GOOD READS: A Feast of Fiction

0:00 From award-winning author Margaret Atwood comes a highly anticipatedcollection of short stories, “Old Babes in the Woods”. Herinternationally acclaimed “The Handmaid’s Tale” (1985) was […]

Published May 12, 2023 12:06 AM
3 min read

0:00

From award-winning author Margaret Atwood comes a highly anticipated
collection of short stories, “Old Babes in the Woods”. Her
internationally acclaimed “The Handmaid’s Tale” (1985) was adapted into a
notable streaming series, and followed by a 2019 sequel, “The Testaments”,
which won the Booker Prize.
This is an engaging group of 15 stories, some of which were previously
published in The New Yorker and The New York Times. Half trace a
couple, Tig and Nell, and their marriage across a lifetime, and others range
from the satirical to the fantastical: a woman reincarnated into a snail,
another who claims to be a witch, and an imaginary interview with George
Orwell during a séance.
Atwood’s deft storytelling about family, friends, mothers and daughters, and
husband and wife, delight and devastate the reader with the joys and sorrows
of our existence. A letter, of what a future self would say looking back to
their present past, causes us to wonder about our own lives. Touching on the
heart of life’s key relationships makes us aware that how we might
remember them gives us insight into what they mean to us now.
Fans of popular author JoJo Moyes (“Me Before You” and “The Giver of
Stars”) who have been anxious to read her latest, “Someone Else’s
Shoes”
, will enjoy this pleasing, albeit far-fetched, story.
A mixed-up gym bag becomes the premise for a “Trading Places” scenario
between two women, wealthy Nisha and struggling Sam. Specifically, when
Nisha’s red spiky-heeled Louboutins change possession, they become a
literal metaphor for what happens when you walk in someone else’s shoes.
The lives of both women turn into an exchange of gains and losses that
ultimately forces them to recognize what is truly important. Nisha finds
herself homeless and Sam’s job and marriage begin to collapse. They’re

driven by their problems to redefine who they are and what they are capable
of. Likable, diverse characters, humor, and an over-the-top resolution make
this a diverting read about the power of second chances and genuine
friendships.
Four years after “The Clockmaker’s Daughter”, best-selling author Kate
Morton has released her long-awaited new novel, “Homecoming”.
Jess, a young London journalist, returns home to Sydney after twenty years
when the grandmother who raised her suffers a fall. In the attic of her house,
Jess discovers a journal that leads her to look into the mystery of the
infamous and shocking 1959 Christmas murders surrounding the mansion.
How do the grandmother, daughter, and granddaughter tie together with the
historical crime? Morton intricately intertwines the past with the present,
revealing how efforts to bury family secrets to protect the ones we love can
instead damage those we try to protect. This elaborately woven tale entices
you from the start to its unexpected finish.
Eleanor Catton is the youngest person, at 28 years old, to win a Booker Prize
for her debut novel “The Luminaries”. She returns with “Birnam
Woods”
, which has been featured on numerous “Most Anticipated”
books of the year lists.
This psychological thriller takes us to the New Zealand woods where we
meet Mira, the leader and founder of “a guerrilla gardening collective”
trying to stay afloat. She strikes up a partnership with a tech billionaire
benefactor, building a doomsday bunker, who claims to support their
mission.
The young ardently idealistic environmentalists spend their time weeding
and composting while the seductive, yet mercenary, capitalist manufactures
drones and is executing a scheme to become even richer and more powerful.
There may be a blatant villain here, but everyone is flawed. We’re
introduced to a triangle of friends with conflicting ideologies and desires that
work against each other. Catton’s literary adroitness delivers authentic
dialogue and an enthralling cast of complicated characters with contradictory
agendas.

This oft-witty story is a clever nod to “Macbeth”. From its prophetic title to
its surprising high drama ending, it is indeed very Shakespearean —
complete with enemies, ambition, betrayal, and death.

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