Summer is not cancelled, and summer reading isn't either. We've got thrillers, epics, drama, historical fiction, and so much more. There is something for every kind of fiction reader on our 2020 Summer List.
Ridgerunner, by Gil Adamson
About the book: November 1917. William Moreland is in mid-flight. After nearly twenty years, the notorious thief, known as the Ridgerunner, has returned. Moving through the Rocky Mountains and across the border to Montana, the solitary drifter, impoverished in means and aged beyond his years, is also a widower and a father. And he is determined to steal enough money to secure his son’s future.
Twelve-year-old Jack Boulton has been left in the care of Sister Beatrice, a formidable nun who keeps him in cloistered seclusion in her grand old house. Though he knows his father is coming for him, the boy longs to return to his family’s cabin, deep in the woods. When Jack finally breaks free, he takes with him something the nun is determined to get back—at any cost.
Set against the backdrop of a distant war raging in Europe and a rapidly changing landscape in the West, Gil Adamson’s follow-up to her award-winning debut, The Outlander, is a vivid historical novel that draws from the epic tradition and a literary Western brimming with a cast of unforgettable characters touched with humour and loss, and steeped in the wild of the natural world.
Keepers of the Faith, by Shaukat Ajmeri
About the book: Keepers of the Faith is set within a small Muslim sect of India, ruled by an avaricious priesthood that demands absolute submission while enforcing archaic social customs. When a section of the community rebels, it is summarily excommunicated, shunned by friends and family and denied religious rites. The peaceful community is split into two.
The novel follows the fates of two blissful young lovers, Akbar and Rukhsana, in the historic city of Udaipur. When the communal split occurs, their families are on opposite sides; the lovers' dream of a happy life together is shattered, and they are forced into separate destinies. Akbar, from the rebel group, goes on to become a writer and family man in Mumbai, while Rukhsana gets married to an immigrant engineer from the United States fanatically devoted to the priesthood.
Years later, Akbar's and Rukhsana's paths cross again. Much has changed and much has not, and they are presented with soul-destroying choices about the rest of their lives.
If Tenderness Be Gold, by Eleanor Albanese
About the book: If Tenderness Be Gold is set in 19th-century and early 20th-century northern Ontario and Manitoba. An Irish mother, an Italian herbalist, and a Scottish midwife come together on the night of a difficult birth, and the result of their union has effects that echo through the generations.
"Eleanor Albanese's debut novel, If Tenderness Be Gold, is a beautiful tapestry, woven on a loom formed by the waters of Black Bay and the boreal forests of northern Ontario, its warp strung by a mother whose loneliness and love for her child dared her to befriend an outsider." —Jean E. Pendziwol, author of The Lightkeepers Daughter
"If Tenderness Be Gold is a poetic, painterly novel about the mysteries of family—about generational memory and all its gifts and burdens. Albanese's writing is powerful magic." —Natalie Morrill, author of The Ghost Keeper
Here the Dark, by David Bergan
About the book: From the streets of Danang, Vietnam, where a boy falls in with a young American missionary, to fishermen lost off the islands of Honduras, to the Canadian prairies, where a teenage boy’s infatuation reveals his naiveté and an aging rancher finds himself smitten, the short stories in Here the Dark explore the spaces between doubt and belief, evil and good, obscurity and light. Following men and boys bewildered by their circumstances and swayed by desire, surprised by love and by their capacity for both tenderness and violence, and featuring a novella about a young woman who rejects the laws of her cloistered Mennonite community, Scotiabank Giller Prize-winner David Bergen’s latest deftly renders complex moral ambiguities and asks what it means to be lost—and how we might be found.
The Wild Heavens, by Sarah Louise Butler
About the book: It all starts with an impossibly large set of tracks, footprints for a creature that could not possibly exist. The words sasquatch, bigfoot and yeti never occur in this novel, but that is what most people would call the hairy, nine-foot creature that would become a lifelong obsession for Aidan Fitzpatrick, and in turn, his granddaughter Sandy Langley.
