Georgia Edwards | Contributor
The Vacationers, by Emma Straub
Emma Straub’s newest novel has a New York couple, their daughter and friends jetting off to the Spanish island of Mallorca for a much-anticipated holiday. To say that these vacationers are an interesting array of characters is an understatement. The couples are humorously mismatched, and their transgressions range from the humorous to the absurd. A wonderful sense of comedy arises from different personalities stuck together in one place, dealing with the universal dilemma of group vacations: how to have the best time in the world without getting on each other’s last nerve.
The Truth According to Us, by Annie Barrows
From the author of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society comes another gem taking place during the Great Depression. Twenty-four-year-old Layla Beck, the spoiled daughter of a senator, refuses to marry a wealthy man of her parents’ choosing. She is reluctantly sent off to Macedonia, West Virginia, to become part of the Federal Writer’s Project—her first job. Layla has been commissioned to write a boring version of the town’s history for its upcoming sesquicentennial. She boards with the Romeyns, one of the town’s founding families—a warm, humorous and eclectic blend—who have some skeletons in their closet. With help from twelve-year-old, self-appointed sleuth Willa, Layla unravels the true history of the Romeyns and publishes an honest and unsanitized version of Macedonia’s past.
A Murder of Magpies, by Judith Flanders
Flanders’ fictional debut is an entertaining mystery set in the eccentric world of British book publishing. Sam Claire, an editor at a well-known publishing house, has grave reservations when a journalist delivers a controversial manuscript about the death of a fashion icon. Soon, a courier is killed and homes are burglarized in attempts to obtain the manuscript. Sam and her solicitor mother, Helena, join the investigation into the murder and robberies. A Murder of Magpies is a mystery in which fingers can be pointed in many directions and a surprise turn takes place at the end.
H Is for Hawk, by Helen McDonald
Helen McDonald wrote this powerful memoir after plummeting into a profound state of grief following the sudden death of her father. An experienced falconer, she decides to cope with her deep sorrow by training a goshawk, something rarely done. “They unnerved me,” she writes. “They were things of death and difficulty: spooky, pale-eyed psychopaths…” The book chronicles the author’s emotional and physical challenges in training “Mabel.” Human and hawk develop a trusting intimacy, which eventually brings vitality and new life. A good part of the book discusses how not to train a goshawk. McDonald uses author T.H. White’s (The Goshawk, The Once and Future King) negative experience in training a goshawk as a mirror held up in stark contrast to her methods. H Is for Hawk is much more than a memoir of grief and salvation, and each reader will take away something different from this inspirational story.