general fiction

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Jamrach’s Menagerie by Carol Birch

In this Dickensian tale Jaffy, a fearless street urchin, is almost eaten by a Bengal tiger. Saved by the titular Jamrach, a jovial dealer in exotic animals who, impressed by his fearlessnes, hires him as a trainer, Jaffy meets slick talking Tim, another Jamrach protege, and his twin sister Ishbel. Tim and Jaffy become best friends. Which does not mean that their relationship is uncomplicated. The fact that Jaffy's heart is captured by Ishbel makes that a given.

The Sojourn by Andrew Krivak

Local author Andrew Krivak tells the story Jozef Vinich, who begins life in a bleak 19th century Colorado mining town, only to end up fighting for the Kaiser in World War One.  Krivak’s debut novel offers the story of a man returning to the roots of his ancestors, finding new family along the way, only to have the horrors of war disrupt all that he had come to take for granted.  Krivak packs a lot of emotion into the rather small book. 

We the Animals by Justin Torres

What is it like growing up the youngest of three brothers of a mixed race family in upstate New York?  At times it seems that it can be pretty dangerous.  Torres offers a short, quick stories that follow our narrator as he grows up in a family that teaches him to love, to fight and to survive.  Check Our Catalog

Barney's Version by Mordecai Richler

Nothing is sacred to Barney Panofsky in this rambling, hilarious and ultimately sad fictional "memoir." Barney spares no one, including himself, in his version of events, from his years as a Canadian expat in Paris in the 50s, through his three wives and his career as a trash TV producer, to his involvement in the disappearance--or was it murder?--of his best friend, Boogie. You will laugh out loud from the beginning almost to the end, when the nature of Barney's own end becomes clear.

A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

An absorbing and thought-provoking read, this novel explores a web of characters whose lives cross paths over the course of four decades, ending about 10 years from now. The two central characters are Bennie, a rock music promoter, and Sasha, his young assistant, but the story is told from multiple points of view and explores the lifelong echoes of chance encounters and the relentless impact of time passing. I'm often disappointed when I finally get around to reading an award-winning, critically acclaimed and popular title, because the work doesn't live up to the hype. Not so in this case.

The Ghost of Greenwich Village by Lorna Graham

Eve Weldon, a newly hired writer for a morning news show, is struggling to recreate the fabulous life her mother had in Greenwich Village in the 1960s. But Eve has few friends, trouble finding love and a ghost living in her apartment. And it's not the type of ghost that slams doors and tries to scare her away. No, instead it is the ghost of an almost, could-have-been famous Beat writer who demands Eve write his stories.

This Beautiful Life by Helen Schulman

What if your teenage son made a typical stupid teenage mistake--and the whole world found out about it? This compelling story of a modern American family shattering amid the fallout of a social media-driven sex scandal thoughtfully explores themes of identity, privacy, family, and loyalty.

The Dog Who Came in From the Cold by Alexander McCall Smith

Another funny, whimsical and thoroughly enjoyable read in this author's Corduroy Mansions series, which is a bit like the 44 Scotland Street series but set in London instead of in Edinburgh. McCall Smith has no peer when it comes to gently yet relentlessly skewering his motley assortment of characters, exposing everyday human failings and foibles. You will chuckle, and wince, and probably recognize yourself a few times.

One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus

In 1875, 25-year-old May Dodd is released from an insane asylum and, along with 40-odd other fertile female misfits, travels West to become a Cheyenne bride, part of a U.S. government program to pacify and assimilate the Indian tribes, the better to seize their land in violation of existing treaties. This engaging, insightful and exciting story is told through May's fictional journal entries and mostly unsent letters home to her family.

Daughters-in-Law by Joanna Trollope

Another absorbing and insightful contemporary family story from Joanna Trollope, this one focusing on the sometimes fraught relationships between parents and their adult children.  When Rachel and Anthony's youngest son marries, the arrival of a third daughter-in-law into the extended family mix brings new complications and power struggles.  Trollope excels at switching viewpoints from one character to another and you will find yourself sympathizing and becoming exasperated in turns with Rachel and her sons and daughters-in-law.

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