Book picks similar to
Eden Lake by Jane Roper


fiction
chemistry
historical-fiction
literary-fiction

Tree of Life


Maryse Condé - 1987
    Now, with Tree of Life, Conde turns her impassioned, epic eye to the chaos and upheaval of the twentieth century. Rapidly shifting back and forth between Guadeloupe and Harlem, moving from Haiti's desperate slums to the exclusive enclaves of the Parisian upper class, this deeply personal story traces one Guadeloupe family's rise from poverty to riches through several generations. The story begins with Albert, the forebear, who leaves an island plantation to work on the Panama Canal and out of the horror of prejudice and oppression, fierily recreates himself as a man of immense wealth. We learn about his sons: Jacob, doomed to carry on his father's business but yearning for a life of his own, and Jean, who rejects the privilege and riches that are his birthright and becomes a martyr to the struggling people of his tragic land; about his granddaughter, Thecla, who tries to find happiness through politics and men; and about Albert II, who meets his puzzling and heartbreaking end an ocean away from his family and his roots. The extraordinary tale is recounted by Coco, a contemporary female descendant, who finally reconciles herself to a past that has haunted her all her life. Like Segu and Children of Segu, Tree of Life is a grand historical pageant, overflowing with the interlocking tales of many lives, teeming with social, cultural, and political details. "Rich and colorful and glorious" was how Maya Angelou described Segu. Tree of Life expands Maryse Conde's unique vision into our time.

The Underworld


Kevin Canty - 2017
    In The Underworld, Kevin Canty tells a story inspired by a true incident that begins with a disastrous fire in an isolated silver mining town in Idaho in the 1970s. Everyone in town had a friend, a lover, a brother, or a husband killed in the mine. The Underworld imagines the lives of a handful of survivors and their loved ones—a young widow with twin children, a college student trying to make a life for himself in another town, a lifelong hardrock miner—as they struggle to come to terms with the loss. It’s a tough, hard-working, hard-drinking town, a town of prostitutes and priests and bar fights, but nobody’s tough enough to get through this undamaged. A powerful and unforgettable tale about small-town lives and the healing power of love in the midst of suffering.

The Lightning Tree


Emily Woof - 2015
    Raised in a matriarchal household by a CND-loving activist, she is impatient to begin a life of adventure.But this is Newcastle in the mid-80s where girls are getting permed and their dreams go no further than copping off down the Bigg Market.Then Ursula meets Jerry, a class warrior from the wrong side of town, intellectually hungry, erudite and ambitious. It is a meeting of bodies, souls, minds and ideals.Keen to pursue the road less travelled, Ursula heads to India while Jerry goes to Oxford and the promise of politics and power. As Ursula searches for answers, she is soon drifting - and Jerry loses touch. What happens to young love when it is tested by real life? The Lightning Tree is a lyrical and funny novel for fans of The Line of Beauty and The Marriage Plot.

Little Gods


Anna Richards - 2009
    Though her name is swiftly shortened, Jean's body resists all attempts to curb it and she grows into a girl of unusual size and strength. With the unwitting power to upset the order of things, as well as most people, it takes the chaos of war to bring the rest of the world up to Jean's level of disorientation. When the accidental bombing of her house leaves her orphaned, extravagantly scarred, but brilliantly alive, she finds herself ready to relish life, and all the strangeness and opportunity her unique appearance brings . . . Reminiscent of the work of John Irving and Michael Chabon, yet also entirely original, this is one of the most moving and inventive novels of recent years.

A Guest of Honour


Nadine Gordimer - 1970
    As he witnesses the factionalism and violence that erupt as revolutionary ideals are subverted by ambition and greed, Bray is once again forced to choose sides, a choice that becomes both his triumph and his undoing.

Pacazo


Roy Kesey - 2011
    Then his life and the city were destroyed. John's wife was murdered, and his search for the killer takes place amidst the storms of El Niño.

Cheat and Charmer


Elizabeth Frank - 2000
    But thanks to her marriage to Stefan Ventura, a Bulgarian filmmaker and high-profile Communist, Veevi's home was also a hotbed of political activity. At the end of the 1930s, when things went badly for him in Hollywood, Ventura and Veevi fled to Paris and into the lengthening shadows of Hitler and fascism." Cut to 1951, when Dinah is subpoenaed by the House Un-American Activities Committee, which threatens to ruin her husband, Jake, and derail his successful career as a Hollywood writer, producer, and director unless she cooperates. Can Dinah live with herself if she names Veevi - whom she both loves and loathes - in order to save her husband and preserve her idyllic married life? The choices Dinah makes set in motion an unforgettable chain of events. Like Anna Karenina, Dinah must face the consequences of her choices and her needs.

