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"Breathtaking . . . a daring story of adventure, friendship, and love in the shadow of WWII."--Harper's Bazaar
"A gripping, compelling story . . . Gruen's characters are vividly drawn and her scenes are perfectly paced."--The Boston Globe "A page-turner of a novel that rollicks along with crisp historical detail."--Fort Worth Star-Telegram "Powerfully evocative."--USA Today
"Gruen is a master at the period piece--and this] novel is just another stunning example of that craft."--Glamour
Book Clubs: Calling the tune
Set in London during the late 1700s, Katharine Grant’s debut novel, The Marriage Recital, is a tale of money, matrimony and music. In this provocative period piece, four fathers—newly rich men hoping to acquire social cachet—scheme to marry their daughters off to aristocratic husbands. They enlist a music master to train the girls at the pianoforte in preparation for a recital, at which potential husbands will be present. The fathers believe the combination of musical accomplishment, feminine charm and family fortune will draw suitors to their daughters. It’s a plan that seems foolproof, but when they purchase a pianoforte for the girls’ training from ill-tempered instrument maker Vittorio Cantabile, their scheme—and their daughters’ reputations—could be ruined. A gifted writer with a flair for detail and dialogue, Grant brings London’s ballrooms and back alleys to vivid life in this titillating story of seduction and corruption (published in hardcover under the title Sedition). It’s a glittering work of historical fiction that readers will find hard to resist.
UNDERNEATH THE HOOD
Wayne Harrison’s accomplished debut novel, The Spark and the Drive, is a compelling coming-of-age story set in Connecticut in the 1980s. The narrator, 17-year-old Justin Bailey, forgoes college to work at Out of the Hole, a local auto shop. He finds comfort in the logic and consistency of car repair, which stand in stark contrast to his rocky home life. His mother is an alcoholic, and his father left the family after coming out of the closet. The shop’s owner, Nick Campbell, is a crack mechanic, incredible driver and attentive husband to Mary Ann, his gorgeous wife. In them, Justin finds a surrogate family. When the couple lose their baby, life veers off course. Nick’s work suffers, and Mary Ann retreats into herself. Justin scrambles to help his boss, even as he fights a growing attraction for Mary Ann. An intense, passionate tale of love and loss, this is a book with the makings of an American classic. Harrison takes readers on an unforgettable ride.
TOP PICK FOR BOOK CLUBS
Sara Gruen (Water for Elephants) delivers another hypnotic work of historical fiction with At the Water’s Edge. Set during World War II, the novel follows Madeline and Ellis Hyde, who flee the States and head to Scotland in the wake of a scandal. Ellis’ father, Colonel Hyde, refuses to give him a penny of the family’s money. Scheming with his friend Hank, Ellis decides to search for the Loch Ness monster, a quest wherein Colonel Hyde failed. In the Scottish Highlands, Hank, Ellis and Madeline encounter local villagers who view them as intruders. Madeline slowly comes to love her new home, befriending two local women. But as Ellis and Hank continue their search, new tensions surface, and she struggles to keep her bearings. A moving and suspenseful page-turner, this atmospheric novel is rich with authentic detail.