Rare Reads November Book Selections

The Greatest Man in Cedar Hole by Stephanie Doyon    

For generations, Cedar Hole has been the armpit of Gilford County, a town full of apathetic underachievers trapped by a defunct railroad, distrust of the outside world, and their own lack of imagination. It has also been the home of the Pinkhams, a family whose gluttonous reputation stirs up fear and loathing even among the town’s most indifferent citizens. Enter Francis “Spud” Pinkham, the youngest of the clan and favorite whipping boy of his nine brutish sisters. Almost from the moment of his unwelcome arrival into the world Francis knows his path in life will be as bumpy as Cedar Hole’s unkempt roads. On the other end of the spectrum is Robert J. Cutler, the bright only child of two factory workers and town golden boy, who gracefully steps into the role of Cedar Hole’s good-hearted visionary. Robert’s blind optimism and unshakable faith dazzles everyone around him — except Francis. When a town competition forces a rivalry between the boys that follows them into adulthood, Francis must struggle to emerge from Robert’s shadow. It is only through love, starting a family of his own, and a brush with the American dream that Francis Pinkham learns just what it takes to become the greatest man in Cedar Hole

 

Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

In this striking literary debut, Carol Rifka Brunt unfolds a moving story of love, grief, and renewal as two lonely people become the unlikeliest of friends and find that sometimes you don’t know you’ve lost someone until you’ve found them. It’s 1987 and there’s only one person who has ever truly understood fourteen-year-old June Elbus, and that’s her uncle, the renowned painter Finn Weiss. Shy at school and distant from her older sister, June can only be herself in Finn’s company; he is her godfather, confidant, and best friend. So when he dies, far too young, of a mysterious illness her mother can barely speak about, June’s world is turned upside down. But Finn’s death brings a surprise acquaintance into June’s life—someone who will help her to heal, and to question what she thinks she knows about Finn, her family, and even her own heart.

 

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer

January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb.  As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all. Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.

The Vanishers by Heidi Julavits
Julia Severn is a student at an elite institute for psychics. Her mentor, the legendary Madame Ackermann, afflicted by jealousy, refuses to pass the torch to her young disciple. Instead, she subjects Julia to the humiliation of reliving her mother’s suicide when Julia was an infant. As the two lock horns, and Julia gains power, Madame Ackermann launches a desperate psychic attack that leaves Julia the victim of a crippling ailment. Julia retreats to a faceless job in Manhattan. But others have noted Julia’s emerging gifts, and soon she’s recruited to track down an elusive missing person—a controversial artist who might have a connection to her mother. As Julia sifts through ghosts and astral clues, everything she thought she knew of her mother is called into question, and she discovers that her ability to know the minds of others—including her own—goes far deeper than she ever imagined.

 

 

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier    

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley…With these words, the reader is ushered into an isolated gray stone mansion on the windswept Cornish coast, as the second Mrs. Maxim de Winter recalls the chilling events that transpired as she began her new life as the young bride of a husband she barely knew. For in every corner of every room were phantoms of a time dead but not forgotten, a past devotedly preserved by the sinister housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers: a suite immaculate and untouched, clothing laid out and ready to be worn, but not by any of the great house’s current occupants. With an eerie presentiment of evil tightening her heart, the second Mrs. de Winter walks in the shadow of her mysterious predecessor, determined to uncover the darkest secrets and shattering truths about Maxim’s first wife, the late and hauntingly beautiful Rebecca.

 

Melusine by Sarah Monette

Felix Harrowgate is a dashing, highly respected wizard. But his aristocratic peers don’t know his dark past — how his abusive former master enslaved him, body and soul, and trained him to pass as a nobleman. Within the walls of the Mirador — Melusine’s citadel of power and wizardry — Felix believed he was safe. He was wrong. Now, the horrors of his previous life have found him and threaten to destroy all he has since become.  Mildmay the Fox is used to being hunted. Raised as a kept-thief and trained as an assassin, he escaped his Keeper long ago and lives on his own as a cat burglar. But now he has been caught by a mysterious foreign wizard using a powerful calling charm. And yet the wizard was looking not for Mildmay — but for Felix Harrowgate. Thrown together by fate, Felix and Mildmay journey far from Melusine through lands thick with strange magics and terrible demons of darkness, but it is the shocking secret from their pasts, linking them  together, that will either save them, or destroy them

 

St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves by Karen Russell

In these ten glittering stories, debut author Karen Russell takes us to the ghostly and magical swamps of the Florida Everglades. Here wolf-like girls are reformed by nuns, a family makes their living wrestling alligators in a theme park, and little girls sail away on crab shells. Filled with stunning inventiveness and heart, “St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves”introduces a radiant new writer.

Sacre Bleu by Christopher Moore

A rollicking tale that features special printed map endpapers and more than two dozen masterpieces of art throughout the book, Sacre Bleu is better than a day at the museum! In July 1890, Vincent van Gogh went into a cornfield and shot himself. Or did he? Why would an artist at the height of his creative powers attempt to take his own life . . . and then walk a mile to a doctor’s house for help? Who was the crooked little “color man” Vincent had claimed was stalking him across France? And why had the painter recently become deathly afraid of a certain shade of blue?  These are just a few of the questions confronting Vincent’s friends—baker-turned-painter Lucien Lessard and bon vivant Henri Toulouse-Lautrec—who vow to discover the truth about van Gogh’s untimely death. Their quest will lead them on a surreal odyssey and brothel-crawl deep into the art world of late nineteenth-century Paris.

 

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart—he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm; she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season’s first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone—but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees. This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent place things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them.

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