Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Now Reading: November, 2010

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Literary Mamas share what they are reading right now; an intriguing collection of titles, just in time for holiday gift ideas or a much-needed reading break. Enjoy!

Download the list to find it fast at your local bookstore or library.

Caroline Grant, Editor-in-Chief and Columnist says, "I just finished reading Joanne Rendell's utterly satisfying new novel, Out of the Shadows. Clara Fitzgerald is mourning the death of her mother, dissatisfied in her career as a college English professor, and stuck in a long engagement to her fiance, a scientist developing a potentially breakthrough cancer drug, so she decides to look into her late mother's claim that they were related to Mary Shelley. As Clara digs deeper into her research, her fiance begins to act very strangely. The novel interweaves the modern story, Mary Shelley's letters and journals, and her novel, Frankenstein, in a terrific blend of literary fiction and medical thriller."

Assistant Poetry Editor, Ginny Kaczmarek, shares, "Although I'm not a huge Rolling Stones fan, I'm reading Keith Richards' autobiography (with James Fox), Life, and am finding it surprisingly engaging. There's plenty of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll, but Richards' warm and thoughtful voice creates something more than just tabloid fodder. He writes passionately about his creative process as a songwriter and a guitar player, as well as the hours spent studying his blues heroes as a kid and jamming with them as an adult. Richards comes across as an open-minded, easy-going, and contemplative man (even about his struggles with addiction) with a lot of crazy stories and a willingness to tell them with humor and charm. Explains a lot about his (and the Stones') longevity."

Cassie Preemo Steele, Columnist writes, "I am reading Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill. Think Beloved by Toni Morrison meets a well-researched historical narrative with a strong first-person voice. The principal at my daughter's school recommended it to me. 'A kindergarten teacher had recommended it to me,' she said. 'And it was one of the best books I've ever read in my life. I cried so hard.' A kindergarten teacher, a principal, and a Literary Mama columnist love this book. You will, too."

Creative Nonfction Editor, Kate Haas, says, "I'm about halfway through In the Woods, an Irish mystery by Tana French. Detective Rob Ryan and his smart, enigmatic partner, Cassie, are investigating the murder of a young girl whose body was discovered at an archeological site. Only Cassie knows that 20 years earlier, Ryan and two 12-year-old friends were assaulted in the same wooded area. The other two children vanished and Ryan, discovered bleeding in the woods, was unable to remember what happened. Now, as Ryan and Cassie's investigation intensifies, shards of memory begin to surface, along with the suspicion that the two cases are linked. I'm enjoying the portrayal of the wisecracking, yet intimate relationship between Ryan and Cassie, and French does a great job with the suspense - not only as the investigation proceeds, but in what is slowly revealed about Ryan's past."

Katherine Barrett, Reviews Editor, recommends Maggie O'Farrell's new novel, The Hand That First Held Mine. "I'm completely absorbed. Lexie and Elina live in London, Lexie in the 1950s and Elina in the present day. Though separated in time, O'Farrell weaves their lives together delicately. Both women are artists, and both become mothers. This pull between creativity and motherhood forms much of the tension in the book, and O'Farrell portrays it with unnerving accuracy. Here is Elina, still at home four months after the birth of her son: 'Sometimes she finds herself eyeing Ted [her husband] when he has come in from work, when the life of the city still seems to cling to him. She sometimes want to stand near to him, to sniff him, to catch the scent of it, the sense of it. She wants, desperately, to be somewhere else - anywhere else.' I remember this feeling so clearly, that 'anywhere else' was suddenly exotic. The novel has many tender maternal moments but a foreboding runs through its chapters, a dark edge that keeps you reading to the end. Highly recommended!"

Profiles Editor, Jennifer Hobson shares, "I've been reading Louise Penny's Bury Your Dead, the latest in her Armand Gamache series. This series is not only exceptionally well-written, but I've never read such hopeful, loving thrillers that manage to avoid schmaltz (no talking cats, dogs, or other gimmicks here!). Bury Your Dead resolves the heartbreaking conclusion of the previous novel The Brutal Telling while introducing new heartbreaks of its own. Set in Quebec City during Carnival, Bury Your Dead finds Inspector Gamache on leave from the Quebec Surete while recovering from tragic missteps in a terrorism case. Gamache is a more "flawed" character or perhaps more human here than in the first books of the series, but it's important to read the series in order if you haven't already encountered them. It's absolutely essential to read The Brutal Telling before Bury Your Dead."

Katie de Iongh lives in Rye, New Hampshire with her husband and their three young children. She is a community volunteer, freelance writer and college English instructor.

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