These books were to be featured during our Literary Soiree with Elizabeth Strout on October 29th, 2019.
Julia Phillips is an author to watch. She beautifully transports us to a region of the world, the Kamchatka Peninsula in Northern Russia, that I had never heard of and now can’t stop thinking about. The stories of the women there—their family dynamics, their hopes and fears, the economic and cultural divide of various communities—are not only about this place but ultimately about the universal struggle women have in determining how to live with the expectations placed on them as women. A remarkable debut. — Casey
In a remote Mennonite community in the late 2000's, more than 100 girls and women were sexually assaulted as they were drugged at night, and then told that it was demons who visited them instead of the real culprits—the men of the colony. Miriam Toews takes real life events and creates a fictional world in which the women—uneducated and without decision-making power—come together over two nights to decide whether to fight or flee in order to save themselves and their daughters. In quiet desperation, these women discuss philosophy, faith, relationships and their needs, and ultimately reclaim their agency as individuals and their role in a community of women. This is a book you will never forget. — Casey
In this captivating account of one of history's most brilliant rulers, Pulitzer Prize-winning Stacy Schiff introduces us to a Cleopatra we have not met before and, in this case anyway, truth is far more interesting than fiction. I've been talking about it for years and can't see myself not bringing up this amazing woman in conversation any time soon. Can't recommend it enough! — Emma
People usually don't associate a book about war with summertime reading but I don't think summertime has to always be light and fluffy. If there is one book to break that rule with, it is this one. Debut author Sara Novic plunges us into the heart of the Croatian war through the eyes of 10 year old Ana Juric. Her life, within the conflict and then after, speaks to our memories and what we choose to remember (or what we need to in order to keep living). Did you love Anthony Marra's Constellation of Vital Phenomenon or Anthony Doerr's All the Light You Cannot See like I did? Then start reading! — Casey
This novel is simply exquisite. I loved every quiet, joyous, heart-bursting, heart-breaking, contemplative moment of it. Deeply immersed in turn of the 20th century Catholic Brooklyn, McDermott unspools and weaves together the lives affected by one man’s life-ending decision, as his widowed wife, their infant daughter, and the Little Nursing Sisters of the Sick Poor come to understand the power of friendship and loyalty, and the nuances of faith and forgiveness. — Melinda