The summer is winding down, September long weekend is just round the corner but, no matter the weather, no matter the season, there’s always a great reason to pick up a new read.  

Chris Hall of McNally Robinson Booksellers joined Simeon to discuss this month's picks. Plus, a few details on the return of autumn events and the community classroom! 

Learn more by heading to: www.mcnallyrobinson.com

 

 

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The Fraud by Zadie Smith

From acclaimed and bestselling novelist Zadie Smith, a kaleidoscopic work of historical fiction set against the legal trial that divided Victorian England, about who gets to tell their story—and who gets to be believed

It is 1873. Mrs. Eliza Touchet is the Scottish housekeeper—and cousin by marriage—of a once-famous novelist, now in decline, William Ainsworth, with whom she has lived for thirty years.

Mrs. Touchet is a woman of many interests: literature, justice, abolitionism, class, her cousin, his wives, this life and the next. But she is also sceptical. She suspects her cousin of having no talent; his successful friend, Mr. Charles Dickens, of being a bully and a moralist; and England of being a land of facades, in which nothing is quite what it seems.

Andrew Bogle, meanwhile, grew up enslaved on the Hope Plantation, Jamaica. He knows every lump of sugar comes at a human cost. That the rich deceive the poor. And that people are more easily manipulated than they realize. When Bogle finds himself in London, star witness in a celebrated case of imposture, he knows his future depends on telling the right story.

The “Tichborne Trial”—wherein a lower-class butcher from Australia claimed he was in fact the rightful heir of a sizable estate and title—captivates Mrs. Touchet and all of England. Is Sir Roger Tichborne really who he says he is? Or is he a fraud? Mrs. Touchet is a woman of the world. Mr. Bogle is no fool. But in a world of hypocrisy and self-deception, deciding what is real proves a complicated task. . . .

Based on real historical events, The Fraud is a dazzling novel about truth and fiction, Jamaica and Britain, fraudulence and authenticity and the mystery of “other people.”

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The Adversary by Michael Crummey

From the award-winning, bestselling author of The Innocents, a dark, enthralling novel about love and its limitations, the corruption of power and the power of corruption.

In an isolated outport on Newfoundland's northern coastline, Abe Strapp is about to marry the daughter of a rival merchant to cement his hold on the shore when the Widow Caines arrives to throw the wedding and Abe's plans into chaos.

That ruthless act of sabotage is the opening salvo in a battle between the man and woman who own Mockbeggar's largest mercantile firms, each fighting for the scarce resources of the north Atlantic fishery, each seeking a measure of revenge on the person they despise most in the world. As their unshakeable animosity spirals further each year into vendettas and violence, the community is increasingly divided and even the innocents in Mockbeggar find themselves forced to take sides, with devastating consequences.

Through merciless seasons of uncertainty and want, through predatory storms and pandemics and marauding privateers, it is the human heart that reveals itself to be the most formidable and unpredictable adversary for each person drawn, inevitably and helplessly, into that endless feud.

Compulsively readable and uncompromising, The Adversary is a pitch-perfect evocation of a lost time, and a shadowed mirror to our modern politics of grievance and retribution. It is Michael Crummey's finest novel to date.

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Wild Hope by Joan Thomas

From the Governor General's Award-­winning author of Five Wives, a thrilling contemporary novel about how the past never lets us go  

Isla and Jake are a couple drifting apart. She is a chef and co-owner of a farm-to-table restaurant on the brink of closing; he is a visual artist tormented by the oil-and-gas legacy of his late father. A looming figure in both their lives is Reg Bevaqua, Jake's childhood friend-turned-enemy, turned bottled-water baron.  

Reg is a demanding regular at Isla's restaurant and a man with a seething resentment toward Jake. With good reason, the feeling is mutual, but Jake keeps their past from Isla as he follows a devastating trail to the source of Reg's wealth. When Jake disappears following a winter camping trip, Isla starts to connect the dots, with all roads leading to Reg and his magnificent property on Georgian Bay.  

Seamlessly weaving together observations on the entitlements of the wealthy, the monetization of water and the politics of art, Joan Thomas has created a layered, page-turning read about how far we will go to hold on to power and what we will do to avenge old wounds.

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The Circle by Katherena Vermette

From the award-winning and #1 bestselling author of The Break and The Strangers comes a poignant and unwavering epic told from a constellation of Métis voices that consider the fallout when the person who connects them all goes missing
 
The concept was simple. You sit a bunch of people in a circle--everyone who hurt, everyone who got hurt, all affected--and let them share. Some people, it helped them heal, for sure. Others went in angry and left a different kind of angry. Learned how the blame belonged on the system, the history, the colonizer, the big things that were harder to change than one bad person.
 
The day that Cedar Sage Stranger has been both dreading and longing for has finally come: her sister Phoenix is getting out of prison.
 
The effect of Phoenix's release cascades through the community. M, the young girl whom she assaulted, is triggered by the news. Her mother, Paulina, is worried and her cousin is angry--all feel the threat of Phoenix's release. When Phoenix is seen lingering outside the school to catch a glimpse of her son, Sparrow, the police get a call to file a report--but the next thing they know, she has disappeared.
 
Amid accusations and plots for revenge, past grievances become a poor guide in a moment of danger, and the clumsy armature of law enforcement is no match for the community. Cedar and her and Phoenix's mother, Elsie, continue down different paths of healing, while everyone in their lives form a circle around the chaos, the calm within the storm, and the beauty in the darkness.
 
Fierce, heartbreaking, and profound, Vermette's The Circle is the third and final companion novel to her bestsellers The Break and The Strangers. Told from various perspectives, with an unforgettable voice for each chapter, the novel is masterfully structured as a Restorative Justice Circle where all gather--both the victimized and the accused--to take account of a crime that has altered the course of their lives. It considers what it means to be abandoned by the very systems that claim to offer support, how it feels to gain a sense of belonging, and the unanticipated cost of protecting those you love most.

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Doppelganger: A Trip into the Mirror World by Naomi Klein 

Over the past twenty-five years, Naomi Klein has charted and documented our politics and culture with a series of trenchant bestselling books laying bare the effects of branding, austerity, and climate profiteering on our societies and souls.

With Doppelganger, Klein takes a more personal turn, braiding together elements of tragicomic memoir, chilling political reportage, and cobweb-clearing cultural analysis, as she dives deep into what she calls the Mirror World--our destabilized present rife with doubles and confusion, where far right movements playact solidarity with the working class, AI-generated content blurs the line between genuine and spurious, New Age wellness entrepreneurs turned anti-vaxxers further scramble our familiar political allegiances, and so many of us project our own carefully curated digital doubles out into the social media sphere. 

Klein begins this richly nuanced intellectual adventure story by grappling with her own doppelganger--a fellow author and public intellectual whose views are antithetical to Klein's own, but whose name and public persona are sufficiently similar that many people have confused the two over the years. From there, she turns her gaze both inward to our psychic landscapes--drawing on the work of Sigmund Freud, Jordan Peele, Alfred Hitchcock, and bell hooks, to name a few--and outward, to our intersecting economic, environmental, medical, and political crises. Ultimately seeking to escape the Mirror World and chart a path beyond confusion and despair, Klein delivers a revelatory treatment of the way many of us think and feel now.