Top 5 Wednesday #2 • Family Dynamics

Le thème de cette semaine m’inspire énormément. Le 15 mai a eu lieu la journée mondiale de la famille, d’où ce sujet pour ce mercredi. Il est pris dans un sens très large, car il est autant question des liens du sang que de la famille que l’on se crée. J’ai essayé, dans la mesure du possible, de piocher dans mes récentes lectures. La semaine dernière, sur le thème des « lieux communs », j’écrivais que j’aimais beaucoup les sagas familiales… Cet article est un peu la continuité de ce dernier.

Thème : Family dynamics

Among the leaving and the dead d’Inara Verzemnieks

Inara Verzemnieks was raised by her Latvian grandparents in Washington State, among expatriates who scattered smuggled Latvian sand over coffins, the children singing folk songs about a land none of them had visited. Her grandmother Livija’s stories vividly recreated the home she fled during the Second World War, when she was separated from her sister, Ausma, whom she wouldn’t see again for more than fifty years.

Journeying back to their remote village, Inara comes to know Ausma and her trauma as an exile to Siberia under Stalin, while reconstructing Livija’s survival through her years as a refugee. In uniting their stories, Inara honors both sisters in a haunting and luminous account of loss, survival, resilience, and love.

Cet ouvrage est un plus un essai autour de la famille, l’importance de cette dernière dans la construction d’un individu et de son histoire. L’auteur écrit à propos de sa grand-mère et de la soeur de cette dernière, de sa volonté de comprendre ses racines, leurs histoires. Il est dommage que parfois l’écriture poétique et lyrique de l’auteur prend trop le pas sur le sujet abordé, apportant des longueurs.

L’Assommoir d’Émile Zola

Qu’est-ce qui nous fascine dans la vie « simple et tranquille » de Gervaise Macquart ? Pourquoi le destin de cette petite blanchisseuse montée de Provence à Paris nous touche-t-il tant aujourd’hui encore? Que nous disent les exclus du quartier de la Goutte-d’Or version Second Empire? L’existence douloureuse de Gervaise est avant tout une passion où s’expriment une intense volonté de vivre, une générosité sans faille, un sens aigu de l’intimité comme de la fête. Et tant pis si, la fatalité aidant, divers « assommoirs » – un accident de travail, l’alcool, les « autres », la faim – ont finalement raison d’elle et des siens. Gervaise aura parcouru une glorieuse trajectoire dans sa déchéance même. Relisons L’Assommoir, cette « passion de Gervaise », cet étonnant chef-d’oeuvre, avec des yeux neufs.

Comment ne pas parler de dynamiques familiales sans évoquer Zola ? Sa série Les Rougon-Macquart rentre pleinement dans cette catégorique. Elle est en l’exemple même, car Zola étudie à travers une famille les prédispositions à l’alcoolisme, par exemple, ou à la folie… J’en suis au septième tome, L’Assommoir et jusqu’à présent, rares sont les tomes qui m’ont déçue.

After Alice fell de Kim Taylor Blackemore

New Hampshire, 1865. Marion Abbott is summoned to Brawders House asylum to collect the body of her sister, Alice. She’d been found dead after falling four stories from a steep-pitched roof. Officially: an accident. Confidentially: suicide. But Marion believes a third option: murder.

Returning to her family home to stay with her brother and his second wife, the recently widowed Marion is expected to quiet her feelings of guilt and grief—to let go of the dead and embrace the living. But that’s not easy in this house full of haunting memories.

Just when the search for the truth seems hopeless, a stranger approaches Marion with chilling words: I saw her fall.

Now Marion is more determined than ever to find out what happened that night at Brawders, and why. With no one she can trust, Marion may risk her own life to uncover the secrets buried with Alice in the family plot.

Sorti cette année, ce roman serait presque un huis clos au sein d’une famille. En effet, la mort de la plus jeune soeur, Alice, rend les relations tendues entre Marion et son frère et sa belle-soeur. Il n’y a pas que la mort de la plus jeune des soeurs qui empoisonne l’atmosphère, mais bien d’autres sombres secrets. C’est un roman que j’ai beaucoup aimé.

Quand Hitler s’empara du lapin rose de Judith Kerr

Imaginez que le climat se détériore dans votre pays, au point que certains citoyens soient menacés dans leur existence. Imaginez surtout que votre père se trouve être l’un de ces citoyens et qu’il soit obligé d’abandonner tout et de partir sur-le-champ, pour éviter la prison et même la mort. C’est l’histoire d’Anna dans l’Allemagne nazie d’Adolf Hitler. Elle a neuf ans et ne s’occupe guère que de crayons de couleur, de visites au zoo avec son « oncle » Julius et de glissades dans la neige. Brutalement les choses changent. Son père disparaît sans prévenir. Puis, elle-même et le reste de sa famille s’expatrient pour le rejoindre à l’étranger. Départ de Berlin qui ressemble à une fuite. Alors commence la vie dure – mais non sans surprises – de réfugiés. D’abord la Suisse, près de Zurich. Puis Paris. Enfin Londres. Odyssée pleine de fatigues et d’angoisses mais aussi de pittoresque et d’imprévu – et toujours drôles – d’Anna et de son frère Max affrontant l’inconnu et contraints de vaincre toutes sortes de difficultés – dont la première et non la moindre: celle des langues étrangères! Ce récit autobiographique de Judith Kerr nous enchante par l’humour qui s’en dégage, et nous touche par cette particulière vibration de ton propre aux souvenirs de famille, quand il apparaît que la famille fut une de celles où l’on s’aime…

