Patty Housman

With Falling Slowly, Anita Brookner, the highly praised winner of the 1984 Booker Prize for her novel Hotel du Lac, has written another perfectly crafted, precise novel, revealing the dramas and desires that seethe inside seemingly quiet, proper lives. In this, her 18th book, Brookner's writing is as perceptive and polished as ever as she analyzes and gives significance to the inner lives of ordinary people. The book revolves around Beatrice and Miriam Sharpe, two British sisters who have reached middle age, and the heartbreaking realization that true love might never happen to them. Beatrice, who entered a room with a helpless suppliant air, as if looking for a pair of broad shoulders, of strong arms to which she might entrust her evident womanliness, has spent her life searching for the perfect man like those found between the covers of her favorite romance novels. Miriam, her stoic and sensible sister, had married not out of love but out of impatience and is now divorced. The sisters live quiet, sophisticated lives in London. Beatrice is a pianist and Miriam has a satisfactory but routine career as a translator of French texts. Though they talk often about their young, sociable days, the sisters have become lonely but determined companions, settled uneasily into anonymous middle-aged lives. Everything changes, however, when Miriam comes home one day to hear a strange man's voice in the drawing-room. It belongs to Simon, a golden stranger, a man for whom the word handsome seemed too tepid, too indefinite. He has come to tell Beatrice that her career as a pianist is over. The news hurdles Beatrice into a long decline as she finally gives in to the disappointment that life has let her down. Miriam, on the other hand, steps out of character and into a devastatingly cavalier affair with the married Simon. A rift begins to emerge between the sisters as new men further complicate their lives. Ultimately, Falling Slowly is a dark, melancholic story of loneliness, desire, love, and loss. Yet Brookner teaches us that there are many kinds of love that can sneak up on us at any age. Even love that stems from loss has the power to transform us. Patty Housman is the book publishing managing editor at The Nature Conservancy.

With Falling Slowly, Anita Brookner, the highly praised winner of the 1984 Booker Prize for her novel Hotel du Lac, has written another perfectly crafted, precise novel, revealing the dramas and desires that seethe inside seemingly quiet, proper lives. In this, her 18th book, Brookner's writing is as perceptive and polished as ever as she […]

Like Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks's best-selling epic of love and war, Charlotte Gray plunges the reader into the darkest, most harrowing days of war.

This time, the setting is blacked-out London and unoccupied France during World War II. Faulks' complicated heroine, Charlotte Gray, is a young Scottish woman haunted by a troubled childhood. Wanting to help the Allied war effort, she moves to London and falls passionately in love with a dashing RAF pilot named Peter Gregory. Soon afterwards, his plane mysteriously disappears over France.

Determined to find Peter, Charlotte uses her connections to join British Intelligence and work undercover for the fledging French Resistance. Disguised as a French woman, she is dropped by parachute into the French countryside. Here, just beneath the surface of everyday life, horrors occur. Through a web of war-damaged people, Faulks creates a vivid, unforgettable portrait of Vichy France under the occupation.

The best and worst of human nature is laid bare, and Charlotte finds herself "drawn into the frightening destiny of the people she had met." Not knowing if Peter is alive or dead, Charlotte decides to stay in France. Even as the danger mounts, she is befriended and protected by Julian, a passionate member of the local Resistance. Julian's father, a failed artist of Jewish descent, lets Charlotte stay in his house and helps her come to terms with her past. When the Nazis finally come for Julian's father and two local Jewish children, Charlotte's agony leads her to her most dangerous and personal mission yet.

Faulks' convincing historical detail and complex characters vividly illustrate the insanity of war. Charlotte Gray, beautiful and haunting, is as memorable for its portrayal of everyday lives under the occupation as it is for its powerful wartime suspense.

Like Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks's best-selling epic of love and war, Charlotte Gray plunges the reader into the darkest, most harrowing days of war. This time, the setting is blacked-out London and unoccupied France during World War II. Faulks' complicated heroine, Charlotte Gray, is a young Scottish woman haunted by a troubled childhood. Wanting to help […]

Sign Up

Stay on top of new releases: Sign up for our enewsletters to receive reading recommendations in your favorite genres.

Trending Features

Sign Up

Sign up to receive reading recommendations in your favorite genres!