2021, 304 p.
One morning, Laurie’s husband, Mark, just disappears. She doesn’t tell anyone, not even Mark’s mother who lives in Portugal. Finally, after five weeks, she calls the police, who find her behaviour rather suspicious. Laurie addresses the reader directly, seemingly taking us into her confidence. We learn about her complicated relationship with her father, who suffers from dementia and accuses his late wife of having had numerous affairs, and with Olenka, his cleaner-cum-housekeeper. We also see how Laurie drinks too much and doesn’t sleep well, having nightmares in which she is being accused of something very bad. And, together with Laurie, we also discover the secrets Mark kept from his wife. Gradually the events are revealed that caused the couple to drift apart. Ghosted is a moving story about love, sadness and anger, but also about new beginnings, told in a darkly humorous way.
Talk to me
2021, 292 p.
Guy Schermerhorn is a professor of psychology involved in researching language acquisition in primates. Thanks to Guy’s careful training, the chimp Sam has learned to communicate through sign language. Sam lives in Guy’s apartment, but this is wreaking havoc on Guy’s personal life. Guy is lucky to find the undergraduate student Aimee Villard, who volunteers to babysit. Aimee and Sam have an immediate connection, and before Guy knows it, she’s moved in, proudly devoting herself to Sam’s care and Guy’s project. Dr Moncrieff, the head of the department, is not so optimistic about the project and decides that it has to stop. However, Aimee is not willing to give Sam up and so runs away with him. This book is about Aimee’s love for Sam. How far will she go, while also managing to hide from Dr Moncrieff?
2021, 580 p.
It is 1971 and almost Christmas in New Prospect, USA. Russ Hildebrandt is the second pastor of the First Reform Church. Marion, his wife, has a past that Russ does not know about. Both are struggling to prevent their marriage from collapsing. Their children, in turn, have problems of their own. Clem, the eldest son, is coming home from college, having taken a difficult decision. Becky, their daughter, is very popular, attractive and falling in love. Fifteen-year-old Perry is bright, but addicted and selling drugs to eighth-graders. Meanwhile, Judson, the youngest child, is loved by everyone. Events from the past and present come to a head on a single winter day, described from intertwined perspectives and with sustained suspense. Franzen’s long-anticipated book about a “normal” American family offers a fascinating insight into their searching for identity and wrestling with morality. This first volume of a trilogy stands on its own, but may well leave you longing for the next.
2021, 289 p.
The 51-year-old twins Jeanie and Julius live with their mother in a small cottage. The three of them lead an isolated life, growing everything they need for sustenance in the garden and making music together inside the house. But when their mother, Dot, suddenly dies, the only way of life they’ve ever known comes tumbling down. How did Dot keep the family afloat financially? How will Jeanie and Julius adapt to their new world? Unsettled Ground author Claire Fuller has written a captivating novel giving an intriguing insight into poverty in present-day England.
2021, 293 p.
The story is about a white South African family, living on a farm outside Pretoria. Mother Rachel on her deathbed, extracts the promise from her husband Manie that Salome, the family’s black maid, will be given a house and a plot of land of her own. The youngest daughter, Amor, overhearing her mother’s request, chooses her own way in life. When she meets up with her family at funeral gatherings, she reminds them of the promise. In the end she herself can fulfil the promise, but by then the political situation in South Africa has changed considerably and the promise has taken on a different dimension. As the story unfolds, the narrator takes the reader into the depths of the various characters' hearts. The novel contains beautiful metaphors that are a treat to the imagination.Damon Galgut won the Booker Prize 2021.
2020, 275 p.
In a town on the Tanzanian coast, against the background of German colonial rule in East Africa (Deutsch-Ostafrika) in the late nineteenth to mid-twentieth century, Hamza, Afiya and Ilyas try to cope with everything life throws at them. After working as a servant for a German officer, Hamza returns to his home village, where he falls in love with Afiya. She was raised by an “uncle” and “aunt” who treated her badly and is finally offered the chance of a better life by her brother Ilyas, who ran away from home as a child before his sister was born. The man who connects them all is Khalifa, sometimes grumpy but who loves to gossip. Gurnah, the winner of the 2021 Nobel Prize for Literature, has very successfully combined big world events such as colonialism and war with the small pleasures and setbacks in private lives.
A Town called Solace
2021, 288 p.
The story is set in the fictional town of Solace in Northern Ontario (Canada) in 1972. Three people are at the heart of the novel. Seven-year-old Clara, whose rebellious sister Rose has run away from home. Mrs Orchard, a widowed elderly neighbour, who asks Clara to feed the cat while she is in hospital. Liam, a recently divorced man in his late thirties who comes to live in Mrs Orchard’s house. And there is Moses, Mrs Orchard’s cat, unaware of how he connects the three characters. From three different points of view the story unfolds and tells the reader how the characters come to terms with the past and find possibilities for a new beginning. Mary Lawson tells a quiet, timeless story about people whose characters are drawn with great empathy. All storylines centre on loss, longing and love. The book was longlisted for the Booker Prize 2021.
The Beekeeper of Aleppo
2019, 317 p.
