Joyce Carol Oates’s Wonderland Quartet comprises four remarkable novels that explore social class in America and the inner lives of young Americans. Spanning from the Great Depression to the turbulent Vietnam War era, Wonderland is the epic account of Jesse Vogel, a boy who emerged from a family tragedy with his life spared but his world torn apart. Orphaned after watching his father murder his entire family, Jesse embarks on a personal odyssey that takes him from a Dickensian foster home to college and graduate school to the pinnacle of the medical profession. As an adult, Jesse must summon the strength to reach across the “generation gap” and rescue his endangered teenaged daughter, who has fallen into the drug-infused 1960s counterculture.
Hailed by Library Journal as “the greatest of Oates’s novels,” Wonderland is the capstone of a magnificent literary excursion that plunges beneath the glossy surface of American life.
Wonderland is the final novel in Joyce Carol Oates’s Wonderland Quartet. The books that complete this acclaimed series, A Garden of Earthly Delights, Expensive People, and them, are also available from the Modern Library.
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
A powerful, blazingly honest memoir: the story of an eleven-hundred-mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe—and built her back up again. At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother's death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and to do it alone. She had no experience as a long-distance hiker, and the trail was little more than “an idea, vague and outlandish and full of promise.” But it was a promise of piecing back together a life that had come undone. Strayed faces down rattlesnakes and black bears, intense heat and record snowfalls, and both the beauty and loneliness of the trail. Told with great suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild vividly captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.
Michael Cunningham - The Hours
Exiled in Richmond in the 1920s, Virginia Woolf struggles to tame her rebellious mind and make a start on her new novel. In 1990s New York, Clarissa Vaughan goes shopping for flowers for a party for her AIDS-suffering poet-friend. This novel meditates on artistic behaviour, love and madness.
John Updike - Rabbit Is Rich
The hero of John Updike's Rabbit, Run (1960), ten years after the hectic events described in Rabbit Redux (1971), has come to enjoy considerable prosperity as Chief Sales Representative of Springer Motors, a Toyota agency in Brewer, Pennsylvania. The time is 1979: Skylab is falling, gas lines are lengthening, the President collapses while running in a marathon, and double-digit inflation coincides with a deflation of national confidence. Nevertheless, Harry Angstrom feels in good shape, ready to enjoy life at last -- until his son, Nelson, returns from the West, and the image of an old love pays a visit to his lot. New characters and old populate these scenes from Rabbit's middle age, as he continues to pursue, in his erratic fashion, the rainbow of happiness.
John Updike - Rabbit Redux
The year is 1969, the end of a revolutionary decade, when men walked the moon and controversies raged over the Vietnam War, civil rights, women's liberation, morality and its decline. A liberated Rabbit Angstrom loses his wife to a hotshot used car salesman dripping with Vitalis and acquires a menage that includes his teenage son, a spaced-out white chick, and an evangelical black man. Rabbit lives a life that is bent, a normal life refracted in a funhouse mirror. He courts complications, all the more bizarre for their believability.
Eleanor H. Porter - Miss Billy - Married
In which the gifted author of Pollyanna, the most popular book for the year 1913, scores another success and makes the married life of adorable Billy Neilson--the heroine of the "Miss Billy" books--and Bertram Henshaw a story of unusual tenderness and sweetness. There is a deal of delicious humor and common sense, too, in the story, and happiness in abundance, even in the trying days when the young bride finds herself bereft of a cook and burdened with the care of a Beacon Street household. But whether the weather be fair or threatening, she is 'just Billy,' happy when making someone's burden lighter, happier still with the advent of Bertram, Jr., and happiest of all when her husband is able to use his strong right arm again, even to paint the dreaded 'face of a girl.' As is the case with all of Mrs. Porter's books, the story is 'always life,' gracefully and sympathetically presented, carrying with it a message of happiness.
