Posted January 14, 2018 1:09 a.m. EST
A selection of summaries from The New York Times Book Review:
THE UNSETTLERS: In Search of the Good Life in Today’s America, by Mark Sundeen. (Riverhead, $16.) Sundeen profiles three families — whom he calls pioneers, of a sort — who chose to live off the grid. They share an important commonality: “They had each taken on a fundamental aspect of how the world is broken, and had attempted, with all their might, to address it — in ways that felt sustainable, maybe even replicable.”
ENIGMA VARIATIONS, by André Aciman. (Picador, $16.) Aciman chronicles a lifetime of desire, love and loss. The central character, Paul, has an early infatuation with a craftsman in Italy that provides the story line’s loose framework; the plot skips ahead to find him years later, nearly unrecognizable in an acrimonious relationship. Aciman’s novel is a masterly portrayal of arousal and the selves forged by passion.
LETTERS TO VÉRA, by Vladimir Nabokov. Edited and translated by Olga Voronina and Brian Boyd. (Vintage, $20.) For more than 50 years, Véra was a “song,” a muse, a protector for her husband. (She was the one to save an early draft of “Lolita” after Vladimir tried to destroy it.) “It is the prose itself that provides the lasting affirmation,” Martin Amis wrote in The Times, “and underlying it all the lavishness, the freely offered gift, of his divine energy.”
LONG BLACK VEIL, by Jennifer Finney Boylan. (Broadway, $16.) It’s August 1980, and some college friends are looking for mischief in an abandoned Philadelphia prison. But when one of them goes missing, the night ends in tragedy. Years later, the student’s body is found, and one of the survivors risks exposing two long-held secrets to protect the truth. As Times reviewer Marilyn Stasio put it: “To the author, the prison is more than a setting, it’s also a powerful symbol for the closeted life she once led.”
PRINCE CHARLES: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life, by Sally Bedell Smith. (Random House, $20.) A portrait of Charles comes down squarely in his favor, particularly with regard to Diana. He emerges as a thoughtful, intellectually driven man in Bedell’s telling. The author, who has written at length about the royal family, offers a cleareyed view of the monarchy, its privilege and its faltering morals.
ON TURPENTINE LANE, by Elinor Lipman. (Mariner, $14.99.) Faith Frankel is 32, perhaps more than a little bored, and has set down roots in her Massachusetts hometown. But mysterious objects in her new bungalow draw her into the neighborhood’s past. Lipman’s screwball romance is full of delightfully weird characters, from Faith’s neo-hippie fiancé to her father, an amateur artist churning out Chagall copies.