December 19, 2017 | sobczakd
As the new year begins in 1945, the war in Europe is in its end stages as German forces are beaten back by the Allied armies. To escape the Soviet advance on the eastern front, thousands of refugees flee to the Polish coast. In this desperate flight for freedom, four young people-each from very different backgrounds and each with dark secrets-connect as they vie for passage on the Willhelm Gustloff, a former pleasure cruiser used to evacuate the refugees. Packed to almost ten times its original capacity, the ship is hit by Soviet torpedoes fewer than 12 hours after leaving port. As the ship sinks into the icy waters of the Baltic Sea, what was supposed to be an avenue for escape quickly becomes another fight to survive the randomness of war. Monday, January 15.
A stereotypical grumpy old man, Ove, finds his quiet life of solitude slipping away when a young family moves in next door. Ove is the kind of man who yells at kids to get off his lawn and is the bane of the local residents' association. He may come across as gruff and bitter, but behind the unpleasant exterior is a dignified man with a story of love and heartbreak. The new neighbors and a scruffy cat may be the perfect combination to break Ove out of his shell and help him truly to start living. Monday, February 19.
During her hippie days, Sibyl Danforth delivered a friend's baby on a blizzardy night. From this emergency delivery grew her calling as a midwife. Over the years, she had great success, helping with more than 500 home births. But on March 4, 1981, Charlotte Fugett Bedford died under Sibyl's care. Severe weather conditions treacherously iced the roads and downed phone lines, making contact with her backup physician impossible. After hours and hours of arduous labor, Charlotte seemed to suffer a stroke and die. To save the yet-unborn child, Sibyl performed a cesarean section. However, since she was not trained for this procedure and since witnesses thought perhaps Charlotte was not actually dead, Sibyl was charged with involuntary manslaughter and practicing medicine without a license. Monday, March 19.
From her earliest days, Patsy Jefferson knows that though her father loves his family dearly, his devotion to his country runs deeper still. As Thomas Jefferson's oldest daughter, she becomes his helpmate, protector, and constant companion in the wake of her mother's death, traveling with him when he becomes American minister to France. It is in Paris, at the glittering court and among the first tumultuous days of revolution, that fifteen-year-old Patsy learns about her father's troubling liaison with Sally Hemings, a slave girl her own age. Meanwhile, Patsy has fallen in love--with her father's protege, William Short, a staunch abolitionist and ambitious diplomat. Torn between love, principles, and the bonds of family, Patsy questions whether she can choose a life as William's wife and still be a devoted daughter. Monday, April 16.
Two disparate women are thrown together by destiny, each hiding a secret from the Nazi regime. Noa's Dutch family kicks her out of the house after an affair with a Nazi soldier leaves her pregnant. She gives up the child, but in her new life as a train-station washerwoman, she finds a boxcar full of Jewish infants. She rescues one and flees, nearly freezing to death in a distant forest where she is rescued by a member of the famous German Circus Neuhoff; Noa claims the baby is her brother. Astrid Sorrell (born Ingrid Klemt) is forced to separate from her German officer husband when the Reich forces all Jewish intermarriages to be dissolved. A former star in her now-depleted Jewish family's circus, she, too, finds refuge with the rival Circus Neuhoff, where her Jewish identity will be hidden, and now her boss forces her to teach the pretty Noa the art of the trapeze. Monday, May 21.
An enthralling story of how an unexpected romantic encounter irrevocably changes two families' lives. One Sunday afternoon in Southern California, Bert Cousins shows up at Franny Keating's christening party uninvited. Before evening falls, he has kissed Franny's mother, Beverly--thus setting in motion the dissolution of their marriages and the joining of two families. Spanning five decades, Commonwealth explores how this chance encounter reverberates through the lives of the four parents and six children involved. Spending summers together in Virginia, the Keating and Cousins children forge a lasting bond that is based on a shared disillusionment with their parents and the strange and genuine affection that grows up between them. When, in her twenties, Franny begins an affair with the legendary author Leon Posen and tells him about her family, the story of her siblings is no longer hers to control. Their childhood becomes the basis for his wildly successful book, ultimately forcing them to come to terms with their losses, their guilt, and the deeply loyal connection they feel for one another. Monday, June 18.
