A journey by foot: crisp, lean, yet quietly mournful.

THREE O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING

A father and son explore Marseilles without sleep.

This is a novel of a specific time and place that makes you sorry and even a little melancholy to leave that time and place behind. The time is 1983. The place is the grimy but lovely French port city of Marseille. Here we find a father and his 18-year-old son, Antonio, passing, by doctor’s orders, two sleepless nights as they wait to see if Antonio’s epilepsy has subsided. Like many fathers and sons, they have left much unsaid over the years: regrets, recriminations, affections, secrets. In language plain and graceful, presented in a svelte translation from the Italian by Curtis, Carofiglio quietly lays their souls bare in allowing them to see each other as human beings for the first time. They walk through sketchy neighborhoods, they indulge in wine and coffee, they see some jazz, they swim in the sea, and they visit a bohemian party. Their primary task is simple: Don’t fall asleep. Instead they walk and they talk—about love, about mathematics (Dad’s speciality), about food, about philosophy, about life. Slowly, without fanfare, they reveal themselves. Here’s Antonio, near the end of their odyssey: “Two nights without sleep weaken you, slow down your reflexes, blur your vision, but they give you a very subtle, precise sense of what really matters.” That subtle precision informs every page, as does a deceptive simplicity laden with all that happens when you’re not paying attention. The novel takes place in a sort of eternal present, a time when all senses are awake. The title comes from a quote by F. Scott Fitzgerald: “In a real dark night of the soul it is always three o’clock in the morning.” Here those dark nights arrive with shimmering, unforced beauty, filling the pages with jagged moonlight like the finest neorealist film.

A journey by foot: crisp, lean, yet quietly mournful.

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 192

Publisher: HarperVia/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY

An unhappy woman who tries to commit suicide finds herself in a mysterious library that allows her to explore new lives.

How far would you go to address every regret you ever had? That’s the question at the heart of Haig’s latest novel, which imagines the plane between life and death as a vast library filled with books detailing every existence a person could have. Thrust into this mysterious way station is Nora Seed, a depressed and desperate woman estranged from her family and friends. Nora has just lost her job, and her cat is dead. Believing she has no reason to go on, she writes a farewell note and takes an overdose of antidepressants. But instead of waking up in heaven, hell, or eternal nothingness, she finds herself in a library filled with books that offer her a chance to experience an infinite number of new lives. Guided by Mrs. Elm, her former school librarian, she can pull a book from the shelf and enter a new existence—as a country pub owner with her ex-boyfriend, as a researcher on an Arctic island, as a rock star singing in stadiums full of screaming fans. But how will she know which life will make her happy? This book isn't heavy on hows; you won’t need an advanced degree in quantum physics or string theory to follow its simple yet fantastical logic. Predicting the path Nora will ultimately choose isn’t difficult, either. Haig treats the subject of suicide with a light touch, and the book’s playful tone will be welcome to readers who like their fantasies sweet if a little too forgettable.

A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-52-555947-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

THE MYSTERY OF MRS. CHRISTIE

In December 1926, mystery writer Agatha Christie really did disappear for 11 days. Was it a hoax? Or did her husband resort to foul play?

When Agatha meets Archie on a dance floor in 1912, the obscure yet handsome pilot quickly sweeps her off her feet with his daring. Archie seems smitten with her. Defying her family’s expectations, Agatha consents to marry Archie rather than her intended, the reliable yet boring Reggie Lucy. Although the war keeps them apart, straining their early marriage, Agatha finds meaningful work as a nurse and dispensary assistant, jobs that teach her a lot about poisons, knowledge that helps shape her early short stories and novels. While Agatha’s career flourishes after the war, Archie suffers setback after setback. Determined to keep her man happy, Agatha finds herself cooking elaborate meals, squelching her natural affections for their daughter (after all, Archie must always feel like the most important person in her life), and downplaying her own troubles, including her grief over her mother's death. Nonetheless, Archie grows increasingly morose. In fact, he is away from home the day Agatha disappears. By the time Detective Chief Constable Kenward arrives, Agatha has already been missing for a day. After discovering—and burning—a mysterious letter from Agatha, Archie is less than eager to help the police. His reluctance and arrogance work against him, and soon the police, the newspapers, the Christies’ staff, and even his daughter’s classmates suspect him of harming his wife. Benedict concocts a worthy mystery of her own, as chapters alternate between Archie’s negotiation of the investigation and Agatha’s recounting of their relationship. She keeps the reader guessing: Which narrator is reliable? Who is the real villain?

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more