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Year 2005 Top Fiction Picks

Bachelor Boys by Kate Saunders: Saunders (The Marrying Game) humorously captures the love affair between the boisterous British Darling family and their lifelong girl-next-door, Cassie; but her beloved Phoebe Darling is dying and comes to Cassie with one last request: Will Cassie help find wives for her sons, two gorgeous, sexy, but wildly impractical bachelors still living in their mother's basement flat?

Balancing In High Heels by Eileen Rendahl: Traumatized by a bitter divorce and the loss of her job, and faced with the prospects of taking anger management classes, Alissa Lindley returns to her hometown to try to put her life back together and to rebuild her law practice, only to become involved with a stripper named Sheila who, along with her cohorts, travels the city righting wrongs, and a handsome police detective.

The Camel Club by David Baldacci: Oliver Stone has no official past. He spends most days camped opposite the White House, hoping to expose corruption. But the stakes are raised when he and his friends, a group of conspiracy theorist misfits known as The Camel Club, witness the murder of an intelligence analyst. Especially when the authorities want to write it off as a suicide.

Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt by Anne Rice: A fictional chronicle of the early years of Jesus Christ.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer: Oskar Schell, the nine-year-old son of a man killed in the World Trade Center attacks, searches the five boroughs of New York City for a lock that fits a black key his father left behind.

Golfing With God by Roland Morullo: A former golf pro who never made it on the circuit, Herman "Hank" Fins-Winston spends his afterlife living on one of heaven's golf courses and playing golf with God and his closest companions, but things take a drastic turn when he is summoned to coach God himself, or herself.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling: Sixth-year Hogwarts student Harry Potter gains valuable insights into the boy Voldemort once was, even as his own world is transformed by maturing friendships, schoolwork assistance from an unexpected source, and devastating losses.

Specimen Days by Michael Cunningham: Prophetic poet Walt Whitman presides over each interlinked episode in a visionary novel set in the city of New York, featuring the same group of characters—a young boy, an older man, and a young woman.

The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant: Turning 15 in Renaissance Florence, Alessandra Cecchi becomes intoxicated with the works of a young painter whom her father has brought to the city to decorate the family's Florentine palazzo, a situation that is complicated by her unwanted arranged marriage to an older man and a battle between the Medici family and the fundamentalist followers of Savonarola.

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova: Discovering a medieval book and a cache of letters, a motherless American girl becomes the latest in a series of historians, including her late father, who investigates the possible surviving legacy of Vlad the Impaler, a quest that takes her across Europe and into the pasts of her father and his mentor.

The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman: After a small town librarian survives a lightning strike, she seeks out a fellow survivor in a quest for meaning, and only to begin an obsessive love affair between two opposites joined by a single common thread.

The March by E.L. Doctorow: Union General William Tecumseh Sherman's devastating march through Georgia and the Carolinas during the final years of the Civil War has a profound impact on the outcome of the war, in a richly textured, evocative historical novel that captures the full experience of the diverse characters caught up in the struggle.

The Mermaid Chair by Susan Monk Kidd: Jessie Sullivan is summoned home to tiny Egret Island, where she meets Brother Thomas, a monk who is about to take his final vows, and encounters the legend of a mysterious chair dedicated to a saint who had originally been a mermaid.

The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella: After making a mistake that will ruin a chance of a partnership, attorney Samantha Sweeting suffers a breakdown, gets on a train, and ends up in the middle of nowhere, where she is mistakenly hired as a housekeeper.

The Wonder Spot by Melissa Bank: Struggling with ambivalent feelings toward the passions and identities that are important to other members of her Jewish Pennsylvania family, Sophie Applebaum makes observations about her family life over the course of 20 years.