100 Years and 2 Days

World War I, which began 100 years ago Monday, involved a total of 76 current nations and more than 65,000,000 troops. Here are today’s suggested fiction and non-fiction titles that are set during or around The Great War.

secret lifestella bain canal bridge great war

The Secret Life of Violet Grant                                                                                                                  By Beatriz Williams

“Rumor has it that Violet murdered her husband and mentor, Dr. Walter Grant, before mysteriously disappearing with her lover on the eve of WWI. As Vivian closes in on the past, she has a heart-wrenching problem of her own to resolve in the present. Readers will love wallowing in the twists and turns of this irresistibly luxurious tale.” ~Booklist

To check our catalog or place a hold on The Secret Life of Violet Grant, please click here.

Stella Bain: a novel                                                                                                                                       By Anita Shreve

“An intriguing character study that delivers compelling mystery without melodrama. Shreve offers a fresh, feminine twist on a topic that’s much in vogue lately-World War I…. Shreve cleverly and movingly shifts between Stella’s two lives, as we learn who she really is. A custody battle, a horrible case of wartime disfigurement, and even questions of women’s rights emerge in this spare but involving novel….” ~USA Today

To check our catalog or place a hold on Stella Bain: a novel, please click here.

The Canal Bridge                                                                                                                                              By Tom Phelan

“From Phelan’s effectively constructed and emotionally honest novel about Irish participation in WWI, the reader gains a new perspective on how the Great War decimated lives throughout Europe.” ~Booklist

To check our catalog or place a hold on The Canal Bridge, please click here.

The Great War : a Combat History of the First World War                                                                   By Peter Hart

“Hart demonstrates an admirable command of the subject matter and offers a compelling case for the lasting impact of the ‘unwaking nightmare that was WWI.’”
~Publishers Weekly

To check our catalog or place a hold on The Great War : a Combat History of the First World War, please click here.

100 Years and a Day

This week we are highlighting some novels set during or around World War I. We’ll also share a few non-fiction titles to commemorate this historic event. 100 years and a day ago, World War I, “The Great War”, began and would last more than 4 years.

shoemakers wife first of julyashton park  stubby

 

The Shoemaker’s Wife
By Adriana Trigiani
“Trigiani’s page-turning newest… is a sweeping saga… More than an epic romance, Trigiani’s work pays homage to the tribulations of the immigrant experience, and the love that makes the journey and hardships worthwhile.” ~Publishers Weekly

To check our catalog or place a hold on The Shoemaker’s Wife, please click here.

The First of July
By Elizabeth Speller
“Utterly gripping and completely immersing, Speller’s historical novel of WWI captures the experience of four very different young men during the war’s early years, leading up to one of the grimmest campaigns, the Battle of the Somme, which began on July 1, 1916.” ~ Booklist

To check our catalog or place a hold on The First of July, please click here.

Ashton Park
By Murray Pura
“For fans of the hugely popular Downton Abbey series, comes this equally enthralling story of the Danforth family of Ashton Park… The year is 1916. The First World War has engulfed Europe and Sir William’s and Lady Elizabeth’s three sons are all in uniform—and their four daughters are involved in various pursuits of the heart and soul.” ~Amazon.com

To check our catalog or place a hold on Ashton Park, please click here.

Sergeant Stubby : How a Stray Dog and His Best Friend Helped Win World War I and Stole the Heart of a Nation
By Ann Bausum
“For those who loved New York Times bestseller Rin Tin Tin comes the memorable story of Sergeant Stubby–World War I dog veteran, decorated war hero, American icon, and above all, man’s best friend.” ~Amazon.com

To check our catalog or place a hold on Sergeant Stubby : How a Stray Dog and His Best Friend Helped Win World War I and Stole the Heart of a Nation, please click here.

100 Years Ago

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I. On July 28, 1914, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Many novels have been set in that time period and this week we will be highlighting a few of them.

star of istanbul steady running girl you left

 

The Star of Istanbul
By Robert Butler
“An exciting thriller with plenty of action, romance, and danger. . . . Fans of historical spy fiction will enjoy this fast-paced journey through a world at war.” ~Library Journal

To check our catalog or place a hold on The Star of Istanbul, please click here.

The Steady Running of the Hour: a novel
By Justin Go
“In this mesmerizing debut, a young American discovers he may be heir to the unclaimed estate of an English World War I officer, which launches him on a quest across Europe to uncover the elusive truth.” ~Amazon.com

To check our catalog or to place a hold on The Steady Running of the Hour, please click here.

