Frances and Bernard

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A “dazzling and gorgeously written” novel of art, faith, and life-changing friendship inspired by the correspondence of Flannery O’Connor and Robert Lowell (Ann Packer).
 
In the summer of 1957, two writers are immersed in their craft at an artist’s colony nestled in upstate New York when chance brings them together. Frances, a country northerner, as committed to her solitude as she is her faith, and Bernard, a gregarious Bostonian with a propensity towards mania and grand gestures, find themselves forming a friendship, and then a courtship, as they each discover a kindred spirit beneath the obvious differences between them. But, as they become inexorably entwined in each other’s lives, they struggle with the dependence of their romance and the conflict it causes with their own dreams.
 
Inspired by the lives of Flannery O’Connor and Robert Lowell, who formed an unlikely connection after meeting at Yaddo in the late fifties, and told in a series of intimate letters between the protagonists, Frances and Bernard is a touching and bittersweet look at what happens when love, desire, hope, faith, and friendship collide.
 
“Recalling 20th-century masters like Graham Greene and Walker Percy . . . Bauer is herself a distinctive stylist who can write about Simone Weil or Kierkegaard with wit and charm.” —The New York Times Book Review
 
“Engrossing . . . Funny, sweet and sad. A lovely surprise.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
 
“A novel of stunning subtlety, grace, and depth . . . compos[ed in] dueling letters of breathtaking wit, seduction, and heartbreak.” —Booklist, starred review  
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About the author

Carlene Bauer is the author of the memoir Not That Kind of Girl, described as "soulful" by Walter Kirn in Elle and "approaching the greatness of Cantwell" in the New York Post. She has written for the likes of n +1, Slate, Salon, and the New York Times.
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4.8
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Additional Information

Publisher
HMH
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Published on
Feb 5, 2013
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Pages
208
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ISBN
9780547858258
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / General
Fiction / Historical / General
Fiction / Literary
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

A sweeping story told in letters, spanning two continents and two world wars, Jessica Brockmole’s atmospheric debut novel captures the indelible ways that people fall in love, and celebrates the power of the written word to stir the heart.
 
March 1912: Twenty-four-year-old Elspeth Dunn, a published poet, has never seen the world beyond her home on Scotland’s remote Isle of Skye. So she is astonished when her first fan letter arrives, from a college student, David Graham, in far-away America. As the two strike up a correspondence—sharing their favorite books, wildest hopes, and deepest secrets—their exchanges blossom into friendship, and eventually into love. But as World War I engulfs Europe and David volunteers as an ambulance driver on the Western front, Elspeth can only wait for him on Skye, hoping he’ll survive.
 
June 1940: At the start of World War II, Elspeth’s daughter, Margaret, has fallen for a pilot in the Royal Air Force. Her mother warns her against seeking love in wartime, an admonition Margaret doesn’t understand. Then, after a bomb rocks Elspeth’s house, and letters that were hidden in a wall come raining down, Elspeth disappears. Only a single letter remains as a clue to Elspeth’s whereabouts. As Margaret sets out to discover where her mother has gone, she must also face the truth of what happened to her family long ago.
 
Sparkling with charm and full of captivating period detail, Letters from Skye is a testament to the power of love to overcome great adversity, and marks Jessica Brockmole as a stunning new literary voice.

Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader’s Circle for author chats and more.

Praise for Letters from Skye

“Letters from Skye is a captivating love story that celebrates the power of hope to triumph over time and circumstance.”—Vanessa Diffenbaugh, New York Times bestselling author of The Language of Flowers

“[A] remarkable story of two women, their loves, their secrets, and two world wars . . . [in which] the beauty of Scotland, the tragedy of war, the longings of the heart, and the struggles of a family torn apart by disloyalty are brilliantly drawn, leaving just enough blanks to be filled by the reader’s imagination.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Tantalizing . . . sure to please readers who enjoyed other epistolary novels like The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.”—Stratford Gazette
 
“An absorbing and rewarding saga of loss and discovery.”—Kate Alcott, New York Times bestselling author of The Dressmaker
 
“A sweeping and sweet (but not saccharine) love story.”—USA Today
 
“[A] dazzling little jewel.”—Richmond Times-Dispatch
Vivid, mysterious and unforgettable, The Butterfly Cabinet is Bernie McGill’s engrossing portrayal of the dark history that intertwines two lives. Inspired by a true story of the death of the daughter of an aristocratic Irish family at the end of the nineteenth century, McGill powerfully tells this tale of two women whose lives will become upended by a newly told secret.

The events begin when Maddie McGlade, a former nanny now in her nineties, receives a letter from the last of her charges and realizes that the time has come to unburden herself of a secret she has kept for over seventy years: what really happened on the last day in the life of Charlotte Ormond, the four-year-old only daughter of the big house where Maddie was employed as a young woman. It is to Charlotte’s would-be niece, Anna—pregnant with her first—that Maddie will tell her story as she nears the end of her life in a lonely nursing home in Northern Ireland.

