LitPicks Book Reviews—September 2007

Theme— Novel of Ideas
These works masquerade as fiction. They tell a good story, but underneath the narrative mask of plot and character lie academic and social issues—serious ideas the author wants to work out. But don't let that scare you off! These are terrific stories..
 
Labels: A Lighter Touch

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The War Against Miss Winter
Kathryn Miller Haines, 2007
317 pp.

Book Review by Molly Lundquist
September 2007

Rosie Winter is a master of the cool quip and cocky comeback—trademarks of the "hard-boiled" detective genre of the 1920's and '30's. Conjure up an image of Dashiell Hammett's Sam Spade, correct for gender by tossing in Rosalind Russell from His Girl Friday, and you've got Rosie.

She's the smart and smart-mouthed heroine of this clever new crime story set in New York against the backdrop of World War II. In fact, war and violence are played out everywhere in this story: on the world stage, the New York stage, and in Rosie's life.
 

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On Beauty
Zadie Smith, 2005
445 pp.

Book Review by Molly Lundquist
September 2007

Somewhere in the middle of this book, a character wonders "was anyone ever genuinely attached to anything?"

She hits on the problem readers may encounter: it's hard at first to feel "genuinely attached" to this book—because none of the characters seem to love anything or anyone, least of all themselves. Ironically, that question became the tipping point for me. From then on it was impossible to put On Beauty down.
 
Labels: Great Works

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Howards End
E. M. Forster, 1910
355 pp.

Book Review by Molly Lundquist
September 2007

It took the lushly produced Merchant-Ivory* films to springboard E.M. Forster into a literary household name. Before that, he occupied a well-regarded but quiet niche in the pantheon of English authors.

We appreciate Forster because he tells such darn good stories while tackling serious social issues, primarily England's rigid class system, colonialism, homosexuality—and, always-always, hypocrisy.
 

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