Here are some of the new books available from the Bucks County Library system.
The Blessings by Elise Juska
The Blessings of Philadelphia, a large, close Irish-American family finds itself devastated by the death John Blessing who leaves behind a wife and two small children. His death reverberates through his extended family for years to come. Juska tracks several family members over the span of two generations that follow his death. John’s mother has been recently widowed and had leaned on John for support during her sorrow. There’s Abby, who comes to understand the importance of a supportive and close knit family only after college graduation. There’s Stephen, on the road to becoming a ne'er-do-well, and Abby’s Uncle Patrick a successful eye doctor contemplating an affair. Abby’s grandmother’s encroaching dementia is among the more difficult story lines in the book. All the family member rally round each other whether the attention is wanted at the time of crisis or not. The reader is richer for having spent time with the Blessings, learning how each of us shapes our families and how they shape us.
50 Children by Steven Press man (April)
Based on the acclaimed HBO documentary, journalist Pressman, the grandson-in-law of Eleanor and Gilbert Kraus, pens the powerful true story of Philadelphia lawyer Kraus and his wife, who in 1939 rescued fifty children from Nazi occupied Austria and brought them to the United States. In 1939, few Americans were concerned about the coming storm in Europe and fewer still were overly concerned about the continually worsening plight of the Jews in Germany and Austria. One ordinary American couple decided they could not stand idly by any longer. Against overwhelming obstacles thrown up by both the US and Germany, they took the unprecedented and dangerous step of choosing to enter Hitler’s Germany and rescue a group of Jewish children. Fewer than 1,200 unaccompanied children were permitted to enter the United States during the entire Holocaust, when 1.5 million children perished, so the fifty unaccompanied children that the Krauses got into the United States and settled in a camp in Collegeville, PA, was the single largest group of children to enter the United States during that time.
In telling a story that is as troubling as it is inspirational, Kraus was able to draw from the private diaries of Eleanor Kraus and from rare historical documents. Additionally, he was able to interview more than a dozen of the surviving children. Illustrated with period photographs, historical memorabilia and archival materials, the book is testimony to a remarkable personal courage and heroism that offers a unique insight into a critical period of history. Recommended for readers who liked In the Garden of Beasts and A Train in Winter.
Sous Chef: 24 Hours on the Line by Michael Gibney
Chef Michael Gibney uses 24 hours to animate the intricate camaraderie and culinary choreography in an upscale New York restaurant kitchen. In Sous Chef, readers will find all the details, in rapid-fire succession, of what it takes to deliver an exceptional plate of food, the journey to excellence by way of exhaustion. Gibney foregoes the name dropping and horror stories of recent restaurant tell-all books and invites the reader to stand side-by-side with him as he works his way through a day in the kitchen. He includes diagrams of the seventeen zones in a kitchen and introduces us to the restaurant hierarchy from executive chef all the way down to food runners, busboys and dishwashers. For readers unfamiliar with kitchen terms and exotic ingredients, he provides definitions within the text so that there is no flipping to a glossary to understand the language of food and kitchens.
Gibney knows of what he writes. He began working in kitchens when he was 13 and has worked at every station in a commercial kitchen. He has seen the good, the bad and the ugly and spins a rapt tale that everyone who has ever eaten in a restaurant will enjoy.
You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz
Author of the bestseller, Admission, which was made into a movie starring Tina Fey, Korlitz is back again with a woman-of-a-certain-age-in-crisis drama. Grace Reinhart Sachs is living the perfect life - a perfect job as a therapist who has authored a book, You Should Have Known, a perfect doctor husband, Jonathan, a perfect son who adores her and attends a prestigious private school, perfect dwellings in a city apartment and a country house. Although her book cautions women to take charge of their lives and practice due diligence in selecting a mate, it seems she may not have followed her own advice. Karma being what it is, it stands to reason that her perfect life could fall apart at the mere hint of scandal.
When Grace and several other mothers from her son’s school have a meeting to discuss a fund raiser that is taking place at school, there is a new mom present that no one knows. Malga is the new mother on the block, and when she is found brutally murdered a few days later, all the members present at the meeting are questioned. Grace, already sad and tense over this occurrence, becomes more and more anxious as Jonathan, at a medical conference out of town, proves to be unreachable for several days. Then the police return to talk to Grace several times, and thus begins the beginning of the end of Grace’s perfect life…she should have known.
The Other Typist by Rindell, Suzanne
This is a first novel Rindell, and there’s a lot of buzz about it. It’s the Roaring 20s in New York City, and we meet meek little Rose, working at the local precinct police station, typing criminals’ confessions. An orphan who has been raised by nuns, she resides in a women’s boarding house, a prim spinster, far from the current flappers and increasingly liberated women.
Enter Odalie, the ‘other typist’ who has bobbed hair, dresses in new styles and lives in an upscale hotel. Readers will soon realize that Odalie is more than she seems at first glance, but Rose is more naive. When Odalie asks Rose to move in with her, the novel really takes off. Soon Rose in immersed in Odalis’s life and her beginning admiration of Odalie soon turns to obsession. Who is Odalie? Where does she come from? And if she has all the money she seems to, where is it coming from? And if she has money, why is she working as a police stenographer? At a house party in Newport, a young man thinks he recognizes Odalie as the socialite who was engaged to his cousin, but Odalie denies knowing him. By the time he turns up dead, Rose has totally been sucked into Odalis’s world.
Rose’s narration is tart, judgmental, self-righteous and self-justifying. She is astute, but whether she is telling the truth is another matter. Take Alfred Hitchcock, throw in some Patricia Highsmith and season with some flourishes from The Great Gatsby, and you have a deliciously addictive page-turner. It’s a novel about the nature of guilt and innocence and social class in a rapidly changing culture.
NOTE: A couple of these titles are not being published until May, but the records are all in the catalog so people can place holds.
Again, something for every reading taste.