Deftly written and emotionally powerful, Drowning Ruth is a stunning portrait of the ties that bind sisters together and the forces that tear them apart, of the dangers of keeping secrets and the explosive repercussions when they are exposed. A mesmerizing and achingly beautiful debut. Winter, 1919. Amanda Starkey spends her days nursing soldiers wounded in the Great War. Finding herself suddenly overwhelmed, she flees Milwaukee and retreats to her family's farm on Nagawaukee Lake, seeking comfort with her younger sister, Mathilda, and three-year-old niece, Ruth. But very soon, Amanda comes to see that her old home is no refuge--she has carried her troubles with her. On one terrible night almost a year later, Amanda loses nearly everything that is dearest to her when her sister mysteriously disappears and is later found drowned beneath the ice that covers the lake. When Mathilda's husband comes home from the war, wounded and troubled himself, he finds that Amanda has taken charge of Ruth and the farm, assuming her responsibility with a frightening intensity. Wry and guarded, Amanda tells the story of her family in careful doses, as anxious to hide from herself as from us the secrets of her own past and of that night. Ruth, haunted by her own memory of that fateful night, grows up under the watchful eye of her prickly and possessive aunt and gradually becomes aware of the odd events of her childhood. As she tells her own story with increasing clarity, she reveals the mounting toll that her aunt's secrets exact from her family and everyone around her, until the heartrending truth is uncovered. Guiding us through the lives of the Starkey women, Christina Schwarz's first novel shows her compassion and a unique understanding of the American landscape and the people who live on it. From the Hardcover edition.
'I think I must be an improper woman without knowing it, I do so manage to shock people.' Elizabeth Gaskell's second novel challenged contemporary social attitudes by taking as its heroine a fallen woman. Ruth Hilton is an orphan and an overworked seamstress, an innocent preyed upon by a weak, wealthy seducer. When he heartlessly abandons her she finds shelter and kindness in the home of a dissenting minister and his sister, who do not reject her when she gives birth to an illegitimate child. But Ruth's self-sacrificing love and devotion are tested to the limit by a twist of fate that brings her past back to haunt her. Gaskell's depiction of Ruth lays bare Victorian hypocrisy and sexual double-standards, and her novel is a remarkable story of love, of the sanctuary and tyranny of the family, and of the consequences of lies and deception. ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.
Author: Christina Schwarz
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release Date: 2013-04-02
From the author of Drowning Ruth, a haunting, atmospheric novel set at the closing of the frontier about a young wife who moves to a far-flung and forbidding lighthouse where she uncovers a life-changing secret. In 1898, a woman forsakes the comfort of home and family for a love that takes her to a remote lighthouse on the wild coast of California. What she finds at the edge of the earth, hidden between the sea and the fog, will change her life irrevocably. Trudy, who can argue Kant over dinner and play a respectable portion of Mozart’s Serenade in G major, has been raised to marry her childhood friend and assume a life of bourgeois comfort in Milwaukee. She knows she should be pleased, but she’s restless instead, yearning for something she lacks even the vocabulary to articulate. When she falls in love with enigmatic and ambitious Oskar, she believes she’s found her escape from the banality of her preordained life. But escape turns out to be more fraught than Trudy had imagined. Alienated from family and friends, the couple moves across the country to take a job at a lighthouse at Point Lucia, California—an unnervingly isolated outcropping, trapped between the ocean and hundreds of miles of inaccessible wilderness. There they meet the light station’s only inhabitants—the formidable and guarded Crawleys. In this unfamiliar place, Trudy will find that nothing is as she might have predicted, especially after she discovers what hides among the rocks. Gorgeously detailed, swiftly paced, and anchored in the dramatic geography of the remote and eternally mesmerizing Big Sur, The Edge of the Earth is a magical story of secrets and self-transformation, ruses and rebirths. Christina Schwarz, celebrated for her rich evocation of place and vivid, unpredictable characters, has spun another haunting and unforgettable tale.
At once darkly comedic and moving, this witty exploration of female friendship, envy, and misguided ambition by the author of the number-one bestseller Drowning Ruth, deliciously satirizes the desire to shine in the world. In All is Vanity, Margaret and Letty, best friends since childhood and now living on opposite coasts, reach their mid-thirties and begin to chafe at their sense that they are not where they ought to be in life. Margaret, driven and overconfident, decides the best way to rectify this is to quit her job and whip out a literary tour de force. Frustrated almost immediately and humiliated at every turn, Margaret turns to Letty for support. But as Letty, a stay-at-home mother of four, begins to feel pressured to make a good showing in the upper-middle-class Los Angeles society into which her husband’s new job has thrust her, Margaret sees a plot unfolding that’s better than anything she could make up. Desperate to finish her book and against her better nature, she pushes Letty to take greater and greater risks, and secretly steals her friend’s stories as fast as she can live them. Hungry for the world’s regard, Margaret rashly sacrifices one of the things most precious to her, until the novel’s suspenseful conclusion shows her the terrible consequences of her betrayal. Widely celebrated for her debut novel, Drowning Ruth, Christina Schwarz once again proves herself to be a writer of remarkable depth and range. Like Drowning Ruth, All is Vanity probes into the mysteries of the human heart and uncovers the passions that drive ordinary people to break the rules in pursuit of their own desires. From the Hardcover edition.
