An Indie Next Pick
A masterful, enthralling debut novel about fate, family secrets, and the stories our bodies tell.
Magdalena has an unsettling gift. She sees the truth about people written on their skin--names, dates, details both banal and profound--and her only relief from the onslaught of information is to take off her glasses and let the world recede. Mercifully, her own skin is blank.
When she meets Neil, she is intrigued to see her name on his cheek. He’s in Paris for the summer, studying a medieval pilgrimage to the coast of Spain, where the body of Saint Jacques is said to have washed ashore, covered in scallop shells. Magdalena, desperate to make things right after her best friend dies--a tragedy she might have prevented--embarks on her own pilgrimage, but not before Neil falls for her, captivated by her pale eyes, charming Eastern European accent, and aura of heartbreak.
Neil’s father, Richard, is also in Paris, searching for the truth about his late mother, a famous expatriate American novelist who abandoned him at birth. All his life Richard has clung to a single memory of his mother--her red shoes--which her biographers agree he never could have seen.
In Adelia Saunders’ arresting debut, secrets are revealed among forgotten texts in the old archives of Paris, on a dusty cattle ranch in the American West, along ancient pilgrim paths, and in a run-down apartment in post-Soviet Lithuania. By chance, or perhaps by fate, the novel’s unforgettable characters converge, and Magdalena’s uncanny ability may be the key to their happiness.
Unwilling to endure a culture of silence and submission, and disowned by her family, Nadia leaves her native Tunisia in 1984 amidst deadly violence, chaos, and rioting brought on by rising food costs, eventually emigrating to Canada to begin her life.
More than twenty-five years later, Nadia’s daughter Lila reluctantly travels to Tunisia to learn about her mother’s birth country. While she’s there, she connects with Nadia’s childhood friends, Neila and Mounir. She uncovers agonizing truths about her mother’s life as a teenager and imagines what it might have been like to grow up in fear of political instability and social unrest. As she is making these discoveries, protests over poor economic conditions and lack of political freedom are increasing, and soon, Lila finds herself in the midst of another revolution — one that will inflame the country and change the Arab world, and her, forever.
Weaving together the voices of two women at two pivotal moments in history, the Tunisian Bread Riots in 1984 and the Jasmine Revolution in 2010, Hope Has Two Daughters is a bracing, vivid story that perfectly captures life inside revolution.
NOW A NATIONAL INDIE BESTSELLER
“Transporting…witty, poignant and sparkling.”
—People(People Picks Book of the Week)
“Prescient and quick....A perfect fusing of subject and writer, idea and ideal.”
“Extraordinary…hilarious…Elegantly written, Rooney creates a glorious paean to a distant literary life and time—and an unabashed celebration of human connections that bridge past and future.
—Publishers Weekly (starred and boxed)
"Rooney's delectably theatrical fictionalization is laced with strands of tart poetry and emulates the dark sparkle of Dorothy Parker, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Truman Capote. Effervescent with verve, wit, and heart, Rooney’s nimble novel celebrates insouciance, creativity, chance, and valor."
“In my reckless and undiscouraged youth,”Lillian Boxfish writes, “I worked in a walnut-paneled office thirteen floors above West Thirty-Fifth Street…”
She took 1930s New York by storm, working her way up writing copy for R.H. Macy’s to become the highest paid advertising woman in the country. It was a job that, she says, “in some ways saved my life, and in other ways ruined it.”
Now it’s the last night of 1984 and Lillian, 85 years old but just as sharp and savvy as ever, is on her way to a party. It’s chilly enough out for her mink coat and Manhattan is grittier now—her son keeps warning her about a subway vigilante on the prowl—but the quick-tongued poetess has never been one to scare easily. On a walk that takes her over 10 miles around the city, she meets bartenders, bodega clerks, security guards, criminals, children, parents, and parents-to-be, while reviewing a life of excitement and adversity, passion and heartbreak, illuminating all the ways New York has changed—and has not.
A love letter to city life in all its guts and grandeur,Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney paints a portrait of a remarkable woman across the canvas of a changing America: from the Jazz Age to the onset of the AIDS epidemic; the Great Depression to the birth of hip-hop.
Lillian figures she might as well take her time. For now, after all, the night is still young.
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