During the final week of every month, we, the Paperback Paris team, come together to share our thoughts on the best books we read.
Check out the list, below, to find out which books made our Staff Picks selections this time around!
Leah Rodriguez’s January 2019 Pick: The Wife, Meg Wolitzer & Home Fire, Kamila Shamsie
On The Wife: I finished this one at just the right moment—the night before Glenn Close one a Golden Globe for her role as Joan Castleman in the film adaptation of Wolitzer’s fantastic book. I haven’t seen the film, but if it captures any of the novel’s brilliance, the praise is well-deserved. Originally published in 2005, The Wife is an examination of the Castleman’s marriage. Joan has been married to Joe Castleman, a widely revered novelist, for nearly four decades. For years, she has nurtured his talent, supported him on book tours, and raised their children, begging the question, Who wouldn’t want a wife?
The narrative shifts from the present, where Joe is about to receive a prestigious literary award, and the past, beginning with the affair that led to their marriage. Wolitzer is a master of layering detail upon detail, dropping hints that lead to a major revelation at the end of the book. But, I have to admit, I have never been angrier at the end of a book. (Amazon, $12.99)
On Home Fire: Kamila Shamsie’s latest novel—winner of the 2018 Women’s Prize for Fiction—re-imagines Sophocles’ tragedy, Antigone. Told from the perspective of five characters in five locations, Shamsie incorporates the central plot of her source material: a plea for the repatriation of a body. Each character explores the angles of this dilemma through the lens of Muslim identity in the West. The novel’s ending is the best I’ve read in a long time. (Amazon, $9.77)
Paris Close’s January 2019 Pick: Inheritance, Dani Shapiro
I first glanced at Dani Shapiro’s Inheritance days before turning 27 last October; I was with a friend at a coffee shop, freshly distraught over a stupid boy, browsing through a future release catalog when I came upon Shapiro’s memoir. In it, she writes of the day an innocuous DNA test revealed her since-deceased father was, in fact, not her biological father at all. What’s more, further sleuthing unveils she is a product of artificial insemination and her donor is well alive.
Shapiro has spun a swift, warm and wise-worded memoir of a daughter’s tenacious journey through time, heredity, and buried secrets — a white-knuckled hunt for one’s parentage, one’s home. We as spectators can only imagine how she marches on without collapsing under the weight of such circumstances. Despite her emotional stumbles, the author does not fall but relies on the superhuman strength of intuition — and it was in the book’s innermost fragile moments that made Inheritance a one-of-a-kind experience. By its end, we come to realize the complexities of Orthodox Jewish faith, the unspoken modes of family planning, and most of all, the relentless, indestructible power of unconditional love. I will cherish Inheritance for the rest of my life. (Amazon, $15.79)
(Thank you, Knopf, for sending me this book, and thank you, Shapiro, for sharing your magnificent story — wishing you love and peace of mind.)
Rachel Gonzalez’s January 2019 Pick: Ghosted, Rosie Walsh
This month I was obsessed with Ghosted by Rosie Walsh, even though it only took me about a day and a half to read. It’s such a contemporary concept of the woes of finding love in the digital age but with the added classical element of true love and love at first sight. From the first page, you think you know what you’re getting yourself in to, but Walsh really manages to lure you in before closing the trap on your mind. If you like love stories filled with heartache, relatable adult characters, and twists that will literally make you gasp, go get Ghosted. (Amazon, $14.49)
Melissa Ratcliff’s January 2019 Pick: A Court of Thorns and Roses, Sarah J. Maas
Staggeringly complex and beautiful in comparison to the somewhat bland A Court of Thorns and Roses, Sarah J. Maas shattered my expectations and earned a spot as one of my favorite fantasy romance authors with A Court of Mist and Fury. Dark, dangerous and captivating, Maas paints a portrait of a perfect fairy tale before shattering it completely, not just by breaking up Tamlin and Feyre’s oppressive relationship, but by spinning new tales and juxtaposing dark and light in her world-building and creatures, from the eerie Bone Carver to the hauntingly beautiful, yet gruesome Weaver. Alongside a captivating plot, she pairs two broken characters together in Rhysand and Feyre who are without a doubt one of the strongest couples in romance, not to mention equal in every way. Rich in setting, complex in world-building, and deeply passionate and erotic when it comes to romance, A Court of Mist and Fury was delightful, dark and heartbreaking, which made it a perfect fantasy romance. (Amazon, Check on Amazon)
(Read our reviews on Sarah J. Maas’ series here)