There's no fluff here: indulge instead in a novel by an author who has mastered their craft. These exceptionally well-written novels carry serious literary weight, because these authors know what they're doing. But have no fear: these books are seriously good, but not pretentious, depressing, or boring.
The setting: Michigan, 2003. A girl falls into a well, but according to Hill, the story began long before, if we believe “all back story is also story, that the underside of the iceberg explains what we see above.” During the course of the 17-hours-and-27-minutes rescue effort, we embark on a wild ride to reveal the underside of the iceberg: the history of young Ursula and her family. We visit China in the 3rd century B.C., 8th century Finland, 17th century Canada and Sweden, and 19th century California, before landing back in Michigan for the rescue effort. A fascinating look at the invisible threads that bind us together, whether we know it or not. At first this reads like a disjointed collection of short stories, but it comes together. (Just don’t give up in China.) Warning: some difficult scenes. More info →
This was one of the most popular books on the blog last summer. In the idyllic small town of Three Pines, Quebec, where people don’t even lock their doors, a beloved local woman is found in the woods with an arrow shot through her heart. The locals believe it must be a hunting accident, but the police inspector senses something is off. The story is constructed as a classic whodunit but it feels like anything but, with its deliberate pacing, dry wit, and lyrical writing. A stunningly good first novel. Still Life is the first in a series (of 11 books to date) that keeps getting better. For fans of Jacqueline Winspear. Great on audio. More info →
This Gatsby-esque novel plunges you into the glittering, glamorous streets of Manhattan, circa 1938. Young secretary Katey Kontent and her roommate Evelyn meet handsome Tinker Gray by chance. The girls vie for his affection—until one impulsive decision changes everything. A beautifully drawn story of wealth and class, luck and fate, love and illusion. Warning: this one is hard to put down. A smashing debut. If you love this, try the follow-up novella Eve in Hollywood. More info →
In this evocative follow-up to the masterful The Poisonwood Bible, Kingsolver returns to her native southern Appalachia. She follows three stories of human love as they unfold over the course of one life-changing summer: a wildlife biologist who returns to her home county to work, a widowed farmer’s wife at odds with her husband’s family, and a pair of feuding neighbors. Her emphasis on the natural world will feel familiar to lovers of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Verdant, lush, and vivid: this novel oozes sensuality. More info →