A haunting, eloquent, and engaging historical drama.

CHATEAU LAUX

A debut novel about two colonists in America whose lives become entwined during the early years of the 18th century.

Twenty-two-year-old Lawrence Kraymer is tired in body and soul. He owns a successful Philadelphia brewery inherited from his cruel, exacting grandfather, who raised him after the untimely death of his unwed mother. Seeking a sense of inner peace that persistently eludes him, Lawrence hires John, a young Native American, to lead him on a hunting expedition through Pennsylvania’s frontier country. Later, when John heads off to New York, Lawrence chooses to stay behind in the wilderness—but without his guide, he soon finds himself lost. In a move that will change his destiny, he seeks refuge from a storm at a farm owned by Pierre Laux. There, he meets and is captivated by the lovely, 18-year-old Catherine, Pierre’s eldest daughter. As the novel unspools, readers learn that Pierre was born an aristocrat in southern France but arrived in Philadelphia as a destitute, 13-year-old orphan. When Lawrence later decides to build a chateau near Pierre’s farm, it triggers the elder man’s painful memories of life in the Pyrenees and the loss of his mother—the first indications that the novel will take a tragic turn. From the first pages, Loux, a poet and short story author, writes with a grace and a clear love of language that permeates the narrative, as when the story explores the linguistic schisms that divided northern and southern France during Pierre’s childhood. The author includes just enough period detail to bring the era to life without feeling excessive and incorporates intriguing tidbits about French religious conflict in Pierre’s backstory. Although the action in this slow-paced, character-driven tale, which focuses mainly on Pierre, Lawrence, and Pierre’s oldest son, Jean, frequently meanders, there are always signs of approaching conflict from a past that’s not “content to rest in peace.”

A haunting, eloquent, and engaging historical drama.

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-954065-01-7

Page Count: 295

Publisher: Wire Gate Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

THE FOUR WINDS

The miseries of the Depression and Dust Bowl years shape the destiny of a Texas family.

“Hope is a coin I carry: an American penny, given to me by a man I came to love. There were times in my journey when I felt as if that penny and the hope it represented were the only things that kept me going.” We meet Elsa Wolcott in Dalhart, Texas, in 1921, on the eve of her 25th birthday, and wind up with her in California in 1936 in a saga of almost unrelieved woe. Despised by her shallow parents and sisters for being sickly and unattractive—“too tall, too thin, too pale, too unsure of herself”—Elsa escapes their cruelty when a single night of abandon leads to pregnancy and forced marriage to the son of Italian immigrant farmers. Though she finds some joy working the land, tending the animals, and learning her way around Mama Rose's kitchen, her marriage is never happy, the pleasures of early motherhood are brief, and soon the disastrous droughts of the 1930s drive all the farmers of the area to despair and starvation. Elsa's search for a better life for her children takes them out west to California, where things turn out to be even worse. While she never overcomes her low self-esteem about her looks, Elsa displays an iron core of character and courage as she faces dust storms, floods, hunger riots, homelessness, poverty, the misery of migrant labor, bigotry, union busting, violent goons, and more. The pedantic aims of the novel are hard to ignore as Hannah embodies her history lesson in what feels like a series of sepia-toned postcards depicting melodramatic scenes and clichéd emotions.

For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-2501-7860-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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

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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