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From the author of Bread Crumbs, The Real Boy is beautifully written light fantasy—with some references to Pinocchio—perfect for anyone 8-12. Oscar is apprenticed to the most powerful magician on the island. But when the magician disappears, and the city’s children fall ill with a mysterious magical illness, Oscar must step up to fill his place. Is Oscar up to the challenge?
~Ariel— From The Real Boy
National Book Award Longlist * Bank Street Children's Book Committee Best Book of the Year
"Beautifully written and elegantly structured, this fantasy is as real as it gets."—Franny Billingsley, author of Chime
The Real Boy, Anne Ursu's follow-up to her widely acclaimed and beloved middle grade fantasy Breadcrumbs, is a spellbinding tale of the power we all wield, great and small.
On an island on the edge of an immense sea there is a city, a forest, and a boy named Oscar. Oscar is a shop boy for the most powerful magician in the village, and spends his days in a small room in the dark cellar of his master's shop grinding herbs and dreaming of the wizards who once lived on the island generations ago. Oscar's world is small, but he likes it that way. The real world is vast, strange, and unpredictable. And Oscar does not quite fit in it.
But now that world is changing. Children in the city are falling ill, and something sinister lurks in the forest. Oscar has long been content to stay in his small room in the cellar, comforted in the knowledge that the magic that flows from the forest will keep his island safe. Now even magic may not be enough to save it.
About the Author
Anne Ursu is the author of Breadcrumbs, which Kirkus Reviews called a "transforming testament to the power of friendship" in a starred review, and was acclaimed as one of the best books of 2011 by The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, School Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, Amazon.com, and the Chicago Public Library. It was also on the IndieBound Next List and was an NPR Backseat Book Club featured selection. She was also the recipient of the 2013 McKnight Fellowship Award in Children's Literature. Anne teaches at Hamline University's MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults. She lives in Minneapolis with her son and four cats—monster fighters, all.
Erin McGuire is an illustrator of picture books and middle grade novels, including Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu, the Nancy Drew Diaries series, and Sleeping Beauty by Cynthia Rylant. When not drawing, she enjoys reading, cooking, and camping. Erin lives in Dallas, Texas, with her husband and two cats. Visit her online at www.emcguire.net.
“Anne Ursu’s (Breadcrumbs) latest novel explores what makes someone (or something) ‘real.’ The author mines the potential of magic and mystery in the story of 11-year-old Oscar, whom Master Caleb, ‘the first magician in a generation,’ plucked from the orphanage.”
— Shelf Awareness (starred review)
“It’s all highly rewarding and involving, with a tight plot, resonant themes, a gripping adventure, a clearly limned fantasy landscape, and a sympathetic main character.”
— The Horn Book
“Deeply moving, with language powerful and true as a child’s voice. Grade: A.”
— Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Wholly unexpected with plot twists and turns you won’t see coming, no matter how hard you squint, Ursu’s is a book worth nabbing for your own sweet self. Grab that puppy up.”
— Betsy Bird, A Fuse #8 Production (SLJ blog)
“There is such richness to this tale about a world seemingly falling apart. All of the fairy tale allusions. But in the end, The Real Boy is such a compelling fantasy story because of the two children who, amidst the chaos of their world, can help each other so much.”
— Richie's Picks
“Anne Ursu keeps readers turning the pages until the unexpected but satisfying ending of the story…. I believe this book will be around for a long, long time.”
— Anita Silvey, Children’s Book-A-Day Almanac Anita Silvey, Children’s Book-A-Day Almanac
“Anne Ursu’s The Real Boy is a fantasy in the truest, deepest sense: it illuminates the human experience by giving substance and shape to that which is otherwise intangible. Beautifully written and elegantly structured, this fantasy is as real as it gets.”
— Franny Billingsley, author of Chime
“Anne Ursu has created a brilliant fantasy, alive with the smells and sights and sounds of a place both familiar and strange - but the true magic of The Real Boy lies in the powerful friendship that grows between Callie and Oscar. A joy to read.”
— Linda Urban, author of A Crooked Kind of Perfect
“The Real Boy is an engaging fable about what happens when people reject real life in favor of pleasure, of magic. I enjoyed it very much.”
— Nancy Farmer, bestselling and multiple-award-winning author of The House of the Scorpion
Witty and Wise - Mary Norris brings good cheer to all of us - readers and writers. “The dictionary is wonderful thing, but you can’t let it push you around.” Read with pleasure!
~Frayda— From Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen
April 2015 Indie Next List
“I was feeling pretty smug about my word skills until I learned something right there on page 26 of Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen. I have been mispronouncing 'elegiac.' Even so, I didn't begrudge Norris for taking me on a delightful tour of the offices of The New Yorker, the history of Noah Webster and his dictionary descendents, the city of Cleveland, and the hyphen in Moby-Dick. Between You and Me is a sprightly -- not 'spritely,' thank you -- gambol in the fields of grammar, and I enjoyed every step.”
— David Enyeart, Common Good Books, St. Paul, MN
The most irreverent and helpful book on language since the #1 New York Times bestseller Eats, Shoots & Leaves.
Mary Norris has spent more than three decades in The New Yorker's copy department, maintaining its celebrated high standards. Now she brings her vast experience, good cheer, and finely sharpened pencils to help the rest of us in a boisterous language book as full of life as it is of practical advice.
Between You & Me features Norris's laugh-out-loud descriptions of some of the most common and vexing problems in spelling, punctuation, and usage—comma faults, danglers, "who" vs. "whom," "that" vs. "which," compound words, gender-neutral language—and her clear explanations of how to handle them. Down-to-earth and always open-minded, she draws on examples from Charles Dickens, Emily Dickinson, Henry James, and the Lord's Prayer, as well as from The Honeymooners, The Simpsons, David Foster Wallace, and Gillian Flynn. She takes us to see a copy of Noah Webster's groundbreaking Blue-Back Speller, on a quest to find out who put the hyphen in Moby-Dick, on a pilgrimage to the world's only pencil-sharpener museum, and inside the hallowed halls of The New Yorker and her work with such celebrated writers as Pauline Kael, Philip Roth, and George Saunders.
Readers—and writers—will find in Norris neither a scold nor a softie but a wise and witty new friend in love with language and alive to the glories of its use in America, even in the age of autocorrect and spell-check. As Norris writes, "The dictionary is a wonderful thing, but you can't let it push you around."
About the Author
Mary Norris is the author of Greek to Me and the New York Times bestseller Between You & Me, an account of her years in The New Yorker copy department. Originally from Cleveland, she lives in New York.
Hilarious… [T]his book charmed my socks off.
— Patricia O’Conner
Ms. Norris, who has a dirty laugh that evokes late nights and Scotch, is…like the worldly aunt who pulls you aside at Thanksgiving and whispers that it is all right to occasionally flout the rules.
— Sarah Lyall
[P]ure porn for word nerds.
— Allan Fallow
Mary Norris has an enthusiasm for the proper use of language that’s contagious. Her memoir is so engaging, in fact, that it’s easy to forget you’re learning things.
— Miriam Krule
[A] winningly tender, funny reckoning with labor and language.
— Megan O'Grady
Very funny, lucid, and lively.
— Julia Holmes
Funny and endearing.
