Notable new releases
compiled by Sally Brewster
The Last King of America: The Misunderstood Reign of George III, by Andrew Roberts
Most Americans dismiss George III as a buffoon — a heartless and terrible monarch with few, if any, redeeming qualities. The best-known modern interpretation of him is Jonathan Groff’s preening, spitting and pompous take in Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway masterpiece. But this deeply unflattering characterization is rooted in the prejudiced and brilliantly persuasive opinions of 18th-century revolutionaries like Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson, who needed to make the king appear evil to achieve their own political aims. After combing through hundreds of thousands of pages of never-before-published correspondence, award-winning historian Andrew Roberts has uncovered that George III was in fact a wise, humane and even enlightened monarch who was beset by talented enemies, debilitating mental illness, incompetent ministers and disastrous luck. In The Last King of America, Roberts paints a deft and nuanced portrait of the much-maligned monarch and outlines his accomplishments, which have been almost universally forgotten.
The Sentence, by Louise Erdrich
In this very brave, unusual and forceful novel, Pulitzer Prize- and National Book Award–winning author Louise Erdrich creates a wickedly funny ghost story — a tale of passion, of a complex marriage and of a woman’s relentless error. A small independent bookstore in Minneapolis is haunted from November 2019 to November 2020 by the store’s most annoying customer. Flora dies on All Souls Day, but she simply won’t leave the store. Tookie, who has landed a job selling books after years of incarceration, must solve the mystery of this haunting while at the same time trying to understand all that occurs in Minneapolis during a year of grief, astonishment, isolation and furious reckoning.
Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone, by Diana Gabaldon
It’s been seven long years since Diane penned her last novel, but at last here is the ninth entry in the wildly popular “Outlander” series. Reunited 20 years after having been sundered by the Jacobite Rising in 1746, Jamie Fraser and Claire Randall now live in Revolutionary War-era North Carolina with their daughter Brianna and her family. The backcountry seems remote, but Jamie and Claire know they can’t avoid the war forever, and Brianna and her husband Roger begin to wonder whether returning to the past to escape the dangers of the 20th century was the wisest plan. Meanwhile, Jamie’s son, William Ransom, must come to terms with his paternity. Oh joy!
Never, by Ken Follett
“Every catastrophe begins with a little problem that doesn’t get fixed.” So says Pauline Green, president of the United States, in Follett’s nerve-racking drama of international tension. A shrinking oasis in the Sahara Desert; a stolen U.S. Army drone; an uninhabited Japanese island; and one country’s secret stash of deadly chemical poisons: All these play roles in a relentlessly escalating crisis. Struggling to prevent the outbreak of a world war are a young woman intelligence officer, a spy working undercover with jihadists, a brilliant Chinese spymaster and Green herself, beleaguered by a populist rival for the next presidential election. Never is an extraordinary novel, full of heroines and villains, false prophets and elite warriors, jaded politicians and opportunistic revolutionaries. It brims with cautionary wisdom for our times.
Dear William: A Father’s Memoir of Addiction, Recovery, Love, and Loss, by David Magee
The last time David Magee saw his son alive, William told him to write their family’s story in the hopes of helping others. Days later, Magee found William dead from an accidental drug overdose. Now, in a memoir suggestive of Augusten Burroughs meets Glennon Doyle, the award-winning columnist and author answers his son’s wish with a compelling, heartbreaking and impossible-to-put-down book that speaks to every individual and family. Magee shares his family’s intergenerational struggle with substance abuse and mental health issues, as well as his own reckoning with family secrets, confronting the dark truth about the adoptive parents who raised him and a decades-long search for identity. He wrestles with personal substance misuse that began at a young age and, as a father, he sees destructive patterns repeat and develop within his own children. While striving to find a truly authentic voice as a writer despite authoring nearly a dozen previous books, Magee ultimately understands that William had been right, and their own family’s history is the story he needs to tell. SP
Sally Brewster is the proprietor of Park Road Books at 4139 Park Road. parkroadbooks.com