Raymond Chandler - Farewell My Lovely
A warm day on Central Avenue, and Philip Marlowe's hunch about the man beside him is as vague as the heat waves that dance above the sidewalk. The way business is looking, even a hunch is enough. Moose Malloy stands six five and one-half and weighs two hundred and sixty-four pounds, without his necktie. After eight years in the pen, he wants little Velma back, and no cops or mobsters are ready to stand in his way. Marlowe's tough enough for the ride, but he can't help thinking there's never been a happy ending to the story of beauty and the beast ...
Herman Wouk - The Caine Mutiny
The novel that inspired the now-classic film The Caine Mutiny and the hit Broadway play The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial, Herman Wouk's boldly dramatic, brilliantly entertaining novel of life-and mutiny-on a Navy warship in the Pacific theater was immediately embraced, upon its original publication in 1951, as one of the first serious works of American fiction to grapple with the moral complexities and the human consequences of World War II. In the intervening half century, The Caine Mutiny has become a perennial favorite of readers young and old, has sold millions of copies throughout the world, and has achieved the status of a modern classic.
Andrew M. Greeley - Irish Cream
Countless readers have been delighted by Father Andrew M. Greeley's bestselling tales of Nuala Anne McGrail, a fey, Irish-speaking woman from Galway blessed with the gift of second sight and a knack for unraveling mysteries, and her hapless husband and accomplice, Dermot Michael Coyne. From Irish Gold through Irish Stew! this spirited couple has untangled many a knotty mystery, both at home in Chicago and back in Erin. Now they return in another captivating blend of romance, humor, and intrigue. Damian "Day" O'Sullivan is a troubled young man who blames himself for a tragic vehicular homicide he may not have committed. Trouble is, Day's entire family seems to be conspiring to pin the crime on the poor lad, which only leads Nuala and Dermot to wonder who really ran over (three times!) Rodney Keefe in the parking lot of a ritzy Chicago country club. The O'Sullivans are a ruthlessly ambitious clan of South Side Irish, who consider themselves the cream of the Irish-American community. The sensitive Day has always been something of a black sheep in the family - and perhaps a scapegoat as well. But the twisted saga of the O'Sullivans isn't the only mystery to be unraveled. Having stumbled onto the diary of Father Richard Lonigan, a nineteenth-century parish priest assigned to a remote village in old Donegal, Dermot and Nuala find themselves caught up in the closely guarded secrets and scandals of that desolate time and place, where simmering resentment against the ruling English sometimes erupted into violence and murder... Irish Cream is another rich and satisfying concoction by one of America's most popular storytellers.
Jessie Ann Foley - The Carnival at Bray
It's 1993, and Generation X pulses to the beat of Kurt Cobain and the grunge movement. Sixteen-year-old Maggie Lynch is uprooted from big-city Chicago to a windswept town on the Irish Sea. Surviving on care packages of Spin magazine and Twizzlers from her rocker uncle Kevin, she wonders if she'll ever find her place in this new world. When first love and sudden death simultaneously strike, a naive but determined Maggie embarks on a forbidden pilgrimage that will take her to a seedy part of Dublin and on to a life- altering night in Rome to fulfill a dying wish. Through it all, Maggie discovers an untapped inner strength to do the most difficult but rewarding thing of all, live. The Carnival at Bray is an evocative ode to the Smells Like Teen Spirit Generation and a heartfelt exploration of tragedy, first love, and the transformative power of music. The book won the 2014 Helen Sheehan YA Book Prize.
Robert Ludlum - The Aquitaine Progression
In Geneva, American lawyer Joel Converse meets a man he hasn’t seen in twenty years, a covert operative who dies violently at his feet, whispering words that hand Converse a staggering legacy of death: “The generals . . . they’re back . . . Aquitaine!” Suddenly Converse is running for his life, alone with the world’s most shattering secret. Pursued by anonymous executioners to the dark corners of Europe, he is forced to play a game of survival by blood rules he thought he’d long left behind. One by one, he traces each thread of a lethal progression to the heart of every major government, a network of coordinated global violence that no one believes possible—no one but Converse and the woman he once loved and lost, the only two people on earth who can wrest the world from the iron grasp of Aquitaine.