— Joanna Connors
Laugh-out-loud funny and wise and compelling from beginning to end.
— Steve Weinberg
Down-to-earth memoir interwoven with idiosyncratic, often funny ruminations on the nuts and bolts of language.
— Linda Lowenthal
Between You & Me is smart and funny and soulful and effortlessly illuminating.
— Ian Frazier
Mary Norris brings a tough-minded, clear-eyed, fine-tuned wisdom to all the perplexities and traps and terrors of the English sentence.
— Adam Gopnik
Mary Norris is a grammar geek with a streak of mischief, and her book is obscenely fun.
— Marilyn Johnson
This is as entertaining as grammar can be. Very very. Read it and savor it.
— Garrison Keillor
A delightful mix of autobiography, New Yorker lore, and good language sense.
— Ben Yagoda
Mary Norris is the verbal diagnostician I would turn to for a first, second, or third opinion on just about anything.
— John McPhee, in The New Yorker
Destined to become an instant classic…. It’s hard to imagine the reader who would not enjoy spending time with Norris.
Coverage from NPR
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Other Books in Series
I think the 3 generation sweep makes for an extremely satisfying read. Masterful prose of rural life deeply observed. Highly recommended! The 1st in her “Last Hundred Years Trilogy.”— Anita
Reading Some Luck feels like paging through an old family photo album that’s come to life. Each chapter covers one year’s time, beginning in 1920. And while the story of the Langston family is told in a quiet and meditative fashion, the menace of the precariousness of farm life lurks beneath the pastoral calm. This first part of a planned trilogy ends in 1953, and you’ll want to plow right into part 2, Early Warning.
~Molly— From Some Luck
Longlisted for the 2014 National Book Award
From the winner of the Pulitzer Prize: a powerful, engrossing new novel—the life and times of a remarkable family over three transformative decades in America.
On their farm in Denby, Iowa, Rosanna and Walter Langdon abide by time-honored values that they pass on to their five wildly different children: from Frank, the handsome, willful first born, and Joe, whose love of animals and the land sustains him, to Claire, who earns a special place in her father’s heart.
Each chapter in Some Luck covers a single year, beginning in 1920, as American soldiers like Walter return home from World War I, and going up through the early 1950s, with the country on the cusp of enormous social and economic change. As the Langdons branch out from Iowa to both coasts of America, the personal and the historical merge seamlessly: one moment electricity is just beginning to power the farm, and the next a son is volunteering to fight the Nazis; later still, a girl you’d seen growing up now has a little girl of her own, and you discover that your laughter and your admiration for all these lives are mixing with tears.
Some Luck delivers on everything we look for in a work of fiction. Taking us through cycles of births and deaths, passions and betrayals, among characters we come to know inside and out, it is a tour de force that stands wholly on its own. But it is also the first part of a dazzling epic trilogy—a literary adventure that will span a century in America: an astonishing feat of storytelling by a beloved writer at the height of her powers.
About the Author
Jane Smiley is the author of numerous novels, including A Thousand Acres, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, as well as five works of nonfiction and a series of books for young adults. In 2001 she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and in 2006 she received the PEN USA Lifetime Achievement Award for Literature. She lives in Northern California.
“This sweeping, carefully plotted novel traces the history, from 1920 to the Cold War era, of a single Iowa farming family. Each chapter focuses on one year, setting the minor catastrophes and victories of the family’s life against a backdrop of historical change, particularly the Great Depression. As the children branch out from their tiny town, so, too, does the story, eventually encompassing several generations, cities, and cultural movements. Smiley, like one of her characters contemplating the guests at the Thanksgiving table, begins with an empty house and fills it ‘with twenty-three different worlds, each one of them rich and mysterious.’” —The New Yorker
“What’s unusual about Some Luck is how closely it’s meant to mimic real life, and yet how important Smiley’s gifts as a novelist are to achieving that effect. The way the story unfolds makes it feel not so much like reading a novel as catching up with relatives every couple of months, finding out who’s been up to what and comparing stories. Characters reminisce about scenes from earlier in the book that start to feel like our memories, too. Smiley’s ability to sketch a scene, to bring to life the quiet incidents as well as the big ones—the moment when something finally makes sense, or a decision is reached, or someone lets slip something they shouldn’t—are what transform the family stories into literature . . . Some Luck draws the reader in with easy charm.” —Christine Pivovar, Kansas City Star
“A magnificent achievement . . . Pulitzer Prize-winning Smiley has embarked on an audacious project: the first volume of an epic family chronicle that spans the past century. She pulls it off handily; her touch is light and assured. With each passing year, the Langdons respond to the events that shaped America itself . . . While written with humor and affection, Some Luck is a constant reminder of how fleeting life really is. Babies arrive with little warning. Children die in freak accidents. Families care for their aging and failing elders. Walter and Rosanna both worry constantly—about their farm and their family. In the end, it all comes down to luck.” —Amy Goodfellow Wagner, Examiner.com
“The fertile first installment of Smiley’s century-spanning trilogy of fatalism, farm life and family—a big story of a big family in a big country. [But] the focus is up-close and intimate: Smiley cultivates her characters in scenes that are sometimes lightly comical, touchingly sad, sweet, or slightly strange, and they are always perfectly, beautifully true to life. She gives every Langdon careful consideration—endowing each of them with discrete likes, dislikes, private thoughts, and secret hopes and fears—but it is Frank, the baby born on New Year’s Day, 1920, who breaks the mold . . . The reader longs for the Golden Age of the early chapters and the way of life we know will not survive, even as we eagerly await the sequel. And all we can do is wait, patiently.” —Sandra Levis, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Engaging. . . . Smiley is a self-assured writer, a skillful stylist who launches her story from a baby’s-eye view. She plumbs the drama in ordinary life, hitting all our nostalgia buttons on the way, from the one-room schoolhouse and horse-drawn plow to the TV set. As the landscape changes, from a vista of corn fields and self-sufficiency to green lawns and consumerism, Smiley is a master of the telling detail . . . Populated by sympathetic characters who take what life brings, [this] is a look back at what feels like simpler times. Family is Smiley’s turf, and she plays it well.” —Ellen Emry Heltzel, The Seattle Times
“The wonderful first installment of Smiley’s The Last Hundred Years Trilogy, which tells the story of an Iowa farm family from 1920 to 2019. As far as I’m concerned, the next two cannot follow soon enough . . . Over the years, the Langdons will have six children, each with their own interesting life, messy desires and flaws that will compel them out into the world, some far from the farm that the family both loathes and loves. There are deaths, blizzards, droughts, and accidents, as well as births, celebrations and beautifully narrated family meals, like a particular Thanksgiving near the end of the novel . . . Extremely satisfying.” —Natalie Serber, The Oregonian
“Brilliant . . . Smiley is one of America’s most accomplished and wide-ranging novelists, [and] Some Luck finds her in her most tender mode. I happened to be reading Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder to my daughter at the same time I was enjoying Some Luck; and Some Luck holds up well against Wilder’s classic in its lovely, precise portrayal of the day-to-day rhythms of agriculture and what it’s like to be a child growing up inside the close, hardworking, economic unit of the family farm. But it also extends beyond Wilder’s scope, as you’d expect in a novel for adults. There are cow milking and field plowing in Some Luck, but there are also duplicity, romance and despair . . . Smiley moves through several characters’ perspectives, writing in an old-fashioned, Tolstoyan omniscience that even explores the mind of [a] baby . . . As the Langdons’ five children grow up and scatter from coast to coast, Some Luck demonstrates how events on an isolated, unsophisticated farm in the middle of the country represent and influence the larger story of America.” —Jenny Shank, Dallas Morning News
“Satisfying . . . captivating . . . the reading experience is rewarding.” —Rebecca Kelley, Bustle
