January 1 & 15, 2016 Booklist 47 www.booklistonline.com
Cage Weatherby, who becomes Lincoln’s close
friend. This works well, for Cage also has a
riveting personal story. Full of wild ambition,
yet awkward around women and prone to depression, Lincoln takes his time working out
his approaches to the polarizing issue of slavery
and to the lively and refined Mary Todd. In
addition to fine personality depictions, readers
get a firsthand glimpse of early Illinois politics,
a physically dangerous, occasionally bloody
endeavor, in this superb historical novel about
ethics, morality, and the nature of courage, that
feels as vital as today’s news —Sarah Johnson
HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Bestselling,
award-winning Harrigan is an A-list novelist
and screenwriter; accordingly intense promotional efforts will be made to get the word
out about this widely appealing title.
By Dawn Tripp.
Feb. 2016. 336p. Random, $28 (9781400069538).
This fictionalized biography of one of the best-known artists of the last century begins with
Georgia O’Keeffe as a young woman teaching
in Texas. When her sketches make their way to
Alfred Stieglitz, photographer and gallery owner in New York, the two meet, and their passion
is undeniable. They become lovers, and Stieglitz
encourages O’Keeffe to develop her artistry, but
she also becomes the inspiration for his work.
When Stieglitz shows his nude portraits of her,
Georgia is launched into the spotlight overnight. It is a defining moment for them both,
one that Georgia repeatedly reevaluates as she
fights to distance herself from the woman in the
photographs and have her painting recognized
for its artistry, not its femininity. Details from
letters and other writings are the backbone
of this powerful interpretation of the artist’s
personal growth throughout her relationship
with Stieglitz. As vibrant and colorful as one
would hope for a story about this beloved artist, Tripp’s novel clearly takes liberties, but the
relative truth painted with them is well worth
the straying. —Cortney Ophoff
Goddess of Fire.
By Bharti Kirchner.
Jan. 2016. 288p. Severn, $29.95 (9780727885500);
Kirchner’s (Darjeeling, 2007) sweeping historical novel is set in seventeenth-century India
and tells the story of Moorti, a teenage widow
about to be martyred as a sati on her husband’s
funeral pyre. She is rescued by Job Charnock,
a chief administrator for the English East India
Company. Renamed Maria, the young woman becomes a cook at the company’s estate in
Cossimbazaar. But Maria craves more than
servanthood and begins taking English lessons,
hoping to become an interpreter for Charnock.
Their mutual respect develops into love, and
despite their class and racial differences, they
marry. With Maria’s vision and advice, Char-
nock founds the settlement that will eventually
become Calcutta. Kirchner imagines the life of
the strong and ambitious woman behind Char-
nock, an historical English trader, weaving in a
great deal of historical and cultural background
and detail to create this tale of barrier-crash-
ing love. What actually shines the brightest
is not the romance but rather Kirchner’s rich
portrayal of the Indians who toil for British co-
lonialists. —Aleksandra Walker
By Shawna Yang Ryan.
Feb. 2016. 400p. Knopf, $26.95 (9781101874257).
In this engrossing epic, Ryan ( Water Ghosts,
2009) lays bare five-and-a-half decades of
Taiwanese history through one family’s experience. The unnamed narrator is born in
1947, the youngest of four children of Dr.
Tsai and his wife, Li Min,
a painter. Not long after his
daughter’s birth, Dr. Tsai
draws the ire of the Chinese
Nationalists who control the
island and is dragged off to
prison. Narrowly escaping
execution, he is sentenced to
10 years on Green Island, a
prison colony. When he returns, his youngest
daughter finds him to be both exacting and
enigmatic, haunted by his time in prison as
well as continuing government surveillance.
At 24, the narrator leaves Taiwan to join her
new husband, Wei, in Berkeley, California,
where he is a professor. But when she and her
husband take in a critic of the Taiwanese gov-
ernment who has fled the country, she finds
that even in America she and her family are
not safe from the fascist government ruling
their homeland. Absorbing and affecting,
this powerful tale explores the bond between
a father and daughter, the compromises they
are forced to make, and the prices they pay
in their quest for freedom. —Kristine Huntley
YA: Politically minded teens will especially
find themselves drawn in by this moving
novel, but the father-daughter bond at its
heart has universal appeal. KH.
I’ll See You in Paris.
By Michelle Gable.
Feb. 2016. 400p. St. Martin’s/Thomas Dunne, $25.99
(9781250070630); e-book, $12.99 (9781466868724).
Plot-master Gable’s affection for Paris and
for hidden treasure emerges again in her
second absorbing novel, following A Paris
Apartment (2014). In this delightfully intricate tale, a lonely woman follows the trail of
two mysterious women from the past across
nearly a century of tantalizing clues. A grange
in Oxfordshire, England, may or may not have
been the former residence of Gladys Deacon,
Duchess of Marlborough (aka Mrs. Spencer,
the crazy old bat who chased intruders with a
gun and refused to confirm her identity). An
old biography of the duchess leads Annie to the
now-derelict grange, while a silver-haired man
at a local pub spins an intriguing yarn of love
and regret. Who was this duchess? Who was
the biographer? Who owns the grange now?
Suffice it to say that Annie discovers more than
The Last Painting of Sara de Vos.
she bargained for in Banbury and Paris. Read-
ers are kept guessing ’til the end in this sweet
story of love, mystery, art, literature, and Paris.
As complex and moving as Naomi Wood’s Mrs.
Hemingway (2014) and Liz Trenow’s The For-
gotten Seamstress (2014). —Jen Baker
By Dominic Smith.
Apr. 2016. 304p. Farrar/Sarah Crichton, $26
In this wonderfully engaging novel,
centered on the paintings of fictional
seventeenth-century Dutch artist Sara de Vos,
Smith immerses the reader
in three vibrant time periods. In 1950s New York,
a wealthy lawyer discovers
his prized de Vos painting
has been replaced with a
fake, while the forger of the
painting grapples with the
moral complexities of her
recent choices. Both characters reappear in
the present day, as the profound effect of the
painting on their lives becomes clear. Woven among these scenes are glimpses into the
tragic life of de Vos, the first woman master
painter admitted into the Guild of St. Luke
in Holland. When the story begins, only her
haunting winter landscape is known, but as
the story progresses, more is revealed, including the inspirations for her greatest works.
Rich in historical detail, the novel explores
“Nearly impossible to put down.”
—Fore Word Clarion Review ( 5 Stars)
“Explosive thrills… Plunges readers into the
tense and tactical world of Secret Service agents
pushed to their limits.” —Kirkus Reviews
Also available as an e-book
“EXHILARATING… DEVORE IS A SUPERB WRITER.”
—BLUEINK REVIEW (STARRED REVIEW)
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