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Books on Display – AD – January 2014

AD-January-2014

1. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.   2. Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan by William Dalrymple.  3.  The First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom.  

1. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt  

“”The Goldfinch” is a rarity that comes along perhaps half a dozen times per decade, a smartly written literary novel that connects with the heart as well as the mind….Donna Tartt has delivered an extraordinary work of fiction.”–Stephen King, “The New York Times Book Review” Composed with the skills of a master, “The Goldfinch” is a haunted odyssey through present day America and a drama of enthralling force and acuity. It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art. As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love-and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle. “The Goldfinch” is a novel of shocking narrative energy and power. It combines unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and breathtaking suspense, while plumbing with a philosopher’s calm the deepest mysteries of love, identity, and art. It is a beautiful, stay-up-all-night and tell-all-your-friends triumph, an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.

 

2. Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan by William Dalrymple

In the spring of 1839, the British invaded Afghanistan for the first time. Led by lancers in scarlet cloaks and plumed shakos, nearly 20,000 British and East India Company troops poured through the high mountain passes and re-established on the throne Shah Shuja ul-Mulk. On the way in, the British faced little resistance. But after two years of occupation, the Afghan people rose in answer to the call for jihad and the country exploded into violent rebellion. The First Anglo-Afghan War ended in Britain’s greatest military humiliation of the nineteenth century: an entire army of the then most powerful nation in the world ambushed in retreat and utterly routed by poorly equipped tribesmen. Return of a King is the definitive analysis of the First Afghan War, told through the lives of unforgettable characters on all sides and using for the first time contemporary Afghan accounts of the conflict. Prize-winning and bestselling historian William Dalrymple’s masterful retelling of Britain’s greatest imperial disaster is a powerful and important parable of colonial ambition and cultural collision, folly and hubris, for our times.

 

3.  The First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom

“What if the end is not the end?” From the beloved author of the #1 New York Times bestsellers Tuesdays with Morrie and The Five People You Meet in Heaven comes his most thrilling and magical novel yet–a page-turning mystery and a meditation on the power of human connection. One morning in the small town of Coldwater, Michigan, the phones start ringing. The voices say they are calling from heaven. Is it the greatest miracle ever? Or some cruel hoax? As news of these strange calls spreads, outsiders flock to Coldwater to be a part of it. At the same time, a disgraced pilot named Sully Harding returns to Coldwater from prison to discover his hometown gripped by “miracle fever.” Even his young son carries a toy phone, hoping to hear from his mother in heaven. As the calls increase, and proof of an afterlife begins to surface, the town–and the world–transforms. Only Sully, convinced there is nothing beyond this sad life, digs into the phenomenon, determined to disprove it for his child and his own broken heart. Moving seamlessly between the invention of the telephone in 1876 and a world obsessed with the next level of communication, Mitch Albom takes readers on a breathtaking ride of frenzied hope. The First Phone Call from Heaven is Mitch Albom at his best–a virtuosic story of love, history, and belief.

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