Book Passage President Elaine Petrocelli selects her favorite new books and provides a review about her selections in each issue of the Book Passage News & Reviews.
These books are also displayed in each branch of the Bank of Marin, as part of the program Partnership for Literacy sponsored by Book Passage and Bank of Marin. Visit any branch of the bank to find out more about this program.
She was chosen as the poet for President Obama’s first inauguration. She was married to a man who delighted her. Their lives were filled with love of each other, their two sons, and dear friends. Then her beloved husband, Fligre, suddenly died. She tells the story of their family, their extended family, and their journey with such depth of feeling and such clarity that we too, feel part of this family. I laughed and cried and thought too of my own dear ones who have gone. Some signed first printings.
Weeks after I read the last gorgeous page of Pieces of My Mother, I still find myself thinking about Melissa Cistaro and her complex, maddening and fascinating mother. What caused this woman to walk out of her house one afternoon, leaving the children she loved behind? As Melissa puts the pieces together, we are treated to an outstanding memoir written with tenderness, wit and depth. Some signed first printings.
In Early Warning, the second book of the trilogy that began with Some Luck, Smiley covers 1953-1986—the time that encompasses the Cold War, nuclear proliferation, Vietnam, Kennedy’s assassination, the 1960s, and Jonestown. Walter, the Langdon family patriarch, is about to be buried, and his scattered grown children return for the funeral. Smiley strikes the perfect tone as she immerses us in the lives of each member of the Langdon family during an earth shaking time. Some signed first printings.
In 1954 a young physician comes upon 3 acres of unspoiled land on the peninsula south of San Francisco. He buys the land, marries, and he and his wife go on to raise four children in what will become the Silicon Valley. Sounds like paradise, but this family is confronted with huge challenges. Packer is a master story teller who brings every one of her complex characters into sharp focus. Some signed first printings.
Paul Dukach hopes to lead the old line, still independent, publishing house, Purcell & Stern. Paul is obsessed with snagging the esteemed octogenarian poet, Ida Perkins, for his firm. She’s beautiful and sexy and her poetry is sublime, but she’slong been a star of a rival “house”. Paul’s visit to the poet in her Venetian Palazzo leads to his receiving a secret collection of writing that could turn publishing inside out. Galassi, an esteemed poet and the president and publisher of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, knows the labyrinthine New York Publishing scene. You don’t have to be a publishing insider to be fascinated by this not to be missed, revealing novel.
I admit it—I have a mad crush on retired Laos national coroner, Siri Paiboun. He’s devoted to his clever wife, so my fictional crush is unrequited. In this 10th Dr. Siri mystery, a concrete pole has exploded, a skirt with a severed finger sewn into the hem has passed through the postal system, and the head of public prosecutions wants Siri to help make sexual misconduct charges to go away. It’s the 1970’s, the government is corrupt and there’s plenty to worry about with China, Vietnam, and Cambodia. If you’ve never read Collin Cotterill, you have to start now. Some signed first printings.
We don’t know her name. She arrived alone in Casablanca. Her backpack was stolen as she was checking into her hotel. It contained her laptop, her camera, her credit cards and her passport. Could the police and hotel staff be in on the theft? When a chance meeting with a film producer brings her a job as a stand in for a film star, her identity becomes entwined with that of the actress. Vida weaves a literary thriller that will keep you reading all night. She’ll make you wonder who we really are when our identity is gone. Some signed first printings.
World War II is in full swing, and a Northern Wisconsin farm community is reeling.With the young men off to war, there is no one to tend the cherry orchards and without the cherry harvest, the once comfortable community faces economic ruin.A controversial decision to have German POW’s work in the orchards helps solve the immediate problem for the Christiansen family. When their son, who is in the thick of fighting in Italy, learns that the enemy POW’s are on his family farm and one is even tutoring his sister, he is furious.Sanna weaves a riveting tale that illuminates the reality of war even for those far from the front. Some signed first printings.
The moon has exploded and earth will be destroyed by hard rains of debris. How can humanity be saved? Seven women are sent into space to be the “mothers” of the future generations. After 5000 years, earth is again habitable and there are three billion progeny of the original seven women who could return to the planet of their forebears. In his 1000-plus page, three part epic, Stephenson makes every word count as he immerses us in a time we couldn’t have ever imagined, yet seems all too real. Some signed first printings.
The co-author of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society brings us a heart-breaking yet delicious novel set in 1938. Layla has been hired by the Federal Writers Project to write the history of Macedonia, a tiny West Virginia town. She didn’t choose to do this, but her father, a powerful senator, insisted that she take the job. As Layla does her work, she uncovers scandals and becomes a lightning rod for old grudges. Barrows combines narrative and letters in this loving and illuminating story. Some signed first printings.
Kate Atkinson is simply seductive. She mixes subtlety and daring in a way that few other writers will even attempt. With Atkinson you find yourself drawn into a seemingly innocent little story that will suddenly make a sharp turn that leaves you reeling. Fans of her dazzling novel Life After Life will know to buckle down for a turbulent ride with Teddy – a pilot who felt sure he would be killed in World War II and who must now face a future he never expected to have. Kate Atkinson’s wit and insight are truly infectious.
When a writer has won the National Book Award and two Pulitzer Prizes, you know you are in good hands. David McCullough draws on the immense riches of the Wright Papers, including private diaries, notebooks, scrapbooks, and more than a thousand letters from private family correspondence to tell the human side of the Wright Brothers’ story, including the little-known contributions of their sister, Katharine, without whom things might well have gone differently for them. This is McCullough at his best.
They were married and quickly divorced in the 1940s. They both lived on Mallorca but managed to avoid each other for 60 years. They are in their 80’s when they meet again and during a confrontation they tumble over a cliff to their deaths. There are plenty of complications as their respective spouses, children and children’s children become involved. Peter Nichols takes us back through the decades to expose the source of their animosity. Pull up a chair, get a glass of good wine and enjoy the exquisite writing, the cast of not totally sane characters, and adventures that include a shipwreck, a shady real estate deal, a drug bust, and plenty of sex. Some signed first printings.