Book Review: Lost for Words by Stephanie Butland

Lost For WordsLoveday Cardew prefers books to people. If you look closely, you might glimpse the first lines of the novels she loves most tattooed on her skin. But there are things she’ll never show you.

Fifteen years ago Loveday lost all she knew and loved in one unspeakable night. Now, she finds refuge in the unique little York bookshop where she works.

Everything is about to change for Loveday. Someone knows about her past. Someone is trying to send her a message. And she can’t hide any longer.

My Thoughts:

I was thrilled to discover this book and couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy. I enjoy reading books when they involve bookstores and bookish people. Alas, I must admit in first half of the book, I was frustrated and was ready to ditch the book. However, I rallied on and certain aspects of the story became a bit stronger about almost half way in.

The story is written in Loveday’s POV and she is an interesting character. I must admit at first I wasn’t sure she was going to grow on me but as I read on she came out of her shell-if you will- somewhat and I began to sympathize with her.

Loveday works in a second hand book shop and her boss Archie is quite the character! He seemed to know everyone and has been everywhere. I wanted that to be explored more. There can be a whole other book written about him in my opinion. I felt he was the life of the story.

The story has a subject matter about unhealthy and often times abusive and deadly relationships. There are some areas of this matter where I felt it was weakly portrayed and areas where it was strong. After thinking about it for a while, my only contingent would be that maybe the overall story would have been stronger if there was more background on the people’s life experience as to why their relationships were unhealthy. Another thing that bothered me was the tragedy that Loveday experienced as a child wasn’t satisfactory for the plot.

Having said that, I enjoyed reading this story. The premise is a good one, the ending was heartfelt and I loved the poetry included as part of what helps brings two people together in this story. I will be on the lookout for more stories by this author.

I rated this book three stars.

I obtained a copy of this book from Bonnier Zaffre through NetGalley.

Cover Crush: Secret Shores by Ella Carey

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I am not a cover designer but I can agree that cover layouts play an important role in the overall presentation of books and I must admit, often times I first judge a book by its cover.

Secret ShoresSecret Shores by Ella Carey

Expected publication: September 5th 2017 by Lake Union Publishing

In 1946, artist Rebecca Swift’s dreams of love and a life free from convention are crashing like the waves of the Australian coast below her. And it’s into those roiling waters that she disappears.

Forty-one years later, Tess Miller’s dreams are crashing, too. The once-successful New York editor has lost her most prestigious author to the handsome new golden boy of publishing. Meanwhile, she’s stuck with Edward Russell, a washed-up Australian poet writing a novel about some obscure artist named Rebecca Swift. But Tess may have underestimated Russell. His book is not only true—it’s a searing, tragic romance and a tantalizing mystery set in a circle of postwar modernists. When Tess uncovers a long-hidden secret, she’s drawn even deeper into Rebecca’s enigmatic life and death.

As Rebecca’s past intertwines with the present, Tess finds herself falling for the last man she thought she’d ever be drawn to. On the way, she discovers the power of living an authentic life—and that transcendent love never really dies.

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Today I have a special guest with me as a co-host to this stunning cover! Neither of us have heard of this author before. Meghan Holloway pointed the cover and the author out to me this week on Facebook. It is so much fun discovering new authors and stories!

Meghan said, “I love that washed out blue tone with the eye-catching splash of red with her beret.”

I would have to agree with her and the title and premise sounds great!

Be sure to check out Meghan’s website and her guest post with me here at Layered Pages about her male protagonist.

Thank you, Meghan for the discovery of this beautiful cover!

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Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary. Her latest cover crush here.

Other great book bloggers who cover crush:

Heather @ The Maiden’s Court

Magdalena @ A Bookaholic Swede

Holly @ 2 Kids and Tired Books

Colleen @ A Literary Vacation

More cover crushes over at indieBRAG!

stay-calm-and-support-book-bloggers

Wish-List 5: 20th Century

me-iiI missed posting my March wish-list 5 and I was not happy about that. I dislike letting my readers down. However, I have started back up and have searched for stories to add to my list that take place in the 20th Century. There are a few books here that actually constitute as historical fiction. My hope is that when you see the books I selected, you will find something of interest to you. Happy reading!

