Wolves, wives, witches, and wanderings fill the pages of this week’s set of anticipated reads. On top of which, Patti goes coastal on both of her choices.
Lives of the Wives by Carmela Ciuraru
A witty look inside the tumultuous marriages of five famous writers—focusing on the “wives” of either gender—that illuminates the creative process as well as the role of money, fame, and power in these complex, fascinating relationships.
The history of wives is largely one of silence, resilience, and forbearance. Toss in celebrity, male privilege, ruthless ambition, narcissism, misogyny, infidelity, alcoholism, and a mood disorder or two, and it’s easy to understand why the marriages of so many famous writers have been stormy, short-lived, and mutually destructive.
A provocative exploration of the intersection of life and art, creativity and love, envy and rage, Lives of the Wives offers a fresh and unusual look at literary life that is insightful, poignant, humorous, and always surprising.
Release date: February 7th
Wanderlust by Reid Mitenbuler
Deep in the Arctic wilderness, Peter Freuchen was buried alive under the snow. During a sudden blizzard, he had taken shelter underneath his dogsled. He managed to claw a hole through the ice only to find himself in even greater danger: his beard, wet with condensation from his struggling breath, had frozen to his sled runners, locking him in place as feeling drained from his body… If Freuchen could escape that, he could escape anything.
Freuchen’s life seemed ripped from the pages of an adventure novel—and provided fodder for many books of his own. A wildly eccentric Dane with an out-of-nowhere sense of humor, his insatiable curiosity drove him from the twilight years of Arctic exploration to the Golden Age of Hollywood, and from the burgeoning field of climate research to the Danish underground during World War II. He conducted jaw-dropping expeditions, survived a Nazi prison camp, and overcame a devastating injury that robbed him of his foot and very nearly his life. Through it all, he was guided not only by restlessness but also by ideals that were remarkably ahead of his time, championing Indigenous communities, environmental stewardship, and starting conversations that continue today.
Meticulously researched and grippingly written, Wanderlust is an unforgettable tale of daring and discovery, an inspiring portrait of restlessness and grit, and a powerful meditation on our relationship to the planet and our fellow human beings. Reid Mitenbuler’s exquisite book restores a heroic giant of the last century back into public view.
Release date: February 21st
The Climate Book by Greta Thunberg
You might think it’s an impossible task: secure a safe future for life on Earth, at a scale and speed never seen, against all the odds. There is hope – but only if we listen to the science before it’s too late.
In The Climate Book, Greta Thunberg has gathered the wisdom of over one hundred experts – geophysicists, oceanographers and meteorologists; engineers, economists and mathematicians; historians, philosophers and indigenous leaders – to equip us all with the knowledge we need to combat climate disaster. Throughout, illuminating and often shocking grayscale charts, graphs, diagrams, photographs, and illustrations underscore their research and their arguments. Alongside them, she shares her own stories of demonstrating and uncovering greenwashing around the world, revealing how much we have been kept in the dark. This is one of our biggest challenges, she shows, but also our greatest source of hope. Once we are given the full picture, how can we not act? And if a schoolchild’s strike could ignite a global protest, what could we do collectively if we tried?
We are alive at the most decisive time in the history of humanity. Together, we can do the seemingly impossible. But it has to be us, and it has to be now.
Release date: February 14th
My Father’s House by Joseph O’Connor
September 1943: German forces occupy Rome. Gestapo boss Obersturmbannführer Paul Hauptmann rules with terror. Hunger is widespread. Rumors fester. The war’s outcome is far from certain.
Diplomats, refugees, and escaped Allied prisoners flee for protection into Vatican City, at one fifth of a square mile the world’s smallest state, a neutral, independent country within Rome. A small band of unlikely friends led by a courageous Irish priest is drawn into deadly danger as they seek to help those seeking refuge.
Book 1 in the Rome Escape Line Trilogy, My Father’s House is a powerful, heartbreaking literary thriller based on the true story of Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty, who risked his life to smuggle thousands of Jews and escaped Allied prisoners out of Italy under the nose of his Nazi nemesis. A deadly high-stakes battle of wits ensues in this astonishing, unforgettable story of love, faith and sacrifice, exploring what it means to be truly human in the most extreme circumstances.
Release date: February 10th
Wolfish by Erica Berry
“This is one of those stories that begins with a female body. Hers was crumpled, roadside, in the ash-colored slush between asphalt and snowbank.”
So begins Erica Berry’s kaleidoscopic exploration of wolves, both real and symbolic. At the center of this lyrical inquiry is the legendary OR-7, who roams away from his familial pack in northeastern Oregon. While charting OR-7’s record-breaking journey out of the Wallowa Mountains, Erica simultaneously details her own coming-of-age as she moves away from home and wrestles with inherited beliefs about fear, danger, femininity, and the body.
As Erica chronicles her own migration—from crying wolf as a child on her grandfather’s sheep farm to accidentally eating mandrake in Sicily—she searches for new expressions for how to be a brave woman, human, and animal in our warming world. What do stories so long told about wolves tell us about our relationship to fear? How can our society peel back the layers of what scares us? By strategically unspooling the strands of our cultural constructions of predator and prey, and what it means to navigate a world in which we can be both, Erica bridges the gap between human fear and grief through the lens of a wrongfully misunderstood species.
