Book Picks, September 2011
I Gave My Heart to Know This
By Ellen Baker
Random House, $26
By the author of staff favorite, Keeping the House, Ellen Baker returns with another intimate domestic story that resonates deeply with readers. In I Gave My Heart to Know This, the award-winning author returns with a sweeping multigenerational saga of the searing power of war, memory, friendship, and family. The story begins with three women who work as welders at a shipyard during World War II and the tragedy that binds and even divides them. Years later, a great-granddaughter, caring for the family home, pieces together the friends’ long-buried secrets, and learns the difficulties—and the possibilities—of forgiveness as well as that love can be found in unexpected places. Beautifully written and profoundly moving, I Gave My Heart to Know This is a compelling story of loyalties held and sacred bonds broken; crushing loss and enduring dreams; and what it takes—and what it means—to find the way home. Ellen Baker will be at the Lake Bluff Public Library on Friday, September 9 at 7 p.m., lakeblufflibrary.org.
The Language of Flowers
By Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Ballantine Books, $25
A mesmerizing, moving, and elegantly written debut novel about a troubled girl who uses the Victorian language of flowers to relate to the world around her. After freeing herself from the foster care system at 18, she finds work with a florist and discovers the language of flowers. The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it’s been more useful in communicating grief, mistrust, and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings. Through a chance encounter, she discovers something she has been missing her whole life… love. But the path to love is not an easy one for her—which is what makes this book surprising and delightful. Author Luncheon with Vanessa Diffenbaugh on Thursday, September 8 at Lovell’s of Lake Forest. Tickets are $45, which includes a donation to the Allendale Association. For reservations, call Lake Forest Book Store at 847-234-4420.
The Wild Rose
By Jennifer Donnelly
Author of two previous “Rose” books, The Tea Rose and The Winter Rose, and the widely acclaimed young adult novel Revolution, Jennifer Donnelly picks up the story in London in 1914. World War I looms on the horizon, women are fighting for the right to vote, and explorers are pushing the limits of endurance in the most forbidding corners of the earth. Into this volatile time comes a cast of characters, including Willa Alden, a passionate mountain climber who lost her leg while summiting Kilimanjaro with Seamus Finnegan, and who will never forgive him for saving her life; Seamus Finnegan, a polar explorer who tries to forget Willa as he marries a beautiful young schoolteacher back home in England; and Max von Brandt, a handsome German sophisticate who courts high society women, but has a secret agenda in wartime London.With myriad twists and turns, thrilling cliffhangers, and fabulous period detail and atmosphere, The Wild Rose provides a highly satisfying conclusion to an unforgettable trilogy. The book also works well as a standalone novel, offering the best in historical fiction.
We All Fall Down
By Michael Harvey
For fans of his previous fiction that takes place in Chicago, Michael Harvey, author of The Chicago Way and The Fifth Floor delivers another great read. Chicago cop turned private investigator Michael Kelly is racing to save his city from a deadly new foe: a biological weapon unleashed underground. When a lightbulb falls in a subway tunnel, it releases a pathogen that could kill millions. While the mayor postures, people begin to die, especially on the city’s grim West Side. Hospitals become morgues. L trains are converted into rolling hearses. Finally, the government acts, sealing off entire sections of the city—but are they keeping people out or in? Meanwhile, Michael Kelly’s hunt for the people who poisoned his city takes him into the tangled underworld of Chicago’s West Side gangs and the even more frightening world of black biology, an elite discipline emerging from the nation’s premier labs, where scientists play God and will stop at nothing to preserve their secrecy. An amazing page-turner from one of our favorite thriller writers.
By Simon Toyne
William Morrow, $25.99
A debut thriller by a former writer/producer/director for British television in which an ancient conspiracy comes explosively to light. Watched by the world, a man climbs a cliff face in the oldest inhabited place on earth, a mountain known as the Citadel, a Vatican-like city-state that towers above the city of Ruin in modern-day Turkey. But this is no ordinary ascent. It is a dangerous, symbolic act. And thanks to the media, it is an event witnessed by the entire world. Few people understand its consequence. But for foundation worker Kathryn Mann and a handful of others, it’s evidence that a revolution is at hand. For the Sancti, the cowled and secretive monks who live inside the Citadel, it could mean the end of everything they have built. They will stop at nothing to keep what is theirs, and they will break every law in every country and even kill to hold it fast. This is an action-packed thriller sure to please fans of Dan Brown’s novels.
Lake Forest Book Store is located at 680 N. Western Avenue in Lake Forest.
—Sue Boucher, Lake Forest Book Store