Heavenly: It’s a funny thing; take even the most secular amongst us, who haven’t darkened the doors of their own local church, synagogue, or mosque in decades, put them in Europe, and watch them pop in and out of cathedrals, closes, and quaint village churches like so many jumping jacks. It’s as if we feel we haven’t truly experienced England—say, or France—unless we’ve logged the hours within their cloisters. All of which actually makes perfect sense when one considers the fact that Europe—and indeed the world—was literally built around a series of ecclesiastical, architectural bases. Which is why this charming new book, How to Read Churches: A Crash Course in Ecclesiastical Architecture, by Denis McNamara, is the perfect travel companion for anyone looking to have the most cultivated cocktail-party chatter this spring. Published by Rizzoli in March.
(Sometimes) Hellish: Paula McLain’s new novel, The Paris Wife, is the story of Chicago girl Hadley Richardson—better-known for her role as Mrs. Ernest Hemingway, who stood by the tortured genius as he strove to write the book which would eventually become the legendary The Sun Also Rises. Set in Paris’ dynamic (and not a little hedonistic) Jazz Age, the story chronicles the couple’s ups and downs (to put it mildly). Love Papa or loathe him, you’ll be sure to root for his beloved, beleaguered, better half. (And don’t miss the chance to attend the author lunch right here on the North Shore at Lovell’s, sponsored by the Lake Forest Book Store—get your ticket today!) — KA
The indie folk rock band The Decemberists is following in the footsteps of one of the first major alternative bands on their follow-up to Hazards of Love. The King Is Dead, released this past January, is heavily influenced by R.E.M. and actually gets help from the 30-year-old band’s guitarist Peter Buck on one track. The new album’s straightforward folksy sound was only enhanced by the space it was recorded in—a barn in Portland, Oregon. If you’re a true fan, get your hands on one of the 2,500 limited edition box sets, complete with a one-of-a-kind Polaroid capturing a scene during the recording of their sixth album. — EP
For those of us who slogged through Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome in long-ago lit classes, the thought of taking in a live-theater version may sound like bitter medicine indeed. But…if there’s one company who can bring not only new life, but also amazing artistic integrity, interest, and the wow factor to their productions, it’s got to be Lookingglass Theatre in the city. (Their Lookingglass Alice is indescribable, and the just-finishing Peter Pan is jaw-dropping.) Add to that the fact that this stage production was adapted by next-big-thing Chicago playwright (and Lookingglass ensemble member) Laura Eason, and we’re willing to put our money where our mouth is, and snap up tickets by the fistful. You should, too. Ethan Frome opens on February 23. For tickets or more information, visit lookingglasstheatre.org. — KA