On the surface of things Nadia Orsini’s life appears comfortable and unremarkable – Ivy League educated, happily married to a doctor, a mother of three, and a moderately successful photographer. But not all is as it seems. Nadia has been telling lies. Nobody, not even her family, knows about her past, her dark dealings with a U.S. senator, or the scandal she was caught up in surrounding his young son. Then, Nadia receives a disturbing package in the mail and her mask threatens to disintegrate, exposing a horrifying secret. She realizes someone is spying on her, has broken in to her studio and rummaged through her hidden safe. If she can’t stop them, she will lose her husband, family, suburban home – and the precarious hold on her own singular identity. Meanwhile, from a prison cell in the mountains, a convicted felon named Christopher Benedict is hatching a plot. The leader of a shadowy group of Aktionists, he writes daily to a woman known only as “Jenny X.” Lisa Dierbeck’s startling first novel, One Pill Makes You Smaller, gave an unflinching, raw account of a relationship between a charismatic adult man and an underage girl. Set in the gritty art world of the 70s, its surprising humor, honesty and eroticism drew acclaim from numerous publications, including The Boston Globe, The Los Angeles Times, O (the Oprah magazine), Publisher’s Weekly and The New York Times Book Review, which named it a Notable Book of 2003.
Madewell Brown is the fourth book of the Guadalupe Series.
As recorded in Rick Collignon’s second novel, Perdido, a tall black man with one arm longer than the other walked into Guadalupe, New Mexico one morning about 50 years ago, stayed pretty much to himself for seven years, and then walked back out of town. No one knew who he was or what became of him. Now, as his last act, an old man named Ruffino Trujillo tells his grown son Cipriano a story about what became of the black man. After Ruffino’s death, Cipriano discovers an old canvas bag bearing the name of Madewell Brown. Inside are a hand-carved doll, an old blanket, an unlabeled photo of a Negro League baseball team, and a small, yellowing envelope that was never posted. Thinking it the least he can do, Cipriano mails the letter.
When it arrives in Cairo, Illinois, it comes into the hands of a young woman named Rachael, who believes it is from her lost grandfather. She believes this because of all that she’s been told by the raggedy old man who taught her everything: Obie Poole, who was Madewell’s friend and the orphaned Rachael’s anchor, the man who gives this eloquent novel its authentic sense of history lived. Drawn magically forward on Rick Collignon’s direct and haunting prose, we follow Rachael to Guadalupe in search of her own identity and we watch as Cipriano tries to make sense of the story his father told him about a dead man who didn’t belong there.
This fourth installment in Collignon’s beloved Guadalupe series is as magical as its predecessors, as emotionally honest, as surprising—and it firmly establishes Rick Collignon as a master American storyteller.
Joan is on the brink. Cough drop addict, school bus driver, mixed race daughter of a Maoist English father and a Chinese-Canadian mother, Joan struggles for meaning after a friend’s death reveals a secret life. Migration Songs is a lost letter from your past, an intimate experience full of humour and grace.
After Archangels materialise over the bloodbaths of WWII, they take up residence in most of the world’s major cities. But what would happen if, more than quarter of a century later, something somehow managed to kill these supreme beings? Killarney knows and, as an agent working for the Bureau, a British agency that’s so secret it doesn’t officially exist, she finds herself embroiled in the consequences as, one by one, the Archangels die.
Assigned to trace a missing cryptographer thought to have information on the murders, she travels from England, through France, heading for the frozen wastes of the USSR. But there’s an unknown third party intent on stopping her, and there’s God, who also has an agenda. Not knowing who is friend and who is foe, and with only a brief glimpse of a swastika on angel wings as solid information, Killarney struggles to remain alive long enough to glean sufficient information to put together the pieces of the puzzle and complete what is, without them, an impossible mission.
Perdido is the second book of the Guadalupe Series.
Madewell Brown walked into the village on a hot, dry day in 1946. A solitary black man with one arm longer than the other, he had never found a place for himself. Never, that is, until he had painted his own history on the interior walls of his adobe house in Guadalupe.
Fifty years later, Will Sawyer’s truck runs out of gas, and as he walks that same long road back into town he knows it’s best to keep his eyes on the ground. But he doesn’t understand the town’s long history of displacement or the difficulty of truly fitting in there, until he hears the story of the dead girl found hanging from Las Manos Bridge.
In Perdido, Collignon returns to the same magical town he first introduced in The Journal of Antonio Montoya. Once again mixing present and past, living and dead, he delivers a forthright and unflinching examination of race, belonging, and identity. With this novel, Collignon shows that a powerful new voice in American fiction has arrived.
For as long as she could remember, Sarah has had a frightening nightmare. In it, she inexplicably kills her mother. After this nightmare she feels compelled to steal something. Not just anything, but some particular item which seems significant. Yet over the years she couldn’t figure out the relevance of any of these stolen items. No one knows of Sarah’s problem and she has no solution, despite reading dozens of psychology books hoping to find the answer.
Then Aunt Kat, her mother’s sister whom Sarah has never met comes to visit which begins a frustrating weekend. Her mother falls and breaks her ankle and suddenly Sarah’s nightmares begin to change to include sleepwalking. In desperation, Sarah seeks help and turns to Josie her odd but brilliant schoolmate.
Together the girls try to trace the source of Sarah’s problem. Books, the stolen items, clues in the new nightmares, all seem to lead nowhere. Even the cryptic pronouncement of a psychic referring to a “grave beside a tomb” means nothing. But finally, everything begins to fall into place. Sarah begins to discover hidden things about herself which make her wish she had never begun the search.
Few of us actually know all the things which make us who we are but Sarah’s past hid more than most.
Image credit: lindaaslund
Isabel Hart is afraid of two things, the maze at Trencarrow where she got lost as a young child, and the lake where her brother David saved her from drowning in a boating accident. With her twenty-first birthday and the announcement of her engagement imminent, Isabel decides it is time for her to face her demons and ventures into the maze. There she sees something which will alter her perceptions of herself and her family forever.
The house party gathers and as more secrets are revealed, Isabel doubts she has chosen the right man, although her future fiancé has more vested in this marriage than Isabel realizes and has no intention of letting her go easily.
Will Isabel be able to put her preconceptions of marriage behind her and take charge of her own life, or is she destined to be controlled by others and a past she cannot break away from?
Cover background image: Ted and Jen – Flckr CC-BY