Stephanie M. Hopkins

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The Girl at the Lion d'OrThe Girl at the Lion d’Or (French Trilogy #1) by Sebastian Faulks

From the author of the international bestseller Birdsong, comes a haunting historical novel of passion, loss, and courage set in France between the two world wars. This Vintage Original edition marks its first appearance in the United States.

On a rainy night in the 1930s, Anne Louvet appears at the run-down Hotel du Lion d’Or in the village of Janvilliers.  She is seeking a job and a new life, one far removed from the awful injustices of her past. As Anne embarks on a torrential love affair with a married veteran of the Great War, The Girl at the Lion d’Or fashions an unbreakable spell of narrative and atmosphere that evokes French masters from Flaubert to Renoir.

Where My Heart Used to BeatWhere My Heart Used to Beat by Sebastian Faulks  

London, 1980. Robert Hendricks, an established psychiatrist and author, has so bottled up memories of his own wartime past that he is nearly sunk into a life of aloneness and depression. Out of the blue, a baffling letter arrives from one Dr. Alexander Pereira, a neurologist and a World War I veteran who claims to be an admirer of Robert’s published work. The letter brings Robert to the older man’s home on a rocky, secluded island off the south of France, and into tempests of memories–his childhood as a fatherless English boy, the carnage he witnessed and the wound he can’t remember receiving as a young officer in World War II, and, above all, the great, devastating love of his life, an Italian woman, “L,” whom he met during the war. As Robert’s recollections pour forth, he’s unsure whether they will lead to psychosis–or redemption. But Dr. Pereira knows. Profoundly affecting and masterfully told, Where My Heart Used to Beat sweeps through the 20th century, brilliantly interrogating the darkest corners of the human mind and bearing tender witness to the abiding strength of love.

The Daughters of MarsThe Daughters of Mars by Thomas Keneally

In 1915, two spirited Australian sisters join the war effort as nurses, escaping the confines of their father’s farm and carrying a guilty secret with them. Used to tending the sick as they are, nothing could have prepared them for what they confront, first near Gallipoli, then on the Western Front.

Yet amid the carnage, Naomi and Sally Durance become the friends they never were at home and find themselves courageous in the face of extreme danger, as well as the hostility they encounter from some on their own side. There is great bravery, humor, and compassion, too, and the inspiring example of the remarkable women they serve alongside. In France, where Naomi nurses in a hospital set up by the eccentric Lady Tarlton while Sally works in a casualty clearing station, each meets an exceptional man: the kind of men for whom they might give up some of their precious independence — if only they all survive.

At once vast in scope and extraordinarily intimate, The Daughters of Mars brings World War I to vivid, concrete life from an unusual perspective. A searing and profoundly moving tale, it pays tribute to men and women of extraordinary moral resilience, even in the face of the incomprehensible horrors of modern war.

The Wolf of SarajevoThe Wolf of Sarajevo by Matthew Palmer

A riveting novel of international suspense from acclaimed author and veteran diplomat Matthew Palmer.

Twenty years after the Srebrenica massacre that claimed the life of his friend and colleague, Eric Petrosian is back in Sarajevo at the American embassy, and the specter of war once again hangs over the Balkans. The Bosnian Serb leader, who had for a time been seeking a stable peace, has turned back to his nationalist roots and is threatening to pull Bosnia apart in a bloody struggle for control . . . and behind him is a shadowy mafia figure pulling the strings. As Eric is dragged deeper into the political maelstrom and uncovers a plot of blackmail and ruthless ambitions, Eric is faced with an impossible choice: use the information he’s uncovered to achieve atonement for the past or use it to shape the future.

