Subtle and low-key, Miller’s debut coolly appraises the poet while fully inhabiting the woman in his shadow.

MORE MIRACLE THAN BIRD

An atmospheric novel conjures up Georgie Hyde-Lees, the woman whose automatic writing is credited with enabling poet W.B. Yeats’ late work, a clever, rational, sympathetic figure in her own right.

Indulged by her alcoholic father and disapproved of by her sterner mother, Georgie emerges, as Miller’s debut opens, as an independent-minded, questioning young woman living in London in a pre-feminist era. It’s 1916, and, keen to help with the war effort, Georgie has taken on a menial hospital job, tending to wounded officers, that comes with the useful benefit of lodgings that liberate her from her mother’s home while also allowing her to pursue her interest in spiritualism and see friends at will. These friends include the poets Ezra Pound, who will marry Georgie’s best friend, and W.B. Yeats, an Irishman twice her age who shares her interest in mediums and séances and will introduce her to the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. An unspoken moment of intensity between Yeats and Georgie leads to an assumption that they will marry, yet Yeats seems distant and is rumored to still be seeking a marriage with the woman he has pursued for decades, Maude Gonne. Miller draws an empathetic—if loosely paced—portrait of Georgie, a young woman seeking certitude and intellectual satisfaction in a confusing landscape of war, mysticism, supposed intellectuals, and affairs of the heart. The latter are complicated by the attentions of one of the wounded officers and the comments of a medium who suggests Yeats has three possible women to choose from. Meeting that third woman—Iseult Gonne, Maude’s daughter—at one of Yeats’ parties, Georgie gains clarity on several matters, including her own naiveté, and flees London. But neither the spirits nor the menfolk have quite finished with her.

Subtle and low-key, Miller’s debut coolly appraises the poet while fully inhabiting the woman in his shadow.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-947793-76-7

Page Count: 360

Publisher: Tin House

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

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THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY

An unhappy woman who tries to commit suicide finds herself in a mysterious library that allows her to explore new lives.

How far would you go to address every regret you ever had? That’s the question at the heart of Haig’s latest novel, which imagines the plane between life and death as a vast library filled with books detailing every existence a person could have. Thrust into this mysterious way station is Nora Seed, a depressed and desperate woman estranged from her family and friends. Nora has just lost her job, and her cat is dead. Believing she has no reason to go on, she writes a farewell note and takes an overdose of antidepressants. But instead of waking up in heaven, hell, or eternal nothingness, she finds herself in a library filled with books that offer her a chance to experience an infinite number of new lives. Guided by Mrs. Elm, her former school librarian, she can pull a book from the shelf and enter a new existence—as a country pub owner with her ex-boyfriend, as a researcher on an Arctic island, as a rock star singing in stadiums full of screaming fans. But how will she know which life will make her happy? This book isn't heavy on hows; you won’t need an advanced degree in quantum physics or string theory to follow its simple yet fantastical logic. Predicting the path Nora will ultimately choose isn’t difficult, either. Haig treats the subject of suicide with a light touch, and the book’s playful tone will be welcome to readers who like their fantasies sweet if a little too forgettable.

A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-52-555947-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

THE MYSTERY OF MRS. CHRISTIE

In December 1926, mystery writer Agatha Christie really did disappear for 11 days. Was it a hoax? Or did her husband resort to foul play?

When Agatha meets Archie on a dance floor in 1912, the obscure yet handsome pilot quickly sweeps her off her feet with his daring. Archie seems smitten with her. Defying her family’s expectations, Agatha consents to marry Archie rather than her intended, the reliable yet boring Reggie Lucy. Although the war keeps them apart, straining their early marriage, Agatha finds meaningful work as a nurse and dispensary assistant, jobs that teach her a lot about poisons, knowledge that helps shape her early short stories and novels. While Agatha’s career flourishes after the war, Archie suffers setback after setback. Determined to keep her man happy, Agatha finds herself cooking elaborate meals, squelching her natural affections for their daughter (after all, Archie must always feel like the most important person in her life), and downplaying her own troubles, including her grief over her mother's death. Nonetheless, Archie grows increasingly morose. In fact, he is away from home the day Agatha disappears. By the time Detective Chief Constable Kenward arrives, Agatha has already been missing for a day. After discovering—and burning—a mysterious letter from Agatha, Archie is less than eager to help the police. His reluctance and arrogance work against him, and soon the police, the newspapers, the Christies’ staff, and even his daughter’s classmates suspect him of harming his wife. Benedict concocts a worthy mystery of her own, as chapters alternate between Archie’s negotiation of the investigation and Agatha’s recounting of their relationship. She keeps the reader guessing: Which narrator is reliable? Who is the real villain?

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8272-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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