“Unforgettable, graceful . . . The characters in Smiley’s latest novel take what life throws at them—drought, freezes, economic catastrophe, death, war, progress—and carry on. Despite its epic scope, which embraces political and social changes, Some Luck is also intimate, and deeply observant. Smiley uses small moments and events to build a bigger, multifaceted picture of a country during decades of great change. What seems simple at first grows profound in her hands—and her skillful prose. With plain materials she builds rich portraits of her Langdons: Walter, Rosanna, [and] their five children are rendered in vivid, indelible strokes . . . A simple, remarkable scene—nothing fancy, just a loud, large family gathered for a Thanksgiving meal—leaves you with that warm feeling you get when you flip through old family photo albums, marveling at the past. In Some Luck, Smiley brings that past to life. You don’t have to have been raised on an Iowa farm to think: That sounds like my grandmother, my aunt, my father, my brother. That sounds like us.” —Connie Ogle, Miami Herald
“A ravishing and defiantly old-fashioned novel set on the same Iowa soil Smiley tilled in her Pulitzer Prize-winning A Thousand Acres . . . . Reminiscent of the work of Willa Cather and Alice Munro, Some Luck chronicles one family’s triumphs and travails as they work to wrest a living from their farm. Opening in 1920, [it] tracks the fates of Walter and Rosanna Langdon and their children over three decades. Their union endures, roiled by doubt at times, yet rooted in a bone-deep connection. Some Luck ingeniously spirals outward from the farm and back again, capturing the arc of personal and historical change in forthright prose that unexpectedly takes flight.” —Hamilton Cain, O, The Oprah Magazine
“Fans of old-fashioned family sagas featuring historical sweep are in (ahem) some luck. Like A Thousand Acres, Some Luck conveys a deep understanding of both the endless work and worries of agrarian life and the foremost question among children raised on the land—whether to stay or go. Some Luck’s narrative shifts focus among various members of the Langdon family, including its youngest. What’s it all about, having a family? Rosanna’s reflections during a Thanksgiving gathering in 1948—a perfectly written scene [and] the climax and beating heart of Some Luck—captures the payoff, the sudden moments of grace that can astonish and melt even the most exhausted, unsentimental readers. An intimate, telling portrait of the changing landscape of hearth and home in twentieth-century America . . . The writing positively soars.” —Heller McAlpin, The B&N Review
“Sweeping, bold, and completely engrossing . . . arguably Smiley’s finest work—she delivers with Some Luck. It moves swiftly, keeping the reader turning the pages. Smiley’s reach is wide and assured. Few authors are able to write equally well about war strategy, Communism, cover crops, and postpartum depression. Smiley can, and does, such that when Some Luck closes it feels sudden, despite the novel’s length. The reader isn’t ready to leave the Langdons behind. Take consolation in knowing there is more to come: Some Luck is the first installment of a promised trilogy. In this case, the luck is all ours.” —Diane Leach, PopMatters
“Sweeping . . . Smiley’s most commanding novel yet. She is a master storyteller—that rare ‘three-fer’: meticulous historian, intelligent humorist and seasoned literary novelist . . . But what makes a Smiley novel identifiably and deliciously hers alone is a unique brand of impassioned critical patriotism. She makes us see, in the kindest, gentlest way, that we’re a lot more wonderful, and a lot more screwed up—as a nation, as a people, as families, as individuals—than we think we are. Some Luck contextualizes three decades of American history by zooming in on one multi-generational farm family. Births and deaths, triumphs and tragedies are rendered in a [way] that mirrors the Midwestern landscape, language and temperament. The low, quiet hum of the narrative voice provides a contrast for the family’s crises, each of which serves to connect the reader to her characters . . . The rolling out of all those life events, big and small, have a cumulative effect, [and] by the end, the attachment to the Langdons is enough to make the reader count down the days to Book Two.” —Meredith Maran, Los Angeles Times
“Midwestern farm country has proved fertile soil for fiction writers, and no one has cultivated it to such fine effect as Smiley. This new novel, the first in a Balzacian project—the saga of the American family sprung from immigrant stock rooted in farmland—follows a family through major events of the first half of the 20th century. Smiley’s range is, as ever, remarkable: she inhabits the heroic firstborn, the diffident little brother, the angelic girl, the bookish boy, the [child who is an] afterthought, always managing to convey the specific nature of each character’s experience, even as her narrative balances birth order as fate against character as destiny. The cumulative experiences of these people, all depicted with such convincing care and detail, convey a sense of the relations that create a world.” —Ellen Akins, Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Delightfully engaging, a novel full of pleasures both large and small. History makes its way into the story realistically and unobtrusively—the history is personal, told in stories passed down through generations. The chronological approach allows the novel room to breathe . . . Smiley clearly enjoys her characters without being besotted by them. Her writing has an edge of gentle humor about a place that has four seasons: ‘mud, heat, harvest exhaustion, and snow.’” —Margaret Quamme, The Columbus Dispatch
“Engrossing . . . While Some Luck evokes the Iowa landscape Smiley knows well, the novel is as much about the passage of time as the people inhabiting it. As the years pass and crops grow, so does the Langdon family. Parents Walter and Rosanna have their first child, Frank. Smart, charismatic and restless, he’s followed by sensitive, reliable Joe; sweet-natured Lillian; bookish Henry; and baby Claire. From birth, each is an indelible character . . . ‘All ordinary people are extraordinary,’ she says. ‘I don’t actually believe in the concept of ordinary people. I think individuals are always interesting . . . They have unique lives, and things happen to them. They all have adventures.’” —Georgia Rowe, San Jose Mercury News
“Fascinating—an impressive accounting of family life . . . Some Luck would qualify as Smiley’s magnum opus if this, her 14th novel, were a single work and not the first in her trilogy. [As] the story, told from the multiple viewpoints of the Langdon family, moves through history, Smiley portrays her characters with such clarity that we care about their fate . . . The book’s message [is] that farm life is a harrowing enterprise, needful of great reserves of fortitude. Frank will grow up handsome, brilliant and heartless—the mesmerizing center of the book . . . No one captures the rhythms of ordinary life like Smiley does: babies, sewing, cooking . . . In 1992 Smiley’s A Thousand Acres won the Pulitzer for fiction and looked to stand as her epic achievement, retelling King Lear in Iowa. Now, with Some Luck and a return to the heartland, the remarkable Smiley just got a little more remarkable.” —Barbara Liss, Houston Chronicle
“A masterpiece in the making . . . intimate, miraculous—the auspicious beginning of an American saga every bit as ambitious as Updike’s magnum opus, anchored in the satisfactions and challenges of life on a farm, but expand[ing] to various American cities and beyond . . . Frank is one of the most fascinating and complex characters in recent fiction. The way Smiley gets deep inside [all] the children’s heads is a staggering literary feat in which we see human character being assembled in something that feels like real time. An abundant harvest.” —Kevin Nance, USA Today
“Engaging, bold . . . Smiley delivers a straightforward, old-fashioned tale of rural family life in changing times, depicting isolated farm life with precision . . . It is especially satisfying to hear a powerful writer narrate men’s and women’s lives lovingly and with equal attention. Subtle, wry and moving.” —Valerie Sayers, The Washington Post
“Convincing . . . A young couple, Walter and Rosanna Langdon, are just setting out on their own [in] 1920. Eventually they will have five children; Smiley gives each of them a turn in the spotlight, filling in the details of their lives and drawing the reader into a story meant to last a long time . . . Smiley has been compared to some of the great writers of the 19th century, [and] in that tradition, she gives her trilogy the sweep of history. But what interests her most is the way historic events play out in the lives of one family whose roots are deeply embedded in the middle of America.” —Lynn Neary, NPR Weekend Sunday Edition
“Smiley is prolific [and] seemingly writes the way her idol Dickens did—as easily as if it were breathing . . . She made up her mind at an early age that she was going to master not just one genre, but all of them. Her new book is the first volume of a trilogy—one of the few forms left for her to tackle . . . Some Luck starts in 1920 and follows the fortunes of a Midwestern farming family; each chapter covers a single year. What most surprised her, she said, was the way that, more than in her other books, the characters took on lives of their own. ‘I got the feeling that I got on a train and sat down, and all these people were talking. I was eavesdropping, and the train was just heading into the future.’” —Charles McGrath, The New York Times