Wolfish is for anybody trying to navigate a world that is often scary. A powerful, timeless, and necessary book for our current and future generations.
Release date: February 21st
Sterling Karat Gold by Isabel Waidner
Sterling Beckenbauer is plunged into a terrifying and nonsensical world one morning when they are attacked, then unfairly arrested, in their neighborhood in London. With the help of their friends, Sterling hosts a trial of their own in order to exonerate themselves and to hold the powers that be to account.
Sterling Karat Gold, in the words of Kamila Shamsie, is “a madly brilliant and deeply sane novel that reveals surrealism as possibly the most effective way of talking about the political moment we find ourselves in.” In it, Isabel Waidner concocts a world replete with bullfighters, high fashion, DIY theater, the Beach Boys, and time-traveling spaceships. The acclaimed winner of the 2021 Goldsmiths Prize for fiction that breaks the mold and extends the possibilities of the form, this novel explores the phantasmagoric nature of contemporary life, especially for nonbinary migrants, and daringly revises how solidarity and justice might be sought and won. Sterling Karat Gold couldn’t be a better North American introduction to a writer with an irresistible style and unforgettable vision.
Release date: February 7th
Dyscalculia by Camonghne Felix
When Camonghne Felix goes through a monumental breakup, culminating in a hospital stay, everything—from her early childhood trauma and mental health to her relationship with mathematics—shows up in the tapestry of her healing. In this exquisite and raw reflection, Felix repossesses herself through the exploration of history she’d left behind, using her childhood “dyscalculia”—a disorder that makes it difficult to learn math—as a metaphor for the consequences of her miscalculations in love. Through reckoning with this breakup and other adult gambles in intimacy, Felix asks the question: Who gets to assert their right to pain?
Dyscalculia negotiates the misalignments of perception and reality, love and harm, and the politics of heartbreak, both romantic and familial.
Release date: February 14th
VenCo by Cherie Dimaline
Lucky St. James, orphaned daughter of a bad-ass Métis good-times girl, is barely hanging on to her nowhere life when she finds out that she and her grandmother, Stella, are about to be evicted from their apartment. Bad to worse in a heartbeat. Then one night, doing laundry in the building’s dank basement, Lucky feels an irresistible something calling to her. Crawling through a hidden hole in the wall, she finds a tarnished silver spoon depicting a story-book hag over letters that spell out S-A-L-E-M.
Which alerts Salem-born Meena Good, finder of a matching spoon, to Lucky’s existence. One of the most powerful witches in North America, Meena has been called to bring together seven special witches and seven special spoons—infused with magic and scattered to the four directions more than a century ago—to form a magic circle that will restore women to their rightful power. Under the wing of the international headhunting firm VenCo, devoted to placing exceptional women in roles where they can influence business, politics and the arts, Meena has spent years searching out witches hiding in plain sight wherever women gather: suburban book clubs, Mommy & Me groups, temp agencies. Lucky and her spoon are number six.
With only one more spoon to find, a very powerful adversary has Meena’s coven in his sights—Jay Christos, a roguish and deadly witch-hunter as old as witchcraft itself. As the clock ticks toward a now-or-never deadline, Meena sends Lucky and her grandmother on a dangerous, sometimes hilarious, road trip through the United States in search of the seventh spoon. The trail leads them at last to the darkly magical city of New Orleans, where Lucky’s final showdown with Jay Christos will determine whether the coven will be completed, ushering in a new beginning, or whether witches will be forced to remain forever underground.
Release date: February 14th
Lesser Islands by Lorenza Pieri
A tiny island in the middle of the Mediterranean with fewer than a thousand inhabitants. An older sister, a combative mother, a hedonistic father, a grandmother who fought in the Resistance, a wild younger brother. These are the people and the place that Teresa—the younger daughter and narrator—tries to escape from, eager to find a place in the world that she can call her own.
But soon enough she’ll have to reckon with the island, with the bittersweet distance separating her from her beloved yet domineering sister, and with the long shadow of the darkest moments in Italian history. Guided by nostalgia for the long, bright summer that was her childhood, Teresa will have to confront her condition, perceived or real, as the “lesser” one—accepting herself and rediscovering what she thought she had to escape from.
Between a coming-of-age novel, a family saga, and a parable on the last forty years of Italian history, Lorenza Pieri’s novel is an intense and luminous book, in which language has the magnetic force of the stark, beautiful landscape that has inspired it.
Release date: March 3rd
Far Cry by Alissa York
It’s 1922 at Far Cry Cannery, a quarter-mile of boardwalk and wooden buildings strung along the rocks of Rivers Inlet on the northwest coast of British Columbia. The time has come for Anders Viken, storekeeper and honorary uncle to the recently orphaned Kit, to give an account of his secret self—from his first home in Norway, another land of islands and fjords, to his escape from his family’s loving grip, to his wide-open years of rough living and impossible love.
As the sockeye flood up the inlet, Anders sets his secrets down for 18-year-old Kit, the only member of his chosen family he has left after her mother, Bobbie, scandalized Far Cry by running off with the camp’s handsome Chinese cook, and her father, Frank, was found drowned alongside his own boat. While Anders does his reckoning, Kit fends off the attentions of the cannery manager and tries to earn her keep. Oars in hand, she glides her skiff out over the great returning school and casts her net. This, at least, makes sense to her, as opposed to the convoluted workings of love.
Release date: February 28th