Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire - Alex Von Tunzelmann

Alex Von Tunzelmann’s marvelous book, Indian Summer (Picador, $18), tells a little-known story about the importance of the relationship between Lady Edwina Mountbatten, wife of the last Viceroy of India, and Nehru, India’s leader in the final stages of India’s Independence movement. Louis Mountbatten, obsessed with rank and privilege, was an ineffective naval officer but perfect for the task of taking Britain out of India. His wife barely tolerated him, but she loved India.  She and Nehru completely adored each other. He confided in her and admired her energy and devotion to India. Von Tunzelmann uses the relationship as the hook, but the reader will learn a great deal about the struggle for Indian independence in 1947. Von Tunzelmann is keenly aware of the legacy of colonialism—how it infantilized hundreds of millions of poor people and pitted them against each other. Nehru was a brilliant, charismatic leader who had a strong moral code; he believed that Muslims and Hindus (and many others) could live together. There were too many others, however, who were determined to separate.

Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire By Alex Von Tunzelmann Cover Image
ISBN: 9780312428112
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
(This book cannot be returned.)
Published: Picador - September 30th, 2008

Blame - Michelle Huneven

Patsy MacLemore is the perfect modern woman with her wit, brains, and recklessness. A history professor at a local college near Pasadena, she has a severe drinking problem. She wakes up in jail following a spree and discovers that she has killed two people. Convicted of negligent homicide she is sentenced to two years in jail. Much of Blame (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $25) is about her prison years when she joins AA; after serving her sentence, she marries a much older man who is the den father to the local AA. Her struggle to locate herself and her feelings is aided by a wise therapist. Patsy’s story might seem clichéd if Michelle Huneven had not written such a lively, absorbing story with surprising twists and turns.

Blame: A Novel By Michelle Huneven Cover Image
ISBN: 9780312429850
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Picador - May 25th, 2010

A Happy Marriage - Rafael Yglesias

Rafael Yglesias has written a novel based on his wife’s death from bladder cancer. In A Happy Marriage (Scribner, $26) he has fashioned a truthful and touching portrait of their marriage, as he alternates between the awkward courtship of Enrique Saba and Margaret Cohen and her dying twenty-some years later over a period of a few weeks. After three years, Margaret has asked to be allowed to die rather than continue the pain and misery of treatment for incurable and invasive cancer. While Enrique remembers the sweetness of their first few months, he says goodbye and helps Margaret say her goodbyes to her parents Dorothy and Leonard, the Sabas’ sons, and her best friend Lily. There is something endearing and absolutely true here about the relationship of husband and wife and adult children and parents. This is the kind of book that when you finish you want to go back and read it all over again.

In A Happy Marriage (Scribner, $26) Rafael Yglesias contrasts the first few months of Enrique Saba’s courtship of Margaret—clumsy, oafish, naïve—with their last three weeks together. After three years of painful treatment for invasive and incurable bladder cancer, Margaret asks to be allowed to die. As Enrique remembers the sweetness of the first few months of their relationship, he helps Margaret say her goodbyes to her parents, his parents, their beloved sons, and her best friend, Lily. There is something endearing and absolutely true about the relationship between husband and wife, between parents and college-age children, and between the adult children and their parents. Such events really did happen to Ygelsias, but that he is able to organize his experience, understand it, weave it into such a funny, sad, compelling human story for all of us to learn from is a tribute to his art.

A Happy Marriage: A Novel By Rafael Yglesias Cover Image
ISBN: 9781439102312
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Scribner - August 10th, 2010