Books to Read This November
5 Books | by Vulture
Set immediately after the end of WWII, Freya explores the lives and friendship of two british females at a time where gender roles were changing in England. It begins on May 8th, 1945. The streets of London are alive with VE-Day celebrations. In the crowd, twenty-year-old Freya Wyley meets eighteen-year-old Nancy Holdaway. Freya's acerbic wit and free-wheeling politics complement Nancy's gentle, less self-confident nature, and what begins on that eventful day in history is the story of a devoted and competitive friendship that spans two decades. This heralded novel follows the irrepressible lives of these young women. As Freya chooses journalism and Nancy realizes her ambitions as a novelist, their friendship explores the nuances of sexual, emotional and professional rivalries. They are not immune to the sting of betrayal and the tenderness of reconciliation. Beneath the relentless thrum of changing times are the eternal battles fought by women in pursuit of independence and the search for love. Stretching from the war haunted halls of Oxford and the Nuremburg trials to the cultural transformations of the early 1960s, Freya presents the portraits of extraordinary women taking arms against a sea of political and personal tumult. Anthony Quinn has created an immersive story of female friendship and the self-discoveries that reveal the mysteries of the human heart.
From the Man Booker Prize-winning author of The Sea, a dazzling and audacious new novel that extends the story of Isabel Archer, the heroine of Henry James's The Portrait of a Lady, into unexpected territory. Isabel Archer is a young American woman, swept off to Europe in the late nineteenth century by an aunt who hopes to round out the impetuous but naïve girl's experience of the world. When Isabel comes into a large, unexpected inheritance, she is finagled into a marriage with the charming, penniless, and—as Isabel finds out too late—cruel and deceitful Gilbert Osmond, whose connection to a certain Madame Merle is suspiciously intimate. On a trip to England to visit her cousin Ralph Touchett on his deathbed, Isabel is offered a chance to free herself from the marriage, but nonetheless chooses to return to Italy. Banville follows James's story line to this point, but Mrs. Osmond is thoroughly Banville's own: the narrative inventiveness; the lyrical precision and surprise of his language; the layers of emotional and psychological intensity; the subtle, dark humor. And when Isabel arrives in Italy—along with someone else!—the novel takes off in directions that James himself would be thrilled to follow.
Don't Save Anything
Gathered from lecture notes, obituaries, and magazines spanning the decades since the 1970s, comes a brand new compilation of the uncollected writing of this influential author
The Last Girl
In this intimate memoir of survival, a former captive of the Islamic State tells her harrowing and ultimately inspiring story. Nadia Murad was born and raised in Kocho, a small village of farmers and shepherds in northern Iraq. A member of the Yazidi community, she and her brothers and sisters lived a quiet life. Nadia had dreams of becoming a history teacher or opening her own beauty salon. On August 15th, 2014, when Nadia was just twenty-one years old, this life ended. Islamic State militants massacred the people of her village, executing men who refused to convert to Islam and women too old to become sex slaves. Six of Nadia’s brothers were killed, and her mother soon after, their bodies swept into mass graves. Nadia was taken to Mosul and forced, along with thousands of other Yazidi girls, into the ISIS slave trade. Nadia would be held captive by several militants and repeatedly raped and beaten. Finally, she managed a narrow escape through the streets of Mosul, finding shelter in the home of a Sunni Muslim family whose eldest son risked his life to smuggle her to safety. Today, Nadia's story—as a witness to the Islamic State's brutality, a survivor of rape, a refugee, a Yazidi—has forced the world to pay attention to the ongoing genocide in Iraq. It is a call to action, a testament to the human will to survive, and a love letter to a lost country, a fragile community, and a family torn apart by war.
It's All Relative
New York Times bestselling author of The Know-It-All and The Year of Living Biblically, A.J. Jacobs undergoes a hilarious, heartfelt quest to understand what constitutes family—where it begins and how far it goes—and attempts to untangle the true meaning of the “Family of Humankind.” A.J. Jacobs has received some strange emails over the years, but this note was perhaps the strangest: “You don’t know me, but I’m your eighth cousin. And we have over 80,000 relatives of yours in our database.” That’s enough family members to fill Madison Square Garden four times over. Who are these people, A.J. wondered, and how do I find them? So began Jacobs’s three-year adventure to help build the biggest family tree in history. Jacobs’s journey would take him to all seven continents. He drank beer with a US president, found himself singing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and unearthed genetic links to Hollywood actresses and real-life scoundrels. After all, we can choose our friends, but not our family. “Whether he’s posing as a celebrity, outsourcing his chores, or adhering strictly to the Bible, we love reading about the wacky lifestyle experiments of author A.J. Jacobs” (Entertainment Weekly). Now Jacobs upends, in ways both meaningful and hilarious, our understanding of genetics and genealogy, tradition and tribalism, identity and connection. It’s All Relative is a fascinating look at the bonds that connect us all.