The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant
Addie Baum is The Boston Girl, born in 1900 to immigrant parents who were unprepared for and suspicious of America and its effect on their three daughters. Growing up in the North End, then a teeming multicultural neighborhood, Addie’s intelligence and curiosity take her to a world her parents can’t imagine—a world of short skirts, movies, celebrity culture, and new opportunities for women. Addie wants to finish high school and dreams of going to college. She wants a career and to find true love.
Eighty-five-year-old Addie tells the story of her life to her twenty-two-year-old granddaughter, who has asked her “How did you get to be the woman you are today.” She begins in 1915, the year she found her voice and made friends who would help shape the course of her life. From the one-room tenement apartment she shared with her parents and two sisters, to the library group for girls she joins at a neighborhood settlement house, to her first, disastrous love affair, Addie recalls her adventures with compassion for the naïve girl she was and a wicked sense of humor.
Written with the same attention to historical detail and emotional resonance that made Anita Diamant’s previous novels bestsellers, The Boston Girl is a moving portrait of one woman’s complicated life in twentieth century America, and a fascinating look at a generation of women finding their places in a changing world.
Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar
For readers of The Paris Wife and Loving Frank, here is the first novel to offer a fascinating glimpse into the adult lives of sisters Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell, set against the backdrop of a new era—early 1900s London—and focusing on the perennially controversial and popular circle of artists and writers known as the Bloomsbury Group.
In 1905, Virginia and Vanessa Stephens and their brothers Thoby and Adrian moved to unfashionable, bohemian Bloomsbury. All in their twenties, orphaned and unmarried, they began holding Thursday night gatherings in their unchaperoned, unconventional drawing room. Most of the young guests in that room would become famous, breaking the old rules and blazing their own new paths. It is from Vanessa’s point of view at the center of this eccentric, charmed circle of artists and intellectuals that this novel is told, with unsparing honesty about their friendships, their love affairs, and in particular her own troubled relationship with her complicated, brilliant sister Virginia.
The Voices by F.R. Tallis
From Edgar nominee F.R. Tallis, a new novel of psychological suspense that reinvents the classic haunted-house tale
In the scorching summer of 1976-the hottest since records began-Christopher Norton, his wife Laura and their young daughter Faye settle into their new home in north London.
The faded glory of the Victorian house is the perfect place for Norton, a composer of film soundtracks, to build a recording studio of his own. But soon in the long, oppressively hot nights, Laura begins to hear something through the crackle of the baby monitor. First, a knocking sound. Then come the voices.
For Norton, the voices mark an exciting opportunity. Putting his work to one side, he begins the project of a lifetime-a grand symphony incorporating the voices-and becomes increasingly obsessed with one voice in particular. Someone who is determined to make themselves heard . . .
The Sweetness of Life by Paulus Hochgatterer
A German bestseller, winner of the European Union Prize for Literature, and longlisted for the German Book Prize in 2006, Paulus Hochgatterer has created a chilling psychological thriller a group of damaged people living in a pleasant and seemingly tranquil Austrian village. It’s the Christmas holiday, the presents have been opened, and a six-year-old girl is drinking cocoa and playing with her grandfather. The doorbell rings, and the old man gets up. The next time the girl sees her grandfather, he is lying by the barn, his skull broken; his face a red pulp against the white snow. From that time on, she does not speak a single word.
Along with Detective Superintendent Ludwig Kovacs, Raffael Horn, the psychiatrist engaged to treat the silent child, reluctantly becomes involved in solving the murder. Their parallel researches sweep through the town: a young mother who believes her new-born child is the devil; a Benedictine monk who uses his iPod to drown the voices in his head; a high-spending teenager who tortures cats. With his background as a child psychiatrist, Hochgatterer draws back the veil of normality and presents a disconcerting portrait of a winter-held town filled with unsavory inhabitants.
God’ll Cut You Down: The Tangled Tale of a White Supremacist, a Black Hustler, a Murder, and How I Lost a Year in Mississippi by John Safran
An unlikely journalist, a murder case in Mississippi, and a fascinating literary true crime story in the style of Jon Ronson.
A notorious white supremacist named Richard Barrett was brutally murdered in Mississippi in 2010 by a young black man named Vincent McGee. At first the murder seemed a twist on old Deep South race crimes. But then new revelations and complications came to light. Maybe it was a dispute over money rather than race—or, maybe and intriguingly, over sex.
John Safran, a young white Jewish Australian documentarian, had been in Mississippi and interviewed Barrett for a film on race. When he learned of Barrett’s murder, he returned to find out what happened and became caught up in the twists and turns of the case. During his time in Mississippi, Safran got deeper and deeper into this gothic southern world, becoming entwined in the lives of those connected with the murder—white separatist frenemies, black lawyers, police investigators, oddball neighbors, the stunned families, even the killer himself. And the more he talked with them, the less simple the crime—and the people involved—seemed to be. In the end, he discovered how profoundly and indelibly complex the truth about someone’s life—and death—can be.
This is a brilliant, haunting, hilarious, unsettling story about race, money, sex, and power in the modern American South from an outsider’s point of view.
Hot New Reads – December
The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant