ON THE SHELF: Large Print titles to intrigue and delight

Published 8:00 am Sunday, April 17, 2022

This column was submitted by Evangeline Cessna, Local History Librarian at the Warren County-Vicksburg Public Library.

This week’s column features more New Large Print fiction.

Katherine Reay sends one woman through the history of Britain’s World War II spy network as well as the glamour of 1930s Paris in her latest “The London Home.” Caroline Payne becomes aware of a dark family secret when an old historian friend calls her and tells her he has uncovered some information about her British great-aunt. Apparently, during World War II Caroline’s aunt betrayed her family and country to marry her German lover. Determined to salvage her family’s reputation, Caroline meets her friend Mat at her family’s ancestral home in London. Together, they discover diaries and letters that reveal her grandmother and great-aunt were known as the “Waite sisters.” The two women were popular and witty and came of age during the interwar years. The correspondence of the two women is at first ebullient and cheerful, but as time passes there is a sadder tone. Caroline and Mat discover stories of spies and secrets, love and heartbreak, and the events of one fateful evening in 1941. Caroline will have to choose how to proceed with the decades-old wounds of her family so that they can heal. She must also decide if she will embrace the growing love of her own.

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“The Hawthorne School” is the latest labyrinthine psychological thriller from author Sylvie Perry. Claudia Morgan is overwhelmed. She is the mother to a 4-year-old, Henry, who is a handful for her and his preschool. She then hears about a school near her Chicago home with an atypical teaching style that piques her curiosity. When she visits, she discovers a beautiful school with everything she dreams for Henry: outside playtime, music and art. The school’s headmistress, Zelma, is even willing to allow Claudia to volunteer to cover the cost of tuition. Henry’s “behavioral problems” disappear, and he comes home more mellow instead of rage-filled. But when he comes home with strange stories of ceremonies in the woods and odd rules, Claudia begins to question the school’s cold halls and enigmatic headmistress. Something just isn’t right, and Claudia’s instincts tell her she’s caught in a web of manipulations and power.

“Eight Perfect Hours” is a romantic and heartwarming novel full of charming twists and turns by Louis Lia. When two strangers are thrown together during a blizzard and spend one perfect evening together, they believe it to be a one-off fluke. Fate, it seems, has different plans. Noelle Butterby is on her way back from an event at her alma mater when disaster strikes. A blizzard has caused road closures and she finds herself stranded, alone in her car with no food, drink, or working charger for her phone. Sam Attwood is a handsome American trapped in a nearby car who knocks on her window and offers assistance. What follows is eight perfect hours, until the morning arrives and the roads clear. They think their wonderful night is a serendipitous event, but fate seems to be happily laughing at them. The two keep bumping into one another and they begin to realize that perhaps there is no such thing as coincidence.

“My Monticello,” by Jocelyn Nicole Johnson, tells the stories of a diverse group of Charlottesville neighbors including a university professor studying racism and conducting secret social experiments on his own son and a single mother determined to buy her first home even as the world is turned upside down. In “My Monticello,” Da’Naisha is a black descendent of Thomas Jefferson who leads a group of neighbors who are fleeing violent white supremacists. They seek refuge in Jefferson’s historic plantation home in an effort to outlive the environmental and racial unraveling within the nation. In “Control Negro,” a university professor devotes himself to the study of racism and the development of ACMs (American Caucasian males) by clinically observing his own son from birth in order to mark the route of this Black child as being solely influenced by the systemic racism projected by society. In “Buying a House Ahead of the Apocalypse,” a single mother seeks salvation by buying her first home. All these stories are united by the theme of relentless struggles against reality and fate.

Ali Hazelwood tells the story of a third-year Ph.D. candidate who doesn’t believe in lasting romantic relationships in her book “The Love Hypothesis.” Though Olive Smith doesn’t believe in true love, her best friend does and that is why she finds herself in this situation. Convincing her friend Anh that she is dating and on her way to happily-ever-after is not as easy as a hand wave and a Jedi mind trick: scientists require proof. So, Olive panics and kisses the first man she sees. The man is none other than Adam Carlsen, a young, hotshot professor and well-known a-hole. This is why Olive is confused when this reigning lab tyrant agrees to keep her charade a secret and be her fake boyfriend. As the big science conference spirals out of control — putting Olive’s career on the line — she is once again surprised that Adam is supportive. This biologist finds that her hypothesis may be wrong, and she will wind up with her heart under the microscope.