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Friday, March 6, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 29.0° F  A Few Clouds
The Daily


A Book A Week: The Pure Gold Baby by Margaret Drabble

Margaret Drabble is a "writer of a certain age" (according to Fay Weldon, more of which later). She's also a leading lady of British letters, author of 17 novels (most of which I've read), and she's got some of those letters after her name (DBE) that mean the Queen likes her. Her latest novel is The Pure Gold Baby, about an anthropologist called Jess, who raises her mentally handicapped daughter Anna as a single mother in North London in the 1960s and '70s. >More
 A Book A Week: Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld

In the Curtis Sittenfeld novel Sisterland, the eponymous country is inhabited by two people only: a set of twins, Daisy and Violet. As children, the Sisterland geography was their shared bedroom, but it was also the inside of their heads. >More
 Kevin Henkes receives Newbery Honor for new children's book, The Year of Billy Miller

Madison author and illustrator Kevin Henkes has been named a 2014 Newbery Honor recipient for The Year of Billy Miller, his latest book for young readers. Newbery Honor Books are a short list of runners-up to the Newbery Medal, which the American Library Association awards yearly to the most distinguished American literature for children. >More
 A Book A Week: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Jojo Moyes was in Madison a few months ago for the opening of the new Central Library. At that event she read from her latest book, The Girl You Left Behind. I reviewed that book in advance of her visit. But most people who came to hear Moyes read that day were fans of her previous book, Me Before You, which was a big seller. >More
 A Book A Week: Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munro

Alice Munro's stories conjure up feelings that I don't normally experience from reading fiction. I abandon my concern with plot or character arcs (though these are certainly present) and instead allow myself to be transported by the beauty of each story as a whole. >More
 A Book A Week: Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding

Bridget Jones's Diary was clever and original when it came out in 1996, and I loved it. I also liked the 2001 movie version starring Renee Zellweger and Colin Firth. Somewhat less interesting was the sequel, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. That book broke no new ground and as far as I could tell only served to wrap up the romance. >More
 A Book A Week: In Zanesville by Jo Ann Beard

In Zanesville, a fictional town in Illinois, we find Jo, a most appealing heroine, who manages to navigate the tricky emotional swells of adolescence with detached self-possession, humor, and a lot of courage. In her novel In Zanesville, Jo Ann Beard takes the traditional role of the outsider/observer and fills it with this everygirl who faces the challenges posed by boys, cheerleaders and her own mother with equanimity and good sense. >More
 Jay Antani attracts international fans with The Leaving of Things, a novel about a local Indian American teen

Born in India and raised in Madison, Jay Antani knows a few things about coming of age cross-culturally. Using his own experiences as a guide, he wrote a novel about a local teen named Vikram, who gets sent to India after a weekend of drunken rebellion. Titled The Leaving of Things, the book has numerous references to Madison, from Monroe Street to Vitense Golfland. >More
 A Book A Week: Enchantments by Kathryn Harrison

I love the way Kathryn Harrison writes, but her subject matter is often so troubling that I don't usually read her books. I read Exposure back in the 1990s and have read nothing since, as her subsequent offerings have featured incest, torture, Chinese foot binding and murder, to name just a few subjects. Perhaps this is a backhanded compliment, but I know that Harrison's particularly vivid, engrossing prose will render these scenes too disturbing for me. >More
 A Book A Week: The White Queen and The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory

The White Queen is a 10-part BBC production about the War of the Roses that was recently broadcast in the U.S. on the Starz network. I watched it and loved it, historical inaccuracies and all. But the show made me curious about the books upon which it was based, four novels by Philippa Gregory. >More
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