The Cold War, Ernest Shackleton and Tartt
September 19, 2013
It’s the third week of the month, and three new books look interesting. So I went with the 3-on-3 theme. Two of the books have historical underpinnings, while the third is the once-a-decade phenom from Donna Tartt. All three are at or beyond 400 pages. That’s something I’m seeing more and more — large page counts — which signals readers still want to get lost in a good, long story.
Then We Take Berlin by John Lawton
Published by Atlantic Monthly
The first book in a new series by the author of the popular Inspector Troy series. Then We Take Berlin spans post-World War II to the Cold War in 1963 with London’s East End Joe Wilderness, at times thief, scammer and spy. From the publisher: “Joe Wilderness is a World War II orphan, a condition that he thinks excuses him from common morality. He’s a cat burglar, cardsharp, and Cockney ‘wide boy,’ and the last thing he wants is to get drafted. But in 1946 he finds himself in the Royal Air Force, facing a stretch in military prison, when along comes Lt. Colonel Burne-Jones to tell him that MI6 has better use for his talents.”
The Ice-Cold Heaven by Mirko Bonné
Published by Overlook
Author Bonné fictionalizes Sir Ernest Shackleton’s 1914 trip to the Antarctic by adding a 17-year-old stowaway named Merce Blackboro to the ship Endurance. From the publisher: “Richly imagined and gripping right up the very last page, Ice-Cold Heaven traces Shackleton’s legendary and heroic adventure through the ice and explores the relationships between these men who were lost to the world for 635 days.” The Ice-Cold Heaven is scheduled for release this coming Tuesday.
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Published by Little, Brown
The author of The Secret History and The Little Friend provides readers with another mega-page novel, her third, that Kirkus Reviews gives a star and describes as: “A long-awaited, elegant meditation on love, memory and the haunting power of art.” And yet, Publisher’s Weekly says, “with more economy to the brushstrokes, it might have been great.” Just goes to show one person’s great read is another person’s disappointment. Plot description from the publisher: “Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.” The Goldfinch will be available end of October.