I realize that the parking lot of the Warren Street Post Office is hardly the most picturesque spot in Peabody, but yesterday evening, as I came to the Library through the surprise downpour, what did I spy, but a double rainbow for St. Patrick’s Day.
And where did that rainbow end? Why, right at the door of the Library, of course. Naturally.
So, if you’re looking for some treasure this weekend, look no further than our shelves, and some of the newest books that have arrived there.
Stork Mountain: Miroslav Penkov’s debut novel is a similar exploration of a nation’s history and a family’s private story–this time, set in the high mountains of Bulgaria, as a young man returns to the place of his birth in a search for his grandfather, who cut all ties with the family three years previously. What he finds there is a land of fables and mysteries, and black storks nesting in the tress, where there is very little truth and a world of dark secrets that will change everything this family has ever believed. The Chicago Review of Books loved this novel, saying, “Stork Mountain is a beautiful and haunting novel, one that delves into a painful past and begs the questions: To what extent are we doomed to relive the past and carry it with us? At what point must we relent and set it free?”
The Last Confession of Thomas Hawkins: Antonia Hodgson, who wrote the wonderfully atmospheric, engaging The Devil in the Marshalsea has returned with another of the (mis)adventures of Thomas Hawkins, the most endearing ne’er-do-wells of the Georgian period. When this story opens, Tom is on his way to the gallows, accused of murder–an unprecedented fate for a gentleman. In recounting his adventures, Tom has to admit that he probably shouldn’t have told England’s foremost criminal mastermind that he was bored and looking for adventure. And he definitely shouldn’t have agreed to help the King’s mistress escape from her brutal husband…and he never, ever should have trusted the cunning Queen Caroline…but he’s willing to live with those regrets…if he can devise a way to go on living…Hodgson has a great talent for combining gritty, grimy historic settings with brilliantly vivid characters, making all her books a genuine escapist treat to read. Library Journal agrees, giving this novel a starred review, and hailing “Hodgson has provided another pell-mell romp through the top and bottom of English society, as seen through the eyes of a gentleman who is both a rogue and a naïf. Those who relish their historical action fast and vivid will enjoy the second installment of Hawkins’s misadventures.”
The Age of Genius: The Seventeenth Century and the Birth of the Modern Mind: A.C. Grayling has breathed new life into a fairly old historical argument–that the sixteenth century witnessed the birth of the modern age–by standing in the middle of his historic world and surveying everything from art to astronomy to legal codes to religion. His work touches on the fascinating dichotomies of the era–Newton was the founder of modern physics, yet spent most of his life hunting for the secrets of alchemy, Descarte’s attempts to reconcile humanist philosophy and religion, and the battles between Galileo and the Church over the movement of the planets. In so doing, he makes a strong case for this century of monumental changes, not only within society, but within the human mind. The Sunday Times remarked, “Grayling is particularly good at illuminating the knottiness of moral discourse”, making for a book that will surprise as much as it will educate.
The Devil You Know: K.J. Parker is the pen name of two time World Fantasy Award winning author, Tom Holt, and while this book is full of devilish magic and wild imagination, it’s quite different in scope and tone. In this super little bite-size novel, Saloninus, the greatest philosopher of his time (well, at least according to him), has agreed to sell his soul to the Devil in return for twenty years to finish his life’s work. It would seem like a straightforward bargain, but Saloninus is also the greatest trickster and liar the world has ever known, and there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that there is a con afoot. But where? Publisher’s Weekly gave this book a starred review, cheering “Parker cheerfully stays one step ahead of the reader until the last moment”, and watching this game unfold is absolutely going to provide you an adventure worth remembering.
And until next week, Happy Reading, beloved patrons!