Marshall Field and the Gilded Age

MF Dome

Renee Rosen has written an interesting biographical novel: What the Lady Wants. Through the eyes of socialite Delia Caton, Marshall Field and his social set come alive. Though twenty years separate their ages, Delia and Marshall turn to each other for relief from their unhappy marriages and scandalize Chicago society. But as much as this is […]

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Books About Elephants To Never Forget

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Elephants have held a special fascination for humans for millenia. Worshipped as gods, feted as performers, trained as workers, they have a special relationship with people. These three books deal with that relationship in its myriad forms. The Tusk That Did the Damage by Tania James is a luminescent book. The story shifts between three perspectives. Emma is a […]

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Sisters in STEAM

Nathalia Holt's newest book is out, and it's a real treat. Rise of the Rocket Girls chronicles the women "computers" of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory from the Cal Tech students who set it up to the launch of the space probe Juno, which is scheduled to start orbiting Jupiter in July. Under various managers, the computing department […]

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Women of Terrible Virtue

Margaret Sanger

Margaret Sanger came by her beliefs honestly. After watching her mother suffer through nearly 20 pregnancies and listening to her ex-Catholic father's radical speeches (often at the neighborhood watering hole), she took up the cause of women controlling their own sexuality and fertility. Ellen Feldman's biographical novel, Terrible Virtue, captures her zeal. Told mostly in […]

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New Novels of the Indian Diaspora


Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Sanjeev Sahota's The Year of the Runaways is a fierce, political novel. Three men from India and one Sikh woman from London arrive in Sheffield, England early in this century. The men are on fraudulent visas and the woman, Narinder, is helping out one of them by being a straw wife […]

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Tough Broads 3

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Minerva Koenig's sequel to Nine Days, South of Nowhere, is out, to which I say, hooray! Julie Kalas is renovating a house while recovering from stab wounds inflicted by the woman she bought the house from when she discovers a mummified corpse in the heating chase. Must be time for a very long vacation in, say, […]

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Adventures in Neuro-Atypicality


Lucy, the narrator of Michelle Adelman's Piece of Mind, suffered a brain injury at the age of three and lives with her loving, protective family in Westchester County, New York. She can do many things, particularly draw animals and memorize facts about them, but is hopeless at others: moving gracefully, organizing, and other executive functions. When […]

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Notorious RBG and the Supremes


In honor of Women's History Month, here's a look at books by or about the women who've served as Supreme Court justices. No Supreme Court justice in living memory has generated the following that Ruth Bader Ginsburg has. She's achieved almost cult-like status among liberals and progressives, particularly the young. The apex of this may be […]

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Muslim Mysteries

While as yet a small subgenre, mysteries featuring Muslim investigators are increasing in both quantity and quality. Here are three. In Murder Under the Bridge by Kate Jessica Raphael, a foreigner is found murdered in the West Bank. The Israeli police find a convenient suspect and get him to confess. Rania, a Palestinian policewoman, and Chloe, […]

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The Spy Who Smiled: Witty Espionage Novels

Spy Wheel

I was much surprised and definitely pleased reading Mick Herron's latest, Real Tigers. Following the first two books in the Slough House series, Slow Horses and Dead Lions, one of Slough House's own has come under attack. Slough House, by the way, is where the screw-ups of MI5 (Britain's spy agency) are warehoused until they either get […]

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