On this gloomy and incredibly foggy day, what better than to snuggle up to my Macbook, watch Buffy on Hulu (even my TV viewing is RIP-related) and tell you about my library run yesterday evening. I'd written a list beforehand and managed to forgot it when leaving the house! Somehow, I managed to end up with some pretty good finds!
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
The letters comprising this small charming novel begin in 1946, when single, 30-something author Juliet Ashton (nom de plume Izzy Bickerstaff) writes to her publisher to say she is tired of covering the sunny side of war and its aftermath. When Guernsey farmer Dawsey Adams finds Juliet's name in a used book and invites articulate—and not-so-articulate—neighbors to write Juliet with their stories, the book's epistolary circle widens, putting Juliet back in the path of war stories. The occasionally contrived letters jump from incident to incident—including the formation of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society while Guernsey was under German occupation—and person to person in a manner that feels disjointed. But Juliet's quips are so clever, the Guernsey inhabitants so enchanting and the small acts of heroism so vivid and moving that one forgives the authors (Shaffer died earlier this year) for not being able to settle on a single person or plot. Juliet finds in the letters not just inspiration for her next work, but also for her life—as will readers. - Publishers WeeklyThe Winter Vault - Anne Michaels
Award-winning poet and novelist Anne Michaels gives us a love story of extraordinary depth and complexity, a mesmerizing tale that juxtaposes historical events with the most intimate moments of individual lives.Brooklyn - Coim Toibin
In 1964, a newly married Canadian couple settles into a Nile River houseboat moored below the towering figures of Abu Simbel. Avery is one of the engineers responsible for the dismantling and reconstruction of the temple as it’s rescued from the rising waters of the Aswan Dam. He is a “machine-worshipper,” yet exquisitely sensitive to the dichotomy of creation and destruction of which machines are capable. Jean is a botanist by avocation and passion, interested in everything that grows. They had met on the banks of the St. Lawrence River and watched together as the construction of the seaway changed the course of the river and swallowed towns, homes, lives. Now, at the edge of another world about to be lost forever, Avery and Jean create their own world, exchanging the “moments that are the mortar of our days, innocent memories we don’t know we hold until given the gift of the eagerness of another.”
But that gift will not be enough to bind them when tragedy strikes, and they will go back to separate lives in Toronto. Avery returns to school to study architecture, and Jean enters the life of Lucjan, a Polish émigré artist. Lucjan’s haunting stories of occupied Warsaw draw Jean further and further away from Avery. But, in time, he will also offer her the chance for forgiveness, consolation, and, finally, her own, most essential life.
Stunning in its explorations of both the physical and emotional worlds of its characters, intensely moving and lyrical, The Winter Vault is a radiant work of fiction.
Eilis Lacey has come of age in small-town Ireland in the years following World War Two. Though skilled at bookkeeping, she cannot find a job in the miserable Irish economy. When an Irish priest from Brooklyn to sponsor Eilis in America -- to live and work in a Brooklyn neighborhood "just like Ireland" -- she decides she must go, leaving her fragile mother and her charismatic sister behind.
Eilis finds work in a department store on Fulton Street, and when she least expects it, finds love. Tony, a blond Italian from a big family, slowly wins her over with patient charm. He takes Eilis to Coney Island and Ebbets Field, and home to dinner in the two-room apartment he shares with his brothers and parents. He talks of having children who are Dodgers fans. But just as Eilis begins to fall in love with Tony, devastating news from Ireland threatens the promise of her future.
By far Tóibín's most instantly engaging and emotionally resonant novel, Brooklyn will make readers fall in love with his gorgeous writing and spellbinding characters.
The Story of My Life: The Restored Classic, Complete and Unabridged, Centennial Edition - Helen Keller
One of the "hundred most important books of the twentieth century" (New York Public Library), finally published in complete form.
The story of Helen Keller, the young girl who triumphed over deafness and blindness, has been indelibly marked into our cultural consciousness. That triumph, shared with her teacher Anne Sullivan, has been further popularized by the play and movie The Miracle Worker. Yet the astonishing original version of Keller's and Sullivan's story, first published in 1903, has been out of print for many years and lost to the public.
Now, one hundred years after its initial publication, eminent literary scholar Roger Shattuck, in collaboration with Keller biographer Dorothy Herrmann, has reedited the book to reflect more accurately its original composition. Keller's remarkable acquisition of language is presented here in three successive accounts: Keller's own version; the letters of "teacher" Anne Sullivan, submerged in the earliest edition; and the valuable documentation by their young assistant, John Macy. Including opening and closing commentary by Shattuck and notes by Hermann, this volume will stand for years as the definitive edition of a classic work.
The Children of Men - PD James
Mmm... I'll have to watch the movie version after this. Clive Owen!
Told with P. D. James's trademark suspense, insightful characterization, and riveting storytelling, The Children of Men is a story of a world with no children and no future.The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Other Stories - Robert Louis Stevenson
The human race has become infertile, and the last generation to be born is now adult. Civilization itself is crumbling as suicide and despair become commonplace. Oxford historian Theodore Faron, apathetic toward a future without a future, spends most of his time reminiscing. Then he is approached by Julian, a bright, attractive woman who wants him to help get her an audience with his cousin, the powerful Warden of England. She and her band of unlikely revolutionaries may just awaken his desire to live . . . and they may also hold the key to survival for the human race.
Idealistic young scientist Henry Jekyll struggles to unlock the secrets of the soul. Testing chemicals in his lab, he drinks a mixture he hopes will isolate—and eliminate—human evil. Instead it unleashes the dark forces within him, transforming him into the hideous and murderous Mr. Hyde.
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde dramatically brings to life a science-fiction case study of the nature of good and evil and the duality that can exist within one person. Resonant with psychological perception and ethical insight, the book has literary roots in Dostoevsky’s “The Double” and Crime and Punishment. Today Stevenson’s novella is recognized as an incisive study of Victorian morality and sexual repression, as well as a great thriller.
This collection also includes some of the author’s grimmest short fiction: “Lodging for the Night,” “The Suicide Club,” “Thrawn Janet,” “The Body Snatcher,” and “Markheim.”
Did you do a library run this week too? See more Library Loot here.