Set in the colorful world of modern India, this novel is a comedy of manners in the tradition of Jane Austen. Simpler in style than Austen’s work—many reviewers have compared it to Alexander McCall Smith's No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series—The Marriage Bureau for Rich People is a light, engaging novel about relationships, family expectations, and Indian marriage traditions. The novel’s central characters are Mr. Ali, a Muslim retiree who decides to open a marriage bureau out of boredom and Aruna, the poor Hindi girl whom he hires as an assistant. There is nothing catastrophic in the plot, but the lack of angst, the vivid descriptions of everyday Indian life, and the amusing travails of marriage seekers combine to make a very pleasant, relaxing read perfect for an afternoon of lazing outside with a glass of lemonade.
Genre: Memoir (Graphic Format)
American Widow is a beautiful graphic memoir that illustrates the author’s private grief in the wake of a national tragedy. On September 11, 2001, Eddie Torres left for his second day of work at Cantor Fitzgerald and never returned. His wife Alissa was 7 months pregnant. What follows is a raw and lyrical look at her resulting anger, confusion, and depression as well as the weary tenacity that allowed her to carry on—all perfectly highlighted by images that perhaps express more than words ever could. For me, one of the most poignant moments is when Alissa, surrounded in the maternity store by happy couples, shops for a black funeral dress. Thankfully, this novel avoids the pitfalls of over sentiment or self-pity by balancing its focus between Alissa’s life with Eddie, a young Colombian immigrant who “dreamed the American Dream,” and the aftermath of grief, helpless anger, media frenzy, and bureaucratic red tape.
The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker
Genre: Magical Realism, Women's Fiction, Southern Fiction
Little Giant is a tall tale with a bit of a dark side. Truly Plaice was born big—so big that half the men in Aberdeen were placing bets on how much the Plaice’s new son (everyone was sure she would be a boy) would weigh. Due to an unusual medical condition, Truly is continuously growing and becomes an object of curiosity and, often, disgust—especially in comparison to her delicately beautiful sister Serena Jane. In addition to a truly unique character, the novel also offers up bits of charming, rural folklore: an heirloom quilt, a rundown family farm, and a family’s healing tradition are all important threads throughout the book. Thanks to an intriguing plot that examines the questions of destiny, life, and death and a narrative style reminiscent of Alice Hoffman, first-time author Tiffany Baker stands out as an author to watch. I wouldn’t be surprised if her debut becomes the next darling of reading groups and book clubs.
I truly enjoyed each of these books. If you haven't read them yet (or loved them and want a copy of your own), enter our Fall Giveaway Event and let us know which ARCs interest you!