May 2017 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Summer Bibliofiction Round-Up

In need of some bookish beach reads for the upcoming long weekend? Get thee to a bookstore or library and fetch one of these five recommended novels:

cover_Mad Richard copy.jpgMad Richard by Lesley Krueger (ECW Press, $15.95) is based on the tragic true story of Victorian-era artist Richard Dadd. As his promising career takes off, Dadd rubs shoulders with J.M.W. Turner and Charles Dickens. Charlotte Brontë also enters the picture, after Dadd's mental health takes a turn and he ends up in the Royal Bethlem Hospital (i.e., Bedlam). Smart and satisfying.

The Book of Summer by Michelle Gable (Thomas Dunne/St. Martin's, $25.99) is the third novel by the author of A Paris Apartment, featured in my 2014 summer reading round-up. Set in Nantucket, the novel's dual narrative pings between the eve of World War II and the present, following the characters who fill the faded pages of a summer home's guest book. A great escape!

Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller (Tin House, $25.95) is my current read, picked up for its premise: A wife hides letters to her husband within the pages of the thousands of books he has collected, and then disappears. Set on the English seaside, the novel is thoughtful, with a sharp edge. If that sounds like your cup of tea: try an excerpt

9781250100528 copy.jpgThe Adventures of John Carson in Several Quarters of the World by Brian Doyle (Thomas Dunne/St. Martin's, $25.99) is Robert Louis Stevenson's lost first novel, imagined by Doyle. As "an affectionate homage," (The New York Times) Stevenson fans are likely to either love or hate it. Boyle, however, does succeed in transporting the reader to 19th-century San Francisco.  

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (Random House, $28) is historical fiction--not "bookish" in the same sense of the others on this list, but it is so innovative in narrative style and so brilliantly imagined, the reader feels herself in the presence of Literature. It is haunting and heartfelt, and lives up to all of the hype (...MacArthur Genius, bestseller, critical acclaim).

Images courtesy of ECW Press and Thomas Dunne/St. Martin's Press.

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