The novel spans the course of single winter day, interspersed with memories from Sandy’s life—childhood days spent with her distracted, scholarly grandfather in a remote cabin in British Columbia’s interior mountains; later recollections of new motherhood; and then the tragic disappearance that would irrevocably shape the rest of her life, a day when all signs of the mysterious creature would disappear for thirty years. When the enigmatic tracks finally reappear, Sandy sets out on the trail alone, determined to find out the truth about the mystery that has shaped her life.
The Wild Heavens is an impressive and evocative debut, containing beauty, tragedy and wonder in equal parts.
Some People's Children, by Bridget Canning
About the book: Imogene Tubbs has never met her father, and raised by her grandmother, she only sees her mother sporadically. But as she grows older, she learns that many people in her small, rural town believe her father is Cecil Jesso, the local drug dealer—a man both feared and ridiculed. Weaving through a maze of gossip, community, and the complications of family, Some People’s Children is a revealing and liberating novel about the way others look at us and the power of self-discovery.
The Library of Legends, by Janie Chang
About the book: China, 1937. When Japanese bombs begin falling on the city of Nanking, nineteen-year-old Hu Lian and her classmates at Minghua University are ordered to flee. Lian and a convoy of students, faculty and staff must walk 1,000 miles to the safety of China’s western provinces, a journey marred by the constant threat of aerial attack. And it is not just the refugees who are at risk; Lian and her classmates have been entrusted with a priceless treasure: a 500-year-old collection of myths and folklore known as the Library of Legends.
The students’ common duty to safeguard the Library of Legends creates unexpected bonds. Lian becomes friends and forms a cautious romance with the handsome and wealthy Liu Shaoming. But after one classmate is arrested and another one is murdered, Lian realizes she must escape before a family secret puts her in danger too. Accompanied by Shao and his enigmatic maidservant, Sparrow, Lian makes her way to Shanghai in the hopes of reuniting with her mother.
During the journey, Lian learns of the connection between her two companions and a tale from the Library of Legends, The Willow Star and the Prince. This revelation comes with profound consequences, for as the ancient books travel across China, they awaken immortals and guardian spirits who embark on an exodus of their own, one that will change the country’s fate forever.
All I Ask, by Eva Crocker (e-book out now. Paperback out in August)
About the book: Like Sally Rooney’s Conversations with Friends and Eileen Myles’s Chelsea Girls, All I Ask by the award-winning and highly acclaimed author Eva Crocker is a defining novel of a generation.
A little before seven in the morning, Stacey wakes to the police pounding on her door. They search her home and seize her computer and her phone, telling her they’re looking for “illegal digital material.” Left to unravel what’s happened, Stacey must find a way to take back the privacy and freedom she feels she has lost.
Luckily, she has her friends. Smart and tough and almost terrifyingly open, Stacey and her circle are uncommonly free of biases and boundaries, but this incident reveals how they are still susceptible to society’s traps. Navigating her way through friendship, love, and sex, Stacey strives to restore her self-confidence and to actualize the most authentic way to live her life — one that acknowledges both her power and her vulnerability, her joy and her fear.
All I Ask is a bold and bracing exploration of what it’s like to be young in a time when everything and nothing seems possible. With a playwright’s ear for dialogue and a wry, delicate confidence, Eva Crocker writes with a compassionate but unsentimental eye on human nature that perfectly captures the pitfalls of relying on the people you love.
The Imago Stage, by Karoline Georges
About the book: A woman must emerge from the virtual world she’s created to confront her flesh-and-blood past and family.
Growing up with a menacing drunk for a father and a grief-stricken mother, a girl spends her 1980s childhood staring at the television to escape the tension, depression, and looming violence that fill her suburban home. After winning a modelling competition, she dedicates herself to becoming a placid image onto which anything can be projected, a blank slate with a blank stare. Earning enough in Paris to retire in her twenties, she buys a studio in Montreal and retreats from the world and its perceived threats, cultivating her existence as an image through her virtual reality avatar. But when her mother develops cancer and nears the end of her life, she is forced to leave her cocoon—surrounded by her posse of augmented reality superheroes – and interact with the world and her parents without the mask of her perfect, virtual self.
