Summer books: Fiction

  • Article by: MEGANNE FABREGA , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 31, 2013 - 2:33 PM

The Bookman's Tale: A Novel of Obsession By Charlie Lovett

“The Gravity of Birds,” by Tracy Guzeman (Simon & Schuster, $25, Aug. 6)

The captivating prose of Tracy Guzeman’s first novel instantly pulls you into the lives of the Kessler sisters, Alice and Natalie, and their intertwined love story with Thomas Bayber, an attractive young artist. Forty years later, as Bayber lies dying, he sends two trusted, but disparate, colleagues to find a missing painting that the Kessler sisters possess. Clandestine love affairs, painterly clues and a world of untruths come seamlessly together in this exceptional debut.

 

“The Rebellion of Miss Lucy Ann Lobdell,” by William Klaber (Greenleaf, $24.95, June 18)

An engaging “fictional memoir” which diligently reconstructs the life of Lucy Ann Lobdell, a 19th-century woman who donned men’s clothing, initially in order to make a living but then continued to do so in order to follow her heart. Lobdell traveled the country as her alter ego Joseph Lobdell and taught dance classes, worked in hotels, guarded frontier property in Minnesota and ultimately married the love of her life, Marie Perry.

 

“Together Tea,” by Marjan Kamali (Ecco, $14.99)

“Together Tea” is a sweet treat of a novel that explores the unyielding ties between mothers and daughters. Eighteen years after fleeing revolutionary Iran, the Rezayi family still clings to their Persian traditions, especially when it comes to their youngest daughter, Mina. She wants to be an artist but her mother, Darya, wants Mina to finish her business degree and marry the perfect Persian man. Kamali’s characters delicately make their way through clashing cultures and come out the other side with a very happy ending for all.

 

“& Sons,” by David Gilbert (Random House, $27, July 23)

For readers looking for a meaty summer read, David Gilbert’s second novel is as rich as it is dense. The Dyer patriarch, A.N. Dyer, is a literary legend, but as he faces death he calls home his two older estranged sons in order to exact a promise that is ultimately decided beyond any of their capabilities. Enmeshed within the family and the narrative is Philip Topping, who is both intimately privy to the complicated workings of the Dyer clan and simultaneously shunned by the family.

 

“No One Could Have Guessed the Weather,” by Anne-Marie Casey (Amy Einhorn Books, $25.95, June 13)

The women in this book are tired. They’ve got jobs, young children, husbands, lovers, homes to run, bodies to maintain, and all of them are circling 40 (which is definitely not the new 20), but they take what New York City offers them from glowing rewards to life’s consolation prizes. Casey’s convivial prose will have girlfriends enthusiastically passing this book between each other (and not just in the carpool lane).

 

“The Mouse-Proof Kitchen,” by Saira Shah (Emily Bestler Books, $25, July 2)

Anna and her husband, Tobias, move to France with their severely disabled newborn, Freya, where it’s much easier for Anna to focus on how their farmhouse is falling down instead of the fact that their baby may not survive her first year of life. As Anna keeps the wildlife at bay and Tobias retreats into his own hardened shell, it takes a crisis — or three — for them to realize that family is forever.

 

“Archipelago: A Novel,” by Monique Roffey (Penguin, $16)

“Archipelago” is the kind of tale that once you start reading it you can’t bear to see it end. With sweeping emotion, extraordinary characters and the utter unpredictability of the sea, Roffey creates a timeless story featuring Gavin Weald, his daughter Océan, and their faithful dog Suzy, who travel by boat from their home in Trinidad to the Galápagos Islands. Father and daughter experience both adventure and heartbreak, and ultimately return to their homeland irreparably changed.

 

“A Girl Like You,” by Maureen Lindley (Bloomsbury, $14, June 4)

This novel about the United States’ Japanese internment camps during World War II ventures beyond the gates and follows 15-year-old Satomi Baker’s ordeal before, during and after her imprisonment. Satomi, born to a white father and a Japanese mother, walks a fine line between clashing cultures. Despite years of loss and disappointment Satomi finds the strength to create her own loving family. Lindley’s extensive research is evident throughout and will strongly appeal to fans of historical fiction.

 

“We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves,” by Karen Joy Fowler (Putnam/Marian Wood Books, $26.95)

Inspired by her own family’s work in the field of animal behavior, Karen Joy Fowler’s latest novel probes the complicated relationship among humans and animals, parents and children, and the intimate bond between siblings amid the backdrop of Davis, Calif., in the mid-1990s. Rosemary Cooke was raised alongside her “sister from another mother” Fern until one traumatic summer when Fern is abruptly removed from their family and never spoken of again. The full story slowly unfolds as Rosemary chases down a lost suitcase all while trying to keep tabs on a ventriloquist’s dummy, her fugitive brother and a shadowy “friend” named Harlow.

 

“The Bookman’s Tale: A Novel of Obsession,” by Charlie Lovett (Viking, $27.95)

The Bard is back in this rollicking literary mystery. Seasoned bookseller Peter Byerly is hiding out in his home in the English countryside and recovering from his young wife’s death when he is unwittingly drawn into a complicated scheme that only the most dedicated bibliophile could untangle. This novel has something for everyone: William Shakespeare, a love story, murder and even a secret tunnel.

 

Meganne Fabrega is a freelance writer and a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

  • related content

  • No One Could Have Guessed the Weather by Anne-Marie Casey

  • Together Tea By Marjan Kamali

  • We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves By Karen Joy Fowler

  • Archipeligo: A Novel By Monique Roffey

  • & Sons: A Novel David Gilbert

  • A Girl Like You Maureen Lindley

  • The Gravity of Birds By Tracy Guzeman

  • The Mouse-Proof Kitchen By Saira Shah

  • The Rebellion of Miss Lucy Ann Lobdell By William Klaber

  • istock Woman on grass with flowers, reading book, white dress

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