The Arrow CatcherThe Arrow Catcher (The Arrow Catcher #1) by Jim Mather

In 1948 Young Jonathan Lusk’s life was perfect. Big Boston house. Swimming pool. Summers on the Cape. His father a Nobel Prize winning Harvard professor; his mother the beautiful only child of Boston socialites. When his parents get caught between rival Arab and Jewish faculty over the creation of the State of Israel, Jonathan’s life is turned upside down. He soon finds himself in Japan, living with his grandfather, former American Ambassador and a judge on the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunals. American opulence and comfort is abruptly replaced by subtle Japanese elegance and traditional austerity. The boy is thrust into a life among strangers and forced to navigate his way through a new country, foreign customs, unfamiliar language, and ultimately political intrigue that will threaten his life. This suspenseful story, one of personal survival, is a testament to a young boy’s perseverance and to human courage and loyalty that are sometimes found in unexpected places.

Here are some of the wish lists from a few of my friends this month:

Erin @ Flashlight Commentary

Colleen @ A Literary Vacation

Heather @ The Maiden’s Court-Coming soon

Magdalena @ A Bookaholic Swede

Holly @ 2 Kids and Tired

Interview with Award Winning Author Mike Kilroy

Mike Kilroy BRAG II

I’d like to welcome back award winning author Mike Kilroy to Layered Pages. Mike has been an award-winning journalist for more than twenty years. He first developed his love for writing when he was 8 and sculpted a story for a school projected called “The Venusians.” He has turned that passion cultivated at an early age into a successful and award-winning writing career.

His first novel, the post-apocalyptic fright-fest “Nine Meals” was recognized as one of the top indie books with several awards, including the B.R.A.G. Medallion, and reached No. 32 on the Top 100 Best Sellers list in Amazon’s Kindle store.

Kilroy currently lives in Pittsburgh with his wife Dahn, dog Fumble, two cats named Milo and Dexter and has twenty-four devices that can connect to the Internet.

Hi, Mike! It’s good to have you visiting with me again at Layered Pages! Congrats on the another B.R.A.G. Medallion! Before we talk about your book, Uncanny Valley, please tell me what you like most about writing Science Fiction?

Thank you. It’s an honor to be chosen again as a B.R.A.G. Medallion recipient. To me, there’s nothing quite like writing science fiction. I’ve dabbled in other genres, but science fiction is where my creative juices really flow. As a science-fiction writer, you have so much power. You can have your characters and the reader experience things they could never do in reality. It’s the ultimate form of escapism. And robots! Can’t forget the robots!

Do you think Science Fiction plays an important role in our society? Please explain why or why not. 

I think it does. People are always fascinated with the future as much as they are with the past. What’s the world going to be like in 20 years? Thirty years? Forty years? As science-fiction writers we can explore that and offer our own take on what’s to come. Most of the time it’s bleak, however. In Uncanny Valley, I tried to paint a future that isn’t all bleak, but not the most awesome place to be, either. I believe the future in Uncanny Valley is conceivable.

When writing science fiction, I think it is important to have elements of both fact and fiction. What are your thoughts on that and how do you blend the two? (This question might blend in with the previous one, Mike.)

I try to meld elements of fact with the fiction. I did quite a bit of research on Artificial Intelligence and robotics before I dove into Uncanny Valley. The technology that already exists is amazing. It won’t be long, I believe, before a real-life Addis is walking around. But you also have to stretch reality a bit. There’s no way around that.

Uncanny Valley BRAG

Why do you think Science fiction is so obsessed with the future rather than the present?

Because the future is yet to be written. It is full of so many possibilities and is ripe for storytelling. besides, who doesn’t want to take a swing at predicting what the world and society will be like in the future? The future is interesting.

Please tell me a little about your book, Uncanny Valley.

It’s really about three very flawed characters. One just so happens to be an android, but he may be the most human of all of them. Really, it’s about each of them wanting to find peace in a world that is losing its grasp on it because of the strain of social forces caused by a new face of android beings, who are basically slaves. It’s also an exploration of just how much can one human — or one android — take before he/she decides enough is enough.

What was the inspiration behind writing this story?

A key scene of the book came to me at 3 a.m. on night. I rolled over and typed a loose, very rough scene and then let that percolate for a while into a story. I wanted to explore the notion that these androids, who look very different and are shunned because of it, are just like humans, trying to find a place in the world. I think that’s very relatable.

Your character, Addis fascinates me. Tell me a little about him and a human trait he has.

