People PICK

Z

by Therese Anne Fowler |

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REVIEWED BY ROBIN MICHELI

NOVEL

F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife (and muse), Zelda, led an infamously flamboyant life during the Roaring '20s. The couple's circle included Picasso, Hemingway and Cole Porter; their drunken shenanigans—and Zelda's boldness—scandalized New York, Paris and points beyond. This richly imagined novel of Mrs. Fitzgerald's life sometimes reads like an insider's delicious account of gossip-column fodder. But these characters aren't caricatures, and Zelda's tales are told with restraint and insight, from her introduction to Scott when she was 17 to her heady times in the limelight, on through the miseries of his alcoholism and her own mental illness. Zelda's trajectory was tragic: Her deeply held ambitions to become a famous writer, dancer and artist were largely thwarted (by her controlling husband, Fowler implies), and she spent years, perhaps unnecessarily, in and out of mental institutions. But here her touching story is also fascinating and funny, and it animates an entire era.

Family Pictures

by Jane Green |

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REVIEWED BY LISA KAY GREISSINGER

NOVEL

Bestseller Green's latest family drama centers around two women, strangers from opposite coasts, who find themselves bound together by circumstances beyond their control. Warm, creative Sylvie, who lives in La Jolla, is settled into a blissful (if long-distance) second marriage to Mark, a New York-based businessman. Maggie, a botoxed and Birkin-carrying climber from an affluent Connecticut village, has three teenage children and a husband who is seldom home. Then the two women's daughters meet at a party in New York, and a devastating secret behind both marriages comes to light. While no reader will be surprised by the nature of that secret, Sylvie and Maggie's reactions to what they learn—and the courses their lives then take—will linger after you close the book.

A Thousand Pardons

by Jonathan Dee |

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REVIEWED BY HELEN ROGAN

NOVEL

When Ben Armstead torpedoes his marriage, his wife, Helen, starts a new life. She becomes an expert at crisis management or, as she sees it, making powerful men apologize. As her work gets out of hand, Helen, her daughter and Ben get embroiled in adventures that Dee plays out with graceful prose and such a sharp understanding of human weakness that you'll wince as you laugh.

Abide With Me

by Sabin Willett |

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REVIEWED BY MEREDITH MARAN

NOVEL

In this modern-day reimagining of Wuthering Heights, a working-class soldier returns from the Afghan war set on reconciling with his patrician sweetheart—and avenging the damage her family inflicted on him. The borrowed plot lessens suspense, but the insights and skill of the author, a Guantanamo Bay defense attorney, make Abide worth a read.

COMMENTS? WRITE TO KIM HUBBARD: bookseditor@peoplemag.com

ANIMAL WISE

by Virginia Morell

Rats like to be tickled; birds practice songs in their sleep. A fascinating, accessible look at animal cognition.

HER

by Christa Parravani

The searing story of an identical twin's struggle to go on after her beloved sister's tragic early death.

WAVE

by Sonali Deraniyagala

"The ocean looked a little closer to our hotel ... That was all." A tsunami survivor's stunning memoir.

>WHAT I'M READING TO MY DAUGHTER

BETSY-TACY AND TIBB

by Maud Hart Lovelace and Lois Lenski

"These are great books. They weren't a part of my childhood, but we're reading them together, and I've really enjoyed them."

THE LAST UNICORN

by Peter S. Beagle

"We both have a deep and abiding love for it. Matilda's interests are kind of broad; I can't think of anything I've tried to show her that she hasn't been open to. Like she'll watch a black-and-white movie!"