Johnny MacKinnon might be on the verge of losing it all. The ice factory he married into, which he’s run for decades, is facing devastating OSHA fines following a mysterious accident and may have to close. The only hope for Johnny’s livelihood is that someone in the community saw something, but no one seems to be coming forward. He hasn’t spoken to his son Corran back in Scotland since Corran’s heroin addiction finally drove Johnny to the breaking point. And now, after a collapse on the factory floor, it appears Johnny may have a brain tumor. Johnny’s been ordered to take it easy, but in some ways, he thinks, what’s left to lose? This may be his last chance to bridge the gap with Corran—and to have any sort of relationship with the baby granddaughter he’s never met.
Witty and heartbreaking by turns, The Ice House is a vibrant portrait of multifaceted, exquisitely human characters that readers will not soon forget. It firmly establishes Laura Lee Smith as a gifted voice in American fiction.
When Joyce Stevenson is thirteen, her family moves to the south of England to live with their aunt Vera. Joyce's mother, Lil, is a widow; Vera has a husband who keeps his suits in the wardrobe but spends evenings at another house nearby. While the two sisters couldn't be more different-Vera, a teacher, has unquestioning belief in the powers of education and reason; Lil puts her faith in séances-they work together to form a tight-knit family.
Joyce sees that there is something missing in their lives: men. She doesn't want to end up like her aunt Vera, rejected by her husband. Joyce discovers art at school: she falls in love with the Impressionists and, eventually, with one of her teachers. In spite of the temptations of the sixties, she is determined to make her marriage and motherhood a success. When Joyce's daughter, Zoe, grows up and has a baby of her own, however, she proves to be impatient with domestic life and chooses a dramatically different path.
Spanning five decades of extraordinary changes in women's lives, Everything Will Be All Right explores the complicated relationships of a family. The young ones of each generation are sure that they can correct the mistakes of their parents; the truth, of course, is more opaque. Intricate and insightful, Everything Will Be All Right firmly establishes Tessa Hadley among the great contemporary observers of the human mind and heart.
Thirty-five years later, Sara's death leaves Patrick alone in their crumbling house in Cornwall, with his whisky, his writer's block and his undimmed rage against the world. But bereavement is no respecter of life's estrangements, and Sara's children, Louise and Nigel, are now adults, with memories, questions and agendas of their own. What was their mother really like? Why did she leave them? What has she left them? And how can Patrick carry on without the love of his life?
Getting Colder is a painfully funny and perceptive novel about family, love, and how sometimes the harder you look, the less you find.
Set in London where the Sri Lankan narrator lives, The Sandglass tells the story of two feuding families whose lives are interlinked by the changing fortunes of postcolonial Sri Lanka. In a beautifully constructed work that moves back and forth between two physical and temporal poles, Gunesekera brings to life Prins Ducal and his search for answers about his family’s past in Sri Lanka, including his father’s rise to wealth, rivalry with the Vatunas family, and a suspect death—a mystery that further unfolds upon Prins’s arrival in London for his mother’s funeral.
Weaving together themes of memory, exile, and postcolonial upheaval, Gunesekera has written a book Marie Claire calls “utterly engaging. . . . Romantic, mysterious, and laced with a sense of yearning. . . . A heady mix of 1990s London and postwar Sri Lanka.”
Adrienne Miller, in her dazzlingly ambitious and hilarious first novel, introduces us to the unforgettable Haven family of Akron, Ohio. This is not your typical Midwestern family, and Lowell Haven is a most unusual patriarch. He's a seducer, a wannabe aristocrat, a liar. Jenny, his former wife, was a brilliant artist, but is today a broken woman with a secret.
In the thirty years since Lowell and Jenny met, Lowell has become a world-famous artist, known for portraits of his favorite subject-himself. But five years ago, Lowell mysteriously stopped painting and the world now demands to know: Why has Lowell Haven abandoned his art? The answer is Merit, Lowell and Jenny's daughter, who is running as fast as she can from her family. Fergus, Lowell's partner, Jenny's ex-best friend, and drama queen extraordinaire, dreams of luring Merit home: the sixty-five-room faux-Tudor mansion where he lives with Lowell. A lavish party for the Midwestern glitterati is the perfect excuse. But his delusions of grandeur loom over the gathering, and his decision to include a certain guest invites disaster.
Stretching from mid-seventies London to the present-day Midwest, The Coast of Akron is a sharply funny and deeply heartbreaking story about the all-too-human urge to own what is unownable.
