North of Boston is Elisabeth Elo’s debut novel, and to me it is a real winner. It certainly held my interest and I found that, at times, I was unable to put this books down.
Pirio Kasparov, heir to a very successful perfume business which her Russian immigrant parents founded, is our protagonist. She is a gritty, smart and complex woman. When Pirio’s mother died, the girl was just 10 years old. Her deceased mother’s will stipulates that when Pirio turns 21 years old, she will inherit her mother’s share of the extremely successful business, Inessa Mark, Inc. and that if she wants full ownership, the company would revert to her upon her eccentric father’s death. Pirio has joined the company where she works as “CEO in training.” Scent permeates much of the novel – the scent of perfume, ambergris, herbs, flowers, etc. And the smells of the sea also play an important part in the author’s descriptive passages.
Early on in Francine Proseâ€™s richly imagined and intricately constructed tour de force, Yvonne â€“ the proprietress of the Parisian Chameleon Club â€“tells a story about her pet lizard, Darius. â€śOne night I was working out front. My friend, a German admiral whose name you would know, let himself into my office and put my darling Darius on my paisley shawl. He died, exhausted by the strain of turning all those colors.â€ť
History â€“ and the people who compose it â€“ is itself a chameleon, subject to multiple interpretations. Ms. Prose seems less interested in exploring â€śwhat is the truthâ€ť and more intrigued with the question, â€śIs there truth?â€ť
Cressida Hartley is suffering from a serious case of ennui. At 28, she is stagnating in ABD status, trying to finish her dissertation in economics, wholly disliking her field of expertise. It’s the eighties, and Reaganomics doesn’t suit her. But she found a way to integrate her affinity with art with her thesis–she’s writing about the value of art in the marketplace. So she moves to her parents vacation A-frame in the Sierras, intending to wrap herself in the mountain air, solitude, and writing.
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Miles Adler-Rich is a precocious teen-ager, very much upset by the changes in his family. His parents have recently divorced and his mother has taken up with a new boyfriend named Eli Lee. Eli says he works for the National Science Foundation and professes to love Miles’s mother, Irene, very much. However, there is something about Eli that seems off to Miles.
Twenty-eight-year-old Australian author Hannah Kent spent time in Iceland while in high school, chosen because she wanted to see snow for the first time. She fell in love with this island country south of the Arctic Circle, and returned several times to do extensive research on Agnes MagnĂşsdĂłttir, the last woman to be beheaded in Iceland, in 1829. Kent imagined the interior psychological states of various characters, especially the enigmatically alluring Agnes, and has successfully penned a suspenseful fiction tale that transcends the outcome. It reveals a complex love triangle and double murder, and a provocative examination of the religious and social mores of the time. Knowing the fate of Agnes prior to reading the novel won’t change the reader’s absorption of the novel. The strong themes hinge on the backstory and viewpoints that are woven in and reveal characters that go through a change of perception as the circumstances of the crime
April 10, 2014
Â· Judi Clark Â· No Comments
Tags: 19th-Century, Little Brown & Co, Real Event Fiction, Real People Fiction, Time Period Fiction Â· Posted in: Character Driven, Debut Novel, Facing History, Iceland, Mystery/Suspense