Author: Jane Hamilton
Release Date: 2010-12-15
Pen /Hemingway Award-winning novelist Jane Hamilton follows up her first success, The Book Of Ruth, with this spectacularly haunting drama about a rural American family and a disastrous event that forever changes their lives. From the Trade Paperback edition.
Is it possible to be in love with two women at the same time? This is a question Jon has been asking himself frequently these days. He's loved his wife Ginny since the days when a chance encounter in the halls of their high school would leave him unable to speak. But recently Jon has found himself bewitched by Freddi, his colleague at the ad agency, where late-night brainstorming sessions devolve into giggles and sexual attraction. As Jon's guilt becomes all-consuming and Ginny inches closer discovery, a secret kept for thirty years threatens any hope of salvation. Weaving together past and present in a small Midwestern town, Schwarz beautifully conjures the emotional labyrinth of a marriage on the brink of collapse, and a history of love and revenge. From the Trade Paperback edition.
Author: Sue Miller
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release Date: 2002-11-01
Years after a friend was brutally murdered, Jo Becker is now married with a grown family, but when an old housemate moves nearby, Jo rekindles a relationship that takes her back to the past and threatens her future.
Author: Jane Hamilton
Release Date: 2014-10-07
PEN/Hemingway Award Winner: An “enthralling” novel of a woman trapped within a tragically dysfunctional family (Entertainment Weekly). From the New York Times–bestselling author of The Excellent Lombards and A Map of the World, this is “an extraordinary story of a family’s disintegration [that] will be compared to Jane Smiley’s A Thousand Acres” (People). It follows Ruth Grey, a young woman in a tiny Illinois farm town, who has lost her father to World War II, and constantly faces her unhappy mother’s wrath—when she isn’t being ignored in favor of her math-prodigy brother. As Ruth navigates her lonely life, she strives to find happiness and pleasure where she can, but the world may conspire to defeat her. “A sly and wistful, if harrowing, human comedy . . . [An] original voice in fiction and one well worth listening to.” —The Boston Sunday Globe “Unforgettably, beat by beat, Hamilton maps the best and worst of the human heart and all the mysterious, uncharted country in between.” —Kirkus Reviews “Hamilton’s story builds to a shocking crescendo. Her small-town characters are as appealingly offbeat and brushed with grace as any found in Alice Hoffman’s or Anne Tyler’s novels.” —Glamour
A New York Times Notable Book and the March 2001 selection of Oprah's Book Club® ! Icy Sparks is the sad, funny and transcendent tale of a young girl growing up in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky during the 1950’s. Gwyn Hyman Rubio’s beautifully written first novel revolves around Icy Sparks, an unforgettable heroine in the tradition of Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird or Will Treed in Cold Sassy Tree. At the age of ten, Icy, a bright, curious child orphaned as a baby but raised by adoring grandparents, begins to have strange experiences. Try as she might, her "secrets"—verbal croaks, groans, and physical spasms—keep afflicting her. As an adult, she will find out she has Tourette’s Syndrome, a rare neurological disorder, but for years her behavior is the source of mystery, confusion, and deep humiliation. Narrated by a grown up Icy, the book chronicles a difficult, but ultimately hilarious and heartwarming journey, from her first spasms to her self-acceptance as a young woman. Curious about life beyond the hills, talented, and energetic, Icy learns to cut through all barriers—physical, mental, and spiritual—in order to find community and acceptance. Along her journey, Icy faces the jeers of her classmates as well as the malevolence of her often-ignorant teachers—including Mrs. Stilton, one of the most evil fourth grade teachers ever created by a writer. Called willful by her teachers and "Frog Child" by her schoolmates, she is exiled from the schoolroom and sent to a children’s asylum where it is hoped that the roots of her mysterious behavior can be discovered. Here Icy learns about difference—her own and those who are even more scarred than she. Yet, it isn’t until Icy returns home that she really begins to flower, especially through her friendship with the eccentric and obese Miss Emily, who knows first-hand how it feels to be an outcast in this tightly knit Appalachian community. Under Miss Emily’s tutelage, Icy learns about life’s struggles and rewards, survives her first comical and heartbreaking misadventure with romance, discovers the healing power of her voice when she sings, and ultimately—takes her first steps back into the world. Gwyn Hyman Rubio’s Icy Sparks is a fresh, original, and completely redeeming novel about learning to overcome others’ ignorance and celebrate the differences that make each of us unique.
Author: Bret Lott
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release Date: 2011-11-15
In the backwoods of Mississippi, a land of honeysuckle and grapevine, Jewel and her husband, Leston, are truly blessed; they have five fine children. When Brenda Kay is born in 1943, Jewel gives thanks for a healthy baby, last-born and most welcome. Jewel is the story of how quickly a life can change; how, like lightning, an unforeseen event can set us on a course without reason or compass. In this story of a woman's devotion to the child who is both her burden and God's singular way of smiling on her, Bret Lott has created a mother-daughter relationship of matchless intensity and beauty, and one of the finest, most indomitable heroines in contemporary American fiction.