“Audaciously delicious . . . Every character here steals our heart. Smiley has turned her considerable talents to the story of an Iowa farm and the people who inhabit it. The suspense is found in the impeccably drawn scenes and in the myriad ways in which Smiley narrows and opens her camera’s lens. Her language has the intimacy of a first-person telling; her stance is in-the-moment. Always at the narrative hearth stand Walter and Rosanna and that Iowa farm, a character in its own right, a landscape remembered by those who flee to Chicago, Italy, San Francisco, Washington D.C. and New York . . . We read these lives, and we find our own.” —Beth Kephart, Chicago Tribune
“Sumptuous . . . A meditation on the things we encounter in our lives that shape our personal histories. Smiley impresses the reader by shifting perspectives that include those of the Langdon children as infants and toddlers learning how to grip, walk—and manipulate their parents and siblings. Readers will find much enjoyment in Smiley’s sharp prose and finely observed details. She’s in no hurry to get us anywhere, allowing readers to luxuriate in this study of character, place and time. By the time I got to the end of this big, human book I wondered where the time had gone.” —Christi Clancy, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“Quietly suspenseful, subtle, and captivating . . . We see a changing world through the eyes of a hard-working family trying to make ends meet on their farm in the Iowa heartland. Some Luck is set against a backdrop of sweeping social, political, and economic change—the Great Depression, the rise of Communism, World War Two, and innovations like electricity and automobiles. As the landscape evolves, the Langdons’ world expands beyond the corn fields to the big city, a university campus, and the battlefield . . . Their family life is filled with conflict, rivalries, and shifting alliances—the reader forms a close bond with them . . . Smiley’s deft prose is succinct and clear; she covers the span of a season in a few sentences, then focuses on an ordinary event that turns out to have enormous consequences. The mundane becomes profound, and the effect is smooth and seamless.” —Eleanora Buckbee, Everyday eBook
“No writer has ever captured the satisfactions and frustrations of the American farmer with more insight, humor, accuracy and grace than Smiley. In the first novel of her forthcoming trilogy, she serves up 33 years (1920-53) of American history, viewed through the particular lens of an Iowa farm. The Depression, the Dust Bowl, WWII and the early Cold War provide a compelling backdrop to the lives of Walter and Rosanna Langdon and their six children, all drawn with Smiley’s signature specificity and clear-eyed compassion. The storytelling is shared among the characters, [with] each chapter representing one year of drought or plenty—an almanac to honor these harsh and beautiful lives.” —Pam Houston, More
“Starting from a farm in Iowa, the Langdon family knows growth, diaspora, heartbreak, and passion over three decades. It’s breathtaking to realize that this novel is the first of a trilogy!” —Philadelphia Inquirer
“From Pulitzer winner Smiley, a multi-generational saga about an Iowa farming family’s shifting fortunes.” —Kim Hubbard, People, One of the “Best Books of the Fall”
“Marvelous, a tour de force . . . Some Luck opens in 1920 with Walter Langdon on the eve of his 25th birthday, thinking about the vicissitudes of farming; his strict father; his wife; and his five-month-old son—the first of five children who grow into memorable individuals over the course of the novel. With her vivid, tactile depiction of rural Iowa farm life, Smiley has imaginatively recaptured the dangers and rewards—the play of good luck and bad luck—in a lost way of life . . . Some Luck moves swiftly and assuredly through 33 years of the Langford clan’s experiences, [becoming] an exploration of 20th-century American culture and politics. Smiley says the novel’s velocity arises from the year-by-year approach she deploys throughout the trilogy. She says she began with the concept of the trilogy but ended up being swept away by the trajectories of her characters. She writes about farm life, family life and, suggestively, near the end, national political life. There are farming scenes, sex scenes, combat scenes and table-talk scenes . . . Wherever Smiley goes in Some Luck, most readers will willingly follow. Then wait, with bated breath, for her next steps.” —Alden Mudge, BookPage
“Kicking off a new trilogy that follows the Langdon family for 100 years, this novel starts with their humble beginnings on an Iowa farm, and takes them from the Depression to the Red Scare. As times change, so do relationships, hearts and minds.” —Woman’s Day
“Epic, striking . . . The reader becomes intimately involved with the characters amid the minutiae of family life, sharing Rosanna’s anxieties over the children and Walter’s worries about his crop prices, understanding Frank’s desire to leave and Joey’s desire to stay. The cumulative effect is a story so fully immersive and absorbing that I finished the book with a sense of loss. Masterly.” —Alice O’Keeffe, The Bookseller (UK)
“The expansive American epic is Smiley’s métier, and she’s in top form with this multigenerational story of an Iowa farming family—sturdy sons, passionate daughters, a tough but tender existence—across the first half of the 20th century.” —Time
“Pulitzer Prize-winning Smiley moves from the 1920s to the 1950s as she unfolds the life of Iowa farmers Rosanna and Walter Langdon and their five children. As the children grow up and sometimes move away, we get a wide-angle view of mid-century America. Told in beautiful, you-are-there language, the narrative lets ordinary events accumulate to give us a significant feel of life at the time, with the importance and dangers of farming particularly well portrayed. In the end, though, this is the story of parents and children, of hope and disappointment . . . Highly recommended; a lush and grounded reading experience.” —Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal (starred review)
“Tremendous . . . Smiley is a seductive writer in perfect command of every element of language. She was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for A Thousand Acres, a novel about a farming family in Iowa, and she returns to that fertile ground to tell the stories of the Langdons, a clan deeply in accord with the land . . . As barbed in her wit as ever, Smiley is also munificently tender. The Langdons endure the Depression, Walter agonizes over giving up his horses for a tractor, and Joe tries the new synthetic fertilizers. Then, as Frank serves in WWII and, covertly, the Cold War, the novel’s velocity, intensity, and wonder redouble. This [is a] saga of the vicissitudes of luck, and our futile efforts to control it. Smiley’s grand, assured, quietly heroic, and affecting novel is a supremely nuanced portrait of a family spanning three pivotal American decades. It will be on the top of countless to-read lists.” —Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)
“Exciting. . . In the first volume of a planned trilogy, Smiley returns to the Iowa of her Pulitzer Prize winning A Thousand Acres, but in a different vein. The Langdons [are] a loving family whose members, like most people, are exceptional only in their human particularity; the story covers the 1920s through the early ‘50s, years during which the family farm survives the Depression and drought, and the five children grow up and have to decide whether to stay or leave. Smiley is particularly good at depicting the world from the viewpoint of young children—all five are distinct individuals from their earliest days. The standout is the oldest son, Frank, born with an eye for opportunity. But as Smiley shifts her attention from one character to another, they all come to feel like real and relatable people. Smiley conjures a world—time, place, people—and an engaging story that makes readers eager to know what happens next. Smiley plans to extend the tale of the Langdon family well into the 21st century; she’s off to a very strong start.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Smiley follows an Iowa farm family through the thick of the 20th century, [as] the Langdons raise five children to varied destinies; [there’s a] sense that we’ve simply dropped in on a continuing saga. Smiley juggles characters and events with her customary aplomb and storytelling craft . . . Underpinning the unfolding of three decades is farm folks’ knowledge that disaster is always one bad crop away, and luck is never to be relied on; it wouldn’t be a Smiley novel without at least one cruel twist of fate. Smiley is the least sentimental of writers, but when Rosanna and Walter Langdon look at the 23 people gathered at Thanksgiving in 1948 and ‘agreed in an instant: something had created itself from nothing,’ it’s a moment of honest sentiment, honestly earned. An expansive tale showing this generally flinty author in a mellow mood: surprising, but engaging.” —Kirkus (starred review)
Coverage from NPR
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Deeply interesting and skillfully written, Spinster is a pleasure and a provocation (which is the highest compliment I can bestow). Brava!