The Girl You Left Behind
By Jojo Moyes
“In her latest heart tugger, Jojo Moyes deftly weaves the story of newlyweds in WWI France with that of a young widow in today’s London.” ~Parade

To check our catalog or to place a hold on The Girl You Left Behind, please click here.

 

 

 

Swan Gondola

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Title: The Swan Gondola

Author: Timothy Schaffert 

Publisher: Riverhead, 2014 

Summary/Review: When I decided to read this book, I thought the subject was the 1898 Worlds Fair in Omaha Nebraska.  I also thought it was going to be similar to  “The Devil in the White City”, a fantastic book about the Chicago World’s Fair.  It was not at all like the “Devil in the White City” in that the Fair is only a back drop, the story is purely fictional, and if examined more closely, it could be a take-off of “The Wizard of Oz.”   Quirky would be a good word to describe it.

FYI:  I wondered if there was even a Omaha World’s Fair.   This is a description that I found:

There were 11 large, white buildings and dozens of smaller ones surrounding a giant lagoon on which lovers could take gondola rides. There was a miniature railroad, an exhibit of “horseless carriages” — a forerunner to the automobile — exotic dancers from the Middle East, a street scene from Cairo, strange fortune tellers roaming the midway, ostriches pulling carriages, food and clothing from around the world and, last but not least, an exhibit that showcased babies sleeping in incubators.

YIKES

The “Swan Gondola” is the love story of Ferret, a ventriloquist, and Cecil, a beautiful actress, who meet at the Omaha World’s Fair and fall in love. There is much magic, crazy science, and undying love to make a good love story.  People who liked “Night Circus” may like this book.

As an aside, the book both begins and ends with the importance of a librarian’s influence over Ferret’s life.   I enjoyed the symmetrical bookends.

Who would like this book? Someone who’s looking for something a little different.

If you like this, try this: “Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern

Recommended by: Sue Z, Reference Librarian

If this looks like a book you’d like to read, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and/or to place a hold!

 

Still Life With Bread Crumbs

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Title: Still Life with Bread Crumbs

Author: Anna Quindlen

Publisher : Random House, 2014

Summary/Review : Rebecca Winter is 60 and newly divorced. She is a lifelong New Yorker and a well-known photographer.    Her photographs are no longer bringing in the money she needs to provide care for her elderly parents. Hoping to save some money and come up with artistic inspiration, Rebecca decides to sublet her expensive New York apartment and moves into a rustic cabin a couple of hours away in the country. It turns out that the “lovely” cabin is not what it was portrayed to be in the ad. Rebecca soon learns that country living is very different from her life style in Manhattan.   Many people become part of her new life, including a young roofer named Jim Bates. Thus begins a very touching and realistic love story.

Who will like this book: Anyone who enjoys women’s fiction. The author delivers a potent message that it’s never too late to embrace life’s second chances.

If you like this, try this:  Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake: A memoir by Anna Quindlen

Recommended by: Beverly D, Branch Circulation Coordinator

If this looks like a book you’d like to try, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and/or place a hold!

Mrs. Hemingway

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Title: Mrs. Hemingway

Author: Naomi Wood

Publisher: Penguin, May 2014

Summary/Review: Favorable comparisons with Paula McLain’s outstanding novel “The Paris Wife” are inevitable and deserved, and anyone who enjoyed “The Paris Wife” will no doubt love “Mrs. Hemingway.”  What makes Naomi Wood’s book such a treat is that the reader will get to know not just one but all four of Ernest Hemingway’s wives – Hadley, Pauline, Martha and finally, Mary.  And through the story of the wives and their relationships also comes a vivid portrayal of the tortured man they loved.  Wood’s writing flows with a deceptive ease; make no mistake that the pain and suffering the women experienced was real and not romanticized in these pages.   In fact this fictionalized account of the lives and times of these people feels as real as any well-researched biography; perhaps this comes from all of the research that the author did, visiting Hemingway’s homes and old haunts in Chicago, Paris, Antibes, Key West and Havana.  “Mrs. Hemingway” is beautiful, gripping and tragic – a worthwhile revisiting of what may be a familiar story.

Who will like this book?  Fans of historical, literary fiction, particularly those who love reading fictionalized biographies.  And anyone who likes to read about the lives of writers.