Georges offers up an alienated childhood with shifting pop culture obsessions, a woman’s awakening to the role of the image in culture, and her eventual isolation in her apartment and the world online. It is a catalogue of the anxieties of an age, from nuclear war to terrorism, climate change to biological warfare. Set in the past and not-too-distant future of Montreal, The Imago Stage is an ominous tale of oppression, suppression, and disembodiment.
Five Little Indians, by Michelle Good
About the book: Taken from their families when they are very small and sent to a remote, church-run residential school, Kenny, Lucy, Clara, Howie and Maisie are barely out of childhood when they are finally released after years of detention.
Alone and without any skills, support or families, the teens find their way to the seedy and foreign world of Downtown Eastside Vancouver, where they cling together, striving to find a place of safety and belonging in a world that doesn’t want them. The paths of the five friends cross and crisscross over the decades as they struggle to overcome, or at least forget, the trauma they endured during their years at the Mission.
Fuelled by rage and furious with God, Clara finds her way into the dangerous, highly charged world of the American Indian Movement. Maisie internalizes her pain and continually places herself in dangerous situations. Famous for his daring escapes from the school, Kenny can’t stop running and moves restlessly from job to job—through fishing grounds, orchards and logging camps—trying to outrun his memories and his addiction. Lucy finds peace in motherhood and nurtures a secret compulsive disorder as she waits for Kenny to return to the life they once hoped to share together. After almost beating one of his tormentors to death, Howie serves time in prison, then tries once again to re-enter society and begin life anew.
With compassion and insight, Five Little Indians chronicles the desperate quest of these residential school survivors to come to terms with their past and, ultimately, find a way forward.
Swimmers in Winter, by Faye Guenther (e-book out now. Paperback out in August)
About the book: Certain Women meets The Mars Room in this debut collection featuring three pairs of stories.
Sharp and stylistic, the trifecta of diptychs that is Swimmers in Winter swirls between real and imagined pasts and futures to delve into our present cultural moment: conflicts between queer people and the police; the impact of homophobia, bullying, and PTSD; the dynamics of women’s friendships; life for queer women in Toronto during WWII and after; the intersections between class identities and queer identities; experiences of economic precarity and precarious living conditions; the work of being an artist; dystopian worlds; and the impact of gentrification on public space. These are soul-searching, plot-driven character studies equally influenced by James Baldwin, Christopher Isherwood, and Elena Ferrante.
Throw Down Your Shadows, by Deborah Hemming
About the book: Sixteen-year-old Winnie is a creature of habit, a lover of ritual and stability. If she had her way, not much would change. But when a new family moves to town, Winnie and her three best friends—all boys—find themselves changing quickly and dramatically to impress Caleb, their strange and charismatic new companion. Under Caleb's influence, Winnie and her friends test boundaries, flirt with danger, and in the end, illuminate darkness within each other and themselves.
Following a before and after structure that pivots around a mysterious and devastating fire at a local winery, Throw Down Your Shadows is a compelling exploration of the contours of young friendship and the development of powerful new appetites.
Reminiscent of The Girls by Emma Cline and Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler, this literary coming-of-age story feeds a growing demand in adult fiction for candid portrayals of the young female experience as complex and provocative, and announces a bold new voice in Canadian fiction.
Little Secrets, by Jennifer Hillier
About the book: All it takes to unravel a life is one little secret...
Marin had the perfect life. Married to her college sweetheart, she owns a chain of upscale hair salons, and Derek runs his own company. They're admired in their community and are a loving family—until their world falls apart the day their son Sebastian is taken.
A year later, Marin is a shadow of herself. The FBI search has gone cold. The publicity has faded. She and her husband rarely speak. She hires a P.I. to pick up where the police left off, but instead of finding Sebastian, she learns that Derek is having an affair with a younger woman. This discovery sparks Marin back to life. She's lost her son; she's not about to lose her husband, too. Kenzie is an enemy with a face, which means this is a problem Marin can fix.
