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The Body in the Clouds: A Novel by Ashley HayA lovingly rendered Sydney Harbor provides the setting for this stylistically complex novel. Three interconnected storylines introduce real-life 18th-century English astronomer William Dawes; 1930s laborer Ted Dawes, who watches a man fall off a bridge and miraculously survive; and 21st-century banker Dan Kopek, who returns to Australia after living abroad. The Body in the Clouds offers a lyrical meditation on the passage of time and the meaning of home.
Grace: A Novel by Paul Lynch"You are the strong one now," Grace Coyle's mother tells her as she cuts off the 14-year-old's hair and sends her out into the world disguised as a boy. Accompanied by her younger brother, Grace undertakes a harrowing trek across famine-stricken Ireland in a bleak yet achingly lyrical coming-of-age story that may remind readers of Sebastian Barry's A Long, Long Way or Days Without End.
The Daughters of Ireland by Santa MontefioreIn the aftermath of the Irish Civil War, Castle Deverill lies in ruins, while its previous inhabitants, cousins Kitty and Celia Deverill, and their friend Bridie Doyle, assess the lives they're now living and the difficult choices they've made out of necessity. Driven by lost loves, hidden regrets, and scandalous family secrets, this historical family saga is the 2nd book in the Deverill Chronicles, after The Girl in the Castle.
Careers for Women: A Novel by Joanna ScottCareer girl Maggie Gleason envisions a bright future for herself; single mother Pauline Moreau is fleeing a troubled past. Both believe they've found what they seek when they're hired as "clerical girls" by the formidable Lee K. Jaffe ("Mrs. J"), who presides over the New York Port Authority's public relations department. But have they? This novel's richly detailed 1950s Manhattan setting and its authentic depiction of female friendships should charm readers who enjoyed Michael Callahan's Searching for Grace Kelly.
The Diplomat's Daughter: A Novel by Karin TanabeA sweeping and romantic World War II saga in the vein of Anthony Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See or Julie Orringer's The Invisible Bridge, this novel unfolds from the perspectives of three well-drawn characters: Emi Kato, a Japanese diplomat's daughter; Emi's first love, Austrian-Jewish Leo Hartmann; and German-American Christian Lange, who meets Emi when they're sent to the same internment camp. For another moving tale of first loves lost due to wartime politics and anti-immigrant prejudice, try Jamie Ford's Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, which is set in the Pacific Northwest.
Focus on: Biblical Figures
The Secret Chord by Geraldine BrooksThis "psychologically astute" (Publishers Weekly) portrait of the biblical King David traces his astonishing rise from shepherd to bandit to warrior to king. Tasked with writing the life story of the now-aged ruler, the prophet Natan combines his own recollections with those of the people who either love David (despite his many flaws) or hate him (for betraying them in his quest for power). While The Secret Chord is primarily a character-driven story, it illuminates the landscapes and culture of Israel's Second Iron Age.
Game of Queens: A Novel of Vashti and Esther by India EdghillDefy your king and lose your crown. That is the fate of Vashti, wife of Persian ruler Ahasuerus. As the former queen adjusts to her new life, her ex-husband takes a new bride: Esther, a young Jewish woman of humble origins. Presenting the perspectives of both Vashti and Esther, Game of Queens also incorporates characters from the Book of Daniel. Although Vashti is underrepresented in fiction, Esther is a popular subject, starring in Rebecca Kohn's The Gilded Chamber and Rebecca Kanner's Esther.
Sarah: A Novel by Marek HalterBorn into privilege, Sarai flees an arranged marriage and meets a nomad boy named Abram, to whom she feels powerfully drawn. Unable to go with Abram but unwilling to return to her old life, Sarai becomes a priestess of Ishtar. Years later, Sarai is reunited with Abram and together they begin a journey of faith and love that will change history. Marek Halter's retelling of the Old Testament story of Abraham and Sarah is the opening installment of the popular Canaan trilogy, which continues with Zipporah and Lilah.
The Legend of Sheba: Rise of a Queen by Tosca LeeCast aside after her mother's death and father's subsequent remarriage, young Bilqis relies on her wits to survive life at court and claim her birthright as Queen of Sheba (Saba). But she meets her match when she journeys to Israel on a diplomatic mission to King Solomon, a man renowned for his wisdom. Fleshing out an enigmatic figure mentioned only briefly in the Bible and the Quran, author Tosca Lee presents a strong and independent female ruler worthy of her legendary status.
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