder in Gilded Age America (Henry Holt, 337 pgs). During the summer of 1873, Mansfield was shot by his 18-year old son, Frank, in a hotel room in New York city. Frank immediately surrendered to police and a murder trial followed amid a flurry of media attention. The burning interest of the press was stoked by the prominence of the Walworth family in the city of Saratoga Springs, NY. Mansfield’s father, Judge Walworth, had built his fortune and cemented the family’s elite status in the courtroom, but Mansfield’s erratic and violent behavior towards his wife and children, and the homicidal actions of his son tarnished the family name. Mansfield had long abused his wife, Ellen, and even after they divorced, wrote her letters threatening physical harm and even death. O’Brien argues that Frank killed his father in order to protect his mother from further harm.
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New Release: The Lonely Polygamist

May 18th, 2010 No comments

5137Yl8a3-L._SL160_By Brady Udall
W. W. Norton & Company | 602pgs
Release Date: May 3, 2010

Golden Richards struggles with indecision and loneliness while surrounded by his four wives and 28 children in The Lonely Polygamist, Brady Udall’s second novel. The Mormon patriarch is under tremendous strain as he divides his time between his family’s three separate households in remote Utah and tries to keep his failing construction business afloat, all while grieving over the death of his young daughter. In an effort to support his family, he goes against his religious beliefs and takes a contacting job building a brothel in Nevada, though he glosses over the truth with his family and tells them it is a retirement home. Richards may have a “God-given patriarchal authority”, yet he constantly struggles to keep up with the demands of his wives, and further complicates his life when he develops romantic feelings for a woman he meets at the construction site. Udall’s story of a man in crisis and a family in chaos encompasses the tragic and comedic elements of real life, with an ultimate message of love and redemption.
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New Release: Jenniemae & James

March 30th, 2010 No comments

51NeBTCd1ML._SL160_By Brooke Newman
Harmony | 320pgs
Release Date: March 30, 2010

Brooke Newman recounts the true story of the unusual, yet enduring friendship between her father, James and his African-American housekeeper Jenniemae, in Jenniemae & James: A Memoir in Black and White. James Newman was a brilliant and distinguished mathematician, well known for defining the “googol” (google) concept in math and authoring the important work The World of Mathematics. In contrast, Jenniemae Harrington was a poor, uneducated, heavy-set woman, who though deeply religious, loved to play the lottery with numbers that came to her in dreams. During the ’40′s and ’50′s, the unlikely pair bonded through their sharp minds and shared love of numbers. As racial tensions rose throughout the country, planting the seeds for the Civil Rights Movement, household tensions grew due to James’ infidelities and his wife’s emotional problems. Through it all, Jenniemae became a steady, loving force in the home. This bi-racial friendship may have been outside the cultural norm of the time, yet it blossomed into a wellspring of calm, caring and loyalty for Jenniemae, James, and his family.
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Book Review: The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet

January 25th, 2010 No comments

51ournL95WL._SL160_By Reif Larsen
The Penguin Press HC ©2009 | Hardcover 400pgs

T. S. Spivet, a 12 year old map making virtuoso, embarks on a strange, yet exciting, cross-country trek in The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet. After receiving the surprising news that he has won the Smithsonian’s coveted Baird Award, he leaves the quiet Coppertop Ranch under cover of darkness; a short farewell note stuffed in the cookie jar. His plan is to ride the rails hobo-style, from his home in Montana all the way to the gleaming streets of Washington D.C., and attend the Baird Award ceremony. Equipped with his essential cartographic tools, a few good luck charms and a mysterious notebook filched from his mother’s study, T.S. leaves behind his disjointed family. “I did not belong here,” he thought. “I was not a creature of the high country.”
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New Release: Nanny Returns

December 14th, 2009 No comments

51AR+aEW1xL._SL160_By Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus
Atria | 320pgs
Release Date: December 15, 2009

Nanny Returns, the much-anticipated sequel to the The Nanny Diaries, picks up twelve years after the original hit novel left off. Nan and her husband, “Harvard Hottie” Ryan, have returned to New York after a long period of living abroad to begin a new life. Amid the chaos of starting a business, renovating their home and adjusting to a new position at a pretentious private school, Nan re-connects with Grayer X, and his younger brother Stilton. To placate their feelings of abandonment at her departure over a decade ago, she vows to help the boys through their parents’ nasty divorce. As she is again sucked into the X family’s vicious society of privilege and power, she witnesses the damage that this life has done to the boys. These realizations, along with Ryan’s push to start a family, make Nan question whether or not she has the stomach for motherhood.

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Book Review: Larry’s Kidney

December 2nd, 2009 No comments

41ASI-nH6+L._SL160_By Daniel Asa Rose
William Morrow ©2009 | Hardcover 320pgs

What do a knock-off Cartier watch, a mail order bride and a black market kidney have in common? They are just three of the things that Daniel Asa Rose works to help his cousin, Larry, procure during their trip to China. Larry’s Kidney: Being the True Story of How I Found Myself in China with My Black Sheep Cousin and His Mail-Order Bride, Skirting the Law to Get Him a Transplant – and Save His Life (what a mouthful!) is the journalist’s real-life account of the lengths the pair go to in order save Larry from kidney failure.

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