It's the spring of 1994 in Cooperstown, New York, and Joanie Cole, the beloved matriarch of the Obermeyer family, has unexpectedly died in her sleep. Now, for the first time, three generations are living together under one roof and are quickly encroaching on one another's fragile orbits. Eighty-six-year-old Bob Cole is adrift in his daughter's house without his wife. Anne Obermeyer is increasingly suspicious of her husband, Hugh's, late nights and missed dinners, and Hugh, principal of the town's preschool, is terrified that a scandal at school will erupt and devastate his life. Fifteen-year-old tennis-team hopeful Julia is caught in a love triangle with Sam and Carl, her would-be teammates and two best friends, while her brother, Teddy, the star pitcher of Cooperstown High, will soon catch sight of something that will change his family forever.
At the heart of the Obermeyers' present-day tremors is the scandal of The Sex Cure, a thinly veiled roman à clef from the 1960s, which shook the small village of Cooperstown to the core. When Anne discovers a battered copy underneath her parents' old mattress, the Obermeyers cannot escape the family secrets that come rushing to the surface. With its heartbreaking insight into the messy imperfections of family, love, and growing up, Callie Wright's Love All is an irresistible comic story of coming-of-age—at any age.
On a weather-beaten island off the coast of Scotland, Effie and her mother, Nora, take refuge in the large, mouldering house of their ancestors and tell each other stories. Nora, at first, recounts nothing that Effie really wants to hear--like who her real father was. Effie tells various versions of her life at college, where in fact she lives in a lethargic relationship with Bob, a student who never goes to lectures, seldom gets out of bed, and to whom Klingons are as real as Spaniards and Germans.
But as mother and daughter spin their tales, strange things are happening around them. Is Effie being followed? Is someone killing the old people? And where is the mysterious yellow dog?
In a brilliant comic narrative which explores the nonsensical power of language and meaning, Kate Atkinson has created another magical masterpiece.
One cool March morning in London, MP Leo Barr is told that his brother, Charlie, is dead. He has hanged himself from a chestnut tree in the grounds of a mental hospital. His family reacts in different ways. Charlie's mother, Imogen, sees no point in pretending that life is still worth living - he was always her favourite. Leo and his lawyer brother Roland fight, as they always have over Charlie. The fourth brother Ron, a Catholic priest, must break the news to Charlie's wife, presently in HMP Holloway.
In the days following Charlie's death the conflict builds among members of this diverse and complex family. Who really loves whom? What are the motives behind Roland's fixed antagonism towards Charlie? Is Leo right to put his career on the line? Above and between them all is the larger-than-life figure of Charlie. He follows no rules, not even about dying, and it becomes clear that his tragedy is only part of a web of mystery and deceit that connects them all.
As well as being a powerful human drama, LIES & LOYALTIES deals with gritty contemporary issues in today's Britain. It moves from parliament to prison, from church to mental hospital and from those who conduct the law to the outcasts of society. But at the heart of the novel is one family - divided by rivalry and frustrated love and forced, at last, to learn the truth about themselves.
Once a Civil Rights activist, Miriam Vener feels trapped in the comfortable upper-middle-class life she leads with her family in Houston in the 1980s. That life suddenly shatters with the appearance, after almost eighteen years, of Veronica (Ronnee), Miriam's biracial daughter born of her passionate affair a generation ago with Eljay, a brilliant black professor at a Mississippi college, who has raised the child. When Miriam introduces her daughter to the utterly white New England town where she summers, and to the Houston society that represents her own compromise of her '60s ideals, the results are complicated. What claim does Miriam have on Ronnee after all this time, and what does Ronnee, no longer a child, want of her mother now? As Miriam desperately and awkwardly invites affection from this stranger who shares her blood, Ronnee--hot-tempered, sensitive, manipulative, and deeply hurt--wrestles with her fury at her mother's mysterious disappearance from her life and searches for reparations. With which family--and which race--does Ronnee identify, and how does that affect her relationships with her newly discovered half sister, her white boyfriend, and the father she is rebelling against? A moving story about estrangement and intimacy, race and privilege, identity and belonging, Half a Heart is a searingly honest novel of public and private ideals betrayed and hopes reignited, in which one of our foremost novelists probes the way history and unyielding love shape our lives.
At the heart of the journey, and the novel itself, is Truman Stroud, the quick-witted, cantankerous owner of the crumbling Sabbath Creek Motor Court, where Lewis and his mother are stranded by car trouble. His budding friendship with the ninety-three-year-old black man is his only reprieve from the mysteries that haunt him. Despite his prickly personality and the considerable burden of his own personal tragedies, Stroud becomes the boy’s best hope for a father figure as he teaches Lewis the secrets of baseball and the secrets of life.
Sabbath Creek is more than a coming-of-age novel. And while Mitcham provides a nuanced look at the relationship between a white adolescent boy and a black old-timer, his second novel transcends the tired theme of race relations in the South. This compassionate, smart, powerful work of fiction touches the pulse of the human spirit. It travels from the ruined landscape of south Georgia and takes us all the way through the ruined landscape of a broken heart.
Declan and Sinead Boyle are pillars of society - born into prosperous families, educated at Dublin's finest schools, dwellers in a fine house in a leafy suburb. So why are they in so much trouble?