If you like this, try this;  The Paris Wife by Paula McLain; Z: a Novel of Zelda by Therese Ann Fowler; Hemingway’s Girl by Erika Robuck.

 Recommended by:  Mary C, Branch Reference Librarian

If this looks like a book you’d like to try, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and/or place a hold!

 

 

Days of Anna Madrigal

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Title: The Days of Anna Madrigal

Author: Armistead Maupin

Publisher: Harper, January 2014

Summary/Review: In January 2014, Armistead Maupin published the ninth and final book in his glorious Tales of the City series. Maupin began writing Tales as a newspaper column in San Francisco during the 1970’s. Tales centered on landlady Anna Madrigal and her magical apartment house at 28 Barbary Lane in SF’s Russian Hill neighborhood. Anna’s tenants included Mary Ann Singleton fresh from Ohio, Michael “Mouse” Tolliver, out and proud gay man, Mona Ramsey frustrated copywriter, and aging ladies’ man Brian Hawkins. Tales of the City was turned into an award-winning television mini-series in the 1990’s for PBS, and the second and third books were also produced for television by Showtime starring Olympia Dukakis as Anna and Laura Linney as Mary Ann. Maupin created a world where people of all walks of life could not only be friends but family to each other.

The Days of Anna Madrigal continues the story of these characters. Now a fragile ninety-two year old and committed to the notion of “leaving like a lady,” Anna Madrigal has seemingly found peace in the bosom of her “logical family” in San Francisco: her devoted young caretaker, Jake Greenleaf; her former tenant Brian Hawkins; Brian’s daughter Shawna; and Michael Tolliver and Mary Ann Singleton, who have known and loved Anna for nearly four decades. Some members of Anna’s family are bound for the otherworldly landscape of Burning Man, the art festival in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada where sixty thousand revelers build a temporary city (Michael calls it “a Fellini carnival on Mars”) designed to last only one week. Anna herself has another Nevada destination in mind: a lonely stretch of road outside of Winnemucca where the sixteen-year-old boy she used to be ran away from the whorehouse he then called home. With Brian and his beat-up RV, she journeys into the dusty, troubled heart of her Depression-era childhood, where she begins to unearth a lifetime of secrets and dreams, and to attend to unfinished business she has long avoided.

Who will like this book? Fans of Maupin’s earlier work, lovers of light, suspenseful novels, San Francisco-philes, people interested in Burning Man, readers who enjoy alternative families, life-long friendships, characters aging gracefully, and LGBTQ readers and allies.

If you like this, try this: Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father by Alysia Abbott, Exiles in America by Christopher Bram, Rough Music by Patrick Gale, Fun Home by Alison Bechdel, She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders by Jennifer Finney Boylan, Michael Nava’s Henry Rios mystery series, and Greg Heren’s Scotty Bradley mystery series.

Recommended by:  Philip B. Reference Librarian

If this looks like a book you’d like to try, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and/or place a hold!

Mimi Malloy, At Last

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Title:  Mimi Malloy, At Last

Author:  Julia MacDonnell

Publisher: Picador, April 2014

Summary/Review:  Mimi Malloy, divorced and newly retired is settling into the twilight of her life.  Her sisters and six daughters are ever present in her life and believe that her memory may be starting to fail.  But a chance discovery of a locket in the top of her closet sets her on a path to remembering the dark unresolved secrets of her Irish Catholic childhood.  After their mother passes away during childbirth, their father marries another woman who turns out to be the classic mean stepmother. After many failed attempts at discipline she even sends away the feistiest of the young girls to Ireland from which she never returns.  As the sisters interact and Mimi remembers more and more we learn what really happened. The story has much interaction among the sisters and explores various mother daughter relationships.  There is even a new romantic interest for Mimi, who also has a secret which he reveals to her.  Always comfortable with herself and the life she now leads there is much humor and warmth in this novel. The difficulties of their dark early days have been overcome as they have remained very close. Family life, reconciliation and the power of memory are the major themes of this book.

Who will like this book:  If you enjoy a story about older, independent women or family interactions you will enjoy this novel.  If you like Maeve Binchy, you will probably like this.

If you like this try:  The Good House by Ann Leary.

