Desperately seeking a great gift idea for an irascible uncle or I-don’t-want-a-thing niece? Pound for pound and dollar for dollar, books cannot be beat for an offering that is both personal and universal–and 2017 has been great to us, bookwise. Here are three books I absolutely adored, and I’m guessing that at least one of them will ring the bell for someone special (and/or difficult to buy for) on your holiday list.
The Widow of Wall Street tells the story of a family caught in the before, during, and after of a Ponzi scheme—a man with a criminal hunger for wealth, and his wife, who unknowingly builds her life, her marriage, family, and even friendships, on disappearing sand.
“The premise is familiar—a couple raising a family and accumulating grievances about marriage as they reach middle age. But this novel’s unsparing look at emotional abuse and its devastating consequences gives it gravity and bite, while a glimpse into a physically damaged mind both surprises and fascinates.” —PEOPLE
Set in 1970, a watershed moment in American history, A Catalog of Birds tells the story of the Flynn family, the mysterious disappearance of a teenage girl, and a brother and sister whose love of the natural world might just save their lives. Lyrical and affecting, Harrington has written an artful family drama about innocence lost and wounds that can’t be healed. The hidden legacy of war and its destruction of nature is deftly woven into this tale of love and forgiveness.
“At first glance, this may seem like an ordinary coming-of-age story, but one of its great pleasures is that it’s as impossible to categorize as it is to put down. The smooth path of Nell’s life is interrupted by tragedy. Her best friend, Megan, disappears mysteriously, and her beloved brother, Billy, comes home from Vietnam severely injured. At once, the novel becomes a searing war story and a page-turning thriller.” —WASHINGTON POST
In the tumultuous years of the Civil War, the streets of Chicago offer a woman mostly danger and ruin―unless that woman is Kate Warne, the first female Pinkerton detective and a desperate widow with a knack for manipulation. Descending into undercover operations, Kate is able to infiltrate the seedy side of the city in ways her fellow detectives can’t. She’s a seductress, an exotic foreign medium, a rich train passenger―all depending on the day and the robber, thief, or murderer she’s been assigned to nab. As the tensions between the north and south escalate, Kate takes on a job in which the stakes have never been higher. The nation’s future is at risk, even as the lines between disguise and reality begin to blur.
“Macallister is becoming a leading voice in strong, female-driven historical fiction. Exciting, frightening, and unspeakably moving…”―Erika Robuck, bestselling author of Hemingways’s Girl