Books acquired, 5.23.2016

Emily Barton’s The Book of Esther is new from Crown (Penguin-Random House). Their blurb:

Eastern Europe, August 1942. The Khazar kaganate, an isolated nation of Turkic warrior Jews, lies between the Pontus Euxinus (the Black Sea) and the Khazar Sea (the Caspian). It also happens to lie between a belligerent nation to the west that the Khazars call Germania—and a city the rest of the world calls Stalingrad.

After witnessing the first foray of Germani warplanes into sovereign Khazar territory, Esther bat Josephus, daughter of Khazaria’s chief policy adviser, knows she must fight for her country. Germania is gaining ground and if they are successful, the Khazar kaganate will be wiped out. Only Esther sees the ominous implications of Germania’s disregard for Jewish lives.  But as a woman she is prohibited from joining the war effort. Her one chance is to set out on her mechanical horse, Seleme, accompanied by Itakh, her adopted brother, to seek a fabled village of kabbalists. They may hold the key to her destiny: their rumored ability to change her into a man so that she may convince her entire nation to join in the fight for its very existence against an enemy like none Khazaria has faced before.

THE BOOK OF ESTHER is a genre-bending novel by a writer who invents worlds “out of Calvino or Borges” (The New Yorker).  Reminiscent of Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union and Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America, readers will delight in this tour de force novel which blends rich steampunk fantasy, powerful feminism, and Jewish mysticism into a singular piece of fiction.

Barbara Taylor Bradford’s novel The Cavendon Luck is new from St. Martin’s. Their blurb:

It is 1938 in England, and Miles and Cecily Ingham have lead the family in bringing the Cavendon estate back from the brink of disaster. But now, with the arrival of World War II, Cavendon Hall will face its biggest challenge yet. It is a challenge that will push the Inghams and Swanns to protect each other and the villagers, and reveal their true capacity for survival and rebirth.

Told with Bradford’s deft, evocative prose and featuring a beloved cast of characters, The Cavendon Luck is a story of intrigue, romance, sorrow, and joy that readers won’t soon forget.

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