Daughter of Smoke and Fire, by Ava Homa
About the book: The unforgettable, haunting story of a young woman’s perilous fight for freedom and justice for her brother, in the first novel published in English by a female Kurdish writer
Set in Iran, this extraordinary debut novel takes readers into the everyday lives of the Kurds. Leila dreams of making films to bring the suppressed stories of her people onto the global stage, but obstacles keep piling up. Leila’s younger brother, Chia, influenced by their father’s past torture and imprisonment, and his own deep-seated desire for justice, begins to engage with social and political affairs. But his activism grows increasingly risky, and one day he disappears in Tehran. Seeking answers about her brother’s whereabouts and fearing the worst, Leila begins a campaign to save him. But when she publishes Chia’s writings online, she realizes that she too is in grave danger. A family friend with ties to Canada offers to help, but Leila must struggle to forgive him for his role in Chia’s disappearance.
Daughters of Smoke and Fire is an evocative portrait of the stakes faced by 40 million stateless Kurds. A powerful story that brilliantly illuminates the meaning of identity and the complex bonds of family, it is perfect for fans of Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, Rawi Hage's De Niro's Game and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun.
The Jane Austen Society, by Natalie Jenner
About the book: Just after the Second World War, in the small English village of Chawton, an unusual but like-minded group of people band together to attempt something remarkable.
One hundred and fifty years ago, Chawton was the final home of Jane Austen, one of England's finest novelists. Now it's home to a few distant relatives and their diminishing estate. With the last bit of Austen's legacy threatened, a group of disparate individuals come together to preserve both Jane Austen's home and her legacy. These people—a laborer, a young widow, the local doctor, and a movie star, among others—could not be more different and yet they are united in their love for the works and words of Austen. As each of them endures their own quiet struggle with loss and trauma, some from the recent war, others from more distant tragedies, they rally together to create the Jane Austen Society.
A powerful and moving novel that explores the tragedies and triumphs of life, both large and small, and the universal humanity in us all, Natalie Jenner's The Jane Austen Society is destined to resonate with readers for years to come.
In Veritas, by C.J. Lavigne
About the book: In this fantastic and fantastical debut, C.J. Lavigne concocts a wondrous realm overlaying a city that brims with civic workers and pigeons. Led by her synesthesia, Verity Richards discovers a hidden world inside an old Ottawa theatre. Within the timeworn walls live people who should not exist—people whose very survival is threatened by science, technology, and natural law. Verity must submerge herself in this impossible reality to help save the last traces of their broken community. Her guides: a magician, his shadow-dog, a dying angel, and a knife-edged woman who is more than half ghost.
With great empathy and imagination, In Veritas explores the nature of truth and the complexities of human communication.
The Last High, by Daniel Kalla
About the book: Dr. Julie Rees, a toxicologist and ER doctor, is stunned when her emergency room is flooded with teenagers from the same party, all on the verge of death. Julie knows the world of opioids inside and out, and she recognizes that there’s nothing typical about these cases. She suspects the teens took—or were given—fentanyl. But why did they succumb so quickly?
Detective Anson Chen is determined to find out. He and Julie race to track down the supplier of the deadly drugs. But the trail of suspects leads everywhere, from unscrupulous street dealers to ruthless gang leaders who hide behind legitimate business fronts and the walls of their mansions.
As Anson and Julie follow clues through the drug underworld, Julie finds herself haunted by memories of her troubled past—and the lover she lost to addiction. When other overdoses fill the ER—and the morgue—Julie realizes that something even more sinister than the ongoing fentanyl crisis is devastating the streets. And the body count is rapidly rising.
A gripping thriller, The Last High explores the perfect storm of greed, addiction, and crime behind the malignant spread of fentanyl, a deadly drug that is killing people faster than any known epidemic.
