The past looms large in this week’s selection of books we’re looking forward to: not just in Rupert’s history books, but also in the novels. It’s all about connections, and –unexpectedly– two main characters named Gil!
The Great Canadian Art Fraud Case by Jon S. Dellandrea
In May 2016, Jon S. Dellandrea came into possession of a box of the last effects of an obscure artist, William Firth MacGregor. The contents of the box chronicled a major, and long forgotten, trial involving forgeries of the art of Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven.
The Great Canadian Art Fraud Case takes readers back to 1962, a time when forgeries were turning up on gallery walls, in auction houses, and (unwittingly) being hung in the homes of luminaries across Canada. Inspector James Erskine, enlisting the help of A.J. Casson, the youngest living member of the Group of Seven, set out to discover where the forgeries were coming from. Fifty years later, Dellandrea follows Erskine’s hunt to the end, uncovering the masterminds behind the forgeries.
Lavishly illustrated with reproductions and archival images, The Great Canadian Art Fraud Case unravels the mystery of the greatest art fraud trial in Canadian history. Along the way, it also tells the story of a talented artist whose career might have been so very different.
Due Oct 18
Signal Fires by Dani Shapiro
Signal Fires opens on a summer night in 1985. Three teenagers have been drinking. One of them gets behind the wheel of a car, and, in an instant, everything on Division Street changes. Each of their lives, and that of Ben Wilf, a young doctor who arrives on the scene, is shattered. For the Wilf family, the circumstances of that fatal accident will become the deepest kind of secret, one so dangerous it can never be spoken.
On Division Street, time has moved on. When the Shenkmans arrive—a young couple expecting a baby boy—it is as if the accident never happened. But when Waldo, the Shenkmans’ brilliant, lonely son who marvels at the beauty of the world and has a native ability to find connections in everything, befriends Dr. Wilf, now retired and struggling with his wife’s decline, past events come hurtling back in ways no one could ever have foreseen.
In Dani Shapiro’s first work of fiction in fifteen years, she returns to the form that launched her career, with a riveting, deeply felt novel that examines the ties that bind families together—and the secrets that can break them apart. Signal Fires is a work of haunting beauty by a masterly storyteller.
Due Oct 18
On Every Tide by Sean Connolly
When people think of Irish emigration, they often think of the Great Famine of the 1840s, which caused many to flee Ireland for the United States. But the real history of the Irish diaspora is much longer, more complicated, and more global.
In On Every Tide, Sean Connolly tells the epic story of Irish migration, showing how emigrants became a force in world politics and religion. Starting in the eighteenth century, the Irish fled limited opportunity at home and fanned out across America, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. These emigrants helped settle new frontiers, industrialize the West, and spread Catholicism globally. As the Irish built vibrant communities abroad, they leveraged their newfound power—sometimes becoming oppressors themselves.
Deeply researched and vividly told, On Every Tide is essential reading for understanding how the people of Ireland shaped the world.
Due Oct 11
Tudor England by Lucy Wooding
When Henry VII landed in a secluded bay in a far corner of Wales, it seemed inconceivable that this outsider could ever be king of England. Yet he and his descendants became some of England’s most unforgettable rulers, and gave their name to an age. The story of the Tudor monarchs is as astounding as it was unexpected, but it was not the only one unfolding between 1485 and 1603.
In cities, towns, and villages, families and communities lived their lives through times of great upheaval. In this comprehensive new history, Lucy Wooding lets their voices speak, exploring not just how monarchs ruled but also how men and women thought, wrote, lived, and died. We see a monarchy under strain, religion in crisis, a population contending with war, rebellion, plague, and poverty. Remarkable in its range and depth, Tudor England explores the many tensions of these turbulent years and presents a markedly different picture from the one we thought we knew.
Due Oct 18
Balladz by Sharon Olds
“At the time of have-not, I look at myself in this mirror,” writes Olds in this self-scouring, exhilarating volume, which opens with a section of quarantine poems, and at its center boasts what she calls Amherst Balladz (whose syntax honors Emily Dickinson: “she was our Girl – our Woman – / Man enough – for me”) and many more in her own contemporary, long-flowing-sentence rhythm. Olds sings of her childhood, young womanhood, and maturity all mixed up together, seeing an early lover in the one who is about to buried; seeing her white privilege without apology; seeing her mother (whom her readers will recognize) “flushed exalted at Punishment time”; seeing how we’ve spoiled the earth but carrying a stray indoor spider carefully back out to the garden.
It is Olds’s gift to us that in the richly detailed exposure of her sorrows she can still elegize songbirds, her true kin, and write that heaven comes here in life, not after it.