Pearl S. Buck - The Good Earth
This tells the poignant tale of a Chinese farmer and his family in old agrarian China. The humble Wang Lung glories in the soil he works, nurturing the land as it nurtures him and his family. Nearby, the nobles of the House of Hwang consider themselves above the land and its workers; but they will soon meet their own downfall. Hard times come upon Wang Lung and his family when flood and drought force them to seek work in the city. The working people riot, breaking into the homes of the rich and forcing them to flee. When Wang Lung shows mercy to one noble and is rewarded, he begins to rise in the world, even as the House of Hwang falls.
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings - The Yearling
Young Jody adopts an orphaned fawn he calls Flag and makes it a part of his family and his best friend. But life in the Florida backwoods is harsh, and so, as his family fights off wolves, bears, and even alligators, and faces failure in their tenuous subsistence farming, Jody must finally part with his dear animal friend. There has been a film and even a musical based on this story.
Lawrence Block - The Burglar in the Library
Bookseller and New-Yorker-to-the-bone, Bernie Rhodenbarr rarely ventures out of Manhattan, but he's excited about the romantic getaway he has planned for himself and current lady love Lettice at the Cuttleford House, a remote upstate b&b. Unfortunately, Lettice has a prior engagement—she's getting married... and not to Bernie—so he decides to take best buddy Carolyn instead. A restful respite from the big city's bustle would be too good to waste. Besides, there's a very valuable first edition shelved in the Cuttleford's library that Bernie's just itching to get his hands on. Did we neglect to mention that Bernie's a burglar? But first he's got to get around a very dead body on the library floor. The plot's thickened by an isolating snowstorm, downed phone lines, the surprise arrival of Lettice and her reprehensible new hubby, and a steadily increasing corpse count. And it's Bernie who'll have to figure out whodunit... or die.
Andrew M. Greeley - Irish Gold
Bestselling novelist Andrew M. Greeley outdoes his previous triumphs with Irish Gold, a contemporary, fresh and exciting novel of suspense and love. Nuala Anne McGrail, a student at Dublin's Trinity College, is beautiful the way a Celtic goddess is beautiful - not that Dermot Michael Coyne of Chicago has ever seen one of those in his twenty-five years - unless you count his grandmother Nell, who left Ireland during the Troubles with her husband Liam O'Riada, and who would never tell why they left. Somebody else remembers, though - or why is Dermot set upon by thugs?
Andrew M. Greeley - Irish Lace
The beautiful and fey - as they say in the Old Country - Nuala Anne McGrail uses her psychic abilities to help solve mysteries. But even she will admit with a smile that she couldn't do it without Dermot Michael Coyne, her devoted admirer and self-proclaimed "spear carrier." Now both living in Chicago, their unique courtship is once again interrupted by one of Nuala's "spells." On a quiet street on the South Shore, she is overwhelmed by the screaming of thousands of dying men - Confederate soldiers held as prisoners of war. Soon the pair are caught up in a Civil War controversy, and an all-too-present-day mystery involving a sophisticated gang of art thieves, corrupt politicians, and international terrorists. But Dermot is cheerfully resigned, for as he well knows, life with Nuala will never be simple. After all, she's like Irish lace - "thin and delicate and pretty, and just a little bit complicated."
Andrew M. Greeley - Irish Mist
Dermot Michael Coyne isn't sure what he's gotten himself into. Nuala Anne McGrail, that beautiful and vivacious "Celtic witch" has finally agreed to marry him. But they've barely tied the knot when Nuala's psychic "spells" begin again. Visions of a burning castle, the captain of the infamous "Black and Tan" police force, a wild woman from Chicago, and bloodshed--all somehow connected - lead the two to the remnants of a mystery long buried in the mist of Ireland's turbulent and violent past. How did Kevin O'Higgins, the murdered leader of the movement to free Ireland, die? And who among the living will do whatever it takes to keep Nuala and Dermot from finding out?
