New and Notable in the Library’s Recreational Reading Collection

Located on the 2nd Floor of library at the base of the stairs

Ian McEwan The Children Act (Doubleday 2014) available at: LAW-McNaughton Collection (2nd Floor) PR6063.C4C48 2014

Fiona Maye, at 59, has just learned of an awful crack in her marriage when she must rule on the opposing medical and religious interests surrounding a 17-year-old boy who will likely die without blood transfusions. The cancer patient, weeks shy of the age when he could speak for himself, has embraced his parents’ deep faith as Jehovah’s Witnesses and their abhorrence of letting what the Bible deems a pollutant enter his body. The scenes before the bench and at the boy’s hospital bedside are taut and intelligent, like the best courtroom dramas. The ruling produces two intriguing twists that, among other things, suggest a telling allusion to James Joyce’s 17-year-old Michael Furey in “The Dead.” Meanwhile, McEwan (Sweet Tooth, 2012, etc.), in a rich character study that begs for a James Ivory film, shows Fiona reckoning with the doubt, depression and temporary triumphs of the betrayed—like an almost Elizabethan digression on changing the locks of their flat—not to mention guilt at stressing over her career and forgoing children. As Fiona thinks of a case: “All this sorrow had common themes, there was a human sameness to it, but it continued to fascinate her.” Also running through the book is a musical theme, literal and verbal, in which Fiona escapes the legal world and “the subdued drama of her half-life with Jack” to play solo and in duets. McEwan, always a smart, engaging writer, here takes more than one familiar situation and creates at every turn something new and emotionally rewarding in a way he hasn’t done so well since On Chesil Beach (2007). (Review from Kirkus)

David Leavitt The Two Hotel Francforts (Bloomsbury 2013) available at: LAW-McNaughton Collection (2nd Floor) PS3562.E2618T86 2013

With his first novel, The Lost Language of Cranes (1986), Leavitt claimed attention as a serious fiction writer, and the publication of his first collection of short stories, Family Dancing (1984), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, alerted readers that he was to be taken as a talented writer in the short form as well. Leavitt’s new novel establishes a brisk pace from page one, corresponding to the jittery atmosphere of the place and time in which it is set: the Portuguese capital of Lisbon, which, in the summer of 1940, is the only neutral port left in Europe. Refugees from the German takeover of most of the continent are gathered in Lisbon awaiting a chance to escape the war’s dangers. Leavitt focuses on two married couples as they pass the tense time until an American ship, the Manhattan, will arrive to carry them and other fortunate ticket-holders to the U.S. With one of the men narrating the novel’s events, recalling them from the distance of several years, we follow the couples as they wait for relief from the dangers closing in and, in the meantime, play their own game of intrigue, not on an international diplomatic level but on a personal and even more confounding level: the two wives having to deal with an affair that quickly ignites between their husbands. The result is a dramatic story that Leavitt weaves with compelling authority and empathy. (Starred Review from Booklist)

Tags: