Our 5 Most Popular Posts: September 2023

  • October 3, 2023

We love every piece we run. There are no winners or losers. But all kidding aside, here are September’s winners.

Our 5 Most Popular Posts: September 2023

  1. Jennifer Bort Yacovissi’s review of Tom Lake: A Novel by Ann Patchett (Harper). “Tom Lake is the quietest of quiet stories: a mother recounting select elements of her life to her adult daughters as they pick sweet cherries during the pandemic. Quiet, yes, but gorgeous and entrancing in ways significant and minute via the details tucked into the corners. Emily, Maisie, and Nell are stuck on the farm with their parents, Joe and Lara, as the pandemic rages. Most of their usual seasonal workers, in that first covid summer, can’t make it to northern Michigan for the short, intense harvesting season. Thus, given the work ahead of them to get the crop in, Lara has lots of quality time with her girls, who are clamoring to know the specifics of her early-career romance with famous actor Peter Duke.”

  2. Diane Kiesel’s review of The Case of the Married Woman: Caroline Norton and Her Fight for Justice for Women by Antonia Fraser (Pegasus Books). “Antonia Fraser’s The Case of the Married Woman chronicles her heroine’s metamorphosis from society’s darling to its outcast. In doing so, the author shines a light on the injustices suffered by early-19th-century married women who strayed or were believed to have strayed. Having already lost their identities and legal rights by getting married, women lost their children with separation and divorce. Although slow-moving at times and filled with long-ago British politicians whose names are not widely known, the book will make modern women’s blood boil.”

  3. Bob Duffy’s review of Beatrice’s Last Smile: A New History of the Middle Ages by Mark Gregory Pegg (Oxford University Press). “Assembling this work was clearly a heady business — and a quirky one — for Pegg, who has boldly deputized himself to take on this squirming 12-century heap of people and events. And, yes, he tackles the task with visceral granularity, gracefully capturing the intellectual (read ‘religious’) crosscurrents of the age from the bottom up in narrative snapshot rather than monologue. (In a handful of them, and only a handful, Professor Pegg does glide in with compact commentaries on the trends and preoccupations of the time.)”

  4. Connor Harrison’s review of The Librarianist: A Novel by Patrick deWitt (Ecco). “The novel opens much farther in the future. It’s 2005, when Bob, having awoken from another dream of the hotel, is 71 years into a life defined by the art of the shrug. Living alone in ‘his mint-colored house in Portland’ left to him by his mother, he has retired from his career as the local librarian and spends his time ‘reading, cooking, eating, tidying, and walking.’ He is, as deWitt carefully puts it, ‘not unhappy.’ What quickly becomes clear, however, is that this not-unhappiness comes from decades unruffled by the drama of other people. Instead, Bob lives vicariously through literature, first poring over adventure stories and later graduating to ‘the dependable literary themes of loss, death, heartbreak, and abject alienation.’”

  5. Nick Havey’s review of Washington’s Gay General: The Legends and Loves of Baron von Steuben by Josh Trujillo and Levi Hastings (Abrams ComicArts – Surely). “As the novel progresses toward the Revolutionary War, von Steuben’s charm is amplified and complemented by the author’s. Trujillo’s fluid and dynamic writing is queer itself, offering the reader sharp bits of shade that highlight how necessary the work is — ‘While the records of mediocre heterosexual couples may live on for centuries, queer people rarely get that luxury’ — and reminding us that it was created by authentic voices. Trujillo and Hastings speak to their own experiences understanding their queerness and coming out on their own terms; von Steuben’s story stands in heroic relief.”

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