Declan wants to serve his country - but he also wants to serve his own ambition. Sinead wonders if she is allowed, in the Ireland of the sixties and seventies, to have ambitions at all. Their son, Owen, seems intent on squandering the advantages of a prosperous upbringing and an expensive education. Their daughter Issie, gifted and attractive, has all the options in the world - and keeps choosing the wrong one.
Mount Merrion, the dazzling debut novel by Justin Quinn, tells the story of the Boyles from Declan and Sinead's first meeting, in the late fifties, through decades of success, failure and tragedy. Set against the brilliantly realized backdrop of a changing Ireland, it is a page-turning drama, a biting satire and a lovingly detailed portrait of a marriage and a family.
'Imaginative and compassionate ... Mount Merrion is about how a decent man, anxious to play by the rules - even if they're someone else's rules - can make the sort of choices that may end up ruining him' Mail on Sunday (four stars)
'Taking the form of a family saga, [Quinn's] assured debut plays out over half a century - a state-of-the-nation novel as told through the fast-changing fortunes of middle-class married life ... his novel is filled with perfectly judged moments' Independent
'Mesmerising ... The story is a page-turner, and Quinn's prose consistently light and controlled' Irish Independent
'A book that people will find hard to put down ... a gripping story' Sunday Business Post
'A great story ... both beautifully written and a well-paced page-turner' Irish Times
'Justin Quinn's debut novel is poignant - but it is also fiercely and poetically written, a beautifully observed trajectory of the rise and fall of a society and its assumptions, through the medium of a family story ... This is one of the best books of the year' Evening Herald
'Exquisite' Irish Examiner
'Absorbing ... A closely and sympathetically observed portrait of family life and Ireland's changing face, Quinn's wide-ranging tale culminates in a conclusion of considerable pathos' Daily Mail
'An impressively accomplished trip through forty-odd years of Ireland's recent history ... quite brilliant' RTÉ Guide
'A bona fide thumping good read' Image
'An ambitious take on both personal dramas and the altering political landscape of Europe' Sunday Telegraph
'An epic yet intimate account of one family caught in the maelstrom of recent history' Metro Herald
'Accomplished ... as a condition-of-Ireland novel it makes for salutary reading' TLS
'Mount Merrion is epic and intimate, deliciously observed and wholly enjoyable. Justin Quinn is a shining talent.' Claire Kilroy
The son of an unknown father and an ostracized mother, and the next of kin in a long line of bastard relatives, nine-year-old Loren Garland lives a life of subtle mystery beneath the shadow of an East Tennessee mountain. It is on his family's broken-down estate that Loren's imagination grows, and with it, the extraordinary voice of Bitter Milk, a young boy named Luther who may be Loren's imaginary friend, his conscience, or his evil twin. And yet outside the puzzle of Loren's brain, there are the darker goings-on of his family—his mother who wishes she were a man, his new uncle who plans to develop the Garland land into real estate, and his withered grandfather who holds the clan together through truculence and fear. When Loren's mother disappears, he must set out on a quest of his own devising, tossing aside the trappings of youth in order to discover the truth of the world.
Zeke is twenty-nine, a man who looks like a Raphael angel and who earns his living as a painter and carpenter in London. He reads the world a little differently from most people and has trouble with such ordinary activities as lying, deciphering expressions, recognizing faces. Verona is thirty-seven, confident, hot-tempered, a modestly successful radio show host, unmarried, and seven months pregnant. When the two meet in a house that Zeke is renovating, they fall in love, only to be separated less than twenty-four hours later when Verona leaves abruptly, without explanation, for Boston.
Both Zeke and Verona, it turns out, have complications in their lives, though not of a romantic kind. Verona's involve her brother, Henry, who is tied up in shady financial dealings. Zeke's father has had a heart attack and his mother is threatening to run away with her lover, all of which puts pressure on Zeke to take over the family grocery business. And yet he finds himself following Verona to Boston. As he pursues her, and she pursues Henry, both are forced to ask the perplexing question: Can we ever know another person?
Deftly plotted and filled with unexpected twists, Livesey's Banishing Verona marks the arrival of another lyrical and wise novel from a writer whose work "radiates with compassion and intelligence and always, deliciously, mystery" (Alice Sebold).
Wondrously told through the wary eyes of John's ten-year-old daughter, Mattie, whose gift of premonition proves to be both a blessing and a curse, The Mercy Seat resounds with the rhythms of the Old Testament even as it explores the mysteries of the Native American spirit world. Sharing Faulkner's understanding of the inescapable pull of family and history, and Cormac McCarthy's appreciation of the stark beauty of the American wilderness, Rilla Askew imbues this momentous work with her tremendous energy and emotional range. It is an extraordinary novel from a prodigious new talent.