As the person who selects the adult fiction for the library I am able to keep up with all the great books being released. However, as a mother of four I have limited time to read everything. Here are two titles that I’ve read in the last month and highly recommend!
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman.
Our narrator is a middle-aged man who has returned to his childhood home in Sussex, England, for a funeral. As he wanders the town memories seep slowly into him — memories so strange and fantastical he wonders if they are even real. He follows these memories down the lane to the Hempstock farm where he remembers visiting a young girl, Lettie, her mother, and her grandmother. The old crone is there, unchanged, and confirms that his memories are indeed in tact. Readers are then swept back to when the seven-year-old narrator meets eleven-year-old Lettie, who claims to have an ocean in her back yard. It seems like just a pond to the boy.
As the story continues, bad things begin to happen, and evil creeps slowly into the boy’s home and his family is in danger. He finds respite at the Hempstock farm, which proves to be a very magical place with endless boundaries, wormholes, and, yes, an ocean.
With all the elements of the greatest fairy tales and Gaiman’s stunning prose, readers will be thrilled, amazed, and saddened. His first novel for adults since Anansi Boys in 2005, this short stunning tale could be shared with many ages of reader.
Too beautiful to miss, even for those who normally don’t read fantasy or have never read Gaiman’s books. What an exquisite place to start!
Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford.
The best perk of my job is that sometimes I get to read books before they are published. Available this week(9/10/13) is Jamie’s highly anticipated second novel following his successful debut, The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, KRL’s 2010 One Book One Community read.
OK … I’m laying it out for you right at the beginning. No holding back. Really, I can’t contain myself. I loved this book … even more than Hotel.
Young William Eng is growing up in a Seattle orphanage during the Depression. He covets his memories of his mother, whose limp body he watched being carried out of their small Chinatown apartment five years ago. William recalls her beautiful singing voice, her flawless ivory complexion, her exquisite facial features, and he longs for her return.
Once a year on their collective “birthday” the boys are taken to the spectacular Moore Theater where William catches a glimpse of an actress named Willow Frost, a beautiful Oriental star who will be performing live at the theater in a few weeks. Struck by the woman’s features William is convinced she is his mother.
In the weeks before the actress is set to perform William plans an escape, and his best friend Charlotte, who is blind, is determined to join him. Schemes are hatched, routes are plotted, and eventually success is achieved. However, the reception is not what William dreamed it would be.
Willow is determined to tell William her story and as it unravels William is struck by the struggles and hardships that span her haunted past. As Willow recalls her experiences, Ford deftly intertwines the history of filmmaking in the Seattle-Tacoma area adding a satisfying layer to an already fulfilling storyline.
Throughout, this is a story about love — feeling love, losing love, resurrecting love, and most of all sacrificing for love. It’s heartbreaking on many levels and chances are you will cry.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.