Highly anticipated summer book at The Bookshelf:
new book in the Owen McKenna Series
Tahoe Blue Fire
NEW & NOTEWORTHY
Circling the Sun
by Paula McLain
On September 4, 1936, Beryl Markham took flight in her Vega Gull, The Messenger, to fly her planned trip 3600 miles from Abington, England to New York and become a heroine: the first woman to complete a solo east-west trans-Atlantic crossing. However, with this remarkable feat as part of her life achievements, McLain focuses her novel, an historical fiction memoir, choosing instead to tell the reader about Markham's unorthodox wild childhood in British East Africa which was soon to become Kenya. Abandoned at a young age by her mother, leaving Beryl to be raised by her father, she learns the ways of the native tribe who shares his estate. Her nontraditional upbringing transforms Beryl into a bold young woman left to face her failed marriage and a love triangle with Denys Finch Hatton, a safari hunter, and Karen Blixen, author of the classic memoir Out of Africa. In 1928 Denys encourages Beryl to learn to fly and her life changes once again. McLain's new novel takes her readers to colonial Kenya in the 1920's bringing to life this captivating woman who becomes a renowned horse trainer and record-setting aviator. The majestic landscape of Africa's early twentieth century brings to readers a powerful tale of adventure and the perseverance of the human spirit. I also recommend reading Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen (nee Karen Blixen) and West With the Night by Beryl Markham, two nonfiction memoirs, both reviewed here and each related to McLain's novel Circling the Sun.
Go Set a Watchman
by Harper Lee
Possibly the most talked about book of this summer, the sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird is set in Maycomb County, Alabama in the 1950s. Jean Louise Finch returns from New York City for her annual visit to be with her 72-year-old father, Atticus, but the reunion with the town where she grew up as the tomboy "Scout" now finds her facing conflicts with the differences she recalls that surrounded her during her early years. But can Jean Louise still retain the respect she holds among her childhood memories for Atticus and other close family members as tensions of the Civil Rights movement and political turmoil are now transforming the South? Although many readers may want to compare the sequel and its primary characters to To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman can be read as its own stand-alone story. Written by the author in the mid-1950s and set during those years, I found this an unforgettable novel as Lee threads her characters into the story with her witticism, sarcasm, and cynicism. I'll leave readers with this question: Who is your hero of Go Set a Watchman? Atticus, Jean Louise, Uncle Jack, Henry or...? I know my answer, so I'll leave you, the reader, to decide.
The Marriage of Opposites
by Alice Hoffman
Again Hoffman inscribes the pages of her new novel with the masterful storytelling for which she has become so well known. As a young girl in the 1800s, Rachel Romie is growing up on the tiny tropical island of St. Thomas but dreaming of life in far-off Paris. Rachel's mother, Sara, is the pillar of their small Jewish refugee community whose ancestors had escaped from the European persecution of their culture. Rachel is a difficult girl and her mother can not forgive her daughter for not living by the rules, but Rachel finds her education and liberation among the books in her father's library. Still unruly and outspoken, she is given in marriage to Isaac Petit, nearly thirty years her senior, a widower with three young children. Rachel's is an arranged marriage of convenience to save her father's faltering business. Agreeing to do her father's bidding, Rachel becomes Madame Petit and stepmother to two young boys and an infant girl. Out of kindness and respect, she is a good wife and a loving mother, and in the next six years adds three more children to the marriage; but her dreams of Paris never abate. When Isaac's sudden death leaves Rachel in financial limbo, again at odds with her mother and pregnant with another child, Isaac's young nephew, Frederic Pizzarro, is sent from France to settle the estate. Now Rachel's life changes into something she never expects when she finds a passionate love with Frederic, igniting a scandal that will affect her entire family, including their son Camille. From the time he is a young boy, Camille Pizzarro tries to fit in with his island life and the work expected of him in the family business, but his dreams always draw him to his love of art and his passion for painting as he is destined to become known as one of the great French artists of his time and the Father of Impressionism. This historical novel is a remarkable and unforgettable story I highly recommend.Coming August 4
We look at the technological world of aviation today: super-sized passenger and cargo planes, military war planes and helicopters, and even unmanned drones...and now space flight only depicted in comic strips decades ago. What would two brothers, Wilbur and Orville Wright say now, more than a century later, about their realized dream in the 1890s when they finally lifted a hand-crafted airplane from the ground for a short flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in 1903? I'm sure Will and Orv would never have envisioned what their dream would eventually put in place. Historian and Pulitzer Prize winning author McCullough brings to readers this well-researched biography of the Wright brothers and what led up to them achieving their dream and becoming the "conquerors of the air". This saga of the lives of two men who left their footprint on our modern age by accomplishing one of the most astonishing feats during a gold era of innovation will prove to be good reading for fans of history and biography.(Simon & Schuster, $30.00).