New books to read in December

Books

November 30, 2023



Notable new releases this month

compiled by Sally Brewster

The Mystery Guest by Nita Prose

Molly Gray is not like anyone else. With her flair for cleaning and proper etiquette, she has risen through the ranks of the glorious five-star Regency Grand Hotel to become the esteemed Head Maid. But just as her life reaches a pinnacle of perfection, her world is turned upside down when J. D. Grimthorpe, the world-renowned mystery author, drops dead — very dead — on the hotel’s tea room floor. When Detective Stark, Molly’s old foe, investigates the author’s unexpected demise, it becomes clear that this death was murder most foul. Suspects abound, and everyone wants to know: Who killed J. D. Grimthorpe? Was it Lily, the new maid-in-training? Or was it Serena, the author’s secretary? Could Mr. Preston, the hotel’s beloved doorman, be hiding something? And is Molly really as innocent as she seems? As the high-profile death threatens the hotel’s pristine reputation, Molly knows she alone holds the key to unlocking the killer’s identity. But that key is buried deep in her past.

The Future by Naomi Alderman

When Martha Einkorn fled her father’s isolated compound in Oregon, she never expected to find herself working for a powerful social-media mogul hell-bent on controlling everything. Now, she’s surrounded by mega-rich companies designing private weather, predictive analytics and covert weaponry, while spouting technological prophecy. Martha may have left the cult, but if the apocalyptic warnings in her father’s fox and rabbit sermon — once a parable to her — are starting to come true, how much future is actually left?

Across the world, in a mall in Singapore, Lai Zhen, an internet-famous survivalist, flees from an assassin. She’s cornered, desperate and, worst of all, might die without ever knowing what’s going on. Suddenly, a remarkable piece of software appears on her phone telling her exactly how to escape. Who made it? What is it really for? And if those behind it can save her from danger, what do they want from her, and what else do they know about the future? Martha and Zhen’s worlds are about to collide. While a few billionaires assured of their own safety lead the world to destruction, Martha’s relentless drive and Zhen’s insatiable curiosity could lead to something beautiful or the cataclysmic end of civilization.

Class: A Memoir of Motherhood, Hunger, and Higher Education by Stephanie Land

When Stephanie Land set out to write her memoir Maid, she never could have imagined what was to come. Handpicked by President Barack Obama as one of the best books of 2019, it was called “an eye-opening journey into the lives of the working poor” (People). Later, it was adapted into a hit series that was Netflix’s fourth most-watched show in 2021, garnering three Primetime Emmy Award nominations. Stephanie’s escape out of poverty and abuse in search of a better life inspired millions. Maid was a story about a housekeeper, but it was also a story about a woman with a dream. In Class, Land takes us with her as she finishes college and pursues her writing career. Facing barriers at every turn, including a byzantine loan system, not having enough money for food, and navigating the judgments of professors and fellow students who didn’t understand the demands of attending college while under the poverty line, Land finds a way to survive once again, finally graduating in her mid-thirties. Class paints an intimate and heartbreaking portrait of motherhood as it converges and often conflicts with personal desire and professional ambition.

Day: A Novel by Michael Cunningham

April 5, 2019: In a cozy brownstone in Brooklyn, the veneer of domestic bliss is beginning to crack. Dan and Isabel, troubled husband and wife, are both a little bit in love with Isabel’s younger brother, Robbie, the wayward soul of the family who still lives in the attic loft. Robbie, trying to get over his most recent boyfriend, has created a glamorous avatar online. He now has to move out of the house — and his departure threatens to break the family apart. Meanwhile Nathan, age 10, is taking his first uncertain steps toward independence, while Violet, 5, does her best not to notice the growing rift between her parents.

April 5, 2020: As the world goes into lockdown, the brownstone is feeling more like a prison. Violet is terrified of leaving the windows open, obsessed with keeping her family safe, while Nathan attempts to skirt her rules. Isabel and Dan communicate mostly in veiled jabs and frustrated sighs. And Robbie is stranded in Iceland, alone in a mountain cabin with nothing but his thoughts — and his secret Instagram life — for company.

April 5, 2021: Emerging from the worst of the crisis, the family reckons with a new, very different reality, with what they’ve learned, what they’ve lost, and how they might go on.

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

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