J’ai déjà eu l’occasion d’évoquer ce roman et son adaptation cinématographique sur le blog. [lien] C’est une très belle histoire d’une famille qui reste unie malgré les épreuves et qui fait preuve d’une grande résilience. Il y a un beau message dans ce roman, où la famille, le fait de rester ensemble malgré les difficultés sont les choses les plus importantes.

Guerre & Paix de Léon Tolstoï

1805 à Moscou, en ces temps de paix fragile, les Bolkonsky, les Rostov et les Bézoukhov constituent les personnages principaux d’une chronique familiale. Une fresque sociale où l’aristocratie, de Moscou à Saint-Pétersbourg, entre grandeur et misérabilisme, se prend au jeu de l’ambition sociale, des mesquineries, des premiers émois.

1812, la guerre éclate et peu à peu les personnages imaginaires évoluent au sein même des événements historiques. Le conte social, dépassant les ressorts de l’intrigue psychologique, prend une dimension d’épopée historique et se change en récit d’une époque. La “Guerre” selon Tolstoï, c’est celle menée contre Napoléon par l’armée d’Alexandre, c’est la bataille d’Austerlitz, l’invasion de la Russie, l’incendie de Moscou, puis la retraite des armées napoléoniennes.

Entre les deux romans de sa fresque, le portrait d’une classe sociale et le récit historique, Tolstoï tend une passerelle, livrant une réflexion philosophique sur le décalage de la volonté humaine aliénée à l’inéluctable marche de l’Histoire ou lorsque le destin façonne les hommes malgré eux.

Un autre auteur spécialisé dans les chroniques familiales, Léon Tolstoï. Dans ce récit, il s’intéresse à plusieurs familles de l’aristocratie russe. Il montre les relations au sein d’une même famille et celles qu’elles entretiennent entre elles. C’est une très bonne lecture que je recommande. Mon avis est disponible sur le blog. [lien]

Sorties VO • Mai 2021

The Radio Operator • Ulla Lenze • Harper Via • 4 mai • 304 pages

At the end of the 1930s, Europe is engulfed in war. Though America is far from the fighting, the streets of New York have become a battlefield. Anti-Semitic and racist groups spread hate, while German nationalists celebrate Hitler’s strength and power. Josef Klein, a German immigrant, remains immune to the troubles roiling his adopted city. The multicultural neighborhood of Harlem is his world, a lively place full of sidewalk tables where families enjoy their dinner and friends indulge in games of chess. 

Josef’s great passion is the radio. His skill and technical abilities attract the attention of influential men who offer him a job as a shortwave operator. But when Josef begins to understand what they’re doing, it’s too late; he’s already a little cog in the big wheel—part of a Nazi espionage network working in Manhattan. Discovered by American authorities, Josef is detained at Ellis Island, and eventually deported to Germany.

Back in his homeland, fate leads him to his brother Carl’s family, soap merchants in Neuss—where he witnesses the seductive power of the Nazis and the war’s terrible consequences—and finally to South America, where Josef hopes to start over again as José. Eventually, Josef realizes that no matter how far he runs or how hard he tries, there is one indelible truth he cannot escape: How long can you hide from your own past, before it catches up with you?

The woman with the blue star • Pam Jenoff • Park Row • 4 mai • 336 pages

1942. Sadie Gault is eighteen and living with her parents amid the horrors of the Kraków Ghetto during World War II. When the Nazis liquidate the ghetto, Sadie and her pregnant mother are forced to seek refuge in the perilous sewers beneath the city. One day Sadie looks up through a grate and sees a girl about her own age buying flowers.

Ella Stepanek is an affluent Polish girl living a life of relative ease with her stepmother, who has developed close alliances with the occupying Germans. Scorned by her friends and longing for her fiancé, who has gone off to war, Ella wanders Kraków restlessly. While on an errand in the market, she catches a glimpse of something moving beneath a grate in the street. Upon closer inspection, she realizes it’s a girl hiding.

Ella begins to aid Sadie and the two become close, but as the dangers of the war worsen, their lives are set on a collision course that will test them in the face of overwhelming odds. Inspired by harrowing true stories, The Woman with the Blue Star is an emotional testament to the power of friendship and the extraordinary strength of the human will to survive. 