He’s really a boy trapped in an android man’s body. When you first meet him in the book, he’s 10 and he very much acts like a 10-year-old when it comes to how he questions the world. He’s just then becoming aware of the injustices he experiences on an almost daily basis. He has a guide in Renae, a human girl who was disfigured in an accident, to be human, but she’s really a bad tutor, as the reader comes to discover. Addis is much different at the end of the book as he is at the beginning. Certain events shape him — some for the good, some for the bad. I think he’s the most interesting character in any of my novels.

If anything can be learned from your story, what would it be?

That we all have scars. Each character in the book has deep ones — not always physical — and each deals with them differently.

What are you working on next?

I just finished the second Uncanny Valley book of the trilogy. It is available now HERE

I am working on the third and final volume now. It should be out this summer or fall.
Where can readers buy your book

HERE

Readers can also visit my website to check out my other books.

Find out more about Kilroy by following him on Twitter @KilroyWasHere7, joining his Facebook fan page at KilroyAuthor7

A message from indieBRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Mike Kilroy who is the author of, Uncanny Valley, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion ®, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, Uncanny Valley, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

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Layered Pages Current Reads

I am back into my reading mode and actively reading three books right now and listening to one on Audible. Yes, I know, that is a lot but I am able to keep up and taking notes helps. I also read them at different parts of the day. No research books for me right now. I want to give my mind a break from all the-somewhat-tedious information I need to know for my WIP. This summer I plan to get back in full swing of that research. Until then, check out these titles!

The sons of godwine

The Sons of Godwine (The Last Great Saxon Earls #2) -I read the first book and really enjoyed it and this one is promising! 

Emerging from the long shadow cast by his formidable father, Harold Godwineson showed himself to be a worthy successor to the Earldom of Wessex. In the following twelve years, he became the King’s most trusted advisor, practically taking the reins of government into his own hands. And on Edward the Confessor’s death, Harold Godwineson mounted the throne—the first king of England not of royal blood. Yet Harold was only a man, and his rise in fortune was not blameless. Like any person aspiring to power, he made choices he wasn’t particularly proud of. Unfortunately, those closest to him sometimes paid the price of his fame.

This is a story of Godwine’s family as told from the viewpoint of Harold and his younger brothers. Queen Editha, known for her Vita Ædwardi Regis, originally commissioned a work to memorialize the deeds of her family, but after the Conquest historians tell us she abandoned this project and concentrated on her husband, the less dangerous subject. In THE SONS OF GODWINE and FATAL RIVALRY, I am telling the story as it might have survived had she collected and passed on the memoirs of her tragic brothers.

This book is part two of The Last Great Saxon Earls series. Book one, GODWINE KINGMAKER, depicted the rise and fall of the first Earl of Wessex who came to power under Canute and rose to preeminence at the beginning of Edward the Confessor’s reign. Unfortunately, Godwine’s misguided efforts to champion his eldest son Swegn recoiled on the whole family, contributing to their outlawry and Queen Editha’s disgrace. Their exile only lasted one year and they returned victorious to London, though it was obvious that Harold’s career was just beginning as his father’s journey was coming to an end.

Harold’s siblings were all overshadowed by their famous brother; in their memoirs we see remarks tinged sometimes with admiration, sometimes with skepticism, and in Tostig’s case, with jealousy. We see a Harold who is ambitious, self-assured, sometimes egocentric, imperfect, yet heroic. His own story is all about Harold, but his brothers see things a little differently. Throughout, their observations are purely subjective, and witnessing events through their eyes gives us an insider’s perspective.

Harold was his mother’s favorite, confident enough to rise above petty sibling rivalry but Tostig, next in line, was not so lucky. Harold would have been surprised by Tostig’s vindictiveness, if he had ever given his brother a second thought. And that was the problem. Tostig’s love/hate relationship with Harold would eventually destroy everything they worked for, leaving the country open to foreign conquest. This subplot comes to a crisis in book three of the series, FATAL RIVALRY.

