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The Unfolding by A.M. Holmes
Politics isn’t exactly my bag, but I find this author so witty and insightful, I decided to enter this grotesque, corrupt world via the page. A group of alpha males meets after the 2008 presidential election to come up with a way to subvert the current threat (to our precious Way of Life: a Black man in the White House!) Crazy schemes and bigger-than-life egos make for wild action. Luckily (for this reader) there’s also a look at the group leader’s family dynamics, a subject closer to my heart. Delicious dysfunction there as well. Especially fascinating was how the action then seems so on target today.
The Rabbit Factor by Antti Tuomainen
In Finland Henri, a successful accountant with a well-ordered, solitary life is plunged into a whole new world when his brother dies, leaving him an adventure park to run. Henri just lost his long-time position because he couldn’t play well with others, i.e. management insisted on touchy-feely bonding among teammates. Henri discovers the finances of his new enterprise are dire and there’s a sinister link to the criminal underworld which manifests rapidly into violent actions. Park employees are a peculiar bunch with their own covert agendas. Other Scandinavian novels employ the theme of repressed individuals coming into their own and this one, with its sometimes outlandish activities, is a good fit.
This Is Not A Pity Memoir by Abi Morgan
Initially hard to swallow that title from the bare facts: Abi’s partner, a successful actor despite his MS, suddenly becomes utterly debilitated. He remains hospitalized for a year and a half with no diagnosis until his condition is linked to the drug he was taking for MS. He was left completely dependent and worse, not recognizing Abi. (It’s an actual syndrome.) And then she gets breast cancer-- it’s All Too Much. But Abi has an amazing spirit: clear-eyed, never sentimental, telling it like it is. The family comes through, buoyed by the glimmers and flickers of his old self, still there. Abi is a renowned screenwriter and she brings the whole experience to us vividly. English setting—it helps there’s good health care and they have the means to provide for Jacob’s ongoing needs. But Morgan is right; it’s a heart-lifting read after all.
The Matchmaker's Gift by Lynda Cohen Loigman
Sara is 10 when she discovers she can sense connections between would-be couples. In 1910 in NYC among orthodox Jews, matchmaking is a profession open only to men. She uses her gift surreptitiously without remuneration until enough is enough and she faces them down to ply her trade openly. We learn about this in the present day through her journals, left to granddaughter Abby who ironically is a divorce lawyer but finds she has that gift as well. A juicy, comforting read.