Luck of the Titanic • Stacey Lee • G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers • 4 mai • 304 pages

Southampton, 1912: Seventeen-year-old British-Chinese Valora Luck has quit her job and smuggled herself aboard the Titanic with two goals in mind: to reunite with her twin brother Jamie–her only family now that both their parents are dead–and to convince a part-owner of the Ringling Brothers Circus to take the twins on as acrobats. Quick-thinking Val talks her way into opulent firstclass accommodations and finds Jamie with a group of fellow Chinese laborers in third class. But in the rigidly stratified world of the luxury liner, Val’s ruse can only last so long, and after two long years apart, it’s unclear if Jamie even wants the life Val proposes. Then, one moonless night in the North Atlantic, the unthinkable happens–the supposedly unsinkable ship is dealt a fatal blow–and Val and her companions suddenly find themselves in a race to survive.

The shadow in the glass • J.J.A. Harwood • Harper Voyager • 4 mai • 416 pages

Once upon a time Ella had wished for more than her life as a lowly maid. 

Now forced to work hard under the unforgiving, lecherous gaze of the man she once called stepfather, Ella’s only refuge is in the books she reads by candlelight, secreted away in the library she isn’t permitted to enter. 

One night, among her beloved books of far-off lands, Ella’s wishes are answered. At the stroke of midnight, a fairy godmother makes her an offer that will change her life: seven wishes, hers to make as she pleases. But each wish comes at a price and Ella must to decide whether it’s one she’s willing to pay it. 

Madam • Phoebe Wynn • St Martin’s Press • 18 mai • 352 pages

For 150 years, high above rocky Scottish cliffs, Caldonbrae Hall has sat untouched, a beacon of excellence in an old ancestral castle. A boarding school for girls, it promises that the young women lucky enough to be admitted will emerge “resilient and ready to serve society.”

Into its illustrious midst steps Rose Christie: a 26-year-old Classics teacher, Caldonbrae’s new head of the department, and the first hire for the school in over a decade. At first, Rose is overwhelmed to be invited into this institution, whose prestige is unrivaled. But she quickly discovers that behind the school’s elitist veneer lies an impenetrable, starkly traditional culture that she struggles to reconcile with her modernist beliefs—not to mention her commitment to educating “girls for the future.”

It also doesn’t take long for Rose to suspect that there’s more to the secret circumstances surrounding the abrupt departure of her predecessor—a woman whose ghost lingers everywhere—than anyone is willing to let on. In her search for this mysterious former teacher, Rose instead uncovers the darkness that beats at the heart of Caldonbrae, forcing her to confront the true extent of the school’s nefarious purpose, and her own role in perpetuating it.

The Nine: The True Story of a Band of Women Who Survived the Worst of Nazi Germany • Gwen Strauss • St Martin’s Press • 4 mai • 336 pages

The Nine follows the true story of the author’s great aunt Hélène Podliasky, who led a band of nine female resistance fighters as they escaped a German forced labor camp and made a ten-day journey across the front lines of WWII from Germany back to Paris.

The nine women were all under thirty when they joined the resistance. They smuggled arms through Europe, harbored parachuting agents, coordinated communications between regional sectors, trekked escape routes to Spain and hid Jewish children in scattered apartments. They were arrested by French police, interrogated and tortured by the Gestapo. They were subjected to a series of French prisons and deported to Germany. The group formed along the way, meeting at different points, in prison, in transit, and at Ravensbrück. By the time they were enslaved at the labor camp in Leipzig, they were a close-knit group of friends. During the final days of the war, forced onto a death march, the nine chose their moment and made a daring escape.

The Cave Dwellers • Christina McDowell • Gallery Scout Press • 25 mai • 352 pages

They are the families considered worthy of a listing in the exclusive Green Book—a discriminative diary created by the niece of Edith Roosevelt’s social secretary. Their aristocratic bloodlines are woven into the very fabric of Washington—generation after generation. Their old money and manner lurk through the cobblestone streets of Georgetown, Kalorama, and Capitol Hill. They only socialize within their inner circle, turning a blind eye to those who come and go on the political merry-go-round. These parents and their children live in gilded existences of power and privilege.

But what they have failed to understand is that the world is changing. And when the family of one of their own is held hostage and brutally murdered, everything about their legacy is called into question.

They’re called The Cave Dwellers.

The lights of Prague • Nicole Jarvis • Titan Books • 18 mai • 416 pages

In the quiet streets of Prague all manner of otherworldly creatures lurk in the shadows. Unbeknownst to its citizens, their only hope against the tide of predators are the dauntless lamplighters – a secret elite of monster hunters whose light staves off the darkness each night. Domek Myska leads a life teeming with fraught encounters with the worst kind of evil: pijavice, bloodthirsty and soulless vampiric creatures. Despite this, Domek find solace in his moments spent in the company of his friend, the clever and beautiful Lady Ora Fischerová– a widow with secrets of her own.

When Domek finds himself stalked by the spirit of the White Lady – a ghost who haunts the baroque halls of Prague castle – he stumbles across the sentient essence of a will-o’-the-wisp, a mischievous spirit known to lead lost travellers to their death, but who, once captured, are bound to serve the desires of their owners.

After discovering a conspiracy amongst the pijavice that could see them unleash terror on the daylight world, Domek finds himself in a race against those who aim to twist alchemical science for their own dangerous gain.