The Good Son


Craig Nova - 1983
    After being shot down over the desert and imprisoned by the enemy, the world of privilege to which he belongs seems shallow. But in the shadow of his older brother’s death, the full weight of his father’s expectations falls on Chip. Pop Mackinnon—whose money is new but just as good as anyone else’s—has designs on the upper echelons of society. The polo ponies and expensive education he bought for his son weren’t gifts; they were an investment in the family’s future. Now it’s time for Chip to pay him back by marrying a girl who can finally bring the Mackinnons into society’s inner circle.A shrewd and cunning man, Pop is used to getting his way—until the arrival of Jean Cooper, that is. This Midwestern beauty awakens Chip’s passions, and the two embark on an affair that threatens to destroy Pop’s social-climbing plans. A battle of wills between father and son ensues, one that tests the boundaries of their relationship and strays into the place where love turns irrevocably to hate.Originally published in 1982 to wide acclaim, The Good Son remains Craig Nova’s undisputed masterpiece. This classic of contemporary American literature artfully explores the complicated web of emotions that exists between fathers and sons—ambition, jealousy, loyalty, love—in a tale that compels with its simple, searing honesty.Also Available as an eBook.

Abbott Awaits


Chris Bachelder - 2011
    In Abbott we see a modern-day Sisyphus: he is the exhausted father of a lively two-year old, the ruminative husband of a pregnant insomniac, and the confused owner of a terrified dog. Confronted by a flooded basement, a broken refrigerator, a urine-soaked carpet, and a literal snake in the woodpile, Abbott endures the beauty and hopelessness of each moment, often while contemplating evolutionary history, altruism, or the passage of time. An expectant father and university teacher on summer break, Abbott tackles the agonizing chores of each day, laboring for peace in his household and struggling to keep his daughter clean and happy, all while staving off a fear of failure as a parent, and even as a human being. As he cleans car seats, forgets to apply sun block, clips his dog's nails, dresses his daughter out of season, and makes unsuccessful furniture-buying trips with his wife, his mind plays out an unrelenting series of paradoxical reflections. Abbott's pensive self-doubt comes to a head one day in late June as he cleans vomited raspberries out of his daughter's car seat and realizes: "The following propositions are both true: (A) Abbott would not, given the opportunity, change one significant element of his life, but (B) Abbott cannot stand his life." Composed of small moments of domestic wonder and terror, Abbott Awaits is a charming story of misadventure, anxiety, and the everyday battles and triumphs of parenthood.

The Hope Fault


Tracy Farr - 2017
    They are there for one last time, one last weekend, and one last party – but in the course of this weekend, their connections will be affirmed, and their frailties and secrets revealed – to the reader at least, if not to each other. The Hope Fault is a novel about extended family: about steps and exes and fairy godmothers; about parents and partners who are missing, and the people who replace them.

Refuge


Merilyn Simonds - 2018
    Curiosity, loneliness, and a slender filament of hope prompt her to accept a visit. But Nang’s story of torture and flight provokes memories in Cass that peel back, layer by layer, the events that brought her to this moment — and forces her, against her will, to confront the tragedy she has refused for half a century. Could her son really be Nang’s grandfather? What does she owe this girl, who claims to be stateless because of her MacCallum blood? Drawn, despite herself, into Nang’s search for refuge, Cass struggles to accept the past and find a way into whatever future remains to her.

Everything Will Be All Right


Tessa Hadley - 2003
    Joyce watches the two sisters - her aunt's unbending dedication to the life of the mind, her mother worn down by housework - and thinks that each of them is powerless in her own way.For Joyce, art school provides an escape route, and there she falls in love with one of her teachers. When she marries and has children, she is determined to manage her relationship with a new freedom, and to save herself from the mistakes of the previous generation. But her daughter Zoe, growing up, comes to see Joyce as a bourgeois housewife, and when Zoe has a baby of her own, she demands more from motherhood...

