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Jessica
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Recommended Reading

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More Great Books from Claire Messud

When the World Was Steady
Life isn't all Emmy and Virginia Simpson might have hoped. When Emmy's marriage to an Australian man ends, she flees her home in Sydney for the tropical paradise of Bali to "find herself"-only to become embroiled with an eclectic crew of international misfits and smugglers. Her sister Virginia, meanwhile, has never wandered far outside of London. Prim and pious, Virginia is struggling to find meaning in her life and her aging mother thinks a visit to the Isle of Skye is just what she needs. On these two islands halfway around the world, the middle-aged sisters confront their lives and their destinies with unexpected consequences.

The Hunters: Two Short Novels
"A Simple Tale" is the moving account of Maria Poniatowski, an aging Ukrainian woman who was taken by the Germans for slave labor and eventually relocated to Canada as a displaced person. She struggles to provide her son Radek with every opportunity, but his eventual success increases the gulf between him and his mother. Maria's story is about the moments of connection and isolation that are common to us all. "The Hunters," the second novella, is narrated by an American academic spending a summer in London who grows obsessed by the neighbors downstairs. Ridley Wandor, a plump and insipid caretaker of the elderly, lives with her ever-unseen mother and a horde of pet rabbits she calls "the hunters." While the narrator researches a book about death, all of Ridley Wandor's patients are dying. Loneliness breeds an active imagination. Is having such an imagination always destructive? Or can it be strong enough to create a new reality?

The Last Life
The Last Life is the story of the teenage Sagesse LaBasse and her family, French Algerian emigrants. It is set in colonial Algeria, the south of France, and New England. The LaBasse family had always believed in the permanence of their world, in which stories created from the past had the weight of truth, in which cynicism was the defense against disaster. But when shots from the grand-father's rifle shatter an evening's quiet, their world begins to crumble. Observed with a fifteen-year-old's ruthless regard for truth, The Last Life is a beautifully told novel of secrets and ghosts, love and honor, the stories we tell ourselves, and the lies to which we cling.

Additional Recommended Reading

A Disorder Peculiar to the Country
Ken Kalfus
Joyce and Marshall each think the other is killed on September 11 - and must swallow their disappointment when the other arrives home. As their bitter divorce is further complicated by anthrax scares, suicide bombs, and foreign wars, they suffer, in ways unexpectedly personal and increasingly ludicrous, the many strange ravages of our time. In this astonishing black comedy, Kalfus suggests how our nation’s public calamities have encroached upon our most private illusions.

Brightness Falls
Jay McInerney
In the story of Russell and Corrine Calloway, set against the world of New York publishing, Jay McInerney provides a stunningly accomplished portrayal of people contending with early success, then getting lost in the middle of their lives.

The Good Life
Jay McInerney
Clinging to a semiprecarious existence in TriBeCa, Corrine and Russell Calloway have survived a separation and are thoroughly wonderstruck by young twins whose provenance is nothing less than miraculous. Meanwhile, several miles uptown and perched near the top of the Upper East Side's social register, Luke McGavock has postponed his accumulation of wealth in an attempt to recover the sense of purpose now lacking in a life that often gives him pause. But on a September morning, brightness falls horribly from the sky, and people worlds apart suddenly find themselves working side by side at the devastated site, feeling lost anywhere else, yet battered still by memory and regret, by fresh disappointment and unimaginable shock. What happens, or should happen, when life stops us in our tracks, or our own choices do? What if both secrets and secret needs, long guarded steadfastly, are finally revealed? What is the good life?

Angels on Toast
Dawn Powell
Angels on Toast is part of Dawn Powell's New York series, in which she creates a scathing satire of cosmopolitan life. Everyone in Angels on Toast is on the make: Lou Donovan, the entrepreneur who ricochets frantically between his well-connected current wife, his disreputable ex, and his dangerously greedy mistress; Trina Kameray, the exotic adventuress whose job title is as phony as her accent; and Truesdale, the man with the aristocratic manner, the $14 suit and the hyperactive eye for the main chance. A dizzyingly fast-paced and deliriously entertaining novel.

Message Edited by Jessica on 09-27-2007 04:03 PM

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