Recommended by:  Jan, Admin

If this looks like a book you’d like to try, check out the Fairfield Public Library to see if it’s available and/or to place a hold

 

Station Eleven

Title: Station Eleven

Author: Emily St. John Mandel

Publisher: Knopf, September 2014

Summary/Review: The Georgia Flu has swept the globe, wiping out 99% of the world’s population. With them went everything that had been taken for granted: technology, medicine, and electricity to name a few. Those who survived are forced into an uncertain future fraught with dangers.

Among the survivors is Jeevan Chaudhary. On the very eve of the pandemic, Jeevan was in the audience when famous actor Arthur Leander was struck down on stage. After aiding in the attempt to save the actor, Jeevan learns of the impending disaster from a doctor friend at the hospital.  With this advance notice, he is able to stock up supplies and attempt to wait out the disaster holed up in an apartment with his brother. He could never have imagined what would be left of the world when he emerged. Kirsten Raymonde, a child actress standing off stage when Arthur is struck, is barely 8 years old when the flu hits and life as she knows it is changed forever. Left to wander the landscape with her older brother, Kirsten learns quickly what it takes to survive.

Fast forward 20 years and Kirsten is now part of the Travelling Symphony, a troupe that travels from one community to the next playing music and performing Shakespeare. Dangers have always lurked in the wasteland that they travel, but now a new and greater threat has emerged in the form of the Prophet. Again, life as she knows it is threatened and Kirsten will do whatever it takes to keep her new “family” from harm.

Yes, another dystopic novel but the characters, not the chaos surrounding them, are the focus of this story. I love Emily’s writing. She has the ability to draw you in so completely that you are right there, watching events play out before you. With an uncanny ability to tie everything together without forsaking her beautiful writing, she is an author who should not be missed.

Who will like this book? Someone who is interested in dystopias but is sick of the same old thing.  Someone who is looking for a character-driven story.

If you like this, try this: Mandel has also written “Last Night in Montreal” and “Lola        Quartet”, so if you liked her writing there is more to try.  If you’re interested in dystopic fiction, there are plenty of options:  try “Handmaid’s Tale”, a classic by Margaret Atwood, which is more based on societal collapse than an outbreak.  Other titles include “Hunger Games” and “Divergent” as YA crossovers, or “1984”.  If you’re interested in dystopia after an outbreak or health issue, try “Blindness” by Jose Saramago, or “World War Z” by Max Brooks.

Recommended by:  Sue B, Circulation Coordinator

This one was reviewed with an ARC – an advanced reader.  What does this mean?  It means that since it’s not published yet, we can’t buy it for the library quite yet.  But be on the lookout!

 

 

Walls Within Walls

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Title: Walls Within Walls

Author: Maureen Sherry

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books, June 2010

Summary/Review: CJ, Brid, and Patrick Smithfork (along with little sister Carron) don’t want to move from their cozy Brooklyn apartment to a sprawling penthouse in Manhattan.  But ever since their dad became a super-successful video game creator, it seems that their opinion matters less and less.  With their dad spending all his time at work and their mom spending all her time picking out décor for their new place, the Smithforks want nothing more than to just go home – their real home, in Brooklyn.  But when they find mysterious writing behind the wall, everything changes.  A mystery years in the making that won’t end until they’ve unraveled the clues hidden all over New York – and might end with a missing treasure…and a new idea of what “home” means.

This book doesn’t just have a typical Wizard of Oz “there’s no place like home” theme.  Instead, this is more of an underlying plot line which instead focuses on the beauty and history of New York City – complete with a study guide in the back which discusses what’s real and what’s fiction.  While the set up takes a while, the book’s pace picks up rapidly toward the second half, as the children focus on clues which incorporate history, literature, poetry, and more.  Although I was a little disappointed in how the librarian was represented, the author did a wonderful job of introducing late-elementary/early middle school readers to historical fiction.  It’s also a Nutmeg nominee for 2015, and is less heavy-hitting in the morality department than others, which could be a real plus.

Who will like this book?  A reader who wants to delve into the world of historical fiction.  Parents and children who are interested in mystery and suspense.

If you like this, try this:  There are tons of great mystery series available to children, some classic (Nancy Drew, Boxcar children) and some new (Mysterious Benedict Society, 39 Clues, All The Wrong Questions…).  If you’re looking for some more historical fiction, try Nathaniel Philbrick (who writes for adults, too!) and Richard Peck.  However, this book is unique in its history of New York architecture, literature, poetry, art, and everything else!

Recommended by: Lauren O, Library Assistant

If this looks like a book you or your child would like to read, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and/or place a hold!