7 Most-Favorable Reviews in August 2020

  • September 3, 2020

We came, we read, we gushed. Here’s a recap of the titles that left us especially warm and swoony last month.

7 Most-Favorable Reviews in August 2020

Musical Chairs: A Novel by Amy Poeppel (Atria/Emily Bestler Books). Reviewed by Heidi Mastrogiovanni. “Musical Chairs is part Feydeau farce and part hit sitcom and part British drawing room comedy, the comparison being inspired by the entertaining and satisfying qualities the novel shares with these styles of storytelling. As Bridget’s daughter observes: ‘Noel Coward, thought Isabelle, could spruce up this scene, get it stage-ready. All that was missing was the slamming of doors.’”

The Indomitable Florence Finch: The Untold Story of a War Widow Turned Resistance Fighter and Savior of American POWs by Robert J. Mrazek (Hachette Books). Reviewed by Andrew M. Mayer. “Robert Mrazek is to be praised for his serious research and superior writing style, both of which make this chronicle of Florence’s real-life adventures an absorbing saga. Her receipt of the Medal of Freedom spotlighted her brave, fearless war effort, just as The Indomitable Florence Finch brings her life and service to our attention.”

Other People’s Pets: A Novel by R.L. Maizes (Celadon Books). Reviewed by Helene Meyers. “Resisting both despair and sentimentality, Other People’s Pets deals with the toughest stuff: maternal love that is anything but unconditional, literal and psychic imprisonment, the death of love and beloved pets, second chances thwarted by fate or bad luck. Lousy hands dealt by life, and parental units who are hard to honor, are mourned.”

Hieroglyphics: A Novel by Jill McCorkle (Algonquin Books). Reviewed by Keith Donohue. “The real joy of Hieroglyphics is its intricacy, the pieces of four stories assembled into a mosaic of love and pain and redemption. Whether in Lil’s first-person epistolary account or the others’ accounts in third person, the plain and elegant style pulls the reader through its shifts and counterpoints. You emerge bedazzled, blinking in the bright sunlight of now and carrying the shards of their experiences in your heart.”

Hamnet: A Novel by Maggie O’Farrell (Knopf). Reviewed by Robert Allen Papinchak. “With the little that is known about the playwright’s personal life and the even less that is known about his only son, O’Farrell has taken what she calls ‘idle speculation’ and ‘scant historical facts’ and transformed them into a spectacular narrative. She reconstructs the life and times of the Bard of Avon, his wife, and his children. And she makes the story her own.”

Love After Love: A Novel by Ingrid Persaud (One World). Reviewed by Erin Guthrie. “In a year when a getaway to even a favorite nearby haunt may be out of reach, your best bet for finding an escape is within the pages of a transportive work of fiction. Enter Ingrid Persaud’s Love After Love: It’s your passport to Trinidad for the tale of one small found family and all the different shades of love that can imprison and sustain us.”

Pale: A Novel by Edward A. Farmer (Blackstone Publishing). Reviewed by Carrie Callaghan. “Author Edward A. Farmer places the Kerns’ plantation in a world almost without time. There are a few references to the Civil Rights movement roiling far beyond the fields, but for the most part, time ticks away in the hot, echoing halls of the big house much like it did a hundred years before. The missus sits on the porch, while Mr. Kern gives exacting instructions to his Black field hands. There is no threat of the whip, but the workers never forget the ever-present reality of racial violence looming over them.”

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