This is the theme I’ve proposed for our club in 2020. I can’t divulge all the details about the way the book list will be presented in December but it involves three of my siblings. When my brother Dennis died in August of 2016, my older brother Paul started painting again. He is an artist, who worked as an art teacher in Las Vegas until his retirement and then, strangely, moved back to Illinois for our great winters. He thought he’d done all the canvases he was going to do, but when his younger brother died, he felt the need to exercise some control somewhere in his life and he started painting again. I don’t know if I’ve admitted thinking in song lyrics yet in any of my reflections here, but it’s a family trait — at least for my two brothers and me. He started hearing: (on repeat, of course, as song lyrics will do)
Woke up this morning, smile with the rising sun
Three little birds, pitched by my doorstep
Singing sweet songs of melodies pure and true
Singing, this is my message to you…
Most of us only know the lyric Every little thing is gonna be alright but Paul heard the lyric about the three little birds with a message. He started painting birds — not like Audubon, but using a masking tape method which my sister Dodie perfected while painting stripes around her family room. The masking tape painting resulted in a series of triangular shaped birds, many of which he has sold (dirt cheap) and a clever little store called Moon Cookie Gallery. http://mooncookiegallery.wixsite.com/mooncookie
This inspired me to start looking at books with birds in the title and I asked Paul if he would do paintings based on the titles. His response is exactly what I should have expected after our 66 years of life together — not the baby-sister-to-oldest-child accommodating “Sure, I’ll jump! How high?” that I would have given him, but a reminder that all of this started for an experience that he could control. If I gave him titles, he was no longer in control. Instead, he’s pulled together several boxes of canvases that might work for my purpose and I can match them to the books we will eventually choose from the list below.
This Book Club Is Going to the Birds! The New and Improved Booklist for 2020
Group 1. Choose a Bird Found on the 100 Books You Should Read Before You Die Lists.
Wings of the Dove by Henry JamesSelected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of all time. Set amid the splendor of London drawing rooms and gilded Venetian palazzos, this is the story of Milly Theale, a naïve, doomed American heiress, and a pair of lovers, Kate Croy and Merton Densher, who conspire to obtain her fortune. In this witty tragedy of treachery, self-deception, and betrayal, Henry James weaves together three ill-fated and wholly human destinies unexpectedly linked by desire, greed, and salvation.
Birdsong by Sebastian FaulksPublished to international critical and popular acclaim, this intensely romantic yet stunningly realistic novel spans three generations and the unimaginable gulf between the First World War and the present. As the young Englishman Stephen Wraysford passes through a tempestuous love affair with Isabelle Azaire in France and enters the dark, surreal world beneath the trenches of No Man’s Land, Sebastian Faulks creates a world of fiction that is as tragic as A Farewell to Arms and as sensuous as The English Patient. Crafted from the ruins of war and the indestructibility of love, Birdsong is a novel that will be read and marveled at for years to come.
Swallows and Amazons by Arthur RansomeThe first title in Arthur Ransome’s classic series, originally published in 1930: for children, for grownups, for anyone captivated by the world of adventure and imagination. Swallows and Amazons introduces the lovable Walker family, the camp on Wild Cat island, the able-bodied catboat Swallow, and the two intrepid Amazons, Nancy and Peggy Blackett.
Group 2. Choose a Bird from an Autobiographical Work/Memoir
The Song of the Lark by Willa CatherPerhaps Willa Cather’s most autobiographical work, The Song of the Lark charts the story of a young woman’s awakening as an artist against the backdrop of the western landscape. Thea Kronborg, an aspiring singer, struggles to escape from the confines her small Colorado town to the world of possibility in the Metropolitan Opera House. In classic Cather style, The Song of the Lark is the beautiful, unforgettable story of American determination and its inextricable connection to the land.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya AngelouSent by their mother to live with their devout, self-sufficient grandmother in a small Southern town, Maya and her brother, Bailey, endure the ache of abandonment and the prejudice of the local “powhitetrash.” At eight years old and back at her mother’s side in St. Louis, Maya is attacked by a man many times her age—and has to live with the consequences for a lifetime. Years later, in San Francisco, Maya learns that love for herself, the kindness of others, her own strong spirit, and the ideas of great authors (“I met and fell in love with William Shakespeare”) will allow her to be free instead of imprisoned.
