New and Notable Books from the McNaughton Recreational Reading Collection

(2nd Floor of Library at the base of the stairs)

Rebecca Makkai The Hundred Year House (Viking 2014) LAW-McNaughton Collection (2nd Floor) PS3613.A36H85 2014

Charmingly clever and mischievously funny, Makkai follows her enthusiastically praised first novel, The Borrower (2011), with an intriguingly structured tale—each section takes a step back in time—set on a fabled, possibly haunted estate north of Chicago. After the alleged suicide of its beautiful first matriarch, Laurelfield was turned into an artists’ colony in 1906 and thrived until an even more mysterious turn of events led to the property’s return to strictly private use. Now, at the turn of the twentieth century, Zee, a Marxist English professor who grew up in Laurelfield, is living in the coach house with her jobless husband, Doug, who is supposed to be working on a book about a former artists’ colony resident. Not only does Zee’s imperious mother inexplicably stonewall his research, but Zee’s batty stepfather also invites his unemployed son and artist daughter-in-law to live in the coach house. Such close quarters provide the perfect setup for farce and scandal, and Makkai choreographs both in a dazzling plot spiked with secrets and betrayals hilarious and dire. Her offbeat characters and suspenseful story could have added up to a stylish romp. Instead, Makkai offers that and much more as she stealthily investigates the complexities of ambition, sexism, violence, creativity, and love in this diverting yet richly dimensional novel. –Donna Seaman, starred review Booklist

Andrew Lewis Conn O, Africa (Hogarth 2014) LAW-McNaughton Collection (2nd Floor) PS3603.O542O23 2014

The Grand brothers are known for their silent movies. With Micah directing and Izzy behind the camera, their comedies have been pleasing crowds for years, but in 1928, trouble looms. While the advent of talkies threatens the brothers’ livelihood, Micah’s interracial affair and penchant for gambling put them in physical danger, as well. With these perils lurking at home, their producer sends them to the jungles of central Africa to collect never-before-seen footage that he hopes will change the fate of their studio. Ultimately, though, it’s the brothers who will be most changed by their expedition. Stretching from New York to Africa to California, Conn sets the stage for the golden age of Hollywood with carefully placed contemporaneous events, then challenges that milieu with anachronistic behavior and dialogue. The result is a satirical, heartbreaking tale of disillusionment and self-discovery that, with its Jewish filmmakers, desegregated liaisons, and homosexual awakening, takes on the state of prejudice both then and now. History aficionados may quibble about the details, but classic film buffs will be enthralled. –Cortney Ophoff, review Booklist

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