Into The Wilderness by Sara DonatiInto the Wilderness (Wilderness #1) by Sara Donati -Which I mentioned in a previous post. I’m about half way through it now. 

Weaving a tapestry of fact and fiction, Sara Donati’s epic novel sweeps us into another time and place…and into a breathtaking story of love and survival in a land of savage beauty.

It is December of 1792. Elizabeth Middleton leaves her comfortable English estate to join her family in a remote New York mountain village. It is a place unlike any she has ever experienced. And she meets a man unlike any she has ever encountered—a white man dressed like a Native American: Nathaniel Bonner, known to the Mohawk people as Between-Two-Lives. Determined to provide schooling for all the children of the village, Elizabeth soon finds herself locked in conflict with the local slave owners as well as with her own family. Interweaving the fate of the Mohawk Nation with the destiny of two lovers, Sara Donati’s compelling novel creates a complex, profound, passionate portait of an emerging America.

Starter HouseStarter House by Sonja Condit – I call books like this my, “Easy going reads.”

In the vein of Heart-Shaped Box and The Thirteenth Tale, Starter House is a haunting and skillfully told debut novel about a newlywed couple and their first home — a home that seems to be haunted by a very malicious ghost.

Lacey Miszlak grew up homeless; her crazy mother dragged her from one terrible living situation to the next. But now she thinks the pieces of her life have finally come together. She’s pregnant with her first child, and she and her husband Eric have moved into the home of their dreams. She knows soon its beautiful sunlit rooms will be filled with the joy of the new family she will build there.

But there’s a strange darkness on the stairway and an odd little boy who won’t leave Lacey alone, and soon she’s forced to realize that a danger she never suspected is lurking in the hallways of her beautiful new home. She’s going to have to solve a decades-old mystery to save her family from an evil that has lingered in wait for them for years.

The Women in the CastleThe Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck (Audible) -Enjoying the narrative and plot so far. 

Set at the end of World War II, in a crumbling Bavarian castle that once played host to all of German high society, a powerful and propulsive story of three widows whose lives and fates become intertwined—an affecting, shocking, and ultimately redemptive novel from the author of the New York Times Notable Book The Hazards of Good Breeding

Amid the ashes of Nazi Germany’s defeat, Marianne von Lingenfels returns to the once grand castle of her husband’s ancestors, an imposing stone fortress now fallen into ruin following years of war. The widow of a resistor murdered in the failed July, 20, 1944, plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, Marianne plans to uphold the promise she made to her husband’s brave conspirators: to find and protect their wives, her fellow resistance widows.

First, Marianne rescues six-year-old Martin, the son of her dearest childhood friend, from a Nazi reeducation home. Together, they make their way across the smoldering wreckage of their homeland to Berlin, where Martin’s mother, the beautiful and naïve Benita, has fallen into the hands of occupying Red Army soldiers. Then she locates Ania, another resistor’s wife, and her two boys, now refugees languishing in one of the many camps that house the millions displaced by the war.

As Marianne assembles this makeshift family from the ruins of her husband’s resistance movement, she is certain their shared pain and circumstances will hold them together. But she quickly discovers that the black-and-white, highly principled world of her privileged past has become infinitely more complicated, filled with secrets and dark passions that threaten to tear them apart. Eventually, all three women must come to terms with the choices that have defined their lives before, during, and after the war—each with their own unique share of challenges.

Written with the devastating emotional power of The Nightingale, Sarah’s Key, and The Light Between Oceans, Jessica Shattuck’s evocative and utterly enthralling novel offers a fresh perspective on one of the most tumultuous periods in history. Combining piercing social insight and vivid historical atmosphere, The Women in the Castle is a dramatic yet nuanced portrait of war and its repercussions that explores what it means to survive, love, and, ultimately, to forgive in the wake of unimaginable hardship.

Lost For WordsReview coming this week for Lost For Words by Stephanie Butland -NetGalley Review

Loveday Cardew prefers books to people. If you look closely, you might glimpse the first lines of the novels she loves most tattooed on her skin. But there are things she’ll never show you.

Fifteen years ago Loveday lost all she knew and loved in one unspeakable night. Now, she finds refuge in the unique little York bookshop where she works.

