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Mrs.: A Novel by Caitlin Macy, Little, Brown and Company, US 27.00, Pp 344, February 2018, ISBN 978-0316434157

 Green: A Novel by Sam Graham-Felsen, Random House, US $27.00, Pp 320, January 2018, ISBN 978-0399591143

Girl Unknown: A Novel by Karen Perry, Henry Holt and Co., US $28.00, Pp 294, February 2018, ISBN 978-0805098747

Woman at 1,000 Degrees: A Novel by Hallgrímur Helgason,‎ Brian FitzGibbon (Translator), Algonquin Books, US $27.95  Pp 392, January 2018, ISBN 978-1616206239

Mrs. is set in the affluent neighborhood of Upper East Side of New York where everybody talks about elegant Philippa Lye. Philippa Lye married into a rich family which owns an investment bank in the City. Despite her shadowy past, she does not conform to the gossipy culture around her. All of a sudden, two women enter her life and disrupt everything. Gwen Hogan is a childhood friend who has an explosive secret about Philippa Lye’s single days while Minnie Curtis is a newcomer who possesses vast fortune and has a penurious upbringing in Spanish Harlem. The next twist in the story comes when Gwen’s husband, a heavy-drinking, obsessive prosecutor in the US Attorney’s Office, comes across the connection between Philippa’s past and the criminal investigation he is pursuing. The rich and insulated society now confronts the rot at its core and price it has paid to survive. Mrs. is a story of love, money, and betrayal. Caitlin Macy explores what is eating into the foundations of our high society. Caitlin Macy is a natural and gifted storyteller whose attention to detail makes Mrs. a great novel you will not be able t put down.

Caitlin Macy is the author of The Fundamentals of Play and Spoiled. A graduate of Yale, she received her MFA from Columbia. Her work has been published in The New YorkerThe New York Times MagazineO, The Oprah Magazine and Slate, among other publications. She lives in New York City with her husband and two children.

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Green is set in Boston in 1992. David Greenfield is a white kid at the Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School where most students are black. They either clown him or ignore him. His hippie and couldn’t-care-less parents have little time or money for him. David Greenfield is friendless. This is why he is surprised when Marlon Wellings extends his hand of friendship. Nerdy and neurotic Marlon is a loner from the public housing project on the corner of Dave’s own gentrifying block. Marlon is Celtics obsessive whose favorite player is the gawky, white Larry Bird. Marlon starts coming over to Dave’s house every afternoon to watch vintage basketball tapes and plot their hustle to Harvard. As their friendship grows, Dave realizes how little he knows about Marlon’s world. As cracks appear in their friendship, Dave realizes how different their two worlds are. Sam Graham-Felsen’s debut is an original and brutally truthful take on race relations in America. Green shows exactly what is wrong with America. One novel teaches you more about race relations than many scholarly books.

Sam Graham-Felsen was born and raised in Boston. He has worked as the chief blogger for Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, a journalist for The Nation, and a peanut vendor at Fenway Park. This is his first novel.

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After many years of marriage, David and Caroline Connolly are living normal and happy lives. They are raising their two children and taking care of David’s ailing mother. David is waiting for an important promotion at the university where he teaches and Caroline has recently returned to her ad agency. They believe they had left Caroline’s brief betrayal behind them. At a time, when they believe that all their troubles were behind them, a beautiful young student enters David’s university office and tells him she is his daughter. This refreshes the memory of a youthful passion that David had forgotten. The surfacing of this young woman forces the Connollys to reconsider who they were and how much they loved each other. Their relationship was never so vulnerable or tense. This also presents an opportunity to redefine the relationship. Girl Unknown is a psychological thriller that absorbs you from the very beginning. The reason is not that the family at the heart of the novel seems to be fragile, but because Girl Unknown could be the story of your own family. You read it breathlessly or with your heart pounding as you struggle to guess what happens next.

Karen Perry is the pen name of Dublin-based authors Paul Perry and Karen Gillece. They co-wrote Girl Unkown. Paul Perry is the author of a number of critically acclaimed books. A recipient of the Hennessy Award for New Irish Writing, he teaches creative writing at University College, Dublin. Karen Gillece is also the author of several critically acclaimed novels. In 2009 she won the European Union Prize for Literature (Ireland).

 

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Woman at 1,000 Degrees is set in Reykjavik in 1989. It is the story of Herra Björnsson, a remarkable eighty-year-old woman who may die any day. She has booked her cremation appointment, at 1,000 degrees, so that it is quick. But before she dies, she smokes her cigarettes and keeps an old hand-grenade near her. She is living in a garage with her laptop computer. She may not have real-life friends but a bunch of them on the Facebook. When she reminisces about her life, she knows she has led a remarkable life. Herra Björnsson was born and raised on a remote island of Iceland. She was the granddaughter of Iceland’s first president. She lived alone as World War II raged and her father fought on the side of the Nazis. She avoided war as much as possible. She wed and had children but lost husbands. Her life was quite eventful. In her old age, she mastered Internet. Forces of history and time have not bowed her down. Her life is a collection of puzzles that come together towards the end of the novel. Woman at 1,000 Degrees is extraordinarily absorbing and enjoyable. The story revolves around a woman who lived ahead of her time. Many young women would idealize Herra Björnsson. At the same time, it gives an insight into life during World War II.

Hallgrímur Helgason was born and raised in Reykjavík, Iceland, in 1959. He started out as an artist and debuted as a novelist in 1990, gaining international attention with his third novel, 101 Reykjavík, which was translated into fourteen languages and made into a film. He has thrice been nominated for the Nordic Council Literature Prize, including for his novel Woman at 1,000 Degrees.

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