Clara and Mr. Tiffany

by Susan Vreeland |

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REVIEWED BY SUE CORBETT

NOVEL

As she did for a Vermeer painting in Girl in Hyacinth Blue, Vreeland traces the secret history of an objet d'art-this time, the iconic Tiffany lamp. Her heroine is Clara Driscoll, head of the all-female glass-cutting department at Tiffany Studios, who designed many of the fanciful, nature-inspired leaded-glass lamps for which Louis Comfort Tiffany earned fame. The real extent of Driscoll's contribution became known only recently, when letters she wrote during her 17-year tenure were made public. Through Driscoll's life, Vreeland offers a fascinating look at turn-of-the-century New York City. The free-thinking Driscoll took it all in; chafing at societal restrictions (Tiffany Studios did not employ married women) while reveling in new freedoms, she rode her bicycle across Manhattan to sketch the dragonflies, wisteria and daffodils that she then reproduced in shimmering pieces of cut glass that are now on display in museums worldwide.

Dirty Secret

by Jessie Sholl |

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REVIEWED BY JUDITH NEWMAN

MEMOIR

The tale of Sholl's battle to fix her mother, a compulsive hoarder, will leave you fascinated-and possibly queasy. After offering descriptions of the towering mess of rotted food and useless thriftstore purchases, Sholl explores the psychological reasons why being merely a disorganized pack rat can erupt into full-blown hoarding. By the end you're sympathetic to both mother and daughter and understand how a parent's obsession can become a child's.

The Lake of Dreams

by Kim Edwards |

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REVIEWED BY JOANNA POWELL

NOVEL

Like Edwards' 2005 debut The Memory Keeper's Daughter, this book concerns a long-buried secret that threatens to undo the present. A daughter returns from Japan to find a cache of artifacts that leads her to a suffragette ancestor and to solve the tragic mystery of the woman's baby girl. While it lacks Memory Keeper's emotional punch, it's a satisfying mix of compassion and intrigue.

ROSES

by Leila Meacham

A Texas family saga spanning the 20th century, this big fat novel will keep you engrossed.

THE CHECKLIST MANIFESTO

by Atul Gawande

In our increasingly complex modern world, the humble to-do list still remains a crucial tool.

STAR

by Peter Biskind

Biographer Biskind captures Warren Beatty in all his womanizing, politics-dabbling glory.

Blame carbs-not butter or TV-says science writer Gary Taubes in a well-researched, if debatable, take on obesity.

EAT AS MUCH AS YOU LIKE. REALLY.

"Protein and fat don't make us fat-only carbohydrates do," writes Taubes. "So there is no reason to curtail them in any way."

CUT BREAD, PASTA, SUGAR AND FRUIT

"What makes fruit worrisome ... is that it contains fructose [which] is uniquely fattening as carbohydrates go." Instead he prescribes filling up on proteins, fats and a minimum of three cups of salad greens and non-starchy vegetables each day.

HIT THE GYM FOR HEALTH OR FUN-NOT WEIGHT LOSS

"There are indeed excellent reasons to exercise," he writes. But "little evidence exists to support the belief that the number of calories we expend has any effect on how fat we are."

PREPARE TO DEFEND YOUR DIET

Even 40 years after Dr. Atkins, a pro-bacon regimen is controversial. "If you accept my arguments ... you may be going against your doctor's advice."