Nuri tends his bees as they tend him. His organised bee colonies seem like paradise, just like the world of Nuri, his wife Afra and their son Sami. Then war destroys both paradises and Nuri and Afra are torn between staying in Syria, waiting for death, and trying to join his cousin Mustafa in England. They embark on a journey full of agony and anxiety, during which they meet many other refugees from very different backgrounds. A story of lost dreams, lots of suffering and anxiety against a background of enduring love between a husband and wife.
Lean Fall Stand
2021, 288 p.
Robert “Doc” Wright is a General Technical Assistant, leading two young assistants on a geographical research expedition in Antarctica. During the trip, unnecessary risks are taken, and when a sudden storm strengthens and the radios fail, the three become isolated. The story continues with Doc’s return home to the UK, seen through the eyes of his wife, Anna. Having been at opposite ends of the globe for 30 years, the two have become estranged. Anna struggled to find a balance between raising their children and her career as a climate expert, and now suddenly has to take on a new role as Doc’s full-time carer. An investigation into the Antarctic tragedy is launched and Doc, who suffers from aphasia following a stroke, has to find a way to account for his actions. McGregor has written an emotional novel about a relationship and communications after a stroke that is both captivating and deeply sad.
2021, 304 p.
When Debbie goes to university, she stands out because of living on a farm with her family, who can best be described as weird and extremely uncomfortable with their existence. The struggle to cope with life is what makes them loveable. Her mother is plagued by dreams, and Debbie is scared to end up the same way. Her saviour is her Uncle Billy. Together, they gaze at stars from the roof of his caravan and tell each other stories. And all the while Debbie must find a way through life, both as a country girl and a bright student. Luckily she finds a true friend at university. There are many coming-of-age books on the passage into adulthood and this one hurts as much as it entertains. The story makes you love Debbie and her crazy family and friends. Somehow you know she will find peace with herself, some day.
The Island of Missing Trees
2021, 320 p.
It is 1974 and the island of Cyprus and its capital Nicosia are divided into a Turkish and a Greek part. The situation is tense. And in these circumstances a Greek Christian boy and a Turkish, Muslim girl meet and fall in love. Romeo and Juliet revisited? It is an impossible situation, people watch each other all the time. But there is one place in Nicosia which is an oasis in this hostile environment. In the Happy Fig inn they find stolen moments of sanctuary, guarded by its owners and by the fig tree in the centre of the restaurant which has stood there for over 80 years. It is a place where they can share their dreams of a better world, until war breaks out, causing them to flee. Decades later, in London, their teenage daughter struggles to find out where she belongs. And gradually we learn what happened all those years ago. A story of infinite tenderness between lovers and towards their daughter.
The Fortnight in September
1931, 326 p.
Every year a suburban family goes to Bognor in West Sussex for their fortnight’s holiday. This offers Mr Stevens, a chief invoice clerk disappointed to have been passed over for promotion, an opportunity to dream about a future in which something would happen to reward his striving in the past. Mrs Stevens dreads the train journey and does her utmost to hide her fear of the sea. Most of all she enjoys the quiet hour after supper when Ernie, their youngest, is in bed, and the others have gone out. Their seventeen-year-old son Dick tries to understand why he is unhappy in his job as a clerk and comes to an important decision on his future, while his sister Mary, who is nearly twenty, finds romance. This story, written in 1931, about hard-working people doing normal things draws you in and makes you wish there was a sequel showing how their plans and dreams worked out.
2021, 589 p.
After the baby twins Marian and Jamie Graves have been rescued from a burning ship, their Uncle Wallace, a painter who drinks too much and has no idea how to raise children, takes them in. Marian has always wanted to be a pilot, but when Barclay Macqueen, a shady businessman, makes her dream come true, she has to pay a very high price. Jamie leads a very different kind of life and becomes a well-known artist. In 1950, Marian disappears while flying around the world from north to south. At regular intervals, the story switches to Hadley Baxter, a disgraced Hollywood movie star, who, more than 50 years later, is preparing for her role as Marian in a movie about the latter’s life. The novel is set against the background of Prohibition, the Great Depression and the Second World War and includes the histories of various real-life women pilots. This results in a very interesting read.
The Hare with Amber Eyes
Edmund de Waal
2011, 351 p.
During a stay in Japan, Edmund de Waal, the author of the book, admires the netsuke (miniature ivory sculptures from Japan) of his great-uncle Ignace von Ephrussi, who lives in Tokyo. The inheritance of the 264 netsuke arouses Edmund’s curiosity about the collection’s origins. He discovers that they were bought by Edmund's great-grandfather, Charles Ephrussi, in Paris in the 1870s. The story of the netsuke is related to the history of the Ephrussi family, a Jewish family of wheat traders, originally from Odessa and who, over time, became bankers, with offices in all the major European capitals. Edmund’s quest leads him through the Paris of Proust and Monet, and a time of growing anti-Semitism and the Dreyfus affair, right up to the present day. This book gives insight into the lives of a rich Jewish family around 1900 and beyond, at both a personal and broader level.
Betekenis symbolen: het aantal boekjes (1, 2 of 3) duidt op de moeilijkheidsgraad van de boeken.