Blackbird: A Childhood Lost and Found by Jennifer LauchWith the startling emotional immediacy of a fractured family photo album, Jennifer Lauck’s incandescent memoir is the story of an ordinary girl growing up at the turn of the 1970s and the truly extraordinary circumstances of a childhood lost. Wrench and unforgettable, Blackbird will carry your heart away. To young Jenny, the house on Mary Street was home — the place where she was loved, a blue-sky world of Barbies, Bewitched, and the Beatles. Even her mother’s pain from her mysterious illness could be patted away with powder and a kiss on the cheek. But when everything that Jenny had come to rely on begins to crumble, an odyssey of loss, loneliness, and a child’s will to survive takes flight….
Group 3. Choose a Historically Fictional Bird
Blackbird House by Alice HoffmanIn a rare and gorgeous departure, beloved novelist Alice Hoffman weaves a web of tales, all set in Blackbird House. This small farm on the outer reaches of Cape Cod is a place that is as bewitching and alive as the characters we meet: Violet, a brilliant girl who is in love with books and with a man destined to betray her; Lysander Wynn, attacked by a halibut as big as a horse, certain that his life is ruined until a boarder wearing red boots arrives to change everything; Maya Cooper, who does not understand the true meaning of the love between her mother and father until it is nearly too late. From the time of the British occupation of Massachusetts to our own modern world, family after family’s lives are inexorably changed, not only by the people they love but by the lives they lead inside Blackbird House.
The Way the Crow Flies by Marie McDonaldThe optimism of the early sixties, infused with the excitement of the space race and the menace of the Cold War, is filtered through the rich imagination of high-spirited, eight-year-old Madeleine, who welcomes her family’s posting to a quiet Air Force base near the Canadian border. Secure in the love of her beautiful mother, she is unaware that her father, Jack, is caught up in a web of secrets. When a very local murder intersects with global forces, Jack must decide where his loyalties lie, and Madeleine will be forced to learn a lesson about the ambiguity of human morality — one she will only begin to understand when she carries her quest for the truth, and the killer, into adulthood twenty years later.
Dear Mrs Bird by A J PearceA charming, irresistible debut set in London during World War II, DEAR MRS. BIRD is the story of plucky Emmy Lake, who dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent but fumbles her way into a job as an assistant to a ferocious advice columnist instead. Her boss is very clear-any letters containing Unpleasantness must go straight to the trash bin-but Emmy is unable to resist responding.
Group 4. Choose a Humorous Bird
Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David SedarisA guy walks into a bar car and…From here the story could take many turns. When this guy is David Sedaris, the possibilities are endless, but the result is always the same: he will both delight you with twists of humor and intelligence and leave you deeply moved. Sedaris remembers his father’s dinnertime attire (shirtsleeves and underpants), his first colonoscopy (remarkably pleasant), and the time he considered buying the skeleton of a murdered Pygmy. David Sedaris shows once again why his work has been called “hilarious, elegant, and surprisingly moving” (Washington Post)
At Swim Two Birds by Flann O’BrienA wildly comic send-up of Irish literature and culture, At Swim-Two-Birds is the story of a young, lazy, and frequently drunk Irish college student who lives with his curmudgeonly uncle in Dublin. When not in bed (where he seems to spend most of his time) or reading he is composing a mischief-filled novel about Dermot Trellis, a second-rate author whose characters ultimately rebel against him and seek vengeance. From drugging him as he sleeps to dropping the ceiling on his head, these figures of Irish myth make Trellis pay dearly for his bad writing. Hilariously funny and inventive, At Swim-Two-Birds has influenced generations of writers, opening up new possibilities for what can be done in fiction. It is a true masterpiece of Irish literature
The Owl in the Attic and Other Perplexities by James ThurberA collection of short humorous pieces, most of which appeared in The New Yorker. Part One: Mr and Mrs Monroe A number of short stories featuring the Mr and Mrs Monroe and which contain many autobiographical elements. Part Two: The Pet Department Inspired by the daily pet column in the New York Evening Post and consisting of a number of short question and answers, illustrated by a Thurber drawing. Part Three: Ladies and Gentlemen’s Guide to Modern English Usage Inspired by Mr. H. W. Fowler’s A Dictionary of Modern English Usage.
