Fascinating fictionalized biography of a brilliant woman who should be as renowned as the men who loved her.

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THE WOMAN WHO KNEW NIETZSCHE

An intriguing debut novel about the early life of muse and intellectual Lou Salomé.

Russian-born Louise von Salomé is determined to receive an education at a young age; unfortunately, her early instructor, Pastor Hendrik Gillot, falls in love with her, despite their 25-year age difference. Lou and her mother, Louise, flee to Western Europe to obtain more suitable, sexually untainted instruction for Lou. At Malwida von Meysenbug’s literary salon in Rome, Lou meets Paul Rée, a writer and gambler. They quickly form a cerebral partnership, and through Rée, Lou meets Friedrich Nietzsche. The three want to establish a commune but are deterred by family disapproval and the refusal of both men to accept Lou’s resolve to devote her whole being to intellectual pursuits, without the constraints of marriage, children or even sexual dalliance. Lou alternates between the two men but eventually grows frustrated with Nietzsche’s instability and his jealous, conniving sister Elisabeth. She and Rée move to Berlin, establishing a salon where Lou thrives, publishing her first book and attracting still more admirers, while Rée grows discouraged. In Rée’s absence, Lou is enticed into marriage—celibate by her insistence—with Persian scholar Friedrich Andreas. Author Atala, with a background in comparative literature and philosophy, brings life to 19th-century historical figures, although at times they seem unnaturally self-absorbed. Less convincing is Lou’s allure, her physical and intellectual gifts notwithstanding. Perhaps true to the spirit of the time, the prose is sometimes overblown and dramatic, like the characters themselves. Lou fears “any touching of loins” despite cohabitation and marriage. While Atala’s novel is well-written and researched, it would be enriched by additional context and depth for some of the secondary characters who may not be as well-known to casual readers. Similarly, development and description of the fabulous European settings are given short shrift. Still, Atala offers a captivating glimpse into a notable period of history and intellectual growth.

Fascinating fictionalized biography of a brilliant woman who should be as renowned as the men who loved her.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1497403260

Page Count: 312

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2014

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A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

GHOSTED

In Walsh’s American debut, a woman desperately tries to find out why the man she spent a whirlwind week with never called.

Sarah has just separated from her American husband and is visiting her hometown in England when she meets Eddie. He’s kind and charming, and although they only spend one week together, she falls in love. When he has to leave for a trip, she knows they’ll keep in touch—they’re already making plans for the rest of their lives. But then Eddie never calls, and Sarah’s increasingly frantic efforts to contact him are fruitless. Is he hurt? Is he dead? As her friends tell her, there’s a far greater likelihood that he’s just blowing her off—she’s been ghosted. After trying to track Eddie down at a football game, Sarah starts to become ashamed of herself—after all, she’s almost 40 years old and she’s essentially stalking a man who never called her. But as Sarah slowly learns, she and Eddie didn’t actually meet randomly—they both have a connection to an accident that happened years ago, and it may have something to do with why he disappeared. The tension quickly amps up as the secrets of Eddie’s and Sarah’s pasts are revealed, and the truth behind their connection is genuinely surprising and heartbreaking. The barriers between Sarah and Eddie seem insurmountable at times, and although their issues are resolved in a tidy manner, the emotions behind their actions are always believable. Walsh has created a deeply moving romance with an intriguing mystery and a touching portrait of grief at its heart.

A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-52277-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

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THE STARLESS SEA

A withdrawn graduate student embarks on an epic quest to restore balance to the world in this long-anticipated follow-up to The Night Circus (2011).

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a typical millennial introvert; he likes video games, escapist reading, and drinking sidecars. But when he recognizes himself in the pages of a mysterious book from the university library, he's unnerved—and determined to uncover the truth. What begins as a journey for answers turns into something much bigger, and Zachary must decide whether to trust the handsome stranger he meets at a highflying literary fundraiser in New York or to retreat back to his thesis and forget the whole affair. In a high-wire feat of metatextual derring-do, Morgenstern weaves Zachary's adventure into a stunning array of linked fables, myths, and origin stories. There are pirates and weary travelers, painters who can see the future, lovers torn asunder, a menacing Owl King, and safe harbors for all the stories of the world, far below the Earth on the golden shores of a Starless Sea. Clocking in at more than 500 pages, the novel requires patience as Morgenstern puts all the pieces in place, but it is exquisitely pleasurable to watch the gears of this epic fantasy turn once they're set in motion. As in The Night Circus, Morgenstern is at her best when she imagines worlds and rooms and parties in vivid detail, right down to the ballroom stairs "festooned with lanterns and garlands of paper dipped in gold" or a cloak carved from ice with "ships and sailors and sea monsters...lost in the drifting snow." This novel is a love letter to readers as much as an invitation: Come and see how much magic is left in the world. Fans of Neil Gaiman and V.E. Schwab, Kelly Link and Susanna Clarke will want to heed the call.

An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-385-54121-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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