Books Acquired, This Week and Last

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Reading for Our Time by J. Hillis Miller from Columbia University Press. Their copy:

A masterclass in attentive reading that opens up brilliant insights into two of George Eliot’s novels. J. Hillis Miller shows how reading Eliot’s great novels Adam Bede and Middlemarch can provide the pleasure and insight unique to reading fiction. The readings focus on famous passages in which the narrator reflects about the story and its characters. What do these passages really say? What role does Eliot’s figurative language play in her storytelling? These stories deal with uncovering their characters’ ideological illusions. By understanding how to expose these illusions, readers will be able to recognize how easy it is to be taken in by such mistakes, both in the personal and in the political worlds.

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Mary S. Lovell’s The Churchills is new in trade paperback from Norton. From the LA Times review:

Intelligent and well-written, like all of Mary S. Lovell’s biographies, “The Churchills” provides a vivid introduction to the family of English aristocrats whose nation-preserving achievements stretch from the Battle of Blenheim to the Battle of Britain and beyond. The Churchills are a much-chronicled clan, and although footnotes indicate that Lovell has read all the relevant books and delved into vast archives of personal papers, there’s nothing startlingly new here. Instead, as she did in “The Mitford Girls,” the author synthesizes a variety of familiar material to create a lively collective portrait.

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Diane Keaton’s memoir is out in trade paperback. It’s a handsome book with stylish color inserts. New from Random House.

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 Great cover on A Simple Murder, new from Eleanor Kuhns. Publisher Minotaur/Macmillan’s write-up:

Five years ago, while William Rees was still recovering from his stint as a Revolutionary War soldier, his beloved wife died. Devastated, Rees left his son, David, in his sister’s care, fled his Maine farm, and struck out for a tough but emotionally empty life as a traveling weaver. Now, upon returning unexpectedly to his farm, Rees discovers that David has been treated like a serf for years and finally ran away to join a secluded religious sect—the Shakers.

Overwhelmed by guilt and hoping to reconcile with his son, Rees immediately follows David to the Shaker community. But when a young Shaker woman is brutally murdered shortly after Rees’s arrival, Rees finds himself launched into a complicated investigation where the bodies keep multiplying, a tangled web of family connections casts suspicion on everyone, and the beautiful woman on the edge of the Shaker community might be hiding troubling ties to the victims. It quickly becomes clear that in solving Sister Chastity’s murder, Rees may well expose some of the Shaker community’s darkest secrets, not to mention endanger his own life.

An atmospheric portrait of a compelling time in American history, A Simple Murder is an outstanding debut from Eleanor Kuhns, Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America’s 2011 First Crime Novel Competition Winner.

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