Group 5. Choose a Bird Who Nests in Another Culture (than us mostly white girls)
The Plague of Doves by Louise ErdrichThe unsolved murder of a farm family still haunts the white small town of Pluto, North Dakota, generations after the vengeance exacted and the distortions of fact transformed the lives of Ojibwe living on the nearby reservation. Part Ojibwe, part white, Evelina Harp is an ambitious young girl prone to falling hopelessly in love. Mooshum, Evelina’s grandfather, is a repository of family and tribal history with an all-too-intimate knowledge of the violent past. And Judge Antone Bazil Coutts, who bears witness, understands the weight of historical injustice better than anyone. Through the voices of three unforgettable narrators, the stories of two communities come together to reveal a final wrenching truth.
Thousand Cranes by Yasunari KawabataNobel Prize winner Yasunari Kawabata’s Thousand Cranes is a luminous story of desire, regret, and the almost sensual nostalgia that binds the living to the dead. While attending a traditional tea ceremony in the aftermath of his parents’ deaths, Kikuji encounters his father’s former mistress, Mrs. Ota. At first Kikuji is appalled by her indelicate nature, but it is not long before he succumbs to passion—a passion with tragic and unforeseen consequences, not just for the two lovers, but also for Mrs. Ota’s daughter, to whom Kikuji’s attachments soon extend. Death, jealousy, and attraction convene around the delicate art of the tea ceremony, where every gesture is imbued with profound meaning.
The Star Side of Bird Hill by Naomi Jackson After their mother can no longer care for them, young Phaedra and her older sister, Dionne, are exiled from Brooklyn to Bird Hill in Barbados to live with their grandmother Hyacinth, a midwife and practitioner of the local spiritual practice of obeah. Dionne spends the summer in search of love, testing her grandmother’s limits, and wanting to go home. Phaedra explores Bird Hill, where her family has lived for generations, accompanies her grandmother in her role as a midwife, and investigates their mother’s mysterious life. When the father they barely know comes to Bird Hill to reclaim his daughters, and both Phaedra and Dionne must choose between the Brooklyn they once knew and loved or the Barbados of their family.
Group 6. Choose a Fictional Bird (Who’s a Bit on the Slant)
The Wind Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami Japan’s most highly regarded novelist now vaults into the first ranks of international fiction writers with this heroically imaginative novel, which is at once a detective story, an account of a disintegrating marriage, and an excavation of the buried secrets of World War II. In a Tokyo suburb a young man named Toru Okada searches for his wife’s missing cat. Soon he finds himself looking for his wife as well in a netherworld that lies beneath the placid surface of Tokyo. As these searches intersect, Okada encounters a bizarre group of allies and antagonists: a psychic prostitute; a malevolent yet mediagenic politician; a cheerfully morbid sixteen-year-old-girl; and an aging war veteran who has been permanently changed by the hideous things he witnessed during Japan’s forgotten campaign in Manchuria.
Still Life With Woodpecker by Tom Robbins Still Life with Woodpecker is a sort of a love story that takes place inside a pack of Camel cigarettes. It reveals the purpose of the moon, explains the difference between criminals and outlaws, examines the conflict between social activism and romantic individualism, and paints a portrait of contemporary society that includes powerful Arabs, exiled royalty, and pregnant cheerleaders. It also deals with the problem of redheads.
The Crow Road by Iain Banks‘It was the day my grandmother exploded. I sat in the crematorium, listening to my Uncle Hamish quietly snoring in harmony to Bach’s Mass in B Minor, and I reflected that it always seemed to be death that drew me back to Gallanach.’ Prentice McHoan has returned to the bosom of his complex but enduring Scottish family. Full of questions about the McHoan past, present and future, he is also deeply preoccupied: mainly with death, sex, drink, God and illegal substances…
Group 7. Choose a Short Storied Bird
Pigeon Feathers and other stories by John Updike In moving from Olinger to Firetown, David Kern, fourteen, tries to work off some of his disorientation by arranging books. In “An Outline of History,” by H. G. Wells, he slips into Wells’ account of Jesus. That night David is visited by an exact vision of death. The definition Webster’s Dictionary gives for soul, “Usually held to be separable in existence” is at first comforting, but when the assurance leaves him he asks Reverend Dobson at the catechetical class of the Lutheran church about Heaven. Dobson’s answer, “That Heaven is like Abraham Lincoln’s goodness living after him,” is not enough for David. He talks to his mother & afterwards realizes that he has hurt her with his worries about death. For his birthday he receives a Remington .22. His grandmother asks him to kill the pigeons in the barn. As he shoots them, he has the sensations of a creator. As he buries the birds he sees their beauty & is robed in this certainty: “that the God who had lavished such craft upon these worthless birds would not destroy His whole Creation by refusing to let David live forever.
