Bookshelf: New books to read this spring

Books The Arts

March 30, 2024

April books

Notable new releases

compiled by Sally Brewster

Table for Two by Amor Towles

Millions of Amor Towles fans are in for a treat as he shares some of his shorter fiction: six stories based in New York City and a novella set in Golden Age Hollywood. The New York stories consider the fateful consequences that can spring from brief encounters and the delicate mechanics of compromise that operate at the heart of modern marriages. In Towles’s novel Rules of Civility, the indomitable Evelyn Ross leaves New York City in September 1938 with the intention of returning home to Indiana. But as her train pulls into Chicago, where her parents are waiting, she instead extends her ticket to Los Angeles. Told from seven points of view, “Eve in Hollywood” describes how Eve crafts a new future for herself and others in a noirish tale that takes us through the movie sets, bungalows and dive bars of Los Angeles. 

The Demon of Unrest by Erik Larson

On November 6, 1860, Abraham Lincoln became the fluky victor in a tight race for president. The country was bitterly at odds; Southern extremists were moving ever closer to destroying the Union, with one state after another seceding and Lincoln powerless to stop them. Slavery fueled the conflict, but somehow the passions of North and South came to focus on a lonely federal fortress in Charleston Harbor: Fort Sumter. Master storyteller Erik Larson offers a gripping account of the chaotic months between Lincoln’s election and the Confederacy’s shelling of Sumter — a period marked by tragic errors and miscommunications, enflamed egos and craven ambitions, personal tragedies and betrayals. Lincoln himself wrote that the trials of these five months were “so great that, could I have anticipated them, I would not have believed it possible to survive them.”

Daughter of Mine by Megan Miranda

When Hazel Sharp, daughter of Mirror Lake’s longtime local detective, unexpectedly inherits her childhood home, she’s warily drawn back to the town — and people ­— she left behind almost a decade earlier. But Hazel’s not the only relic of the past to return: A drought has descended on the region, and as the water level in the lake drops, long-hidden secrets begin to emerge … including evidence that may help finally explain the mystery of her mother’s disappearance.

A History of the World in Twelve Shipwrecks
by David Gibbins

Since we first set sail on the open sea, ships and their wrecks have been an inevitable part of human history. Now, for the first time, renowned maritime archeologist David Gibbins ties together the stories of some of the most significant shipwrecks in time to form a single overarching narrative of world history. A History of the World in Twelve Shipwrecks is not just the story of those ships, the people who sailed on them, and the cargo and treasure they carried, but also the story of the spread of people, religion and ideas around the world. It is a story of colonialism, migration, and the indomitable human spirit that continues today. From the glittering Bronze Age, to the world of Caesar’s Rome, through the era of the Vikings, to the exploration of the Arctic, Gibbins uses shipwrecks to tell all.

The Paris Novel by Ruth Reichl

When her estranged mother dies, Stella is left with an unusual inheritance: a one-way plane ticket and a note reading “Go to Paris.” Stella is hardly cut out for adventure; a traumatic childhood has kept her confined to the strict routines of her comfort zone. But when her boss encourages her to take time off, Stella resigns herself to honoring her mother’s last wishes.

Alone in a foreign city, Stella falls into old habits, living cautiously and frugally. Then she stumbles across a vintage store, where she tries on a fabulous Dior dress. The shopkeeper insists that this dress was meant for Stella, and for the first time in her life Stella does something impulsive. She buys the dress — and embarks on an adventure. Her first stop: the iconic brasserie Les Deux Magots, where Stella tastes her first oysters and then meets an octogenarian art collector who decides to take her under his wing. As Jules introduces Stella to a veritable who’s who of the Paris literary, art and culinary worlds, she begins to understand what it might mean to live a larger life.

A Calamity of Souls by David Baldacci

Jack Lee is a white lawyer from Freeman County, Va., who has never done anything to push back against racism until he decides to represent Jerome Washington, a Black man charged with brutally killing an elderly and wealthy white couple. Lee fears that his legal skills may not be enough to prevail in a case where the odds are already stacked against both him and his client. And he quickly finds himself out of his depth when he realizes that what is at stake is far greater than the outcome of a murder trial. Desiree DuBose is a Black lawyer from Chicago who comes to Freeman County and enters a fractious and unwieldy partnership with Lee in a legal battle against the best prosecutor in the Commonwealth. Lee and DuBose could not be more dissimilar. On their own, neither one can stop the prosecution’s deliberate march toward a guilty verdict and the electric chair. But together, the pair fight for what once seemed impossible: a chance for a fair trial and true justice.  SP

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

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