The 13 Best Books to Pick Up This January
These are the titles to pick up now, including Nadia Murad's harrowing personal account of survival in Iraq and Janet Fitch's enchanting take of a young woman falling in love while falling for the Bolsheviks.
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In the Midst of Winter
Loneliness, according to several recent psychiatric studies,
can be as detrimental to our health as smoking. Why does this matter in the
context of Isabel Allende's tender new novel, In the Midst of
Winter? The central characters are 60-year-old Richard, a human
rights scholar, and 62-year-old Lucia, a lecturer from Chile and tenant in
Richard's Brooklyn brownstone. The two, long single, have spent so much of
their lives trying to alleviate the suffering of others that they've neglected
to confront their own discontent. When an undocumented Guatemalan immigrant
enlists their help in disposing of the body she's discovered in the trunk of
her employer's car, the trio join forces on a grim yet oddly comical mission,
along the way revealing the harrowing events that shaped each of them.
That Richard and Lucia end up together is no surprise: as
she finally tells him, "The only cure for so much misfortune is love."
That sentence might be an epigraph for most of Allende's work. Often
originating in autobiography and framed by political struggle, her fiction
illuminates her passionate belief that our time on earth is fraught with
tragedy but redeemed through the power of human affinity. In the winter of
their lives, the couple discover that an invincible summer still lies within
— Jacquelyn Mitchard