Neshama’s Choices for January 16th

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Mad Honey

The title refers to a beekeeping anomaly where the sweet substance is no longer healing but poisonous. That’s a metaphor for what happens in New Hampshire where high schoolers Asher and Lily fall in love; she ends up dead. When Lily’s secret comes out, societal viciousness erupts. She and her single mother Ava have moved there to make a new start. Asher’s mother, a beekeeper, also returned to her family’s farm to flee from her abusive husband but worries that Asher might have inherited his tendencies. We hear from various characters and each author can tell their stories from a specific perspective. Fascinating bee lore and courtroom drama. Plus a heartbreaking story. Riveting.

Declassified

Subtitled a Low-Key Guide to the High-Strung World of Classical Music. I happen to know a lot about classical music and was curious to discover what this violin virtuoso, now author, had to say. Much is very entertaining and funny: inside dope about the profession and even gossip about composers. She gives various playlists to get you started if you feel intimidated. She also shares her personal journey from arduous dedication to disillusionment. So give it a whirl whether or not you’re an aficionado. There’s bound to be some nuggets to enlighten and entertain either way.   

Relativity

Ethan, 12, knows a lot about astronomy and physics. He develops seizures in which he reports he sees actual particles. Academics get very excited.   Meanwhile, his estranged father Mark wants to reconnect. He served a long sentence for allegedly having damaged Ethan as a baby by shaking him while his ballerina mother, Claire, was away at an audition. She’s bitter and resistant, but Ethan really wants to get to know Mark, once a physicist but now working for a mining company. Intriguing interweaving of interpersonal material with examples from properties of physics that I could actually kind of get, and a denouement I was hoping for. Set in Australia.

The Marriage Portrait

Back in the 1500s, Lucrezia ends up wed to Alfonso, a duke, when her sister—the bride to be--dies. Lucrezia is very young, independent, and artistic. The pairing is awkward at first, then develops sinister overtones, especially when she doesn’t get pregnant.  After all, that’s the implicit purpose of the contract: to provide an heir. The artist commissioned to paint her portrait is a much better match but of course she’s stuck until… Echoes of that famous poem, “my last duchess.” Vivid and atmospheric with a seat of the pants denouement. 

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