The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell (Knopf). This is, of course, the author of Hamnet, the literary historical novel of a couple of years ago—which this column somehow managed to …
The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell (Knopf). This is, of course, the author of Hamnet, the literary historical novel of a couple of years ago—which this column somehow managed to overlook until it ran on bestseller lists and won major awards. One dares to hope that readers found that novel on their own; if you did, you won’t need my urging to look for this one. The author masterfully commands a line-for-line style and a gift for narrative clarity (here, she writes scenes from the young bride’s point of view in present tense, a not rare trick that we scarcely notice, but that livens the intimacy). This novel, set in the 16th Century, centers on the teen-aged bride of an Italian nobleman, who, she senses (and we are convinced), means to kill her. We never doubt her intuition (and it’s generally regarded as a historical fact that this young woman, Lucrezia de’Medici, was murdered, in her teens, by her husband). O’Farrell has much to tell us; we proceed in several time lines without ever getting lost, and live in this castle and others. But she is not a slave to the (actually cloudy) history of these people. We meet others, of course; the cast is large, and lively (oh, and there’s a tiger; this young bride and this author are fearless) and we are given a stunning but compelling different ending from the one the history books give us.
Back to the Garden by Laurie R. King (Bantam). A standalone mystery by the author of the great Mary Russell, wife of Sherlock Holmes, novels. This is very American, and contemporary—though with flashbacks to the hippie 1970s in San Francisco, so as intricately plotted as we expect from King, and again with a woman detective at its center. She’s a special investigator with the SFPD and we’ll be glad to follow her anywhere (though no series is announced).
The Furies: Two Charlie Parker Novels by John Connolly (Emily Bestler/Atria). Odd and interesting new book in this great series, as good as his contemporary-classic, often spooky novels always are, but interesting in a new way. Not line by line or page by page different (Heaven forfend), but novel by novel; it really is two of them in one big book. The first, The Sisters Strange, set in Charlie’s home town, Portland, Maine, was published serially on Parker’s web site during the world-wide pandemic that we’re finally (probably) (more or less) finished with. It’s referred to in early reviews (apparently of that online serial version) as a novella, but is, here, a full-length novel, realized and resolved in this big book. The rather spookier second, The Furies, remains in Portland, and is certainly interlinked with The Sisters Strange, but plotting leads in a new direction. It’s a little shorter, but it’s fair to call it a second novel. Oh, and Charlie’s appalling pals Angel and Louis feature in this one.
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here