The whispering dead • Darcy Coates • Poisoned Pen Press • 4 mai • 256 pages

Homeless, hunted, and desperate to escape a bitter storm, Keira takes refuge in an abandoned groundskeeper’s cottage. Her new home is tucked away at the edge of a cemetery, surrounded on all sides by gravestones: some recent, some hundreds of years old, all suffering from neglect.

And in the darkness, she can hear the unquiet dead whispering.

The cemetery is alive with faint, spectral shapes, led by a woman who died before her time… and Keira, the only person who can see her, has become her new target. Determined to help put the ghost to rest, Keira digs into the spirit’s past life with the help of unlikely new friends, and discovers a history of deception, ill-fated love, and murder.

But the past is not as simple as it seems, and Keira’s time is running out. Tangled in a dangerous web, she has to find a way to free the spirit… even if it means offering her own life in return.

Judith Kerr • Quand Hitler s’empara du lapin rose (1971)

Quand Hitler s’empara du lapin rose • Judith Kerr • 1971 • Le Livre de Poche • 314 pages

Imaginez que le climat se détériore dans votre pays, au point que certains citoyens soient menacés dans leur existence. Imaginez surtout que votre père se trouve être l’un de ces citoyens et qu’il soit obligé d’abandonner tout et de partir sur-le-champ, pour éviter la prison et même la mort. C’est l’histoire d’Anna dans l’Allemagne nazie d’Adolf Hitler. Elle a neuf ans et ne s’occupe guère que de crayons de couleur, de visites au zoo avec son « oncle » Julius et de glissades dans la neige. Brutalement les choses changent. Son père disparaît sans prévenir. Puis, elle-même et le reste de sa famille s’expatrient pour le rejoindre à l’étranger. Départ de Berlin qui ressemble à une fuite. Alors commence la vie dure – mais non sans surprises – de réfugiés. D’abord la Suisse, près de Zurich. Puis Paris. Enfin Londres. Odyssée pleine de fatigues et d’angoisses mais aussi de pittoresque et d’imprévu – et toujours drôles – d’Anna et de son frère Max affrontant l’inconnu et contraints de vaincre toutes sortes de difficultés – dont la première et non la moindre: celle des langues étrangères! Ce récit autobiographique de Judith Kerr nous enchante par l’humour qui s’en dégage, et nous touche par cette particulière vibration de ton propre aux souvenirs de famille, quand il apparaît que la famille fut une de celles où l’on s’aime…

J’ai ce roman dans ma liste d’envie depuis quelques années. Il a fallu que son adaptation soit disponible à la demande pour que je me décide enfin à l’acheter et à le lire. J’ai passé un très bon moment avec les deux.

Quand Hitler s’empara du lapin rose est un roman autobiographique. Judith Kerr s’est inspirée de sa propre histoire et celle de sa famille. Son frère et elle deviennent Max et Anna. Elle raconte son exil loin d’Allemagne, après les élections de 1933 qui ont vu l’arrivée des nazis au pouvoir. La famille a été contrainte de fuir, car le père, un intellectuel juif, a souvent pris position contre le national-socialisme. C’est une histoire prenante. Dès les premières pages ou minutes du film, j’ai pris à coeur le destin d’Anna. J’avais tout de même l’espoir que les siens puissent rentrer dans leur pays, même si, en tant qu’adulte et connaissant l’Histoire, je savais que c’était impossible. Finalement, la question a été de savoir où ils allaient définitivement s’installer et se reconstruire.

Il y a beaucoup d’émotions retranscrites et, en tant que lectrice, je suis passée par tellement de sentiments différents, en même temps que la famille Kemper : de la tristesse à la colère, de l’espoir au désespoir le plus total… J’ai été impressionnée par la résilience d’Anna et Max alors qu’ils sont si jeunes, ainsi que de leurs parents. Ils avancent, essaient constamment de se reconstruire. Ils tentent tant bien que mal de s’adapter à chaque fois à un nouveau pays, une nouvelle langue et de découvrir des coutumes différentes. C’est un aspect que j’ai énormément apprécié de ce roman. J’avoue que je n’ai pas pu m’empêcher de penser à mes grands-parents maternels, qui, dans un autre contexte, ont fui la guerre civile espagnole, puis la guerre d’Algérie.

C’est un roman que j’avais tout de même peur de ne pas apprécier à sa juste valeur par son côté très jeunesse. Le public visé est celui qui a l’âge d’Anna, c’est-à-dire une dizaine d’années. Le livre est écrit de son point de vue. Cependant, je l’ai vraiment apprécié par tous les aspects que j’ai évoqués auparavant : un récit d’exil, de résilience, de l’importance de la famille avec toutes les épreuves qu’elle doit traverser. Il y a aussi les différents personnages. La famille est attachante et il y a de très jolis passages. Comme le dit si bien Anna, tant qu’ils sont ensemble, tout va pour le mieux.