Dominoes at the Crossroads, Kaie Kellough
About the book: In Dominoes at the Crossroads Kaie Kellough maps an alternate nation—one populated by Caribbean Canadians who hopscotch across the country. The characters navigate race, class, and coming-of-age. Seeking opportunity, some fade into the world around them, even as their minds hitchhike, dream, and soar. Some appear in different times and hemispheres, whether as student radicals, secret agents, historians, fugitive slaves, or jazz musicians.
From the cobblestones of Montreal’s Old Port through the foliage of a South American rainforest; from a basement in wartime Paris to a metro in Montréal during the October Crisis; Kellough’s fierce imagination reconciles the personal and ancestral experience with the present moment, grappling with the abiding feeling of being elsewhere, even when here.
Sister Dear, by Hannah Mary McKinnon
About the book: When Eleanor Hardwicke’s beloved father dies, her world is further shattered by a gut-wrenching secret: the man she’s grieving isn’t really her dad. Eleanor was the product of an affair and her biological father is still out there, living blissfully with the family he chose. With her personal life spiraling, a desperate Eleanor seeks him out, leading her to uncover another branch on her family tree—an infuriatingly enviable half sister.
Perfectly perfect Victoria has everything Eleanor could ever dream of. Loving childhood, luxury home, devoted husband. All of it stolen from Eleanor, who plans to take it back. After all, good sisters are supposed to share. And quiet little Eleanor has been waiting far too long for her turn to play.
A Song Below Water, by Bethany C. Morrow
About the book: Legacies meets Nic Stone’s Dear Martin in Bethany C. Morrow's debut YA, A Song Below Water, about two best friends discovering their magical identities against the challenges of today’s racism and sexism
Tavia is already at odds with the world, forced to keep her siren identity under wraps in a society that wants to keep her kind under lock and key. Nevermind she's also stuck in Portland, Oregon, a city with only a handful of black folk and even fewer of those with magical powers. At least she has her bestie Effie by her side as they tackle high school drama, family secrets, and unrequited crushes.
But everything changes in the aftermath of a siren murder trial that rocks the nation; the girls’ favorite Internet fashion icon reveals she's also a siren, and the news rips through their community. Tensions escalate when Effie starts being haunted by demons from her past, and Tavia accidentally lets out her magical voice during a police stop. No secret seems safe anymore—soon Portland won’t be either.
The Heart Beats in Secret, by Katie Munnik
About the book: Scotland, 1940: In a house on the east coast, Jane faces motherhood alone. With her husband away at war, there is no one to protect her from small town suspicions and she must learn to keep her secrets to herself.
Three decades later her daughter Felicity leaves their life behind for Montreal, glad to flee the unknowns that have plagued her so far. But her personal battles are nothing compared to the unrest here, where a commune in rural Quebec and a child of her own might be her saviours.
The child grows up to be Pidge, a woman surprised to find that she will inherit her grandmother's Scottish house, yet curious about the ingredients that make up a family's history. Amidst the flying feathers of the wild goose that stalks the kitchen, Pidge will find unexpected answers to the questions that have beset these women through the years.
The Heart Beats in Secret is a powerful story of three women and the secrets and bonds that have defined them. It explores the wilderness of the heart, the secrets concealed with every beat and the many ways it is possible to be a mother.
Hurry Home, by Roz Nay
About the book: When I open the door, I see a face more than anything, the paleness of it stark against the dark hair. Long hair, familiar. Blue, damaged eyes. Immediately, I feel my knees might give out, like I might fall to the ground. I cover my mouth with both hands and stare.
It’s her. It’s Ruth Van Ness. My sister.
Alexandra Van Ness has the perfect life. She lives in an idyllic resort town tucked away in the Rocky Mountains, shares a designer loft with her handsome boyfriend, Chase, and has her dream job working in child protection. Every day, Alex goes above and beyond to save children at risk.
But when her long-lost sister, Ruth, unexpectedly shows up at her door asking for help, Alex’s perfect life is upended. Growing up, Ruth was always the troublemaker, pulling Alex into her messes, and this time will be no different. Their relationship is fraught with hurts and regrets from their childhood that bind them to silence, but they can’t outrun them forever.
