Every weekday we feature a different review on Booklist Online. These reviews are notable for different reasons—they may be starred, or high-demand, or especially relevant to the current issue’s spotlight. We’ve collected the reviews from April 25–29 below, so you can revisit the best of the week.
Monday April 25
Marlene, by C. W. Gortner
Gortner, the author of Mademoiselle Chanel (2015), provides a fictional biography of yet another iconic twentieth-century female. From the racy, ribald cabarets of Weimer-era Berlin to the glitz and glamour of golden-era Hollywood, the beguilingly androgynous and fiercely passionate Marlene Dietrich, born Maria Magdalena Dietrich into a respectable middle-class family, fairly leaps off every page. The first-person voice lends an air of intimacy and immediacy to the narration, as Marlene relates her metamorphosis from a repressed German violin student into a sexually liberated international film star.
Tuesday April 26
The Moon’s Almost Here, by Patricia MacLachlan and illustrated by Tomie dePaola
Working his usual magic, dePaola illustrates this gentle good-night story featuring the mime Pierrot and his redheaded child. Waiting for the moon to rise, the two walk through the meadow toward home. They observe robins returning to the nest for bedtime and a mama sheep hurrying her lambs home as the sun goes away. Simple rhyming text tells the story: “The moon’s almost here. / Mama duck drifts to shore. / Ducklings swim after: / One, two, three, four.”
Wednesday April 27
A Hero of France, by Alan Furst
Furst has typically set his acclaimed espionage novels in the years just prior to WWII. This time, though, he moves the clock forward, to the war itself, as he did in his masterful The World at Night (1996). It’s March 1941, and the French Resistance is being born in the efforts of an intrepid group of Parisians dedicated to rescuing downed British fliers. Mathieu is the leader of a cell having great success at saving the fliers—so much so that his efforts have not gone unnoticed by both the British, who want to turn the incipient movement into a strike force capable of sabotage, and by the Germans, who want to squelch it before it spreads.
Thursday April 28
And I Darken, by Kiersten White
Lada and Radu, adolescent daughter and son of Wallachian Prince Vlad Dracul, are hostages held by the Ottoman Empire to assure their father’s cooperation with the Turks. Radu settles in and builds a life over time, while prickly Lada continues to dream of home. The Sultan’s son, Mehmed, soon claims them as companions, and the three grow up together planning for his time on the empire’s throne.
Friday April 29
She Poured Out Her Heart, by Jean Thompson
Following her canny variations on fairy tales in The Witch (2014), Thompson resumes her excavation of the fraught psychology underlying everyday life in her seventh novel, a tale of besieged friendship between two very different women. Quiet and watchful Jane and edgy and outspoken Bonnie meet in college, then take divergent paths. Jane becomes a doctor’s wife and a vigilant, full-time mother in the suburbs.