On the Shelves column: Fiction fit for any wish list

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Fall and winter are two of the busiest publishing seasons. If you did not receive these books under the Christmas tree, you might want to visit Newfoundland and Labrador Public Libraries  online: www.nlpl.ca or in person to request them:

• “Luminaries” by Eleanor Catton. Catton was the winner of the 2013 Booker Prize for Fiction for this historical mystery set in the gold fields of New Zealand. Walter Moody, a young Edinburgh lawyer, has come to New Zealand in search of gold. He walks into a frontier world filled with intrigue: greed, romance, secrets and mystery.

• “Lowland” by Jhumpa Lahir. This new novel is set in America and India, the story of two brothers, inseparable as children and through their teens. Things change when the brothers are in their early 20s.  Udayar, a passionate idealist, is committed to action, no matter what the consequence. Subhash, the good and dutiful son, pursues a career as a research scientist in America, far from the political turmoil of his native land. When Udayar becomes the victim of political violence, Subhash steps up to marry his brother’s pregnant wife.

• “Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt. Theo Decker survives a tragic accident which takes his mother’s life, and is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. A beautifully rendered 17th-century painting of a goldfinch becomes the symbol of his connection to his mother. The reappearance of his ne’er-do-well father and an unfortunate friendship move Theo from wealthy New York’s Park Avenue to a life of drugs and the art underworld.

• “Orenda” by Joseph Boyden. Boyden’s latest novel opens with a brutal massacre and the kidnapping of a young Iroquois girl. The novel centres on Snow Falls, the young girl, the Huron warrior who kidnaps her and Christophe, a charismatic Jesuit. Set in the 17th century, in a time of warring nations and fervent missionaries, “Orenda” paints a vivid picture of Canada at the crossroads.

• “Longbourn” by Jo Baker. In “Longbourn,” a below-the-stairs version of “Pride and Prejudice,” Baker focuses on the lives of the servants in the Bennet household, made famous by Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.” The household provides an interesting backdrop, but the servants have enough rich and complex relationships and dramas of their own to make this a compelling and enjoyable read.

• “Instructions for a Heatwave” by Maggie O’Farrell. “Instructions for a Heatwave” follows a family crisis in London and Ireland during the legendary British heat wave of 1976. Robert Riordan, a retired banker, heads off to the local shop to buy a newspaper and disappears. His children are called together by his wife Gretta to search for their missing father. While searching for clues, the children expose their own disappointments and failings. Relationships are mended, secrets exposed and past sins forgiven in this well-executed family portrait.

• “Emancipation Day” by Wayne Grady. Jack Lewis, a mixed race Canadian sailor, is stationed in St. John’s in 1942. He is fair and able to pass as white, which he does while courting his Newfoundland sweetheart. Later, married and back in Ontario, Jack remains ashamed of his black father and continues to hide him from his new wife. Racial tensions, internal and external, drive the novel. Grady wrote the novel as a result of discovering that his “Irish” great-grandfather was actually Afro-American.

If you received an eReader, or tablet for Christmas, check Newfoundland and Labrador Public Libraries’ website for our selection of free ebooks to download to your device.

Happy Reading in 2014.

For more information, call 737-2133;

for library locations and hours call 737-2348.

Geographic location: New Zealand, America, Edinburgh India New York Park Avenue Canada Newfoundland and Labrador London Ireland Ontario

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  • Norma Elliott
    December 29, 2013 - 20:37

    In reference to the book “Lowland” by Jhumpa Lahir -- the correct surname is Lahiri. Thanks.