The Sense of an Ending

by Julian Barnes |

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REVIEWED BY KIM HUBBARD

People PICK

NOVEL

In his seventh decade, Tony Webster, the narrator of Barnes's brief, brilliant new novel, has much to be grateful for: amicable relations with his ex-wife and daughter, volunteer work he enjoys, a sense of peace despite the knowledge that he's settled when he might have soared. "I had wanted life not to bother me too much," he muses, "and had succeeded." Everything changes when he receives a mysterious bequest from the mother of Veronica Ford, a long-ago love he remembers as having toyed with him. As Tony tries to understand what motivated the gift, he's jolted back to his youth and forced to reexamine all his assumptions about himself. Was he really the victim in his breakup with Veronica? How could he have forgotten the contents of a certain letter he wrote? Barnes weaves a taut, suspenseful tale while raising fascinating questions about memory, accountability and the limits of self-knowledge. History, Tony remembers a teacher telling him, is not only "the lies of the victors" but also "the self-delusions of the defeated." He-like all of us-is guilty of both.

The Night Strangers

by Chris Bohjalian |

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REVIEWED BY LISA KAY GREISSINGER

NOVEL

After surviving a horrific plane crash that kills 39 passengers, pilot Chip Linton and his family retreat to a remote village in northern New Hampshire hoping to heal. But Chip soon finds that his family's new home holds something malevolent: a child-size basement door sealed shut by 39 bolts. What's behind the door? And why are the women of the village so interested in the Lintons' twin daughters? This unsettling latest from master storyteller Bohjalian (Midwives) will keep you up at night.

FEAST DAY OF FOOLS

by James Lee Burke

In Burke's new spellbinder, menschy sheriff Hack Holland tangles with multiple villains.

LETHAL

by Sandra Brown

A mass murder suspect has taken Honor Gillette and her 4-year-old hostage-but is he really the one they should fear most?

BONNIE

by Iris Johansen

The last book in Johansen's Eve Duncan trilogy features forensic sculptor Eve closing in on the truth about her missing daughter.

WHITE HOUSE SECRETS

Through six administrations, florist Nancy Clarke learned plenty about the First Ladies

NANCY REAGAN

"She had a really good sense of humor. When President Reagan had his cancer surgery, a lot of flowers came, and I asked her what to do with them. She put her hand to her forehead and said theatrically, 'Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn.'"

BARBARA BUSH

"So down-to-earth. One time she came in with two different tennis shoes on."

HILLARY CLINTON

"One morning I saw her run totally naked from her bathroom to the bedroom. We both screamed. Later I apologized, and she laughed and said, 'Oh, don't worry about it. It's like living in a sorority house!'"

LAURA BUSH

"Probably the most perfectionist. But not demanding. The only direction we ever got was, 'Make 'em bigger!'"

MICHELLE OBAMA

"She asked if we could label the varieties in flower arrangements to help her and the girls sort out the names. My biggest impression was how much she cared about her children and about making the White House a home."

Kookie craft alert: Tired of the cat hair covering her furniture, writer Kaori Tsutaya started gathering it up and making it into fabric. The process-more smooshing than knitting, really-yields feline felt she uses to craft finger puppets, appliques and more. Her new book shows how and includes a caveat: "When crafting ... it is important to remove hair only by gentle brushing. Do not shave your cat."

BEAUTY, DISRUPTED

by Carre Otis

A gun that Otis's then-husband Mickey Rourke put in her purse went off accidentally one day. "I looked down. What was this strange red puddle? ... 'Call an ambulance,' I could hear my voice say." She learned later that the bullet had entered two inches from her heart.

MY SONG

by Harry Belafonte

When Belafonte and his son David visited the White House in '61, JFK gave David a pen. "David [tugged on] the President's jacket. 'It doesn't work,' he said... . 'David,' said the President, 'I'm sorry to have to tell you, a lot of things around here don't work.'"

RECIPES FOR LIFE

by Linda Evans

During a tea reception with Queen Elizabeth, "the orchestra started playing the Dynasty theme," writes Evans. Embarrassed, "I felt like diving under the nearest table-but it was the Queen's table, so that really wasn't an option."