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The Maze at Windermere: A Novel by Gregory Blake Smith, Viking, US $27.00, Pp 352, January 2018, ISBN 978-0735221925

The Great Alone: A Novel by Kristin Hannah, St. Martin’s Press, US $28.99, Pp 448, February 2018, ISBN 978-0312577230

Anatomy of a Scandal: A Novel by Sarah Vaughan, Atria/Emily Bestler Books, US$26.00, Pp 392, January 2018, ISBN 978-1501172168

The Will to Battle: Book 3 of Terra Ignota by Ada Palmer, Tor Books, US $26.99, Pp 352, December 2017, ISBN 978-0765378040

The Maze at Windermere is set in Newport in Rhode Island over more than three centuries and five time periods. The novel opens with a drunk partier betting his vintage motorcycle that professional tennis player Sandy Allison cannot beat him in a match. This pushes the young heiress Alice Dupont to raise the stakes with her diamond necklace. This launches a narrative odyssey that weaves several stories into a novel. These stories are about love, ambition, and duplicity. As you read the novel, you meet a witty urbane bachelor of the Gilded Age planning to marry into a fortune, a young writer turning himself to his craft with dire social consequences, a British officer being murdered during the American Revolution for courting a woman, and a Quaker girl imagining a way forward for herself and her slave girl in Newport. The characters include gay men, free and enslaved African Americans, a Jewish Portuguese, tennis players and rich heiress. Although all these stories take place in Newport, they happen decades apart from one another. Yet they all make part of the bigger story of the novel. In The Maze at Windermere, Gregory Smith explores sexuality, race and class as they evolve in the American society over the last three centuries. Detailed descriptions of the characters make them universal and timeless. The Maze at Windermere is for serious readers of literature.

Gregory Blake Smith is the award-winning author of three previous novels, including The Divine Comedy of John Venner, a New York Times Notable Book. His short story collection, The Law of Miracles, won the Juniper Prize and the Minnesota Book Award. He has received a Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University and the George Bennett Fellowship at Phillips Exeter Academy. Smith is currently the Lloyd P. Johnson-Norwest Professor of English and the Liberal Arts at Carleton College.


The Great Alone is set in Alaska in 1974. The story revolves around Ernst Allbright and his small family. Ernst Allbright is a changed person when he comes home from the Vietnam War. He has become a volatile man. When he loses another job, he decides to move his family to Alaska where they would live off the grid in American’s last true frontier. His wife, Cora, is ready to do anything for the man she loves and agrees to move to Alaska. His thirteen-year-old daughter Leni feels caught in-between her parents’ passionate relationship and her dream. In the beginning, Alaska and its fiercely independent community of men and women seem to be the answer to their problems. They feel happy in this remote corner of Alaska where there are long sunlit days and the local people are generous. But things start deteriorating as the winter approaches and the sun set earlier and the days become dark. As the days grow darker and colder, Ern’s mental state deteriorates and the family starts coming apart. In their snow-covered cabin, blanketed in eighteen hours of the night, Cora and Leni learn the bitter truth that they have nobody else to fall back upon. Kristin Hannah explores how human beings can become resilient and strong in the face of adversity. This is a story of passionate love and the human struggle to survive. This is equally a story of modern Americans and the land of beauty called Alaska.

Kristin Hannah is an award-winning and bestselling author of more than 20 novels including the international blockbuster, The Nightingale, which was named Goodreads Best Historical fiction novel for 2015 and won the coveted People’s Choice award for best fiction in the same year. Additionally, it was named a Best Book of the Year by Amazon, iTunes, Buzzfeed, the Wall Street Journal, Paste, and The Week.


When Sophie’s husband James is accused of a terrible crime, she instinctively believed that he is innocent. Sophie is determined to fight for him and save their family as she believes lies were threatening to rip them apart. James is a loving husband and father and the couple comes from Britain’s privileged elite. Lawyer Kate is hired to prosecute the case. Like an experienced professional, Kate believes that the law is all about making the right arguments and winning. She instinctively believes that James is guilty and she is determined to make James pay for his crimes. Has James really committed the crime he is being accused of? Does Sophie or Kate have any evidence for or against James? Sophie has known since her days with James at Oxford that she remains vulnerable in spite of her privileged family background. In Anatomy of a Scandal, Sarah Vaughan explores what happens when law and high society come face-to-face in a British courtroom. Sarah Vaughan is a gifted storyteller. It is a highly entertaining thriller with a suspenseful high drama in the courtroom. It will grab your full attention as quickly.

Sarah Vaughan studied English at Brasenose College, Oxford, and went on to work as a journalist with the Guardian. She left the Guardian to freelance and soon began writing fiction. Her debut novel, The Art of Baking Blind was a hit and was translated into seven other languages. The Farm at the Edge of the World was published in June 2016 and will soon be published in German and French. Sarah lives in Cambridge with her husband and two children.


The Will to Battle is set in the imagined countries known as the Hives. The good days — or the good years – are over in the Hives, the nations without a fixed location. Corruption, deception, and insurgency have replaced peace and order. The leaders of the Great Hives have been buying world’s stability with a string of meticulously planned secret murders in order to stop all the factions from dominating others. This policy maintained the balance of power and a semblance of order. This is the only way to prevent the public from succumbing to the savagery and bloodlust of past wars. But the façade is crumbling. Human civilization is also crumbling down and the war appears inevitable. The Will to Battle is innovative, mesmerizing and full of fun. Ada Palmer lets her imagination weave a truly great political science story in an imagined world – full of lessons from real-world history.

Ada Palmer is a professor in the history department of the University of Chicago, specializing in Renaissance history and the history of ideas. Her first nonfiction book, Reading Lucretius in the Renaissance, was published in 2014 by Harvard University Press. Ada is the author of the Terra Ignota series, including Too Like the LightningSeven Surrenders, and The Will to Battle.

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