Friday, May 11, 2012

3 4 Friday: different reads - Caleb's Crossing, River and Smoke and The Coincidence Engine

This Friday, the staff have selected three very different - but nevertheless brilliant - books, new out in paperback, either for you to treat yourself, for your bookgroup - or to buy someone who loves new fiction.


First up is one of Ellie's current favourites, 'Caleb's Crossing' by author Geraldine Brooks. Here's Ellie's thoughts:


"It's an evocative story about Caleb Cheeshahteaumauk, the first Native American to graduate from Harvard College, which celebrates his truly amazing achievements. Based on fact, the characters and their struggles are brought to life by the fictional Bethia, whose own innocence and beliefs contrast beautifully with the events that occur. The depth of Geraldine's research stands out, particularly in her portrayal of these individual struggles and the conflict on the larger scale between the Native American medicine men and the English ministers. The relationship between Caleb and Bethia movingly explores the boundary between the two cultures and the inevitable difficulties, even between friends. I wasn't sure about this book from the description on the back, but it really was fantastic and didn't disappoint. It was an engaging and moving story and a truly wonderful read."


Next is one of Nicki's picks, the latest book in paperback from Bengali Indian author Amitav Ghosh, 'River of Smoke'. Here's Nicki's thoughts:


"Ghosh is probably most famous for his novel The Glass Palace, a sweeping historical novel that takes in issues of colonialism, social changes and nationhood (aside from a nice line in wry Anglo-English wit!). 'River of Smoke' is the sequel to 'Sea of Poppies' (although you don't need to read the first book to appreciate this). Set against the backdrop of the Opium Wars, this is Ghosh at his best: research lightly worn, a cracking plot, and a cast of characters who make fresh what is an area of history that we may think we know well. Ignore the cheesy Daily Mail quote on the cover...this is just a great story!"


And finally Mark has picked a book that is definitely 'one of his'. 'The Coincidence Engine' by Sam Leith is a  short, ideas-packed satirical thriller set in the world of probability, national security and hokey Americana. It's a debut novel by journalist Sam Leith, and whilst it has its flaws, it's a wonderful fresh debut that's a lot of fun. When highly improbable things start happening across America, it's up to the Department of the Extremely Improbable (DEI) to work out what this new threat to national security is, and they use all the available paranoid state apparatus to investigate what Donald Rumsfeld was probably referring to with his infamous "unknown unknowns" speech. We like debut authors at Mostly Books - and Sam is definitely one to watch...

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