En 2019, Quand Hitler s’empara du lapin rose a fait l’objet d’une adaptation par un studio allemand avec Oliver Masucci dans le rôle du père. C’est un acteur que j’apprécie énormément. En France, il est notamment connu pour son rôle d’Ulrich dans la série Dark de Netflix. Je ne connaissais pas les autres acteurs. L’actrice qui joue Anna est très bien, mais elle ne crève pas l’écran non plus. Aucun d’eux d’ailleurs. Ils sont bons dans leurs rôles, mais je n’ai pas vu de performances exceptionnelles.

Cependant, cette adaptation est extrêmement fidèle. Je n’ai relevé que deux différences, sans qu’elles apportent de véritables chamboulements dans l’intrigue. Par exemple, par rapport au livre, il y a un personnage secondaire qui manque à l’appel, mais son absence ne m’a pas dérangé. Elle n’apportait pas grand chose à l’intrigue dans le livre. Le deuxième changement est lorsqu’ils sont à Paris. Ils reçoivent l’aide d’un membre de leur famille dans le livre, une tante si mes souvenirs sont bons, alors que dans le film, il s’agit d’un metteur en scène allemand dont le père d’Anna avait souvent fait la critique. En revanche, j’ai énormément aimé la musique qui accompagne parfaitement les émotions présentes.

Que ce soit pour le livre ou son adaptation cinématographique, je n’ai pas eu de gros coup de coeur. Ça se laisse lire ou regarder, mais je n’en garderai pas un souvenir impérissable. Ils s’arrêtent tous les deux alors que la famille arrive à Londres. Le livre a en effet un deuxième tome, Ici Londres. S’il croise ma route un jour, je le lirai avec plaisir, mais ce n’est pas ma priorité.

Sorties VO • Janvier 2021

Après un mois de Décembre un peu léger, Janvier semble être tout le contraire. De nombreuses publications alléchantes sont proposées. N’hésitez pas à me dire en commentaire lesquelles vous font le plus envie !

Don’t tell a soul • Kirsten Miller • Delacorte Press • 384 pages • 26 janvier

People say the house is cursed.
It preys on the weakest, and young women are its favorite victims.
In Louth, they’re called the Dead Girls.

All Bram wanted was to disappear—from her old life, her family’s past, and from the scandal that continues to haunt her. The only place left to go is Louth, the tiny town on the Hudson River where her uncle, James, has been renovating an old mansion.
But James is haunted by his own ghosts. Months earlier, his beloved wife died in a fire that people say was set by her daughter. The tragedy left James a shell of the man Bram knew—and destroyed half the house he’d so lovingly restored.
The manor is creepy, and so are the locals. The people of Louth don’t want outsiders like Bram in their town, and with each passing day she’s discovering that the rumors they spread are just as disturbing as the secrets they hide. Most frightening of all are the legends they tell about the Dead Girls. Girls whose lives were cut short in the very house Bram now calls home.
The terrifying reality is that the Dead Girls may have never left the manor. And if Bram looks too hard into the town’s haunted past, she might not either.

Esnared in the wolf lair : Inside the 1944 Plot to Kill Hitler and the Ghost Children of His Revenge • Ann Bausum • National Geographic Kids • 144 pages • 12 janvier

« I’ve come on orders from Berlin to fetch the three children. »–Gestapo agent, August 24, 1944
With those chilling words Christa von Hofacker and her younger siblings found themselves ensnared in a web of family punishment designed to please one man-Adolf Hitler. The furious dictator sought merciless revenge against not only Christa’s father and the other Germans who had just tried to overthrow his government. He wanted to torment their relatives, too, regardless of age or stature. All of them. Including every last child.

The Secret Life of Dorothy Soames • Justine Cowan • Harper • 320 pages • 12 janvier

Justine had always been told that her mother came from royal blood. The proof could be found in her mother’s elegance, her uppercrust London accent—and in a cryptic letter hinting at her claim to a country estate. But beneath the polished veneer lay a fearsome, unpredictable temper that drove Justine from home the moment she was old enough to escape. Years later, when her mother sent her an envelope filled with secrets from the past, Justine buried it in the back of an old filing cabinet.

Overcome with grief after her mother’s death, Justine found herself drawn back to that envelope. Its contents revealed a mystery that stretched back to the early years of World War II and beyond, into the dark corridors of the Hospital for the Maintenance and Education of Exposed and Deserted Young Children. Established in the eighteenth century to raise “bastard” children to clean chamber pots for England’s ruling class, the institution was tied to some of history’s most influential figures and events. From its role in the development of solitary confinement and human medical experimentation to the creation of the British Museum and the Royal Academy of Arts, its impact on Western culture continues to reverberate. It was also the environment that shaped a young girl known as Dorothy Soames, who bravely withstood years of physical and emotional abuse at the hands of a sadistic headmistress—a resilient child who dreamed of escape as German bombers rained death from the skies.

The Children’s Train • Viola Ardone • HarperVia • 320 pages • 12 janvier

Though Mussolini and the fascists have been defeated, the war has devastated Italy, especially the south. Seven-year-old Amerigo lives with his mother Antonietta in Naples, surviving on odd jobs and his wits like the rest of the poor in his neighborhood. But one day, Amerigo learns that a train will take him away from the rubble-strewn streets of the city to spend the winter with a family in the north, where he will be safe and have warm clothes and food to eat. 