Five-year-old Clara Bynum is dead, drowned in the Potomac River in the shadow of a seemingly haunted rock outcropping known locally as the Three Sisters. River, Cross My Heart, which marks the debut of a wonderfully gifted new storyteller, weighs the effect of Clara's absence on the people she has left behind: her parents, Alice and Willie Bynum, torn between the old world of their rural North Carolina home and the new world of the city, to which they have moved in search of a better life for themselves and their children; the friends and relatives of the Bynum family in the Georgetown neighborhood they now call home; and, most especially, Clara's sister, ten-year-old Johnnie Mae, who must come to terms with the powerful and confused emotions stirred by her sister's death as she struggles to decide what kind of woman she will become. This highly accomplished first novel resonates with ideas, impassioned lyricism, and poignant historical detail as it captures an essential part of the African-American experience in our century.
Uwem Akpan's stunning stories humanize the perils of poverty and violence so piercingly that few readers will feel they've ever encountered Africa so immediately. The eight-year-old narrator of "An Ex-Mas Feast" needs only enough money to buy books and pay fees in order to attend school. Even when his twelve-year-old sister takes to the streets to raise these meager funds, his dream can't be granted. Food comes first. His family lives in a street shanty in Nairobi, Kenya, but their way of both loving and taking advantage of each other strikes a universal chord. In the second of his stories published in a New Yorker special fiction issue, Akpan takes us far beyond what we thought we knew about the tribal conflict in Rwanda. The story is told by a young girl, who, with her little brother, witnesses the worst possible scenario between parents. They are asked to do the previously unimaginable in order to protect their children. This singular collection will also take the reader inside Nigeria, Benin, and Ethiopia, revealing in beautiful prose the harsh consequences for children of life in Africa. Akpan's voice is a literary miracle, rendering lives of almost unimaginable deprivation and terror into stories that are nothing short of transcendent. Bonus ebook content: includes an interview with "The New Yorker," additional photos of the author, discussion questions and topics, and a link to a music download.
Author: Jane Feaver
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: 2012-02-29
It is 1979 and in a ramshackle cottage in Northumberland fifteen-year-old Ruth is desperate to leave behind the gradual implosion of her parents' marriage as she pursues her own quest for love and excitement. Fantasies about the son of the local farmer offer a temporary distraction from the rising tensions at home but Ruth soon discovers that the family are coming to terms with a very different tragedy... Told largely from the darkly humorous perspective of Ruth, Jane Feaver's novel is an engaging and profound insight into the relationships within families and the nature of love and loss, of grief and grieving.
WINNER OF THE MARY HIGGINS CLARK AWARD Jenny Milchman’s Cover of Snow is a remarkable debut, a gripping tale of suspense in the tradition of Gillian Flynn, Chris Bohjalian, and Nancy Pickard. Waking up one wintry morning in her old farmhouse nestled in the Adirondack Mountains of New York, Nora Hamilton instantly knows that something is wrong. When her fog of sleep clears, she finds her world is suddenly, irretrievably shattered: Her husband, Brendan, has committed suicide. The first few hours following Nora’s devastating discovery pass for her in a blur of numbness and disbelief. Then, a disturbing awareness slowly settles in: Brendan left no note and gave no indication that he was contemplating taking his own life. Why would a rock-solid police officer with unwavering affection for his wife, job, and quaint hometown suddenly choose to end it all? Having spent a lifetime avoiding hard truths, Nora must now start facing them. Unraveling her late husband’s final days, Nora searches for an explanation—but finds a bewildering resistance from Brendan’s best friend and partner, his fellow police officers, and his brittle mother. It quickly becomes clear to Nora that she is asking questions no one wants to answer. For beneath the soft cover of snow lies a powerful conspiracy that will stop at nothing to keep its presence unknown . . . and its darkest secrets hidden. Praise for Cover of Snow “Well-defined characters take us on an emotional roller-coaster ride through the darkest night, with blinding twists and occasionally fatal turns. This is a richly woven story that not only looks at the devastating effects of suicide but also examines life in a small town and explores the complexity of marriage. Fans of Nancy Pickard, Margaret Maron, and C. J. Box will be delighted to find this new author.”—Booklist (starred review) “Milchman reveals an intimate knowledge of the psychology of grief, along with a painterly gift for converting frozen feelings into scenes of a forbidding winter landscape.”—The New York Times “Milchman makes [readers] feel the chill right down to their bones and casts a particularly effective mood in this stylish thriller.”—Kirkus Reviews “Milchman tackles small-town angst where evil can simmer under the surface with a breathless energy and a feel for realistic characters.”—The Seattle Times “The plot unfolds at an excellent clip . . . ultimately rushing headlong to a series of startling revelations.”—San Francisco Journal of Books “Milchman expertly conveys Nora’s grief in a way that will warm hearts even in the dead of a Wedeskyull winter.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review) From the Hardcover edition.