April books

The Arts

March 31, 2023

Notable new releases

compiled by Sally Brewster

The Language of Trees: A Rewilding of Literature and Landscape by Katie Holten

In this gorgeously illustrated and deeply thoughtful collection, Holten gifts readers her tree alphabet and uses it to masterfully translate and illuminate beloved lost and new, original writing in praise of the natural world. With an introduction from Ross Gay, and featuring writings from over 50 contributors including Ursula K. Le Guin, Ada Limón, Robert Macfarlane and Zadie Smith, Holten illustrates each selection with an abiding love and reverence for the magic of trees. She guides readers on a journey from creation myths and cave paintings to the death of a 3,500-year-old cypress tree, unearthing a new way to see the natural beauty all around us and an urgent reminder of what could happen if we allow it to slip away.

Symphony of Secrets by Brendan Slocumb

A riveting page-turner about a determined professor who uncovers a shocking secret about the most famous American composer of all time — that his music was stolen from someone else, a young Black woman. In 1920s Manhattan, Josephine Reed, is living on the streets and frequenting jazz clubs when she meets the struggling musician Fred Delaney. But where young Delaney struggles, Josephine soars. She’s a natural prodigy who hears beautiful music in the sounds of the world around her. With Josephine as his silent partner, Delaney’s career takes off — but who is the real genius here?

Homecoming by Kate Morton

Adelaide Hills, Christmas Eve, 1959: At the end of a scorching hot day, beside a creek on the grounds of a grand and mysterious house, a local delivery man makes a terrible discovery. A police investigation is called, and the small town of Tambilla becomes embroiled in one of the most shocking and perplexing murder cases in the history of South Australia. Many years later and thousands of miles away, Jess is a journalist in search of a story. Having lived and worked in London for almost 20 years, she now finds herself struggling to make ends meet. A phone call out of nowhere summons her back to Sydney, where her beloved grandmother, Nora, who raised Jess when her mother could not, has suffered a fall and been raced to the hospital. At Nora’s house, Jess discovers a book that chronicles the police investigation into a long-buried crime: the Turner Family Tragedy of Christmas Eve, 1959. It is only when Jess skims through the pages that she finds a shocking connection between her own family and this infamous event — a murder mystery that has never been resolved satisfactorily. An epic novel that spans generations, Homecoming asks what we would do for those we love, and how we protect the lies we tell. 

In the Lives of Puppets by TJ Klune

In a strange little home built into the branches of a grove of trees live three robots: fatherly inventor android Giovanni Lawson, a pleasantly sadistic nurse machine, and a small vacuum desperate for love and attention. Victor Lawson, a human, lives there, too. They’re a family, hidden and safe. The day Vic salvages and repairs an unfamiliar android labeled “HAP,” he learns of a shared dark past between Hap and Gio — a past spent hunting humans. When Hap unwittingly alerts robots from Gio’s former life to their whereabouts, the family is no longer safe. Gio is captured and taken back to his old laboratory in the City of Electric Dreams. Together, the rest of Vic’s assembled family must journey across an unforgiving and otherworldly country to rescue Gio from decommission, or worse, reprogramming. Along the way to save Gio, amid conflicted feelings of betrayal and affection for Hap, Vic must decide for himself: Can he accept love with strings attached? 

The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder
by David Grann

On Jan. 28, 1742, a ramshackle vessel of patched-together wood and cloth washed up on the coast of Brazil. Inside were 30 emaciated men, barely alive, and they had an extraordinary tale to tell. They were survivors of His Majesty’s Ship the Wager, a British vessel that had left England in 1740 on a secret mission during an imperial war with Spain. While the Wager had been chasing a Spanish treasure-filled galleon known as “the prize of all the oceans,” it had wrecked on a desolate island off the coast of Patagonia. The men, after being marooned for months and facing starvation, built the flimsy craft and sailed for more than a hundred days, traversing nearly 3,000 miles of storm-wracked seas. They were greeted as heroes. But then, six months later, another, even more decrepit craft landed on the coast of Chile. This boat contained just three castaways, and they told a very different story. The 30 sailors who landed in Brazil were not heroes — they were mutineers.  SP

Sally Brewster is the proprietor of Park Road Books. 4139 Park Rd.

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