Together with thousands of other southern children, Amerigo will cross the entire peninsula to a new life. Through his curious, innocent eyes, we see a nation rising from the ashes of war, reborn. As he comes to enjoy his new surroundings and the possibilities for a better future, Amerigo will make the heartbreaking choice to leave his mother and become a member of his adoptive family.

In the Garden of Spite • Camilla Bruce • Berkley • 480 pages • 19 janvier

They whisper about her in Chicago. Men come to her with their hopes, their dreams–their fortunes. But no one sees them leave. No one sees them at all after they come to call on the Widow of La Porte. The good people of Indiana may have their suspicions, but if those fools knew what she’d given up, what was taken from her, how she’d suffered, surely they’d understand. Belle Gunness learned a long time ago that a woman has to make her own way in this world. That’s all it is. A bloody means to an end. A glorious enterprise meant to raise her from the bleak, colorless drudgery of her childhood to the life she deserves. After all, vermin always survive.

The House on Vesper Sands • Paraic O’Donnell • Tin House Books • 408 pages • 12 janvier

On the case is Inspector Cutter, a detective as sharp and committed to his work as he is wryly hilarious. Gideon Bliss, a Cambridge dropout in love with one of the missing girls, stumbles into a role as Cutter’s sidekick. And clever young journalist Octavia Hillingdon sees the case as a chance to tell a story that matters—despite her employer’s preference that she stick to a women’s society column. As Inspector Cutter peels back the mystery layer by layer, he leads them all, at last, to the secrets that lie hidden at the house on Vesper Sands.

The Historians • Cecilia Eckbäck • Harper Perennial • 464 pages • 12 janvier

It is 1943 and Sweden’s neutrality in the war is under pressure. Laura Dahlgren, the bright, young right-hand of the chief negotiator to Germany, is privy to these tensions, even as she tries to keep her head down in the mounting fray. However, when Laura’s best friend from university, Britta, is discovered murdered in cold blood, Laura is determined to find the killer.

Prior to her death, Britta sent a report on the racial profiling in Scandinavia to the secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jens Regnell. In the middle of negotiating a delicate alliance with Hitler and the Nazis, Jens doesn’t understand why he’s received the report. When the pursuit of Britta’s murderer leads Laura to his door, the two join forces to get at the truth.

But as Jens and Laura attempt to untangle the mysterious circumstance surrounding Britta’s death, they only become more mired in a web of lies and deceit. This trail will lead to a conspiracy that could topple their nation’s identity—a conspiracy some in Sweden will try to keep hidden at any cost.

Faye, Faraway • Helen Fischer • Gallery Books • 304 pages • 26 janvier

Faye is a thirty-seven-year-old happily married mother of two young daughters. Every night, before she puts them to bed, she whispers to them: “You are good, you are kind, you are clever, you are funny.” She’s determined that they never doubt for a minute that their mother loves them unconditionally. After all, her own mother Jeanie had died when she was only seven years old and Faye has never gotten over that intense pain of losing her.

But one day, her life is turned upside down when she finds herself in 1977, the year before her mother died. Suddenly, she has the chance to reconnect with her long-lost mother, and even meets her own younger self, a little girl she can barely remember. Jeanie doesn’t recognize Faye as her daughter, of course, even though there is something eerily familiar about her…

As the two women become close friends, they share many secrets—but Faye is terrified of revealing the truth about her identity. Will it prevent her from returning to her own time and her beloved husband and daughters? What if she’s doomed to remain in the past forever? Faye knows that eventually she will have to choose between those she loves in the past and those she loves in the here and now, and that knowledge presents her with an impossible choice.

The Heiress: The Revelations of Anne de Bourgh • Molly Greeley • William Morrow • 368 pages • 5 janvier

As a fussy baby, Anne de Bourgh’s doctor prescribed laudanum to quiet her, and now the young woman must take the opium-heavy tincture every day. Growing up sheltered and confined, removed from sunshine and fresh air, the pale and overly slender Anne grew up with few companions except her cousins, including Fitzwilliam Darcy. Throughout their childhoods, it was understood that Darcy and Anne would marry and combine their vast estates of Pemberley and Rosings. But Darcy does not love Anne or want her.

After her father dies unexpectedly, leaving her his vast fortune, Anne has a moment of clarity: what if her life of fragility and illness isn’t truly real? What if she could free herself from the medicine that clouds her sharp mind and leaves her body weak and lethargic? Might there be a better life without the medicine she has been told she cannot live without?

In a frenzy of desperation, Anne discards her laudanum and flees to the London home of her cousin, Colonel John Fitzwilliam, who helps her through her painful recovery. Yet once she returns to health, new challenges await. Shy and utterly inexperienced, the wealthy heiress must forge a new identity for herself, learning to navigate a “season” in society and the complexities of love and passion. The once wan, passive Anne gives way to a braver woman with a keen edge—leading to a powerful reckoning with the domineering mother determined to control Anne’s fortune . . . and her life.