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni - The Mistress of Spices
Tilo, an immigrant from India, runs an Indian spice shop in Oakland, California. While she dispenses the classic ingredients for curries and kormas, she also helps her customers to gain a more precious commodity: whatever they most desire. For Tilo is a Mistress of Spices, a priestess of the secret, magical powers of spices. Through those who visit and revisit her shop - Ahuja's wife, caught in an unhappy, abusive marriage; Jagjit, the victim of racist attacks at school; the noisy bougainvillaea girls, rejecting the strict upbringing of their tradition-bound Indian parents; Haroun who drives a taxi and dreams the American dream - we get a glimpse into the life of the local Indian expatriate community. To each Tilo dispenses wisdom and the appropriate spice: coriander for sight; turmeric to erase wrinkles; cinnamon for finding friends; fenugreek to make a rejected wife desirable again; chillies for the cleansing of evil. But when a lonely American comes into the store, a troubled Tilo cannot find the right spice, for he arouses in her a forbidden desire, and following her own desires will destroy her magical powers. Compelling and lyrical, full of heady scents and with more than a touch of humour, this novel explores the clash between East and West even as it unveils the universal mysteries of the human heart.
Harlan Coben - Miracle Cure
Coben ( Play Dead ) adroitly applies the fundamental rules of thrillerdom (offer a raft of potential villains; keep the action moving at breakneck speed) in this highly entertaining novel about a conspiracy apparently designed to prevent the development of a cure for AIDS. When one of a trio of research scientists on the brink of coming up with an AIDS antidote dies, it looks like suicide, but TV journalist Sara Lowell and her husband, NBA star Michael Silverman, who are friends of the clinic's founder, think otherwise. Their suspicions are confirmed when several clinic patients, including the son of a U.S. senator, are murdered. A televangelist with his own agenda, Sara's prominent physician father, and a high-ranking government official all seem intent upon derailing the AIDS research, a situation that becomes most personal when Michael is diagnosed with the disease. Police lieutenant ''Twitch'' Bernstein, a closet homosexual, ultimately comes face-to-face with the person responsible for the killings. The final revelation of the identity of the master conspirator comes as a real surprise. This page-turner also raises some interesting questions about medical research and its funding.
Danielle Steel - Jewels
On Sarah Whitfield's seventy-fifth birthday, memories take her back to New York in the 1930s. To a marriage that ends after a year, leaving Sarah shattered. A trip to Europe with her parents does little to raise her spirits, until she meets William, Duke of Whitfield. In time, despite her qualms, William insists on giving up his distant right to the British throne to make Sarah his dutchess and his wife. On their honeymoon, the newlyweds buy an old French chateau, but not long after, the war begins. William joins the allied forces, leaving Sarah, their first child, an infant, and their second child on the way, in France. After the Nazi forces take over the chateau, Sarah continues to survive the terror and deprivation of the Occupation, unwavering in her belief that her missing-in-action husband is still alive. After the war, as a gesture of goodwill, the Whitfields start buying jewels offered for sale by impoverished war survivors. With Sarah's style and keen eye, the collection becomes the prestigious Whitfield's jewelry store in Paris. Eventually, their jewelry business expands to London and Rome, as their family grows. Phillip, their firstborn, is stubborn and proud; Julian, their second son, is charming and generous and warm; Isabelle is rebellious and willful; and Xavier, unusual and untamed, is the final unexpected gift of their love. They each find their own way, but will be drawn to the great house of gems their parents built. In Jewels, Danielle Steel takes the reader through five eventful decades that include war, passion, international intrigue, and the strength of family through it all.