Sunday, June 24, 2012

Hot off the Press: This Bright River and The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D.



As you might have noticed, this blog is a fan of author Patrick Somerville - a BIG fan. I'd been eagerly awaiting the release of his latest novel This Bright River (due in stores this week!) and it did not disappoint - loved this literary fiction meets thriller meets love story. In it, funny, smart, and adrift Ben Hanson finds himself back in his childhood hometown of St. Helen’s, Wisconsin. His uncle has recently passed away, and in a lightly-disguised effort to help him get back on track, Ben’s family has dispatched him to clean up the property and prepare it for sale. As Ben navigates his awkward return to St. Helen’s, he runs into former high school classmate Lauren Sheehan, a lovely but guarded woman who has come home for troubling reasons of her own. While their tentative romance blooms, Lauren is haunted by her terrifying past, Ben must solve a family mystery of his own, and confronting history becomes the only way forward for them both. My full review is posted over on LitStack, should you care to read further, and don't miss this terrific interview with the author at The Rumpus.

This Bright River
Patrick Somerville
Reagan Arthur Books; Little Brown & Company
ISBN-10: 0316129313
(June 26, 2012)


In the poignant and resonant The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D., Elizabeth Martin, a young woman and seemingly consummate stay-at-home mother dies in a freak accident, leaving behind a trunk full of diaries and the instruction that they be given to her best friend Kate, who would “know what should be done with them.” Kate is surprised by the bequest and not at all sure what to do, but starts at the beginning with Elizabeth’s childhood journals. As she reads, Kate not only discovers a woman far different from the Elizabeth she thought she knew, she uncovers some long-buried desires of her own. This is a moving novel about motherhood, friendships and women's self-identity, and if that isn't enough to convince you, you can read my full review over at LitStack.

The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D.
Nichole Bernier
Crown Publishers, 2012
ISBN 978-0-307-88780-1

What recent releases are you enjoying this summer? Share in the comments, and happy reading!


My thanks to Reagan Arthur Books/Little, Brown and Company and Crown Publishing for a complimentary review copies of these novels.







13 comments :

  1. Nichole is an acquaintance of mine & I'm so happy to hear her book is so good! I need to read it soon- I should have already!

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    1. Oh very cool! Yes, I found it really resonated - hope you enjoy it!

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  2. Hi! You just won the Liebster Blog Award!

    Visit www.bookwormsavenue.blogspot.com for more informations.

    Congratulations!! :))

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    1. Thanks, samaine18 - very kind of you :D

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  3. I'm about halfway through This Bright River and was thinking, over my morning coffee, that what I like about this book is this: Although the characters have had rough luck - there is not the overwhelming sense of desparation that brings down so many otherwise good novels. In contrast, I recently read Gone Girl, which I found depressing as it tainted my view of the world and momentarily darkened every thing around me. It's one of those books that make you wonder why you bother to get up in the morning because life is so sucky. It's quite a fine line out there between writing a hard luck tale, and writing a story that sucks the life out of the reader...Looks like Somerville is getting it right so far. Thanks for the recommendation!

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    1. Oh glad you are liking it so far- I think you are right about the balance and also I thought the main character had a great sense of humor generally & about his own situation. The novel takes a dramatic turn about where you are, will be curious to hear what you think of the ending. Interesting reflection on Gone Girl - sounds very depleting :/

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  4. Just finished This Bright River. What a beautifully written book. You were right about the dramatic turn! Wow... I really enjoyed it and liked the ending a lot. I think it stayed true to all the characters. I found his obsession/revenge plot line to be very well written and clever - and I really appreciated his portraying both sides of the coin (at least in the Will/Lauren relationship). Anyway, great recommendation and I look forward to the next Books, Personally read.

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    1. So happy you enjoyed it! He's really an amazing writer. The author recently wrote a piece for Salon.com in response to the NYT review, you might be interested if you haven't seen it http://www.salon.com/2012/07/05/thank_you_for_killing_my_novel/

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  5. I just finished The Cradle. In one sitting. Wow. Thanks for turning me on to him...great writer.

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    1. Fantastic! Still need to get to that one...

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  6. It was a great read. I still find myself thinking about it from time to time. As an adoptive parent, the story gives me the shivers from what might have been the fate of my own child. I recently read Xinran's book of stories from the perspective of Chinese women who gave up children for adoption which was helpful here in terms of understanding the other main character. I am looking forward to reading his short stories. The library has The Universe in Miniature and it is on the way!

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  7. Just finished the Unfinished Works of Elizabeth D. Excellent writing, compelling story, and very interesting characters. Thanks for the recommendation.

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    1. So welcome, & glad you enjoyed it. Xinran's stories sound fascinating - with so many children adopted from China, one often wonders about their/their birth families' stories.

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Thanks for visiting - thoughts welcome.