~Fiona— From Spinster
A New York Times Book Review Notable Book"Whom to marry, and when will it happen--these two questions define every woman's existence." So begins Spinster, a revelatory and slyly erudite look at the pleasures and possibilities of remaining single. Using her own experiences as a starting point, journalist and cultural critic Kate Bolick invites us into her carefully considered, passionately lived life, weaving together the past and present to examine why- she--along with over 100 million American women, whose ranks keep growing--remains unmarried. This unprecedented demographic shift, Bolick explains, is the logical outcome of hundreds of years of change that has neither been fully understood, nor appreciated. Spinster introduces a cast of pioneering women from the last century whose genius, tenacity, and flair for drama have emboldened Bolick to fashion her life on her own terms: columnist Neith Boyce, essayist Maeve Brennan, social visionary Charlotte Perkins Gilman, poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, and novelist Edith Wharton. By animating their unconventional ideas and choices, Bolick shows us that contemporary debates about settling down, and having it all, are timeless--the crucible upon which all thoughtful women have tried for centuries to forge a good life. Intellectually substantial and deeply personal, Spinster is both an unreservedly inquisitive memoir and a broader cultural exploration that asks us to acknowledge the opportunities within ourselves to live authentically. Bolick offers us a way back into our own lives--a chance to see those splendid years when we were young and unencumbered, or middle-aged and finally left to our own devices, for what they really are: unbounded and our own to savor.
About the Author
Kate Bolick is a contributing editor to The Atlantic. She was previously the executive editor of Domino magazine. She lives in New York.
Coverage from NPR
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Other Books in Series
This is book number 1 in the The Raven Cycle series.
I am obsessed with this series! It’s a book I would not have picked up on my own--my friend made me read it and I am SO GLAD she did. Stiefvater writes compelling characters that you simply must root for. Part mystery, party mythology, it’s a series that is impossible to get out of your mind.
~Antonia— From The Raven Boys
Fall '12 Kids List
“Blue has grown up in a house full of women psychics who have foretold certain death for her first love. She unwillingly becomes friends with a gaggle of boys, the Raven Boys, from the very expensive private school in town. They're on the search for a mythical king who is said to grant a wish to whoever finds him. Will Blue's ability to intensify the magic around them help on their quest or put them in danger? The Raven Boys will pull you into their thrilling journey.”
— Hannah Johnson-Breimeier, Next Chapter Bookshop, Mequon, WI
Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue never sees them--until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks to her.
His name is Gansey, a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.
But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can't entirely explain. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul whose emotions range from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher who notices many things but says very little.
For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She doesn't believe in true love, and never thought this would be a problem. But as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she's not so sure anymore.
About the Author
Maggie Stiefvater is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the novels Shiver, Linger, Forever, and Sinner. Her novel The Scorpio Races was named a Michael L. Printz Honor Book by the American Library Association. The first book in The Raven Cycle, The Raven Boys, was a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year and the second book, The Dream Thieves, was an ALA Best Book for Young Adults. The third book, Blue Lily, Lily Blue, received five starred reviews. The final book, The Raven King, received four. Her latest book is All the Crooked Saints. She is also an artist and musician. She lives in Virginia with her husband and their two children. You can visit her online at maggiestiefvater.com.
é “Stiefvater's novel, inspired by Manx, Irish, and Scottish legends of beautiful but deadly fairy horses that emerge from the sea each autumn, begins rivetingly and gets better and better . . . all the way, in fact, to best.”
–Horn Book Review, Starred Review
é “Masterful...like nothing else out there now.”
–Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
é “A study of courage and loyalty tested…utterly compelling.”
–Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
é “A book with cross-appeal to lovers of fantasy, horse stories, romance, and action-adventure, this seems to have a shot at being a YA blockbuster.”
–Booklist, Starred Review
é “Up–On the sea-battered and wind-swept isle of Thisby, fall brings the famed and feared capaill uisce, or water horses, and with them, death . . . The author takes great liberties with the Celtic myth, but the result is marvelous.”
–School Library Journal, Starred Review
“Stiefvater not only steps out of the young adult fantasy box with “The Scorpio Races” but crushes it with pounding hooves…. If “The Scorpio Races” sounds like nothing you've ever read, that's because it is.”
–The New York Times Book Review
“Tactile world-building, an island full of compelling characters, and the budding romance between Sean and Puck all make for an unforgettable book that's quite unlike anything else out there.”
“With this beautifully executed drama, Stiefvater has established herself as one of the finest YA novelists writing today.”
“Tense, atmospheric, and utterly original.”
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A young girl’s quest for family and a place in the world. The Vietnam War transcends all wars and displacement in this lyrical novel. Beautiful writing.
~Frayda— From The Given World
May 2015 Indie Next List
“In this fresh take on stories about the devastation that war visits on those left behind as well as on those who are sent to fight, Riley resists believing her beloved older brother never emerged from the tunnels of Cu Chi. Since his body was never found, she follows this hope from the Montana plains to Vietnam and then spirals down into the back streets of 1980s San Francisco. As Palaia details Riley's struggle to move from denial to the eventual acceptance of reality, she portrays the starry Montana nights as vividly as the streets of Saigon and the bars of Haight-Ashbury. A brilliant debut!”