Alex lets Ruth stay under one condition: we will never, ever, talk about the past. But when a local child is in danger, Alex becomes very involved and the secrets from long ago come back to haunt her with terrible consequences for everyone.
A gripping look at the inescapable bond between sisters—and the devastating cost of a single mistake—Hurry Home will keep readers guessing who is telling the truth and who is lying until the very last page.
The Ghost in the House, by Sara O'Leary
About the book: What if a ghost were haunting your house? What if you were the ghost?
Everything in Fay's life is perfect—living in the house she dreamed of as a child, married to a man she loves, and planning her life as an artist. Her life seems full of possibility. Then, late one night, Fay realizes that something has gone wrong.
Things have altered in the house and somehow time, and Fay's husband, Alec, seem to have gone on without her. Fay—who thought her life was on the verge of beginning—finds it has abruptly ended. And she comes to learn that sometimes the life you grieve may be your own.
This glimmering and darkly comedic novel explores both the domestic and the existential, delving into the dark heart of marriage and the meaning of a life.
Aubrey McKey, by Alex Pugsley
About the book: I am from Halifax, salt-water city, a place of silted genius, sudden women, figures floating in all waters. “People from Halifax are all famous,” my sister Faith has said. “Because everyone in Halifax knows each other’s business.”
From basement rec rooms to midnight railway tracks, Action Transfers to Smarties boxes crammed with joints, from Paul McCartney on the kitchen radio to their furious teenaged cover of The Ramones, Aubrey McKee and his familiars navigate late adolescence amidst the old-monied decadence of Halifax. An arcana of oddball angels, Alex Pugsley’s long-awaited debut novel follows rich-kid drug dealers and junior tennis brats, émigré heart surgeons and small-time thugs, renegade private school girls and runaway children as they try to make sense of the city into which they’ve been born. Part coming-of-age-story, part social chronicle, and part study of the myths that define our growing up, Aubrey McKee introduces a breathtakingly original new voice.
The Union of Smokers, by Paddy Scott
About the book: Kaspar Pine begins his day with a simple task: replace a pet canary. By day’s end, as Kaspar is being loaded into an ambulance, he delivers one hell of a "theme essay," covering such subjects as his ability to source and catalogue the cigarette butts he harvests; information on maintaining the social order of chickens, along with general and historic farming details that run from Saskatchewan to Ontario; insinuating himself between other kids and people who wish to do them harm; fire marshalling; and his inability to maintain an essayist’s cool detachment in the face of unrequited first love. The Union of Smokers details the heartfelt and heroic last day in the life of a reluctant, irreverent, and oddly wise hero.
The Subtweet, by Vivek Shraya
About the book: Celebrated multidisciplinary artist Vivek Shraya’s second novel is a no-holds-barred examination of the music industry, social media, and making art in the modern era, shining a light on the promise and peril of being seen.
Indie musician Neela Devaki has built a career writing the songs she wants to hear but nobody else is singing. When one of Neela’s songs is covered by internet artist RUK-MINI and becomes a viral sensation, the two musicians meet and a transformative friendship begins. But before long, the systemic pressures that pit women against one another begin to bear down on Neela and RUK-MINI, stirring up self-doubt and jealousy. With a single tweet, their friendship implodes, a career is destroyed, and the two women find themselves at the centre of an internet firestorm.
Speechless, by Anne Simpson
About the book: A'isha Nasir is a Nigerian teenager who has been charged with adultery and sentenced to death. Sophie MacNeil is an ambitious young Canadian journalist who meets A'isha and writes an impassioned article about her plight. But when the article sets off waves of outrage and violence, Sophie is forced to come to terms with the naivete with which she approached the story. Who can—and should—tell a story?
Speechless is a stunning novel of justice, witness, and courage. In luminous prose, Simpson explores the power of words, our responsibility for them, and the ways they affect others in matters of life and death.
Still Here, Amy Stuart
About the book: From the bestselling author of Still Mine and Still Water—PI Clare O’Dey is on the hunt for two missing persons. Little does she know she’s the one being hunted.
