Author: Marlena de Blasi
Publisher: Random House, May 2010
Summary: Amandine is the first novel written by Marlena de Blasi, an author known for her memoir writing. The story is captivating and the author’s writing is simply beautiful, filled with sense details and unforgettable characters. Amandine is born out of wedlock into an aristocratic family in Krakow, Poland in 1931. She is born with a heart defect and not expected to survive. Under the pretext of bringing her to a hospital in Switzerland, Amandine’s grandmother brings her to a remote convent in France. The Countess arranges to leave the child at the convent with a large sum of money and in the care of a governess, Solange Jouffroi. As a young child, Amandine is doted on by the nuns, Pere Philippe and Solange, but suffers cruelty and humiliation at the hands of the Abbess Mother Paul and the other children attending school at the convent. This cruelty, compounded by the abandonment by her mother, causes Amandine to believe there is something wrong with her. After a tragedy involving Amandine is barely averted, Solange takes her on a harrowing journey north through occupied France toward the governess’s home. Leaving their sheltered life in the convent, the pair discovers the horrors of war all around them. Meanwhile, Amandine’s birth mother, having just recently discovered that her child did not die at the hospital in Switzerland, has begun her own journey to find her. This is a story that will stay with you long after you’ve read it.
Who will like this book? Fans of historical fiction.
Recommended by: Sue, Circulation Coordinator
Title: Saving CeeCee Honeycutt
Author: Beth Hoffman
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books, January 2010
Summary: Twelve year old CeeCee Honeycut is struggling to find normalcy in her chaotic life. Her mother is suffering from a mental illness and her father stays away from home as much as possible. Ceecee is left alone to care for her mother, confiding in her only friend, Mrs. Odell. When a tragic event turns CeeCee’s world upside down, it’s her Great Aunt Tootie to the rescue. Tootie brings CeeCee down to her home in beautiful Savannah where CeeCee learns about her mother’s childhood and what it feels like to be unconditionally loved. This is a delightful debut novel that brings to life the beauty of the south and the strength of a family’s love.
Who will like this book? Fans of women’s fiction and anyone who liked The Secret Life of Bees should try this.
Recommended by: Sue, Circulation Coordinator
Title: Where The God of Love Hangs Out
Author: Amy Bloom
Publisher: Random House, January 2010
Summary: Amy Bloom’s new collection of short stories will make you laugh, cry, cringe and gasp and it is possible that you will feel all these emotions in just one story. In this book there are two sets of stories that are intertwined and then there are four stand alone stories. One set of stories revolve around William, Isabel, Clare and Charles who are old friends until two of them start an affair. The other set of stories are about a mother and her stepson and what foolishly happens after the death of her husband! Bloom writes about life and love in a real way which is sometimes messy, sometimes raw and sometimes joyous. The characters are so memorable and each story will leave you satisfied but also hungering for more! Bloom explores the themes of love, aging and death with such grace and gusto that she will blow you away. At the core of every story is family in all their glory – good, bad and ugly. I could not put this book down and then it stayed with me long after the last page.
Who will like this book? Fans of Amy Bloom’s Away.
Recommended by: Claudia, Circulation
Title: The Information Officer
Author: Mark Mills
Publisher: Random House ,February 2010
Summary: It’s the summer of 1942 and Malta is quickly becoming the most bombed place on earth. The strategic location of the island, between Europe and Africa, has increased its value to both the Germans who are bombing it, and the Allies who are stationed there. The residents fear a German invasion, but the lack of protection against the constant air raids has weakened their loyalty to the Allies.
British officer Max Chadwick has been given the position of Information Officer. His assignment is to manipulate the news coming in to Malta to buoy the spirits of the troops and the island residents. What the Maltese do not know is that a psychopath walks among them, killing young women and leaving their bodies out in the open to appear as if they were killed during a bomb strike. When another young woman is found dead Freddie, a friend of Max’s and a doctor at the local hospital, discovers the true cause of death. He confides in Max that this is the third murdered woman who has come into the morgue recently. This time, though, a shoulder patch from a British officer’s uniform is found in the dead woman’s clenched hand. Max knows that if this news is released to the public, Maltese loyalty to the Allies may finally be shattered.
The Information Officer is both a love story and a murder mystery, with occasional glimpses into the mind of the killer. The crucial role that Malta played during the war may not be common knowledge, and will certainly appeal to readers of historical fiction. Mills is masterful at expressing a sense of place, with his descriptions fueling the reader’s imagination.
Who will like this book? Fans of historical fiction and suspense novels.
Recommended By: Sue, Circulation Coordinator
Title: The Queen’s Governess
Author: Karen Harper
Publisher: Putnam, January 2010
Summary: Behind every great queen is a surrogate mother. In her latest novel, The Queen’s Governess, Karen Harper, provides the story of Katherine Champernowne Ashley who brought up the young Elizabeth. Katherine Ashely stood by Elizabeth during the dangerous years before she became queen, and the equally dangerous years after she became queen. Harper’s knowledge of the Tudor period is seamlessly woven into a narrative that keeps the reader in suspense even though we all know that Elizabeth will become England’s greatest queen. If, as the story goes, the great Winston Churchill was saddened when his mother died, but cried when his nanny died, than Elizabeth must also have wept when her Kat died.
Who will like this book? People who enjoy reading about the Tudors especially about the young Elizabeth.
If you like this, try this: A Crown for Elizabeth by Mary Luke; The Young Elizabeth by Alison Plowden; Young Bess by Margaret Irwin; and Alison Weir’s The Lady Elizabeth.
Recommended by: Mona, Reference Associate and Library Lecturer
Title: The Secret Life of Louis XIV: Francoise d’Aubigne, Madame de Maintenon
Author: Veronica Buckley
Summary: Francoise d’Aubigne was born in a French prison, the youngest child of a minor, rebellious noble. She died over 80 years later as the widow of the King of France. Though her marriage to Louis XIV could never be formally acknowledged due to an extraordinary difference in social rank, Francoise had a profound influence on the Sun King, and reigned as an uncrowned queen during the most glorious era in French history.
This very readable biography immerses the reader in 17th century France, an era of absolute royal power, intense religious conflict and very limited opportunities for women. Author Buckley does a masterful job illuminating the lives of the royal ladies of Versailles and the salons of Paris. That d’Aubigne managed to rise from her humble beginnings to the pinnacle of power is incredible – and that she did so by remaining steadfast, loyal and humble in the dangerous court of the king seems almost miraculous.
Who will like this book?: Readers interested in royal biography and women’s history.
If you like this, try this: Love and Louis XIV: The Women in the Life of the Sun King by Antonia Fraser. A book about another of Louis’ paramours, Mistress of the Sun by Sandra Gulland. A terrific historical fiction on Marie Antoinette, Abundanceby Sena Jeter Naslund
Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian