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The Half Moon: A Novel by Mary Beth Keane - Book Review

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ISBN: 9781982172619
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Published: Scribner - April 2nd, 2024

In The Half Moon, a middle class couple grapples with multiple midlife challenges - a failing marriage, a faltering business, infertility, and the ordinariness of small town life. Yet, Mary Beth Keane is one of those gifted writers who creates relationship portraits so real and emotionally palpable one easily settles into the fraught story of Malcolm and Jess hoping for their reunification while soaking in the many exceptional moments offered by a novel that so deftly captures the tension, beauty, sadness and common realities of everyday life. Keane's writing here, like her former novel, Ask Again Yes, is deeply satisfying. ~ Reviewed by Nancy Scheemaker

James: A Novel by Percival Everett - Book Review

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ISBN: 9780385550369
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Published: Doubleday - March 19th, 2024

James, by Percival Everett is narrative historical fiction at its finest. This retelling of the character of Jim in Twain's classic Huck Finn sparkles with surprise and genius. While serving up a witty mockery of the ignorance feeding racist views in 19th century American, readers are taken on a rollicking suspenseful adventure story with James and Huck at its center. James will hover in your memory for many reasons and lessons not least of which are the author's impressive sharp lens and imagination. Everett has delivered an iconic gem of a novel. ~ Reviewed by Nancy Scheemaker

Held: A novel by Anne Michaels - Book Review

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ISBN: 9780593536865
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Published: Knopf - January 30th, 2024

Reading this intensely affecting novel is like being in a fever dream of poetic narrative diving deeply into the human experience of love, marriage, war, loss and memory - even and especially the undefinable spaces between life and death and what exactly is a soul or human essence? I've never read anything quite like this, but I want more. Michaels combines the deeply intellectual with the spiritual, delivering a transcendent novel of power and grace. ~ Reviewed by Nancy Scheemaker

The Waters: A Novel by Bonnie Jo Campbell - Book Review

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ISBN: 9780393248432
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Published: W. W. Norton & Company - January 9th, 2024

The women portrayed in Bonnie Jo Campbell's latest novel, The Waters, are a rugged and enchanting lot who live reclusively on Massasauga Island, accessible only by a floating narrow drawbridge, designed to keep the local men out and the landscape unscathed by heavy boots and human carelessness. Hermine Zook has long been the "witch" and town's healer in remote Whiteheart, Michigan, revered and loathed for her hand in assisting women and now raising 11 year old Donkey, left by her own beautiful daughter Rose Thorn, who suffers from a mysterious past.

Read this novel for the exceptional associations drawn between women and nature, its lucid portrayal of a rural town community, and Donkey's awakening - a passion for science, the familial ties that bind, and also the Massasauga rattlesnake. ~ Reviewed by Nancy Scheemaker

The Caretaker: A Novel by Ron Rash - Book Review

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ISBN: 9780385544276
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Published: Doubleday - September 26th, 2023

One of my top ten reads of 2023, The Caretaker, by Ron Rash presents a riveting scenario of just how far parents might go to dismantle their precious son's marriage. Set in North Carolina during the Korean War, the local cemetery caretaker, crippled by a childhood case of polio, becomes the catalyst for truth in a family web of tricks and lies. I will be among the first to purchase a ticket when this story reaches the theatre. The pacing will have you urgently reading for resolution, with Blackburn Gant, the novel's caretaker, an indelible presence long after the book is complete. ~ Reviewed by Nancy Scheemaker


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