Birds of America by Lorrie MooreA long-awaited collection of stories–twelve in all–by one of the most exciting writers at work today, the acclaimed author of Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? and Self-Help. Stories remarkable in their range, emotional force, and dark laughter, and in the sheer beauty and power of their language. From the opening story, “Willing”, about a second-rate movie actress in her thirties who has moved back to Chicago, where she makes a seedy motel room her home and becomes involved with a mechanic who has not the least idea of who she is as a human being, Birds of America unfolds a startlingly brilliant series of portraits of the unhinged, the lost, the unsettled of our America. In what may be her most stunning book yet, Lorrie Moore explores the personal and the universal, the idiosyncratic and the mundane, with all the wit, brio, and verve that have made her one of the best storytellers of our time.
Delicate Edible Birds and Other Stories by Lauren GroffIn some of these stories, enormous changes happen in an instant. In others, transformations occur across a lifetime–or several lifetimes. Throughout the collection, Groff displays particular and vivid preoccupations. Crime is a motif–sex crimes, a possible murder, crimes of the heart. Love troubles recur–they’re in every story–love in alcoholism, in adultery, in a flood, even in the great flu epidemic of 1918. Some of the love has depths, which are understood too late; some of the love is shallow, and also understood too late. And mastery is a theme–Groff’s women swim and baton twirl, become poets, or try and try again to achieve the inner strength to exercise personal freedom. Overall, these stories announce a notable new literary master. Dazzlingly original and confident, Delicate Edible Birds further solidifies Groff’s reputation as one of the foremost talents of her generation.
Group 8. Choose another Fictional Bird
Crow Lake by Mary LawsonFour children living in northern Ontario struggle to stay together after their parents die in an auto accident in Lawson’s fascinating debut, a compelling and lovely study of sibling rivalry and family dynamics in which the land literally becomes a character. Kate Morrison narrates the tale in flashback mode, starting with the fatal car accident that leaves seven-year-old Kate; her toddler sister, Bo; 19-year-old Luke; and 17-year-old Matt to fend for themselves. At first they are divided up among relatives, but the plan changes when Luke gives up his teaching college scholarship to get a job and try to keep them together. The fractured family struggles mightily against the grinding rural poverty of Crow Lake, and the brothers conduct a fierce battle of wills to control their fate. Lawson delivers a potent combination of powerful character writing and gorgeous description of the land.
Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry “This is a book about Heaven,” says Jayber Crow, “I have wondered sometimes if it would not finally turn out to be a book about Hell.” Orphaned at age ten, Jayber Crow’s acquaintance with loneliness and want have made him a patient observer of the human animal, in both its goodness and frailty. He began his search as a “pre-ministerial student” at Pigeonville College. There, freedom met with new burdens and a young man needed more than a mirror to find himself. But the beginning of that finding was a short conversation with “Old Grit,” his profound professor of New Testament Greek. “You have been given questions to which you cannot be given answers. You will have to live them out–perhaps a little at a time.””And how long is that going to take?” “I don’t know. As long as you live, perhaps.” “That could be a long time.” “I will tell you a further mystery,” he said. “It may take longer.”
The Bird Artist by Howard Norman This is the first book of Norman’s Canadian trilogy. Its narrator, Fabian Vas is a bird artist: He draws and paints the birds of Witless Bay, his remote Newfoundland coastal village home. In the first paragraph of his tale Fabian reveals that he has murdered the village lighthouse keeper, Botho August. Later, he confesses who and what drove him to his crime—a measured, profoundly engrossing story of passion, betrayal, guilt, and redemption between men and women.
Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones “My father, James Witherspoon, is a bigamist.” Tayari Jones unveils a breathtaking story about a man’s deception, a family’s complicity, and two teenage girls caught in the middle. Set in a middle-class neighborhood in Atlanta in the 1980s, the novel revolves around James Witherspoon’s two families–the public one and the secret one. When the daughters from each family meet and form a friendship, only one of them knows they are sisters. It is a relationship destined to explode when secrets are revealed and illusions shattered. As Jones explores the backstories of her rich yet flawed characters ”the father, the two mothers, the grandmother, and the uncle ”she also reveals the joy, as well as the destruction, they brought to one another’s lives.
Group 9. Choose a Political Bird
Jailbird by Kurt VonnegutJailbird takes us into a fractured and comic, pure Vonnegut world of high crimes and misdemeanors in government—and in the heart. This wry tale follows bumbling bureaucrat Walter F. Starbuck from Harvard to the Nixon White House to the penitentiary as Watergate’s least known co-conspirator. But the humor turns dark when Vonnegut shines his spotlight on the cold hearts and calculated greed of the mighty, giving a razor-sharp edge to an unforgettable portrait of power and politics in our times.
The Strange Career of Jim Crow by C Van WoodwardThe Strange Career of Jim Crow is one of the great works of Southern history. Published in 1955, a year after the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education ordered schools desegregated, Strange Career was cited so often to counter arguments for segregation that Martin Luther King, Jr. called it “the historical Bible of the civil rights movement.” The book offers a clear and illuminating analysis of the history of Jim Crow laws, presenting evidence that segregation in the South dated only to the 1890s. Woodward convincingly shows that, even under slavery, the two races had not been divided as they were under the Jim Crow laws of the 1890s. In fact, during Reconstruction, there was considerable economic and political mixing of the races. The segregating of the races was a relative newcomer to the region.
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander“Jarvious Cotton’s great-great-grandfather could not vote as a slave. His great-grandfather was beaten to death by the Klu Klux Klan for attempting to vote. His grandfather was prevented from voting by Klan intimidation; his father was barred by poll taxes and literacy tests. Today, Cotton cannot vote because he, like many black men in the United States, has been labeled a felon and is currently on parole.” As the United States celebrates the nation’s “triumph over race” with the election of Barack Obama, the majority of young black men in major American cities are locked behind bars or have been labeled felons for life. Although Jim Crow laws have been wiped off the books, an astounding percentage of the African American community remains trapped in a subordinate status–much like their grandparents before them. In this incisive critique, former litigator-turned-legal-scholar Michelle Alexander provocatively argues that we have not ended racial caste in America: we have simply redesigned it. Alexander shows that, by targeting black men and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control, even as it formally adheres to the principle of color blindness.
Group 10. Choose a Fictional Bird Written by a British Author
Flaubert’s Parrot by Julian BarnesFlaubert’s Parrot deals with Flaubert, parrots, bears and railways; with our sense of the past and our sense of abroad; with France and England, life and art, sex and death, George Sand and Louise Colet, aesthetics and redcurrant jam; and with its enigmatic narrator, a retired English doctor, whose life and secrets are slowly revealed. A compelling weave of fiction and imaginatively ordered fact, Flaubert’s Parrot is by turns moving and entertaining, witty and scholarly, and a tour de force of seductive originality.
Black Swan Green by David MitchellBlack Swan Green tracks a single year in what is, for thirteen-year-old Jason Taylor, the sleepiest village in muddiest Worcestershire in a dying Cold War England, 1982. But the thirteen chapters, each a short story in its own right, create an exquisitely observed world that is anything but sleepy. A world of Kissingeresque realpolitik enacted in boys’ games on a frozen lake; of “nightcreeping” through the summer backyards of strangers; of the tabloid-fueled thrills of the Falklands War and its human toll; of the cruel, luscious Dawn Madden and her power-hungry boyfriend, Ross Wilcox; of a certain Madame Eva van Outryve de Crommelynck, an elderly bohemian emigré who is both more and less than she appears; of Jason’s search to replace his dead grandfather’s irreplaceable smashed watch before the crime is discovered; of first cigarettes, first kisses, first Duran Duran LPs, and first deaths; of Margaret Thatcher’s recession; of Gypsies camping in the woods and the hysteria they inspire; and, even closer to home, of a slow-motion divorce in four seasons.