— Cheryl McKeon (M), Book Passage, San Francisco, CA
“Complex and haunting…vivid and unforgettable.” —People
“Ardent, ambitious.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Stunning…elegant…It’s enormously refreshing to read a story that talks about complicated women with so much empathy.” —Missoula Independent
“Reverberates with the tones of a modern western—except that its tough-talking hero is a woman…all surliness and cheek…self-punishing, defiant, vulnerable.” —San Francisco Chronicle
From a quiet family farm in Montana in the 60s to the grit and haze of San Francisco in the 70s to a gypsy-populated, post-war Saigon, The Given World spins around its unconventional and unforgettable heroine, Riley. When her big brother is declared MIA in Vietnam, young Riley packs up her shattered heart and leaves her family, her first love, and “a few small things” behind. By trial and error she builds a new life, working on cars, delivering newspapers, tending bar. She befriends, rescues, and is rescued by a similarly vagabond cast of characters whose “‘unraveled souls’ sting hardest and linger the longest.” (The New York Times Book Review) Foolhardy, funny, and wise, Riley’s challenge as she grows into a woman is simple: survive long enough to go home again, or at least figure out where home is, and who might be among the living there.
Lorrie Moore said, “It’s been a long time since a first book contained this much wisdom and knowledge of the world.” The Given World is the remarkable debut of “an immense writing talent.” (Booklist)
About the Author
Marian Palaia was born in Riverside, California, and grew up there and in Washington, DC. She lives in San Francisco and has also lived in Montana, Hong Kong, Ho Chi Minh City, and Nepal, where she was a Peace Corps volunteer. Marian has also been a truck driver, a bartender, and a logger. The Given World is her first novel.
"Complex and haunting...vivid and unforgettable."
"Ardent, ambitious....These glimpses of other lives are where the poetry of Palaia's writing is most striking....these 'unraveled souls' sting the hardest and linger the longest."
"In The Given World, Marian Palaia has assembled a collection of restive seekers and beautifully told their stories of love and lovelessness, home and homelessness, with an emphasis on both makeshift and enduring ideas of family. It has been a long time since a first book contained this much wisdom and knowledge of the world. She has a great ear for dialogue, a feel for dramatic confrontation, and a keen understanding of when background suddenly becomes foreground. She is a strong, soulful, and deeply gifted writer."
— Lorrie Moore, author of Bark
"Not all the American casualties of Vietnam went to war. In stunning, gorgeous prose, in precise, prismatic detail, Palaia begins with that rupture and works her way deep into the aftermath -- its impact on one person, on one family, on one country. Riveting and revelatory."
— Karen Joy Fowler, author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
“Much of this deeply felt work reverberates with the tones of a modern Western — except that its tough-talking hero is a woman... Riley’s voice, all surliness and cheek, easily suggests the shattered heart below the surface. This is not a small feat: It’s a balancing act to deliver a self-punishing, defiant, vulnerable character without veering into caricature — while still inciting readers to want to know more. Palaia has managed it....The novel’s fine accomplishment is to move Riley steadily through her quest against such jagged odds that we can only cross fingers she’ll make it… rich, often dark, intricate plotting… All [the characters] are painted vividly; they’re individuals we can see, hear, and smell — as is Saigon, our own fog-cloaked city, sticky barroom interiors, and Big Sky country… the book’s final pages take readers on a scenic train ride to the gentlest, most throttled reckoning I can remember, and to the quiet possibility — scarcely there — of a next chapter.”
"Palaia is skilled at mixing bitter and sweet — an uplifting ending is loosely constructed and leaves a reader floating in a way that feels entirely grounded in how it captures life’s unpredictability."
"Stunning...elegant...It's enormously refreshing to read a story that talks about complicated women with so much empathy."
"A haunting meditation on the aftermath of war and the search for inner peace."
“Riley's a mess and knows it; but in Palaia's very capable hands, she's a survivor and an admirable mess…The Given World is a moving novel of an era that just won't go away.”
“The Given World is one of those novels that feels like it was written with a pen dipped in the heart's blood of its author. The Given World is one of the better gifts I've given myself this year. The closing chapters in particular really punched me in the heart. Go buy the book.”
"Palaia demonstrates a magnificent command of craft for a first-time novelist, but it's her emotional honesty that makes this story so rich and affecting....An immensely rewarding and remarkable debut."
"There is no denying Palaia's immense writing talent. She is able to convey three pieces of information in one elegant sentence, and she writes paragraphs that build meaning upon metaphorical meaning that leave your highlighter used up and dry--and you anticipating her next novel."
"The novel’s true strengths are the variety of characters Riley meets on her journey and the sense of America changing with the decades. In the end, what the reader takes away is a visceral appreciation for how many lives, both on and off the battlefield, were permanently altered by the Vietnam War.”
"Palaia's prose is hypnotizing...fresh...not without a dark beauty."
"What is likely to remain with reader is the haunting vividness Palaia brings to Riley’s isolated Hi-Line ranch, her down-if-not-quite-out San Francisco streets, and the decadent expat bars of postwar Ho Chi-Minh City."
"Marian Palaia is a writer of remarkable talent. In Riley, she has captured Vietnam's long shadow with prose that cuts straight to the bone. Readers who enjoyed Jennifer Egan's The Invisible Circus will love The Given World."
— Suzanne Rindell, author of The Other Typist
"Marian Palaia is a writer of startling grace and sensuous lyricism—reading her, you feel as if you've never heard language this beautiful and this true."
— Jonis Agee, author of The River Wife
"Some rare books give you the sense that a writer has been walking around with a story for years, storing it up, ruminating on it. This is one of those books. I'm grateful for the slow and patient emergence of these words on the page. No sentence is wasted. However long The Given World took, it was worth every minute."
— Peter Orner, author of The Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge
"From the moment I met Riley I was drawn into her world, which is really ours, America in the last century as it careened into this one. I found this novel as thrilling and surprising as a ride on a vintage motorcycle, along the winding, sometimes hair-raising but always arresting ride that is Riley’s life. It is a trip I will always remember."
— Jesse Lee Kercheval, author of My Life as a Silent Movie
"Marian Palaia has imaginatively engaged the Vietnam War these many decades later and transformed it into a brilliant and complex narrative able to transcend that war, all wars, all politics, all eras and illuminate the great and eternally enduring human quest for self, for an identity, for a place in the universe. The Given World is a splendid first novel by an exciting new artist."
— Robert Olen Butler, winner of the Pulitzer Prize
"The Given World is astonishing in every regard: the voice, the range of characters, the charismatic, colloquial dialogue, the ability to summon, through telling detail, geographically diverse worlds that are far flung, but still cohere. Vietnam, counter-cultural San Francisco, the Vietnam War draft’s resonance on a Montana reservation, all give evocative shape and texture to an historical era. It’s edgy, often cutting, humorous, and impassioned."
— Rob Nixon
“Palaia is a lovely writer, adept at creating characters who linger in the mind even if they only last on the page for a few pages. By the end, each of these glimpses comes together to form a fully-rounded portrait of a woman on the run, and how she finally arrived somewhere.”