Passion, redemption, and a battered old suitcase full of secrets: the New York Times-bestselling author of A Hundred Summers returns with another engrossing tale of lost love and female ambition that crosses generations. Manhattan, 1964. Vivian Schuyler, newly graduated from Bryn Mawr College, has recently defied the privilege of her storied old Fifth Avenue family to do the unthinkable for a budding Kennedy-era socialite: break into the Mad Men world of razor-stylish Metropolitan magazine. But when she receives a bulky overseas parcel in the mail, the unexpected contents draw her inexorably back into her family's past, and the hushed-over crime passionnel of an aunt she never knew, whose existence has been wiped from the record of history. Berlin, 1914. Violet Schuyler Grant endures her marriage to the philandering and decades-older scientist Dr. Walter Grant for one reason: for all his faults, he provides the necessary support to her liminal position as a young American female physicist in prewar Germany. The arrival of Dr. Grant's magnetic former student at the beginning of Europe's fateful summer interrupts this delicate detente. Lionel Richardson, a captain in the British Army, challenges Violet to escape her husband's perverse hold, and as the world edges into war and Lionel's shocking true motives become evident, Violet is tempted to take the ultimate step to set herself free and seek a life of her own conviction with a man whose cause is as audacious as her own. As the iridescent and fractured Vivian digs deeper into her aunt's past and the mystery of her ultimate fate, Violet's story of determination and desire unfolds, shedding light on the darkness of her years abroad and teaching Vivian to reach forward with grace for the ambitious future--and the love--she wants most.
Li-yan and her family align their lives around the seasons and the farming of tea. There is ritual and routine, and it has been ever thus for generations. Then one day a jeep appears at the village gate the first automobile any of them have seen and a stranger arrives. In this remote Yunnan village, the stranger finds the rare tea he has been seeking and a reticent Akha people. Monday, August 20.
On a September day in Manhattan in 1939, twenty-something Caroline Ferriday is consumed by her efforts to secure the perfect boutonniere for an important French diplomat and resisting the romantic advances of a married actor. Meanwhile across the Atlantic, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish Catholic teenager, is nervously anticipating the changes that are sure to come since Germany has declared war on Poland. As tensions rise abroad - and in her personal life - Caroline's interest in aiding the war effort in France grows and she eventually comes to hear about the dire situation at the Ravensbruck all-female concentration camp. At the same time, Kasia's carefree youth is quickly slipping away, only to be replaced by a fervor for the Polish resistance movement. Through Ravensbruck - and the horrific atrocities taking place there told in part by an infamous German surgeon, Herta Oberheuser - the two women's lives will converge in unprecedented ways and a novel of redemption and hope emerges that is breathtaking in scope and depth. Monday, September 17.
Thomas Edison's billion-dollar patent infringement lawsuit against George Westinghouse is merely one salvo in the late 19th-century "current wars." In a surprising move, Westinghouse hires novice lawyer Paul Cravath to handle his defense, and Cravath quickly discovers that Edison will go to any lengths to ensure that his direct current (DC) system becomes the standard over the alternating current (AC) promoted by Westinghouse. Caught between the two rivals is eccentric inventor Nikola Tesla, driven by visionary ideas, not money. Assisted by Agnes Huntington, a celebrated actress with a shadowy past, Cravath manages to protect Tesla from external pressures and internal demons. Burglary, arson, corporate espionage, and other unscrupulous political and business deals raise questions about who can be trusted and fuel Cravath's desire to defeat Edison. But will the personal price be too high? Monday, October 15.
A timely account of how modern Americans cope with decline and mortality. He points out that dying in America is a lonely, complex business. Before 1945, people could count on spending their last days at home. Now, most die in institutional settings, usually after trying every medical procedure possible to head off the inevitable. Quality of life is often sacrificed, in part because doctors lack the ability to help patients negotiate a bewildering array of medical and nonmedical options. Many, like Gawande's mother-in-law, Alice, find that they must take residence in senior housing or assisted care facilities due to the fact that no other reasonable options exist. But even the most well-run of these "homes" are problematic because they can only offer sterile institutional settings that restrict independence and can cause psychological distress. Moving in with adult children is also difficult due to the tensions and conflicts that inevitably arise. Yet the current system shows signs of reform. Rather than simply inform patients about their options or tell them what to do, some doctors, including the author, are choosing to offer the guidance that helps patients make their own decisions regarding treatment options and outcomes. Monday, November 19.
From the moment she entered the world, Francie needed to be made of stern stuff, for the often harsh life of Williamsburg demanded fortitude, precocity, and strength of spirit. Often scorned by neighbors for her family’s erratic and eccentric behavior-such as her father Johnny’s taste for alcohol and Aunt Sissy’s habit of marrying serially without the formality of divorce-no one, least of all Francie, could say that the Nolans’ life lacked drama. By turns overwhelming, sublime, heartbreaking, and uplifting, the Nolans’ daily experiences are tenderly threaded with family connectedness and raw with honesty. Betty Smith has, in the pages of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, captured the joys of humble Williamsburg life-from “junk day” on Saturdays, when the children of Francie’s neighborhood traded their weekly take for pennies, to the special excitement of holidays, bringing cause for celebration and revelry. Monday, December 17.