O's 2011 Summer Reading List

What's your favorite flavor? No matter, because we've got 'em all: refreshing histories, nutty novels, and love stories that will make you melt.
The Summer of the Bear

The Summer of the Bear

448 pages; Atlantic Monthly Press
Accident, murder or suicide? It's the question that plagues the family of Nicky Fleming after the British diplomat falls off the roof of his embassy in West Germany in 1980. Equal parts spy novel and family drama, The Summer of the Bear tells the story of Fleming's grieving widow and three children during the months they spend in exile on a remote Scottish island, where a domesticated bear, having escaped from a circus wrestler, has also found himself marooned. While the Cold War intrigue tends to fall flat, Pollen's vivid descriptions of nature—the wind is alternately "a ghost moaning or a tractor grumbling or a soldier with an agonizing war wound;" a girl watches a fly "rubbing its forearms together as though anticipating the joys of money to count or blood to suck"—have the power to transport even the most harried city-bound reader to a cool, secluded, distant island.
— Ruth Baron