The book unfolds in chapters that alternate between Maddie’s story and the prison diaries of Charlotte’s mother, Harriet, who had been held responsible for her daughter’s death. As Maddie confesses the truth to Anna, she unravels the Ormonds’ complex family history, and also details her own life, marked by poverty, fear, sacrifice and lies. In stark contrast to Maddie is the misunderstood, haughty and yet surprisingly lyrical voice of Harriet’s prison diaries, which Maddie has kept hidden for decades. Motherhood came no more easily to Harriet than did her role as mistress of a far-flung Irish estate. Proud and uncompromising, she is passionate about riding horses and collecting butterflies to store in her prized cabinet. When her only daughter, Charlotte, dies, allegedly as the result of Harriet’s punitive actions, the community is quick to condemn her and send her to prison for the killing. Unwilling to stoop to defend herself and too absorbed in her own world of strict rules and repressed desires, she accepts the cruel destiny that is beyond her control even as, paradoxically, it sets her free.

The result of this unusual duet is a haunting novel full of frightening silences and sorrowful absences that build toward the unexpected, chilling truth.
NATIONAL BESTSELLER • WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE'S JOHN LEONARD AWARD • LONGLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD

NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST AND ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times Book Review • San Francisco Chronicle • New York • Chicago Tribune • Kansas City Star • GQ • NPR • Christian Science Monitor • Cleveland Plain Dealer

In a small rural village in Chechnya, eight-year-old Havaa watches from the woods as Russian soldiers abduct her father in the middle of the night and then set fire to her home. When their lifelong neighbor Akhmed finds Havaa hiding in the forest with a strange blue suitcase, he makes a decision that will forever change their lives. He will seek refuge at the abandoned hospital where the sole remaining doctor, Sonja Rabina, treats the wounded.

For Sonja, the arrival of Akhmed and Havaa is an unwelcome surprise. Weary and overburdened, she has no desire to take on additional risk and responsibility. But over the course of five extraordinary days, Sonja’s world will shift on its axis and reveal the intricate pattern of connections that weaves together the pasts of these three unlikely companions and unexpectedly decides their fate. A story of the transcendent power of love in wartime, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is a work of sweeping breadth, profound compassion, and lasting significance.

Now with Extra Libris material, including a reader’s guide and bonus content from the author.

Praise for A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

“Here, in fresh, graceful prose, is a profound story that dares to be as tender as it is ghastly, a story about desperate lives in a remote land that will quickly seem impossibly close and important. . . . I haven’t been so overwhelmed by a novel in years. At the risk of raising your expectations too high, I have to say you simply must read this book.”—Ron Charles, Washington Post

“Extraordinary . . . a 21st century War and Peace . . . Marra seems to derive his astral calm in the face of catastrophe directly from Tolstoy.”—Madison Smartt Bell, New York Times Book Review

“Ambitious and intellectually restless . . . [Marra is] a lover not a fighter, a prose writer who resembles the Joseph Heller of Catch-22 and the Jonathan Safran Foer of Everything Is Illuminated.”—Dwight Garner, New York Times
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The darkly suspenseful tale of two families struggling to make the hardest decision of their lives—all over the course of one meal. Now a major motion picture.
 
“Chilling, nasty, smart, shocking, and unputdownable.”—Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl
 
It’s a summer’s evening in Amsterdam, and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant for dinner. Between mouthfuls of food and over the scrapings of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of polite discourse. But behind the empty words, terrible things need to be said, and with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sharpened.
 
Each couple has a fifteen-year-old son. The two boys are united by their accountability for a single horrific act—an act that has triggered a police investigation and shattered the comfortable, insulated worlds of their families. As the dinner reaches its culinary climax, the conversation finally touches on their children, and as civility and friendship disintegrate, each couple shows just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love.
 
A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK
 
“A European Gone Girl . . . A sly psychological thriller.”—The Wall Street Journal
 
“Brilliantly engineered . . . The novel is designed to make you think twice, then thrice, not only about what goes on within its pages, but also the next time indignation rises up, pure and fiery, in your own heart.”—Salon
 
“You’ll eat it up, with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.”—Entertainment Weekly
 
“[Koch] has created a clever, dark confection . . . absorbing and highly readable.”—New York Times Book Review
 
“Tongue-in-cheek page-turner.”—The Washington Post
 
“[A] deliciously Mr. Ripley-esque drama.”—O: The Oprah Magazine
THE BLOCKBUSTER HIT—Over two million copies sold! A New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and Publishers Weekly Bestseller

“Poignant, engrossing.”—People • “Lisa Wingate takes an almost unthinkable chapter in our nation’s history and weaves a tale of enduring power.”—Paula McLain

Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge—until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents—but they quickly realize the dark truth. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together in a world of danger and uncertainty.

Aiken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancé, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions and compels her to take a journey through her family’s long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation or to redemption.

Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals—in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country—Lisa Wingate’s riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong.

Publishers Weekly’s #3 Longest-Running Bestseller of 2017 • Winner of the Southern Book Prize • If All Arkansas Read the Same Book Selection

“Sure to be one of the most compelling books you pick up this year. . . . Wingate is a master-storyteller, and you’ll find yourself pulled along as she reveals the wake of terror and heartache that is Georgia Tann’s legacy.”—Parade
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