Tag Archives: Cape Cod and the Islands

What to Read after The Goldfinch: The Orphans of Race Point by Patry Francis @HarperPerennial

cover imageI’m deep into a severe blogging slump right now, but have to tell you about The Orphans of Race Point by Patry Francis. It’s the book you’re going to want to read this summer – in case you haven’t heard.

I was lucky enough to receive a review copy of The Orphans of Race Point, the second novel by Patry Francis (after The Liar’s Diary), and have been raving about it to anyone who will listen ever since. If you recently finished reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt and wondered what sprawling, Dickensian novel everyone would be reading next…this is it.

Instead of London, Las Vegas, or New York City, the tangled lives of two motherless children Gus and Hallie, and their friend Neil, unfold mostly on the beaches and narrow streets of Provincetown – on the outermost tip of Cape Cod – and in the seacoast city of New Bedford, Massachusetts, where there is also a large Portuguese-American community. Tragedies, misunderstandings, and missed opportunities pile up for the three young friends, after a violent act by Gus’ father brings them together, setting them on their course for life. Fate lies heavily on the characters, as the book explores true love, fatherhood, human behavior, the human spirit, and what about ourselves can be changed.

I think the cover design makes it clear that The Orphans of Race Point isn’t a thriller (although some of the promotion seems to me to make it sound that way.) It’s literary fiction with a strong story line that touches on big ideas but focuses on the personal. In The Orphans of Race Point, the characters and the story share center stage, giving it the heft you want in a long novel (over 500 pages) and events and action that keep you turning pages. The perfect summer read for the beach or the cottage! (Or for wintertime. Or anytime, really. But why wait, and risk hearing spoilers?)

It would also make a great book club book, and has a reading group guide included.

For anyone in the area of the Brockton Public Library, the author is going to be speaking and reading from The Orphans of Race Point this Saturday, June 14, at 2 p.m. Hope to see you there!

The Orphans of Race Point
Francis, Patry
Harper Perennial
May 6, 2014
$15.99, softcover

Disclosure: I received an advanced reading copy of this book from Library Journal for review and gave it a starred review. I also met the author at a book signing in Brockton after the publication of her first novel, The Liar’s Diary, which is pretty different from The Orphans of Race Point, but also excellent!

Other opinions (all very good to excellent):
Bookalicious Mama
The Book Wheel

Doing Dewey
TLC Tours (for other blog tour reviews)


The Postmistress & Blackout

The heroism of Londoners as they took shelter during nightly bombing raids and carried out their business in as close an approximation to usual as possible during the day quickly become legendary. Two recent novels — The Postmistress and Blackout — give readers a sense of how it might have been to live through the London Blitz, while Americans were divided on what to do.

Given a big publicity boost by Katherine Stockett, author of The Help, The Postmistress by Sarah Blake will be popular with the same readers, but has the added bonus for us of a Massachusetts connection. Confident and strong, Iris James is the postmaster (not postmistress) in the fictitious Cape Cod town of Franklin in 1940, where Emma Fitch has just moved to join her husband, a young doctor. Country after country is falling to the Germans, President Roosevelt is promising Americans their boys are “not going to be sent into any foreign wars,” and plucky radio correspondent Frankie Bard is bucking male chauvinism in broadcasting, reporting heartrending stories of the Blitz that bring the war home to American listeners.

If you’re an audiobook reader, try The Postmistress on audio, narrated by Orlagh Cassidy. (The only problem with an otherwise excellent audio version is that the characters with broad Boston accents sounded more like Mainers to me.) Like The Help, The Postmistress is a good story, grounded in American history, with strong female characters, and many poignant moments.
Read The New York Times review of The Postmistress here.

Blackout, the new book by science fiction author Connie Willis, is also about the London Blitz and other historical turning points in England during World War II.
Set in the same time-travel universe as The Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog, Blackout’s storyline is continued in All Clear, which isn’t coming out until fall. (!) Readers will have to wait to find out what happens to the time-traveling young historians in Blackout, whose cautiously laid plans for safe travel in and out of London and surrounding areas during crucial periods in World War II history have gotten them in to observe the casual heroism of ordinary Brits, but aren’t working to get them — ordinary historians now in crisis themselves — back to their own time.
Read The Washington Post review of Blackout here.
Check availability of Blackout in the OCLN catalog here.