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Year 2004 Top Fiction Picks

The Falls by Joyce Carol Oates: Follows the interconnected and secretive lives of parents and their children when they are challenged by circumstances outside their family, in a tale set against a backdrop of Niagara Falls in the mid-20th century.

Good Grief by Lolly Winston: Grieving over the death of her husband from cancer, 36-year-old Sophie Stanton finds her personal and professional world in a shambles and, in an attempt to reinvent her life, moves to Ashland, Oregon, where she encounters a troubled 13-year-old girl, a job as the Salad Girl at the local restaurant, and a cute actor. (Also available in Large Print format.)

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke: All is going well for rich, reclusive Mr. Norrell, who has regained some of the power of England's magicians from the past, until a rival magician, Jonathan Strange, appears and becomes Mr. Norrell's pupil, in a witty fantasy set against the backdrop of 19th-century England.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini: Traces the unlikely friendship of a wealthy Afghan youth and a servant's son in a tale that spans the final days of Afghanistan's monarchy through the atrocities of the present day. (Also available in Large Print format.)

Let There Be Blood by Jane Jakeman: Lord Ambrose has returned to England from the battlefields of Greece to heal his wounds in the peace and quiet of his country mansion. But when a nearby farmer and his son are shot dead, and the villagers accuse a local gypsy, Ambrose must attend to the matter before he can rest. Not your typical British cozy.

The Librarian by Larry Beinart: A university librarian stumbles on a right wing conspiracy to steal the U.S. presidential election when he moonlights working for an eccentric millionaire archivist scanning and indexing the presidential papers. Both funny and frenetic, scary and thrilling, this novel has much to say about present day politics and policies.

Mourning Ruby by Helen Dunmore: Abandoned as a baby, with no ties to her parents, Rebecca grows up to create her own unique and unorthodox family consisting of Joe, a historian and loyal friend; her husband Adam, Joe's friend; and Ruby, her beloved daughter, until a terrible blow threatens to destroy everything she loves. (Also available in Large Print format.)

My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult: Conceived to provide a bone marrow match for her leukemia-stricken sister, teenage Kate begins to question her moral obligations in light of countless medical procedures and ultimately decides to fight for the right to make decisions about her own body. (Also available in Large Print format.)

The Perfect Play by Louise Wener: Abandoned as a child by her professional poker player father, Audrey Unger struggles through a midlife crisis and a poker apprenticeship in her effort to understand why he left her, a quest marked by her over-protective boyfriend, twin magician step-brothers, a Vegas con man, and a troublesome dachshund.

Playing James by Sarah Mason: Assigned to shadow detective James Sabine through his action-packed days, plucky beat reporter Holly Colshannon enjoys the success of her new crime byline but incurs the wrath of Sabine, with whom she shares an unexpected attraction.

Skinny Dip by Carl Hiaasen: Doctoring water samples to help his corrupt agribusiness employer continue illegal dumping in the Everglades, biologist Chaz Perrone attempts to murder his wife, who has figured out his scam and who survives to plot her husband's downfall. (Also available in Large Print format.)

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger: Passionately in love, Clare and Henry vow to hold onto each other and their marriage as they struggle with the effects of Chrono-Displacement Disorder, a condition that casts Henry involuntarily into the world of time travel. (Also available in Large Print format.)

Winner of the National Book Award by Jincy Willett: Fiercely devoted to each other, twin sisters--the former a woman of certain sexual appetites, the latter prim and virginal--find themselves targeted by predatory poet Conrad, who finds in the sisters an irresistible challenge to test his skills as a manipulator and seducer. (Also available in Large Print format.)