Carolyn Crocker

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Enchanted August

Summary: 
Two young mothers, a humiliated actress, and 78-year-old Beverly Fisher all need the restorative powers of an island cottage off the Maine coast, as much as Elizbeth von Arnim’s middleaged dames needed Tuscany a century earlier. A lighthearted and satisfying update of the classic—- a perfect summer read.

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H is for Hawk

Summary: 
An unusual woman—a Cambridge academic who has better connections with birds, especially raptors than people—responds to her photojournalist father’s sudden death in an unusual way: by training a goshawk and channeling T. H. White. An odd, but very moving account of grief.

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Mrs. Queen Takes the Train

Summary: 
A delightful romp, illustrated with photographs, in which ER II tries to pull herself out of the doldrums, with yoga and a solo trip to Scotland, much to the consternation of her staff and courtiers, who must protect her from MI5—among others… A treat for Anglophiles.

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Boy, Snow, Bird

Summary: 
Race, gender and identity are refracted through the mirror of the Snow White and Rose Red story, played out in the mid-20th century. A family—wife and mother Boy, stepdaughter Snow, and daughter Bird – struggle to find themselves and fulfill their promise in a society where “passing” was much more than mere appearance. A complex and richly magical novel.

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Euphoria

Summary: 
Three fieldworkers in New Guinea at the dawn of anthropology struggle to understand their tribes, their new science, and ultimately themselves in a challenging climate. Nell Stone’s relationship to both men ignites the passion-filled conclusion. Questions of nature or nurture, culture or personality, understanding or exploitation redound throughout this fascinating novel.

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The Crane Wife

Summary: 
A Japanese folktale set in today’s London, in which a nebbishy American divorcé expat and his volatile daughter are touched by the magic. An allegorical origin story runs parallel, creating an intriguing read. “A story is not an explanation, it is a net through which the truth flows. The net catches some of the truth, but not all, never all, only enough so that we can live with the extraordinary without it killing us.” p.141

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The Wind is not a River

Summary: 
A dual narrative of World War II in the Aleutians, this novel tracks the survivor of a crash landing behind Japanese lines and his wife who never gives up hope. Helen Easley joins the USO and searches; John struggles to stay alive under harsh conditions, ultimately inspired by a mysterious relic of the native population "disappeared" by their oppressors and neglected by their liberators. True heroism on all sides.

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Horrorstör

Summary: 
Shopping at IKEA will never be the same! This part-catalog parody, part-chiller, part-satire of our consumer culture is both truly creepy and very funny—and quite trenchant in its observations of retail, interior design, young workers, and lifestyle. Who are the real zombies? Just Orsk!

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How to Be Both

Summary: 
A grieving teenaged girl ponders dualisms—her memories of her dead mother more vivid than her own actual life, her ambivalent emerging sexuality, art and reality, death and life. The few surviving works of an little-known renaissance painter link her to his similarly ambiguous life, and forge a conduit to her survival. A remarkable and inventive novel. “ It is subtle and at the same time the most unsubtle thing in the world, so unsubtle it’s subtle. Once you’ve seen it, you can’t not see it.” p. 142

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Bitter Greens

Summary: 
The plight of women– in Renaissance Venice and 18th century Paris is fleshed out in this retelling of Rapunzel, and of the life of the French author who first told it. As 200 years had not wrought much change for the characters, the modern reader wonders how far we’ve advanced since then, as this tale enchants and resonates. Luxuriant writing.

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