"The Given World is about a lost generation coming of age too quickly… It shows us the effects of war from an unusual perspective – that of a devoted little sister who is looking for her MIA brother or, heartbreakingly, a way to live in the world without him. This is also a love story in many of its dimensions: the intimacy of friendship between two women, the temporary but crucial bonds of expats, a love between two gay men that is tested when one infects the other with HIV, a mother's love for her daughter, and a sister's love for her brother.”
“The reader’s payoff is found over and over again in Riley’s acute observations of all that searching, disappointment, and moving on. Palaia’s prose is acrobatic and elegant… [She] slathers these pages with her gift of language, sentence-making, and wise observation.”
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A thrilling dystopian adventure with a cyberpunk twist! Smart and fast-paced; I loved it and the ending left me desperate for the sequel (which is out now, so you won’t have to endure the pain of waiting)!
~Fiona— From Proxy
“Put down what you’re doing and read this book. Right now. The complex characters, intricate world, and blistering pace are off-the-charts amazing.” —Marie Lu, author of the Legend trilogy
Syd’s life is not his own. As a proxy he must to pay for someone else's crimes. When his patron Knox crashes a car and kills someone, Syd is branded and sentenced to death. The boys realize the only way to beat the system is to save each other so they flee. The ensuing cross-country chase will uncover a secret society of rebels, test the boys' resolve, and shine a blinding light onto a world of those who owe and those who pay.
This fast-paced thrill ride of a novel is full of breakneck action, shocking twists and heart-hammering suspense that will have readers gasping until the very last page.
This edition includes a exclusive bonus story featuring Syd and Knox!
“Looking for an awesome YA summer read? Look no further than Alex London’s Proxy.” —EW.com
“Whipping Boy + Blade Runner with a sprinkling of The Hunger Games (plus, of course, a dash of A Tale of Two Cities) = a treat for teen SF fans.” —Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Alex London writes books for adults, children and teens. At one time a journalist who traveled the world reporting from conflict zones and refugee camps, he now is a full time novelist living in Brooklyn. You can visit Alex London at www.calexanderlondon.com
Rave Reviews for Proxy
“I fell in love with this story from the first sentence to the final, epic page. London is a force to be reckoned with.” —Marie Lu, author of the Legend trilogy
“A fast-paced dystopian novel which should appeal to readers of the Hunger Games.” —VOYA
“Not only is Proxy an edge-of-your-seat literary thrill ride, it’s an important and groundbreaking novel as well…London has crafted a true tour de force.” —Matt de la Peña, author of Mexican White Boy
“A big twist and heroic ending will leave readers eager for more” —Shelf Awareness
“Offering intriguing moral dilemmas amid breakneck action…The matter-of-fact presence of a gay lead [Syd] in an action driven story is welcome and overdue.” —Publishers Weekly
“An action-packed thrill ride.” —SLJ
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An astonishing first novel; reminiscent of John Steinbeck and Wallace Stegner.
~Sydney— From The Orchardist
At once intimate and epic, The Orchardist is historical fiction at its best, in the grand literary tradition of William Faulkner, Marilynne Robinson, Michael Ondaatje, Annie Proulx, and Toni Morrison.
In her stunningly original and haunting debut novel, Amanda Coplin evokes a powerful sense of place, mixing tenderness and violence as she spins an engrossing tale of a solitary orchardist who provides shelter to two runaway teenage girls in the untamed American West, and the dramatic consequences of his actions.
About the Author
Amanda Coplin was born in Wenatchee, Washington. She received her BA from the University of Oregon and MFA from the University of Minnesota. A recipient of residencies from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and the Omi International Arts Center at Ledig House in Ghent, New York, she lives in Portland, Oregon.
“Many contemporary novelists have revisited the question of what constitutes a family, but few have responded in a voice as resolute and fiercely poetic.”
— New York Times Book Review
“Amanda Coplin’s somber, majestic debut arrives like an urgent missive from another century. You can only be thrilled by a 31-year-old writer with this depth of understanding…the final epiphany equals in stark grandeur similar scenes in Emily Bronte’s WUTHERING HEIGHTS and Pat Barker’s ANOTHER WORLD...”
— Washington Post
“[A] beautiful, powerful novel…THE ORCHARDIST has the sweep and scope of a big historical novel…yet Coplin is exquisitely attuned to small, interior revolutions as well. Its language as rooted and plain as the apple trees Talmadge nurtures, this is a gorgeous first book.”
— Boston Globe
“There are echoes of John Steinbeck in this beautiful and haunting debut novel set in early-20th -century Washington State...Coplin depicts the frontier landscape and the plainspoken characters who inhabit it with dazzling clarity.”
— Entertainment Weekly
“A stunning debut…THE ORCHARDIST is a poetic book, but its strength doesn’t lie solely in its language. Coplin’s understanding of abuse and the lasting effects of fear and loss on the individual psyche are deeply resonant. As a debut novel, THE ORCHARDIST stands on par with Charles Frazier’s COLD MOUNTAIN.”
— The Oregonian (Portland)
“Coplin’s prose is fresh and compelling…While the ending of this striking debut may not make every reader happy, it is, undoubtedly, the right one for both the book and for Talmadge, an unlikely hero who—like the book—is true to life and sweetly honest from beginning to end.”
— Minneapolis Star Tribune
“THE ORCHARDIST is engaging and enthralling. The reader wants to turn each page quickly as the story develops, and wants at the same time to dwell on the lyrical moments of sunshine, soil and love.”
— Seattle Times
“Amanda Coplin has depicted her northwestern landscape with such fidelity that readers will know its every sight, smell, and sound. Within this world are compelling characters and their equally compelling stories. THE ORCHARDIST is an outstanding debut.”
— Ron Rash, New York Times bestselling author of SERENA and THE COVE
“To read this mysterious, compelling, elemental novel is to immerse yourself in the world of an old folk song, in which the passions and sorrows of plain people rage unseen and then blossom as madly (and quietly) as apricot trees. In THE ORCHARDIST, Amanda Coplin shows us what’s unknowable.”
— Bonnie Jo Campbell, author of National Book Award and NBCC Award Finalist for Fiction, AMERICAN SALVAGE
“THE ORCHARDIST is a stunning accomplishment, hypnotic in its storytelling power, by turns lyrical and gritty, and filled with marvels. Coplin displays a dazzling sense of craftsmanship, and a talent for creating characters vivid and true.”
— Jane Ciabattari, NPR
“A breathtaking work from a genuinely accomplished writer…Coplin’s lyrical style and forceful storytelling provide many unexpected twists before the poignant conclusion.”
— Library Journal
“Eloquent, moving…an immensely affecting first novel...Coplin refuses to sentimentalize. Instead, she demonstrates that courage and compassion can transform unremarkable lives and redeem damaged souls.”
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Coplin’s mesmerizing debut stands out with its depictions of uniquely Western personalities and a stark, gorgeously realized landscape that will settle deeply into readers’ bones.”
“Beautifully written, so alive to the magnificence of the land and the intricate mysteries of human nature, that it inspires awe rather than depression.”
— Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Nearly everybody in the book compels your admiration, either for their courage or for the heavy work they do, all the time and without complaint, even when wicked men are hunting them. Transfixing. I love this book straight through.”