Last Garden in England • Julia Kelly • Gallery Books • 368 pages • 12 janvier

Present day: Emma Lovett, who has dedicated her career to breathing new life into long-neglected gardens, has just been given the opportunity of a lifetime: to restore the gardens of the famed Highbury House estate, designed in 1907 by her hero Venetia Smith. But as Emma dives deeper into the gardens’ past, she begins to uncover secrets that have long lain hidden.

1907: A talented artist with a growing reputation for her ambitious work, Venetia Smith has carved out a niche for herself as a garden designer to industrialists, solicitors, and bankers looking to show off their wealth with sumptuous country houses. When she is hired to design the gardens of Highbury House, she is determined to make them a triumph, but the gardens—and the people she meets—promise to change her life forever.

1944: When land girl Beth Pedley arrives at a farm on the outskirts of the village of Highbury, all she wants is to find a place she can call home. Cook Stella Adderton, on the other hand, is desperate to leave Highbury House to pursue her own dreams. And widow Diana Symonds, the mistress of the grand house, is anxiously trying to cling to her pre-war life now that her home has been requisitioned and transformed into a convalescent hospital for wounded soldiers. But when war threatens Highbury House’s treasured gardens, these three very different women are drawn together by a secret that will last for decades. 

The Divines • Ellie Eaton • William Morrow • 320 pages • 19 janvier

The girls of St John the Divine, an elite English boarding school, were notorious for flipping their hair, harassing teachers, chasing boys, and chain-smoking cigarettes. They were fiercely loyal, sharp-tongued, and cuttingly humorous in the way that only teenage girls can be. For Josephine, now in her thirties, the years at St John were a lifetime ago. She hasn’t spoken to another Divine in fifteen years, not since the day the school shuttered its doors in disgrace.

Yet now Josephine inexplicably finds herself returning to her old stomping grounds. The visit provokes blurry recollections of those doomed final weeks that rocked the community. Ruminating on the past, Josephine becomes obsessed with her teenage identity and the forgotten girls of her one-time orbit. With each memory that resurfaces, she circles closer to the violent secret at the heart of the school’s scandal. But the more Josephine recalls, the further her life unravels, derailing not just her marriage and career, but her entire sense of self. 

Our darkest night • Jennifer Robson • William Morrow • 384 pages • 5 janvier

It is the autumn of 1943, and life is becoming increasingly perilous for Italian Jews like the Mazin family. With Nazi Germany now occupying most of her beloved homeland, and the threat of imprisonment and deportation growing ever more certain, Antonina Mazin has but one hope to survive—to leave Venice and her beloved parents and hide in the countryside with a man she has only just met.

Nico Gerardi was studying for the priesthood until circumstances forced him to leave the seminary to run his family’s farm. A moral and just man, he could not stand by when the fascists and Nazis began taking innocent lives. Rather than risk a perilous escape across the mountains, Nina will pose as his new bride. And to keep her safe and protect secrets of his own, Nico and Nina must convince prying eyes they are happily married and in love.

But farm life is not easy for a cultured city girl who dreams of becoming a doctor like her father, and Nico’s provincial neighbors are wary of this soft and educated woman they do not know. Even worse, their distrust is shared by a local Nazi official with a vendetta against Nico. The more he learns of Nina, the more his suspicions grow—and with them his determination to exact revenge.

As Nina and Nico come to know each other, their feelings deepen, transforming their relationship into much more than a charade. Yet both fear that every passing day brings them closer to being torn apart . . .

Lore • Alexandra Bracken • Disney Hyperion • 480 pages • 5 janvier

Every seven years, the Agon begins. As punishment for a past rebellion, nine Greek gods are forced to walk the earth as mortals, hunted by the descendants of ancient bloodlines, all eager to kill a god and seize their divine power and immortality.
Long ago, Lore Perseous fled that brutal world in the wake of her family’s sadistic murder by a rival line, turning her back on the hunt’s promises of eternal glory. For years she’s pushed away any thought of revenge against the man–now a god–responsible for their deaths.

Yet as the next hunt dawns over New York City, two participants seek out her help: Castor, a childhood friend of Lore believed long dead, and a gravely wounded Athena, among the last of the original gods.

The goddess offers an alliance against their mutual enemy and, at last, a way for Lore to leave the Agon behind forever. But Lore’s decision to bind her fate to Athena’s and rejoin the hunt will come at a deadly cost–and still may not be enough to stop the rise of a new god with the power to bring humanity to its knees.

Sorties VO • Décembre 2020

The Last Resort Susi Holliday • 1 décembre • Thomas & Mercer • 300 pages

When Amelia is invited to an all-expenses-paid retreat on a private island, the mysterious offer is too good to refuse. Along with six other strangers, she’s told they’re here to test a brand-new product for Timeo Technologies. But the guests’ excitement soon turns to terror when the real reason for their summons becomes clear.

Each guest has a guilty secret. And when they’re all forced to wear a memory-tracking device that reveals their dark and shameful deeds to their fellow guests, there’s no hiding from the past. This is no luxury retreat—it’s a trap they can’t get out of.