Malcolm is gone. Disappeared. And no one knows where or why.
His colleague and fellow private investigator, Clare, is certain she can find him, as she holds the key to his past. She arrives in the oceanside city where he last lived and starts digging around. Not only is Malcolm gone without a trace, so is his wife, Zoe. Everyone who knew the perfect couple sees Malcolm as the prime suspect in his wife’s disappearance. Everyone except Clare. She’s certain there’s more at play that has nothing to do with Malcolm, a dark connection to Zoe’s family business and the murder of her father years ago.
As Clare pulls back the layers, she discovers secrets the entire community is trying desperately to leave in the past. As for Malcolm, his past is far more complex—and far more sinister—than Clare could ever have imagined. He may not be innocent at all. As she searches for the man who helped her build her career as a private eye, Clare discovers that many women are in grave danger. And she is among them.
Misconduct of the Heart, by Cordelia Strube
About the book: Toronto Book Award Winner Cordelia Strube is back with another caustic, subversive, and darkly humorous book
Stevie, a recovering alcoholic and kitchen manager of Chappy’s, a small chain restaurant, is frantically trying to prevent the people around her from going supernova: her PTSD-suffering veteran son, her uproariously demented parents, the polyglot eccentrics who work in her kitchen, the blind geriatric dog she inherits, and a damaged five-year-old who landed on her doorstep and might just be her granddaughter.
In the tight grip of new corporate owners, Stevie battles corporate’s “restructuring” to save her kitchen, while trying to learn to forgive herself and maybe allow some love back into her life. Stevie’s biting, hilarious take on her own and others’ foibles will make you cheer and will have you loving Misconduct of the Heart (in the immortal words of Stevie’s best line cook) “like never tomorrow.”
How to Pronounce Knife, by Souvankham Thammavongsa
About the book: A young man painting nails at the local salon. A woman plucking feathers at a chicken processing plant. A father who packs furniture to move into homes he'll never afford. A housewife learning English from daytime soap operas. In her stunning debut book of fiction, O. Henry Award winner Souvankham Thammavongsa focuses on characters struggling to make a living, illuminating their hopes, disappointments, love affairs, acts of defiance, and above all their pursuit of a place to belong. In spare, intimate prose charged with emotional power and a sly wit, she paints an indelible portrait of watchful children, wounded men, and restless women caught between cultures, languages, and values. As one of Thammavongsa's characters says, "All we wanted was to live." And in these stories, they do--brightly, ferociously, unforgettably.
A daughter becomes an unwilling accomplice in her mother's growing infatuation with country singer Randy Travis. A boxer finds an unexpected chance at redemption while working at his sister's nail salon. An older woman finds her assumptions about the limits of love unravelling when she begins a relationship with her much younger neighbour. A school bus driver must grapple with how much he's willing to give up in order to belong. And in the Commonwealth Short Story Prize-shortlisted title story, a young girl's unconditional love for her father transcends language.
Unsentimental yet tender, and fiercely alive, How to Pronounce Knife announces Souvankham Thammavongsa as one of the most striking voices of her generation.
The Woman Before Wallis, by Brynn Turnbull
About the book: In the summer of 1926, when Thelma Morgan marries Viscount Duke Furness after a whirlwind romance, she’s immersed in a gilded world of extraordinary wealth and privilege. For Thelma, the daughter of an American diplomat, her new life as a member of the British aristocracy is like a fairy tale—even more so when her husband introduces her to Edward, Prince of Wales.
In a twist of fate, her marriage to Duke leads her to fall headlong into a love affair with Edward. But happiness is fleeting, and their love is threatened when Thelma’s sister, Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt, becomes embroiled in a scandal with far-reaching implications. As Thelma sails to New York to support Gloria, she leaves Edward in the hands of her trusted friend Wallis, never imagining the consequences that will follow.
Bryn Turnbull takes readers from the raucous glamour of the Paris Ritz and the French Riviera to the quiet, private corners of St. James’s Palace in this sweeping story of love, loyalty and betrayal.