Everything is about to change for Loveday. Someone knows about her past. Someone is trying to send her a message. And she can’t hide any longer.

Lost for Words is a compelling, irresistible and heart-rending novel, with the emotional intensity of The Shock of the Fall and all the charm of The Little Paris Bookshop and 84 Charing Cross Road.

Cover Crush: Empress of the Fall by David Hair

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I am not a cover designer but I can agree that cover layouts play an important role in the overall presentation of books and I must admit, often times I first judge a book by its cover.

Empress of the FallEmpress of the Fall

Pub Date 09 Mar 2017

The Emperor is dead – long live the Empress!

Emperor Constant is dead and his rivals are scrabbling for power – but any misstep could plunge the land, already devastated by the shocking outcome of the Third Crusade, into a calamitous civil war.

The Imperial throne is not the only one in jeopardy. Two brothers, imprisoned veterans of the Crusades, finally return home to find their father’s kingdom being plundered – but the price of regaining their birthright will have far-reaching implications for the entire empire.

In the East, Sultan Salim, peacemaker and visionary ruler, faces his greatest challenge as his people demand an invasion of the West in retribution for the Rondian Crusades

And lurking in the darkness, orchestrating both the power struggles and the inevitable conflicts, is a shadowy group threatening to destroy civilisation itself.

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This cover captured my attention straight away! It really pops! I love it! I believe the design and title depicts what the story is about perfectly. Adding this book to my reading pile!

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Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary.

Other great book bloggers who cover crush:

Heather @ The Maiden’s Court-Coming Soon!

Magdalena @ A Bookaholic Swede

Holly @ 2 Kids and Tired Books

Colleen @ A Literary Vacation

More cover crushes over at indieBRAG!

stay-calm-and-support-book-bloggers

Bookish Happenings: Into the Wilderness

It’s been rather quiet on Layered Pages lately. I do promise to try to pick up the pace again soon. I have had a lot going on as many of you know. I’ve been reading a lot more lately so I have several reviews to draft. This past weekend I picked up, Into The Wilderness by Sara Donati. I am almost half way through it. For those of you who have read it, you will know it is a big novel to digest. I’m enjoying it thus far; the story takes place in one of my favorite periods in American History. Check out the Book blurb below.

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Into The Wilderness by Sara DonatiWeaving a vibrant tapestry of fact and fiction, Into the Wilderness sweeps us into another time and place…and into the heart of a forbidden, incandescent affair between a spinster Englishwoman and an American frontiersman. Here is an epic of romance and history that will captivate readers from the very first page.

When Elizabeth Middleton, twenty-nine years old and unmarried, leaves her Aunt Merriweather’s comfortable English estate to join her father and brother in the remote mountain village of Paradise on the edge of the New York wilderness, she does so with a strong will and an unwavering purpose: to teach school.

It is December of 1792 when she arrives in a cold climate unlike any she has ever experienced. And she meets a man different from any she has ever encountered–a white man dressed like a Native American, tall and lean and unsettling in his blunt honesty. He is Nathaniel Bonner, also known to the Mohawk people as Between-Two-Lives.

Determined to provide schooling for all the children of the village–white, black, and Native American–Elizabeth soon finds herself at odds with local slave owners. Much to her surprise, she clashes with her own father as well. Financially strapped, Judge Middleton has plans for his daughter–betrothal to local doctor Richard Todd. An alliance with Todd could extract her father from ruin but would call into question the ownership of Hidden Wolf, the mountain where Nathaniel, his father, and a small group of Native Americans live and hunt.

As Judge Middleton brings pressure to bear against his daughter, she is faced with a choice between compliance and deception, a flight into the forest, and a desire that will bend her hard will to compromise and transformation. Elizabeth’s ultimate destiny, here in the heart of the wilderness, lies in the odyssey to come: trials of faith and flesh, and passion born amid Nathaniel’s own secrets and divided soul.

Interweaving the fate of the remnants of the Mohawk Nation with the destiny of two lovers, Sara Donati’s compelling novel creates a complex, profound, passionate portrait of an emerging America.