Julia and Valentina Poole are twenty-year-old sisters with an intense attachment to each other. Read more...
Julia and Valentina Poole are twenty-year-old sisters with an intense attachment to each other. One morning the mailman delivers a thick envelope to their house in the suburbs of Chicago. Their English aunt Elspeth Noblin has died of cancer and left them her London apartment. There are two conditions for this inheritance: that they live in the flat for a year before they sell it and that their parents not enter it. Julia and Valentina are twins. So were the girls' aunt Elspeth and their mother, Edie.
The girls move to Elspeth's flat, which borders the vast Highgate Cemetery, where Christina Rossetti, George Eliot, Stella Gibbons, and other luminaries are buried. Julia and Valentina become involved with their living neighbors: Martin, a composer of crossword puzzles who suffers from crippling OCD, and Robert, Elspeth's elusive lover, a scholar of the cemetery. They also discover that much is still alive in Highgate, including--perhaps--their aunt.
July paperback releases for reading groups
Coming to a theater near you in August, the film version of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love (will renew interest in this 2006 bestseller, now available in a new movie tie-in edition. The adventure-filled memoir chronicles Gilbert’s 12-month solo journey—a trip she takes in the wake of a painful divorce, hoping to regain her inner equilibrium. Over the course of her travels, she makes some surprising discoveries about herself and what she wants from life. Italy with its rich cuisine re- awakens her sense of pleasure, while India provides much-needed spiritual solace. Gilbert consults shamans, yogis and other wise figures in hopes of connecting with the divine. In an unexpected turn of events that’s sure to make the reader cheer, she finally finds her Prince Charming. A companionable narrator with a shrewd eye for de- tail, Gilbert infuses the travelogue form with new spirit.
ON THE RUN
Spanning five decades, John Irving’s majestic novel, Last Night in Twisted River, provides ample evidence of the author’s enduring narrative gifts. The year is 1954, and widower Dominic Baciagalupo is working as a cook at a New Hampshire logging settle- ment called Twisted River, where he lives with his son Danny. When a tragedy at the camp turns father and son into outlaws, they leave their old lives behind and begin an itinerant existence, wandering through New England and up into Canada. Along the way, Danny passes through various schools, and Dominic makes ends meet as a chef. All the while, they’re pursued by an unstoppable constable from Twisted River who’s convinced they’re responsible for a death at the camp. Detailed and expansive, Irving’s 12th novel covers plenty of ground, chronicling Danny’s eventual career as a writer and the birth of his son, Joe. The book’s resolution is trademark Irving—unexpected, moving and provocative. Broad in conception, compellingly plotted, this is an unforgettable work from a master storyteller.
In Her Fearful Symmetry, a follow-up to the bestseller The Time- Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger offers a contemporary ghost story that’s sure to satisfy her many fans. Elspeth Noblin has died from can- cer, leaving her London flat to the twin daughters of her twin sister. Raised in the Chicago suburbs, the two girls, Julia and Valentina, are 20 years old and very close. They never knew their aunt, but they take over her flat—which is located near London’s Highgate Cemetery—with enthusiasm. The girls soon befriend Elspeth’s old neighbors, including Robert, her former boyfriend, and Martin, who suffers from obsessive- compulsive disorder. Hovering over the scene is the ghost of Elspeth herself, who can’t seem to quit her old life. When Julia becomes jealous of her sister’s new relationship with Robert, Elspeth’s ghost intervenes. Niffenegger writes with persuasiveness and originality about matters of the heart and matters of the afterlife. Her poetic prose adds an extra, delightful layer to this imaginative tale.