The Crocodile Bird by Ruth RendellA mother and a daughter live quietly in the rustic gatehouse of Shrove House, an isolated British estate. Their life seems perfectly ordinary except that daughter Liza has been kept isolated from the outside world for all of her sixteen years. And that she has seen her beautiful mother commit murder… more than once. Now, as the police come searching for a missing man, Liza’s sheltered, strange world begins to fall apart. Piece by piece she will reveal her mother’s tale of betrayal, desire, and obsession. Step-by-step we discover how much like mother, like daughter she is.
Group 11. Choose a Mysterious Bird
The Cry of the Owl by Patricia HighsmithIn a small Pennsylvania town, Robert Forrester is recuperating from a nasty divorce and a bout of psychological trouble. One evening, while driving home, he sees a pretty young woman framed by her bright kitchen window. Soon, he can’t keep himself away. But when Robert is inevitably discovered, obsession is turned on its head, and he finds himself unable to shake the young woman, nor entirely sure whether he should. From Patricia Highsmith, once called “the balladeer of stalking” by The New Yorker, The Cry of the Owl is a modern classic ready to be reborn.
Bluebird Bluebird by Attica LockeWhen it comes to law and order, East Texas plays by its own rules–a fact that Darren Mathews, a black Texas Ranger, knows all too well. Deeply ambivalent about growing up black in the lone star state, he was the first in his family to get as far away from Texas as he could. Until duty called him home. When his allegiance to his roots puts his job in jeopardy, he travels up Highway 59 to the small town of Lark, where two murders–a black lawyer from Chicago and a local white woman–have stirred up a hornet’s nest of resentment. Darren must solve the crimes–and save himself in the process–before Lark’s long-simmering racial fault lines erupt.
The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (Pseudonym), J.K. RowlingThe Cuckoo’s Calling is a 2013 crime fiction novel by J. K. Rowling, published under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. A brilliant mystery in a classic vein: Detective Cormoran Strike investigates a supermodel’s suicide. After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office. Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.
Group 12. Choose another Historically Fictional Bird
Flight of the Sparrow by Amy Belding Brown Massachusetts Bay Colony, 1676. Even before Mary Rowlandson is captured by Indians on a winter day of violence and terror, she sometimes found herself in conflict with her rigid Puritan community. Now, her home destroyed, her children lost to her, she has been sold into the service of a powerful woman tribal leader, made a pawn in the on-going bloody struggle between English settlers and native people. Battling cold, hunger, and exhaustion, Mary witnesses harrowing brutality but also unexpected kindness. To her confused surprise, she is drawn to her captors’ open and straightforward way of life, a feeling further complicated by her attraction to a generous, protective English-speaking native known as James Printer. All her life, Mary has been taught to fear God, submit to her husband, and abhor Indians. Now, having lived on the other side of the forest, she begins to question the edicts that have guided her, torn between the life she knew and the wisdom the natives have shown her.
The Good Lord Bird by James McBrideHenry Shackleford is a young slave living in the Kansas Territory in 1857, when the region is a battleground between anti- and pro-slavery forces. When John Brown, the legendary abolitionist, arrives in the area, an argument between Brown and Henry’s master quickly turns violent. Henry is forced to leave town—with Brown, who believes he’s a girl. Over the ensuing months, Henry—whom Brown nicknames Little Onion—conceals his true identity as he struggles to stay alive. Eventually Little Onion finds himself with Brown at the historic raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859—one of the great catalysts for the Civil War.
The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve ValentineFrom award-winning author Genevieve Valentine, a “gorgeous and bewitching” (Scott Westerfeld) reimagining of the fairytale of the Twelve Dancing Princesses as flappers during the Roaring Twenties in Manhattan. Jo, the firstborn, “The General” to her eleven sisters, is the only thing the Hamilton girls have in place of a mother. She is the one who taught them how to dance, the one who gives the signal each night, as they slip out of the confines of their father’s townhouse to await the cabs that will take them to the speakeasy. Together they elude their distant and controlling father, until the day he decides to marry them all off. The girls, meanwhile, continue to dance, from Salon Renaud to the Swan and, finally, the Kingfisher, the club they come to call home. They dance until one night when they are caught in a raid, separated, and Jo is thrust face-to-face with someone from her past: a bootlegger named Tom whom she hasn’t seen in almost ten years. Suddenly Jo must weigh in the balance not only the demands of her father and eleven sisters, but those she must make of herself.