Editor’s picks: Novels

ARTHUR

The Story of Arthur Truluv: A Novel by Elizabeth Berg, Random House, US $26.00, Pp 226, November 2017, ISBN 978-1400069903

The Midnight Line: A Jack Reacher Novel by Lee Child, Delacorte Press, US $28.99, pp 384, November 2017, ISBN 978-0399593482

Crimes of the Father: A Novel by Thomas Keneally, Atria Books, US $26.00, Pp 352, October 2017, ISBN 978-1501128486

Eighty-year-old Arthur Moses has been leading a very monotonous life for the last six months. In the morning, he tends to his rose garden and his cat, Gordon, after which he takes a bus to the graveyard where his late wife is buried. He eats his lunch in or around the graveyard. He never expected to have an unlikely encounter with an eighteen-year-old girl, Maddy Harris, which was to completely change his life. Maddy Harris is an introspective lonely girl who regularly visits the cemetery to stay away from her classmates. One afternoon she joins Arthur which is the beginning of an unlikely and surprising friendship between two lonely hearts. Maddy Harris is moved by Arthur’s kindness and devotion and gives him the nickname “Truluv.” Then, suddenly, Arthur’s neighbor Lucille also comes closer to them and leads to the making of an unlikely trio band. The three help one another rediscover their own potential to start from scratch. This brilliantly written novel explores human psychology and the philosophy of life. It shows how small acts can turn friends into family and how they lead to a happy life. Elizabeth Berg’s powerful characters are from real life. You will find some of them around you if you pay attention. Elizabeth Berg has very sharp eyes to see through the minds of her characters. She is an addictive writer.

Elizabeth Berg is the author of many bestselling novels including Open House, Talk Before Sleep, and The Year of Pleasures as well as the short stories collection The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted. Durable Good and Joy School were selected as ALA Best Books of the Year. She was a finalist for the ABBY for Talk Before Steep. Her novels have been translated into twenty-seven languages. She has also taught a writing workshop at Radcliffe College.

*****

Reacher is stunned when he accidentally sees a class ring in a pawn shop window in a small Wisconsin town as he passes by. The class ring says: “West Point 2005.” It was a tough year to graduate — first Iraq, then Afghanistan. This tiny ring seems to have belonged to a woman and has her initials engraved on the inside. It must have been her tough luck that forced her to give up something she had earned over four hard years. He decided to look for the woman and return the ring if he succeeds in finding her. The search takes him through the upper Midwest, from a lowlife bar on the sad side of small town to a dirt-blown crossroads in the middle of nowhere. There comes a point when Reacher feels the terrain is becoming dangerous. He would soon learn that the ring was just a small link in a far darker scandal. Powerful people are behind the criminal group. He learns how dangerous it was to cross the lines he did. The Midnight Line is an enchanting and haunting mystery. Lee Child is a formidable storyteller who knows the art of weaving a story full of suspense. It’s a gripping novel.

Lee Child’s debut, Killing Floor, won both the Anthony and the Barry awards for Best First Mystery, and The Enemy won both the Barry and the Nero awards for Best Novel. “Jack Reacher,” the film based on the 9th novel, One Shot, stars Tom Cruise, Robert Duvall, Rosamund Pike, Jai Courtney, and David Oyelowo and debuted in December 2012. Child, a native of England and a former television director, lives in New York City and the south of France with his wife and daughter.

*****

When they failed to stop him from campaigning against the Vietnam War, apartheid, the church sends Father Frank Docherty to Canada where Father Frank Docherty adopts a satisfying career as a psychologist and monk. Later, as a member of the commission investigating sex abuse within the Church, he returns to his native Australia to lecture on the future of celibacy and the Catholic Church. But he is pulled into the lives of two people—a young man, via his suicide note, and an ex-nun. Both of them have been sexually abused by a prominent monsignor. Being a man of character and conscience, Docherty decides to confront each party involved and try to bring the matter to the attention of both the Church and the secular authorities. The consequences for doing this are dire. Crimes of the Father explores is a story of a priest who decides to speak up and tells the truth. It is what a person of faith should be in the modern world. A person of faith needs to have a lot of courage in the modern world where sin is cloaked in sacrament and shame enforces silence. Thomas Keneally is known for heart-rending real-life stories. Crimes of the Father is another such story.

Thomas Keneally has published thirty-two novels, most recently Shame and the Captives and the New York Times bestselling The Daughters of Mars. His novels include Schindler’s List, which won the Booker Prize in 1982, The Chant of Jimmie BlacksmithGossip from the Forest, and Confederates, all of which were shortlisted for the Booker Prize. He has also written several works of nonfiction, including his boyhood memoir Homebush BoyThe Commonwealth of Thieves, and Searching for Schindler. He is married with two daughters and lives in Sydney, Australia.