Posts Tagged Sadie Jones
STEELE PICKS: 12 BEST FICTION BOOKS of 2014
Posted by Amy Steele in Books on December 26, 2014
1. Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi [Riverhead]
clever, stunningly gorgeous novel about race.
2. The Daring Ladies of Lowell by Kate Alcott [Doubleday]
If you grew up in Massachusetts like me, you likely went on a Lowell Mill tour at some point during an elementary school or junior high field trip. I went twice because when my Aunt and cousins visited from Texas they wanted to go. While you rode on a boat along the Merrimack River listening to a guide speak about girls and young women leaving their families from all over New England to work at the Lowell mills it was easy enough to disassociate from it yet dreadful to think about the harsh conditions these women faced back in the 19th century.
Like the Salem witch trials the industrial revolution and bitter working conditions for Lowell mill girls happened essentially in my backyard and I feel particularly close to the plight of the mill girls depicted in this novel. It’s only the second five-star rating I’ve given to any book this year. Kate Alcott vibrantly brings the stories of the Lowell mill girls to the page as she creates strong, outspoken female characters enduring adverse situations that dare imagine and dispute better working and living situations.
3. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng [Penguin Press]
Anything I write will never be enough to convey the power and magnificence of this debut novel.
4. Fallout by Sadie Jones [Harper]
Fallout revolves around Luke Kanowski, a young man with a mother living in a mental institution and a a former Polish POW father who remained in England after the war. Both parents rely tremendously on Luke. Living in a rustic northern town, Luke escapes the familial strain and dead-end choices through a passion for theatre. He reads everything and remains updated on all theatrical goings on. One night he meets aspiring producer Paul Driscoll and theater student Leigh Radley who will influence his future in myriad ways
5. Visible City by Tova Mirvis [Houghton Mifflin Harcourt]
Author Tova Mirvis writes with a melancholy gorgeousness about connectivity and disparity. When we imagine others’ lives we never expect what we eventually discover to be true. Perfection masks insecurities. Contentment hides dissatisfaction. What is happiness? Our ideal is never another’s ideal. How something looks from afar rarely looks as virtuous once you start to delve into the grit and imperfections.
6. Pioneer Girl by Bich Minh Nguyen [Viking]
Author Bich Minh Nguyen writes about a Vietnamese-American family and its connection to the beloved American Ingalls-Wilder family as seen through the eyes of a savvy, inquisitive young woman. Almost everyone remembers reading the Little House on the Prairie books about Laura Ingalls and watching the television show.
7. Love Me Back by Merritt Tierce [Doubleday]
One of the best novels in a while about finding your way and developing a sense-of-self in your twenties.
8. The Garden of Letters by Alyson Richman [Berkley Trade]
When I’m thinking about a novel for some time after reading it, I know it’s remarkable. Think you’ve heard all the stories about WWII. Think again. The Garden of Letters by Alyson Richman focuses on the Italian Resistance. Elodie, a young student and cello player, becomes involved in the Italian Resistance when artists and teachers at her school become targets for Mussolini’s Fascist regime.
9. Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill [Vintage]
10. All Days are Night by Peter Stamm [Other Press]
A popular television news reporter wakes up severely disfigured by a car accident. The novel beautifully traverses past and present. Stamm writes in an effectively laconic and melancholy style. He’s exploring appearances from various angles. It’s a gripping read about art and connection.
11. Life Drawing by Robin Black [Random House]
stunning writing. brilliantly explores marriage in all its nuances.
12. The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant [Scribner]
This is the story of the education of Addie Baum. Jewish daughter to immigrant parents Addie grew up during the mid-1900s in a one-room tenement house in Boston. In telling Addie’s story, author Anita Diamant covers a lot of history: prohibition; 1920s flappers and artists; WWI; The Great Depression; illegal abortions, birth control and Margaret Sanger; the Spanish Flu; women’s education; women’s careers; journalism; civil rights. Like The Red Tent, Diamant depicts history through a feminist eye. Intelligent, resourceful and intellectually-curious Addie is a wonderful feminist character. I probably truly fell in love with this novel when Diamant mentioned Simmons College, my women’s college alma mater in Boston. At one point, Addie discusses her goal to attend college but that she fears many won’t accept her because she’s Jewish. [“There’s Simmons College,” I said. “They even accept the Irish if you can imagine.”]
IN THE REALM: BEST BOOKS of 2014 [SO FAR]
Posted by Amy Steele in Books on July 21, 2014
The Daring Ladies of Lowell by Kate Alcott
–Lowell mill girls. a murder. riveting historical fiction.
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
–heartbreaking exploration on race and identity in the 1970s.
My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff
–Rakoff makes her memoir about a year working at a literary agency in New York heartwarming, relatable and intriguing through exquisite writing.
Fallout by Sadie Jones
–fell in love with this book about a group of 20-somethings entangled with the theatre and each other’s lives in 1970s London.
Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi
–stunning re-telling of a fairytale and examination of race.
Visible City by Tova Mirvis
–cool writing, intriguing premise. reflection on connectivity, relationships and urban dwelling.
Pioneer Girl by Bich Minh Nguyen
–another wonderful novel about race. this time a young woman’s connection to Laura Ingalls Wilder via Vietnam.
Cured by Nathalia Holt
–Berlin patients. painstakingly researched and explained.
Fallen Beauty by Erika Robuck
–Robuck imagines the connection between poet Edna St. Vincent Millay and a seamstress in her small town. Robuck conducted impeccable research and allowed Millay’s vibrant spirit, sensuality and creative force to come forth on the page.
book review: Fallout
Posted by Amy Steele in Books on June 6, 2014
Fallout by Sadie Jones. Publisher: Harper (April 2014). Historical fiction. Hardcover. 416 pages. ISBN: 9780062292810.
This book. I fell in love with its characters and its premise immediately. A group of 20-somethings entangled in love affairs and the London theatre during the 1970s.
Fallout revolves around Luke Kanowski, a young man with a mother living in a mental institution and a a former Polish POW father who remained in England after the war. Both parents rely tremendously on Luke. Living in a rustic northern town, Luke escapes the familial strain and dead-end choices through a passion for theatre. He reads everything and remains updated on all theatrical goings on. One night he meets aspiring producer Paul Driscoll and theater student Leigh Radley who will influence his future in myriad ways.
Years later Luke decides to move to London to escape provincialism and pursue his dreams. Luke becomes housemates with Leigh and Paul. Leigh sustains an unrequited attraction for Luke but ends up settling with Paul. Working as a stage manager, Leigh manages to earn the most consistent income. Eventually the trio forms a theatre company where Luke falls for the dazzling married Nina Jacobs. She’s married to influential and manipulative producer Tony Moore. Luke and Nina start an affair but she’s reluctant to leave Tony despite his abusive nature.
When their theatre company fails, Luke moves out to his own place and one of his plays garners attention and a bidding war. He’s so attached to Nina that he wants her to star in it although she doesn’t possess the talent required for the role. Paul starts a new production company with a woman from New York. Drama ensues for everyone. Whether you know a ton about the theater or are an occasional theater-goer Fallout proves a fascinating read. Author Sadie Jones describes the challenges, the competiveness, the fleeting nature, insecurities and exhilarations for those involved.
Jones uses colorful imageries to craft this spectacular novel that captures the mindset and challenges these young men and women face. You’re taken into the wings, the dressing rooms, behind the sets and into the production stages—writing, directing and producing a play. Jones creates realistic and complex relationships these four people manage while navigating the competitive theatrical world. It’s a charming, clever novel in which you’ll become immensely engulfed.
–review by Amy Steele
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from Harper Collins.
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