As the clock counts down to the lavish end-of-day party they’ve been promised, injuries and in-fighting split the group. But with no escape from the island—or the other guests’ most shocking secrets—Amelia begins to suspect that her only hope for survival is to be the last one standing. Can she confront her own dark past to uncover the truth—before it’s too late to get out?

Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder • T.A. Willberg • 29 décembre • Park Row • 336 pages

Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder plunges readers into the heart of London, to the secret tunnels that exist far beneath the city streets. There, a mysterious group of detectives recruited for Miss Brickett’s Investigations & Inquiries use their cunning and gadgets to solve crimes that have stumped Scotland Yard.

Late one night in April 1958, a filing assistant for Miss Brickett’s named Michelle White receives a letter warning her that a heinous act is about to occur. She goes to investigate but finds the room empty. At the stroke of midnight, she is murdered by a killer she can’t see—her death the only sign she wasn’t alone. It becomes chillingly clear that the person responsible must also work for Miss Brickett’s, making everyone a suspect.

Almost unwillingly, Marion Lane, a first-year Inquirer-in-training, finds herself being drawn ever deeper into the investigation. When her friend and mentor is framed for the crime, to clear his name she must sort through the hidden alliances at Miss Brickett’s and secrets dating back to WWII. Masterful, clever and deliciously suspenseful, Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder is a fresh take on the Agatha Christie—style locked-room mystery with an exciting new heroine detective at the helm. 

The Cousins • Karen McManus • 1 décembre • Delacorte Press • 336 pages

Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah Story are cousins, but they barely know each another, and they’ve never even met their grandmother. Rich and reclusive, she disinherited their parents before they were born. So when they each receive a letter inviting them to work at her island resort for the summer, they’re surprised . . . and curious.

Their parents are all clear on one point–not going is not an option. This could be the opportunity to get back into Grandmother’s good graces. But when the cousins arrive on the island, it’s immediately clear that she has different plans for them. And the longer they stay, the more they realize how mysterious–and dark–their family’s past is.

The entire Story family has secrets. Whatever pulled them apart years ago isn’t over–and this summer, the cousins will learn everything.

The Chanel Sisters • Judithe Little • 29 décembre • Graydon House • 400 pages

Antoinette and Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel know they’re destined for something better. Abandoned by their family years before, they’ve grown up under the guidance of pious nuns preparing them for simple lives as the wives of tradesmen or shopkeepers. At night, their secret stash of romantic novels and magazine cutouts beneath the floorboards are all they have to keep their dreams of the future alive.

The walls of the convent can’t shield them forever, and when they’re finally of age, the Chanel sisters set out together with a fierce determination to prove themselves worthy to a society that has never accepted them. Their journey propels them out of poverty and to the stylish cafés of Moulins, the dazzling performance halls of Vichy—and to a small hat shop on the rue Cambon in Paris, where a business takes hold and expands to the glamorous French resort towns. But when World War I breaks out, their lives are irrevocably changed, and the sisters must gather the courage to fashion their own places in the world, even if apart from each other.

The Mystery of Mrs. Christie • Marie Benedict • 29 décembre • Sourcebooks Landmarks • 288 pages

In December 1926, Agatha Christie goes missing. Investigators find her empty car on the edge of a deep, gloomy pond, the only clues some tire tracks nearby and a fur coat left in the car—strange for a frigid night. Her husband and daughter have no knowledge of her whereabouts, and England unleashes an unprecedented manhunt to find the up-and-coming mystery author. Eleven days later, she reappears, just as mysteriously as she disappeared, claiming amnesia and providing no explanations for her time away. 

The puzzle of those missing eleven days has persisted. With her trademark exploration into the shadows of history, acclaimed author Marie Benedict brings us into the world of Agatha Christie, imagining why such a brilliant woman would find herself at the center of such a murky story. 

The Berlin Girl • Mandy Robotham • 8 décembre • Avon • 400 pages

Berlin, 1938: It’s the height of summer, and Germany is on the brink of war. When fledgling reporter Georgie Young is posted to Berlin, alongside fellow Londoner Max Spender, she knows they are entering the eye of the storm.

Arriving to a city swathed in red flags and crawling with Nazis, Georgie feels helpless, witnessing innocent people being torn from their homes. As tensions rise, she realises she and Max have to act – even if it means putting their lives on the line.

But when she digs deeper, Georgie begins to uncover the unspeakable truth about Hitler’s Germany – and the pair are pulled into a world darker than she could ever have imagined…

The Berlin Shadow: Living with the Ghosts of the Kindertransport • Jonathan Lichtenstein •15 décembre • Brown Spark • 320 pages

In 1939, Jonathan Lichtenstein’s father Hans escaped Nazi-occupied Berlin as a child refugee on the Kindertransport. Almost every member of his family died after Kristallnacht, and, upon arriving in England to make his way in the world alone, Hans turned his back on his German Jewish culture.

Growing up in post-war rural Wales where the conflict was never spoken of, Jonathan and his siblings were at a loss to understand their father’s relentless drive and sometimes eccentric behavior. As Hans enters old age, he and Jonathan set out to retrace his journey back to Berlin.