During the month that boasts St. Patrick's Day, it's appropriate that the parade of new books includes novels by three popular Irish novelists -- Maeve Binchy, Morgan Llywelyn and Patrick McCabe.
Although all three stories are set in Ireland, their themes are quite different: One is a family saga, one is historical fiction and one is a dark comedy.
These books are among the latest hardcovers, which include novels by Catherine Cookson and Thomas Fleming; and nonfiction, including books about the Roosevelts, the U.S. space program, a famous racehorse, and a mysterious Arctic expedition.
"Scarlet Feather" (Dutton)
This is the cover of "1921," published by Forge. (AP Photo)
By Maeve Binchy
Contemporary Dublin is where Cathy Scarlet and Tom Feather, friends from cooking school, launch a catering business called -- yep, Scarlet Feather -- despite opposition from their families. They find that the recipe for success has some glitches: Cathy's bratty twin niece and nephew; Cathy's sister, who returns from America wanting an authentic Irish wedding; and a relative whose financial troubles endanger Scarlet Feather.
By Morgan Llywelyn
This is the second novel in "The Irish Century" series about Ireland's fight for independence. Henry Mooney, a character based on Llywelyn's grandfather, is a newspaper reporter and self-described "moderate nationalist" who tries to report the news fairly. His personal problems include a rift with a longtime friend who has opposing political views.
"Emerald Germs of Ireland"
By Patrick McCabe
In his dark old house in a small Irish town, Pat McNab, 45, spends plenty of time sitting by the window, nibbling on toast and reflecting upon the good times he spent with his mother -- you know, before he murdered her. His reverie is often interrupted by nosey visitors, including Mrs. Tubridy, who hasn't seen Mrs. McNab at bingo lately; the door-to-door turf salesman; and Police Sgt. "Kojak" Foley.
"Kate Hannigan's Girl"
(Simon & Schuster)
By Catherine Cookson
Cookson died in 1998, leaving behind some unpublished manuscripts, including this -- her 100th book. The setting is the English countryside a century ago. The title character is the free-spirited Annie, who enjoys privileges her mother didn't have, including material comforts and a loving family. When Annie falls in love, she has to deal with a jealous rival and with a childhood friend who wants Annie for himself.
"When This Cruel War Is Over"
By Thomas Fleming
The cruel war is the Civil War, which, by 1864, had claimed thousands of victims with no end in sight. A clandestine revolutionary organization, the Sons of Liberty, wants to end the war and create a new nation separate from the Union and the Confederacy. A major in the Union Army faces a dilemma when he is recruited to spy on the Sons of Liberty: The woman he loves is a courier for the group and faithful to its cause.
"The Three Roosevelts"
By James MacGregor Burns
and Susan Dunn
Three biographies for the price of one: the intertwining lives of Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. The book shows how Theodore's politics influenced his distant cousin Franklin, creator of the New Deal and president during the Great Depression and World War II; and first lady Eleanor (Theodore's niece), who championed the causes of women, minorities and the poor.
"A World Made New"
By Mary Ann Glendon
This chronicle of the creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights focuses on the role played by Eleanor Roosevelt, head of the international team of men and women who wrote the bill. Created shortly after the end of World War II, the declaration incorporated FDR's four freedoms and defined the rights to which everyone in the world should be entitled. Glendon had exclusive access to unpublished letters and diaries of key participants.
"Flight: My Life in Mission
By Chris Kraft
Kraft recalls his career with NASA, for which he created and headed the Mission Control command center. Topics include Scott Carpenter's nearly disastrous Aurora 7 mission; the choice of Neil Armstrong as the first person to walk on the moon; the scandal for which several astronauts were suspended; and the possibility of a manned Mars landing.
"Seabiscuit" (Random House)
By Laura Hillenbrand
A horse is an underdog in the "Cinderella" story of Seabiscuit, an unsuccessful racehorse that became a champion -- a record-setter and crowd-pleaser, and the biggest newsmaker of 1938. After struggling at racing's lowest levels. Seabiscuit was bought for a bargain price and entrusted to two trainers -- one a mustang breaker, the other a failed prizefighter and failing jockey. The rest is horse history.
"Trial by Ice" (Ballantine)
By Richard Parry
A century-old mystery surrounds the death of Capt. Charles Francis Hall, who led a sea expedition from New York to the North Pole in 1871 and never returned. En route, conflicts developed between the crew and officers. Then Hall became ill and died, and suspicion arose that he had been murdered. A handful of survivors returned seven months later without the ship.
-- "Eclipse" (Knopf) by John Banville. A famous but failing actor returns to his childhood home.
-- "Border Crossing" (FSG) by Pat Barker. A man tries to help another sort out his life after preventing his suicide.
-- "Paradise Park" (Dial) by Allegra Goodman. A woman's search for spiritual self-discovery begins when her boyfriend abandons her far from home.
-- "Easy Silence" (St. Martin's) by Angela Huth. A comfortable marriage is jeopardized by two attractive young people.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.