Due Oct 4
Weasels in the Attic by Hiroko Oyamada
In three interconnected scenes, Hiroko Oyamada revisits the same set of characters at different junctures in their lives. In the back room of a pet store full of rare and exotic fish, old friends discuss dried shrimp and a strange new relationship. A couple who recently moved into a rustic home in the mountains discovers an unsettling solution to their weasel infestation. And a dinner party during a blizzard leads to a night in a room filled with aquariums and unpleasant dreams.
Like Oyamada’s previous novels, Weasels in the Attic sets its sights on the overlooked aspects of contemporary Japanese society, and does so with a surreal sensibility that is entirely her own.
Due Oct 4
The Lost Century by Larissa Lai
Lambda Literary Award winner Larissa Lai (The Tiger Flu) returns with a sprawling historical novel about war, colonialism and queer experience during Japan’s occupation of Hong Kong during World War II.
On the eve of the return of the British Crown Colony of Hong Kong to China in 1997, young Ophelia asks her peculiar great-aunt Violet about the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong during World War II and the disappearance of her uncle Theo. From Violet, she learns the story of her grandmother, Emily.
Emily’s marriage – three times – to her father’s mortal enemy causes a stir among three very different Hong Kong Chinese families, as well as among the young cricketers at the Hong Kong Cricket Club, who’ve just witnessed King Edward VIII’s abdication to marry Wallis Simpson. But the class and race pettiness of the scandal around Emily’s marriage is violently disrupted by the Japanese Imperial Army’s invasion of Hong Kong on Christmas Day, 1941, which plunges the colony into a landscape of violence none of its inhabitants escape from unscathed, least of all Emily. When her situation becomes dire, Violet, along with a crew of unlikely cosmopolitans determines to rescue Emily from the wrath of the person she thought loved her the most, her husband, Tak-Wing. In the middle of it all, a strange match of timeless Test cricket unfolds, in which the ball has an agency all its own.
With great heart, The Lost Century explores the intersections of Asian relations, queer Asian history, underground resistance, the violence of war, and the rise of modern China – a sprawling novel of betrayal, epic violence and intimate passions.
Due Oct 18
The Night Ship by Jess Kidd
1629: A newly orphaned young girl named Mayken is bound for the Dutch East Indies on the Batavia, one of the greatest ships of the Dutch Golden Age. Curious and mischievous, Mayken spends the long journey going on misadventures above and below the deck, searching for a mythical monster. But the true monsters might be closer than she thinks.
1989: A lonely boy named Gil is sent to live off the coast of Western Australia among the seasonal fishing community where his late mother once resided. There, on the tiny reef-shrouded island, he discovers the story of an infamous shipwreck…
With her trademark “thrilling, mysterious, twisted, but more than anything, beautifully written” (Graham Norton, New York Times bestselling author) storytelling, Jess Kidd weaves a unputdownable and charming tale of friendship and sacrifice, brutality and forgiveness.
Due Oct 4
The Whalebone Theatre by Joanna Quinn
One blustery night in 1928, a whale washes up on the shores of the English Channel. By law, it belongs to the King, but twelve-year-old orphan Cristabel Seagrave has other plans. She and the rest of the household—her sister, Flossie; her brother, Digby, long-awaited heir to Chilcombe manor; Maudie Kitcat, kitchen maid; Taras, visiting artist—build a theatre from the beast’s skeletal rib cage. Within the Whalebone Theatre, Cristabel can escape her feckless stepparents and brisk governesses, and her imagination comes to life.
As Cristabel grows into a headstrong young woman, World War II rears its head. She and Digby become British secret agents on separate missions in Nazi-occupied France—a more dangerous kind of playacting, it turns out, and one that threatens to tear the family apart.
Due Oct 4
Dinosaurs by Lydia Millet
Over twelve novels and two collections Lydia Millet has emerged as a major American novelist. Hailed as “a writer without limits” (Karen Russell) and “a stone-cold genius” (Jenny Offill), Millet makes fiction that vividly evokes the ties between people and other animals and the crisis of extinction.
Her exquisite new novel is the story of a man named Gil who walks from New York to Arizona to recover from a failed love. After he arrives, new neighbors move into the glass-walled house next door and his life begins to mesh with theirs. In this warmly textured, drily funny, and philosophical account of Gil’s unexpected devotion to the family, Millet explores the uncanny territory where the self ends and community begins—what one person can do in a world beset by emergencies.
Dinosaurs is both sharp-edged and tender, an emotionally moving, intellectually resonant novel that asks: In the shadow of existential threat, where does hope live?
Due Oct 11