— Salvatore Scibona, author of THE END, National Book Award Finalist
“When you pick up THE ORCHARDIST, you will be lured at first by the lushness of the language. But soon enough the characters will take hold of you and you’ll read on hungrily, as if under a spell. It’s hard to believe that this is Amanda Coplin’s first novel.”
— Wally Lamb, New York Times bestselling author of THE HOUR I FIRST BELIEVED
“Patiently beautiful, THE ORCHARDIST builds its characters and its situations so carefully that the story becomes as real to us as this morning’s news. I am in awe of Amanda Coplin’s book, which does not feel like a first novel but a life’s work.”
— Charles Baxter, author THE FEAST OF LOVE, National Book Award Finalist
“A rare find—this debut novel that reads with masterful authority. Stately and passionate—a stunning powerhouse. THE ORCHARDIST, like Marilynne Robinson’s GILEAD, drills into history, portraying an apparently modest American way of life but finally presenting us with a great American elegy.”
— Patricia Hampl, author of A ROMANTIC EDUCATION
“This is a novel to burrow into, to be submerged in a world that is both lovely and hard. It’s a world that becomes so real that one only leaves by being forced out by the closing of the covers that enfold it.”
— Denver Post
“Coplin’s grave, graceful prose gives dignity to lives that otherwise might be too sad to contemplate. Her story, which turns in unpredictable ways, is both troubling and touching.”
— Columbus Dispatch
“A superb work from an abundantly gifted young writer”
— Dallas Morning News
“In the end, THE ORCHARDIST shares much in common with the fruits its protagonist nurtures: The succulent flesh of the novel will intoxicate readers early on, but delving deeper reveals a hard core that is vital, bittersweet and ultimately timeless.”
— BookPage, Top Fiction Pick
“This is an extraordinarily ambitious and authoritative debut.”
— Holloway McCandless, Shelf Awareness
“Coplin’s consistent and finely-tuned rendering of a very different sensibility may help readers to comprehend a time when expedience did not rule…This patience is revealed in a narrative that is at once lyrical and unsentimental. This is the most extraordinary fruit of a noteworthy debut novel.”
— Bellingham Herald
“The exquisitely described landscapes in this tale astonish, but so do the emotional lives of its characters…a wise and great American novel.”
— The Oprah Blog, Book of the Week September 17th
“...the best first novel of 2012...the book brings to mind just how much the effect of reading about the land, the setting, with its lyric pulse, plays a role in the success of a forward moving narrative.”
— Chicago Tribune
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Forgiveness for a fee . . . is this where we’re headed? A beautiful advertising executive and a lonely former priest think so. Here is a charming satire of modern life, where convenience is king, anyone can become a brand, and everything has price. Guilt-free reading!
~Molly— From Forgiveness 4 You
About the Author
Ann Bauer is author of two previous novels, The Forever Marriage and A Wild Ride Up the Cupboards, and co-author of the culinary memoir, Damn Good Food. Her essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Elle. She lives in Minneapolis.
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At once epic and intimate, Daughters of Mars tells the story of two sisters, Australian nurses, thrown into the maw of World War 1. This is an old-fashioned read, told by a master storyteller.
~Frayda— From The Daughters of Mars
In what is perhaps “the best novel of his career” (The Spectator), the acclaimed author of Schindler’s List tells the unforgettable story of two sisters whose lives are transformed by the cataclysm of the first world war.
In 1915, Naomi and Sally Durance, two spirited Australian sisters, join the war effort as nurses, escaping the confines of their father’s farm and carrying a guilty secret with them. Amid the carnage, the sisters’ tenuous bond strengthens as they bravely face extreme danger and hostility—sometimes from their own side. There is great humor and compassion, too, and the inspiring example of the incredible women they serve alongside. In France, each meets an exceptional man, the kind for whom she might relinquish her newfound independence—if only they all survive.
At once vast in scope and extraordinarily intimate, The Daughters of Mars is a remarkable novel about suffering and transcendence, despair and triumph, and the simple acts of decency that make us human even in a world gone mad.
About the Author
Thomas Keneally began his writing career in 1964 and has published thirty-three novels since, most recently Crimes of the Father, Napoleon’s Last Island, Shame and the Captives, and the New York Times bestselling The Daughters of Mars. He is also the author of Schindler’s List, which won the Booker Prize in 1982, The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, Gossip from the Forest, and Confederates, all of which were shortlisted for the Booker Prize. He has also written several works of nonfiction, including his boyhood memoir Homebush Boy, The Commonwealth of Thieves, and Searching for Schindler. He is married with two daughters and lives in Sydney, Australia.
“Poignant . . . masterly . . . epic . . . [Keneally] has rescued forgotten heroines from obscurity and briefly placed them center stage.”
— The New York Times Book Review
“A burly, captivating saga of Australian nurses on the front lines of World War I... Inscribed with the stately, benign authority of an eminent tale-spinner. ”
— Wall Street Journal
“Magnificent… a stunning performance, full of suspense, searing particulars, and deep emotion.… The huge talents of Thomas Keneally are everywhere on display.”
— The Guardian
"The Daughters of Mars is the work of a master storyteller, sharing a tale that is simultaneously sprawling and intimate."
"[A] poignant novel."
— New York Times, Editor's Choice
“May be the best novel of Keneally’s career… a book that aims for, and achieves, real grandeur.”
— The Spectator, One of the Best Books of 2012
"An epic, sweeping book."
— LA Times
“Extraordinarily moving… Keneally is a master of character development and period detail…. Fans of Downton Abbey and Gallipoli alike will find much to admire in Keneally’s fast-moving, flawlessly written pages.”
— Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“Superbly exciting to read….. An unmissable, unforgettable tribute.”
— The Times (London)
“Not only is The Daughters of Mars one of the most ambitious novels in a career that stretches back to 1964, but it might even be the best… The result is something few other authors would aim for, let alone achieve: genuine grandeur."
— The Telegraph
“A big and brutal book, a new prism through which to think about World War I…breathtaking…magnificent and almost magical. There are moments of joy, of pleasure, that make you look up from their page for a while to arrest and savour their sensation.”
— The Australian
“Along with a Tolstoyan ability to describe the horrors of battle, this amazing book also has an extraordinary intimacy, especially in the relationship between the sisters...an altogether towering achievement.”
— A.N. Wilson
“Now, at last and triumphantly, there is a full-scale Keneally novel of the Great War...All of it is handled by Keneally with calm mastery. If epic is no longer a literary category that fits this world, The Daughters of Mars nonetheless has a tragic and humane span that few recent novels have attempted, let alone equalled.”
— Canberra Times
“Expansive and brilliant…a masterpiece that is sure to rank among Keneally’s best works. “
"Greatly detailed... boasts authentic characters set in equally authentic locations."
“Like the warriors of Homer’s Iliad, Keneally gives readers a sense of the vast and continuous casualties dealt by war and reminds us that each soldier was once a boy armed with little more than a pitchfork.”
— The Missourian
"Keneally has summoned all of his ample talent to write a sweeping novel of World War I."
— Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“By Page 6, readers can put up their feet and relax. They know they're in the reassuring hands of a master storyteller, and a fascinating read lies ahead. “
— San Jose Mercury News
"A bravura piece of writing."
— Seattle Times