Disputed Land


Tim Pears - 2011
    As the gathered family settle in to their first Christmas together for some years, the grown siblings - Rodney, Johnny and Gwen - are surprised when they are invited to each put stickers on the furniture and items they wish to inherit from their parents.Disputed Land is narrated by Leonard and Rosemary's thirteen-year-old grandson, Theo, who observes how from these innocent beginnings age-old fissures open up in the relationships of those around him. Looking back at this Christmas gathering from his own middle-age - a narrator at once nostalgic and naïve - Theo Cannon remembers his imperious grandmother Rosemary, alpha-male uncle Johnny, abominable twin cousins Xan and Baz; he recalls his love for his grandfather Leonard and the burgeoning feelings for his cousin Holly. And he asks himself the question: if a single family cannot solve the problem of what it bequeaths to future generations, then what chance does a whole society have of leaving the world intact?

Bright Day


J.B. Priestley - 1946
    Priestley was especially fond of this novel of his: "I am not one for favourites," he wrote in the introduction to the Everyman edition, "and I have always been irritated by questions about my favourite this, that and the other. But if I have a favourite among my novels, it is Bright Day, which I wrote towards the end of the war."The novel was written towards the end of World War II. JBP disclaimed any autobiographical roots in the work, but it is nontheless resonent with his early youth and coincided with JBP's recoil from the commercial film world. Bright Day was the only serious novel that he wrote in the first person.Gregory Dawson, the novel's hero, is a middle-aged film script writer who goes off to Cornwall to complete a script. At his hotel he spots Lord and Lady Harndean, and realizes that they are the Malcolm and Eleanor Nixey he knew when he worked as a clerk in a Bruddersford wool firm. They represent the beginning of the break-up of the bright day which had preceded the year 1914, and thus the story starts to unfold...Vincent Brome, one of JBP's biographers, wrote: "Bright Day is one of Priestley's two most important and successful novels. The other is Angel Pavement."

Picking Bones from Ash


Marie Mutsuki Mockett - 2009
    And that is to be fiercely, inarguably and masterfully talented.No one knows who fathered eleven-year-old Satomi, and the women of her 1950s Japanese mountain town find her mother's restless sensuality a threat. Satomi's success in piano competitions has always won respect, saving her and her mother from complete ostracism. But when her mother's growing ambition tests this delicate social balance, Satomi's gift is not enough to protect them. Eventually, Satomi is pushed to make a drastic decision in order to begin her life anew. Years later, Satomi's choices echo in the life of her American daughter, Rumi, a gifted authenticator of Asian antiques. Rumi has always believed her mother to be dead, but when Rumi begins to see a ghost, she wonders: Is this the spirit of her mother? If so, what happened to Satomi?Picking Bones from Ash explores the struggles women face in accepting their talents, and asks what happens when mothers and daughters dare to question the debt owed each other. Fusing imagination and suspense, Marie Mutsuki Mockett builds a lavish world in which characters journey from Buddhist temples to the black market of international antiques in California, as they struggle to understand each other across cultures and generations."Marie Mockett brings postwar Japan into the 21st Century with sensitivity and grace, drawing the lives of three women to illuminate the tension between two cultures. Picking Bones from Ash is a lovely book."—KIT REED"In Marie Mockett's first novel—which ranges in confident and lovely prose from a mountain town in mid-century Japan to an antiques business in contemporary San Francisco—temples, ghosts, and oni demons aren't inert markers of exoticism: they're embedded in a lived web of human relationships and everyday tasks. Beginning in a world as solid as Jane Smiley's A Thousand Acres, Picking Bones from Ash takes the reader down a rabbit-hole as matter-of-factly supernatural as that of Haruki Murakami's Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. This wiry and delicate novel, as grounded as it is surreal, goes down like a tall glass of water. Except it's spiked: like Rumi, the younger of Mockett's two heroines, you will be haunted until you finish this book." —ELLIS AVERY"Remarkable and arresting, this debut has the pleasures of a fairy tale and a novel at the same time. Mockett probes the family mythology of a very peculiar line of talented Japanese women who may or may not be descended from the Princess of the Moon, and spins the tale of how they survived post-war Japan, modernity and life in America. A spellbinding new talent." —ALEXANDER CHEE "Mockett has made an impressive debut with Picking Bones from Ash. Here, she creates a fully-absorbing world with vivid characters who search for what was painfully lost to them. Mockett is a beautiful writer." —MIN JIN LEE, author of Free Food for Millionaires