4 Paperbacks for Your Beach Bag

Since beach season has officially started, our recommendations this week will be short: towel, drinks, straw hats, and novels you won’t be able to put down! Louise Erdrich’s Larose, Javier Marias’s Berta Isla, Molly Keane’s Fragiles Serments, and Peter Heller’s Celine made our list.

Reading List

Berta Isla by Javier Marias

“He would never be able to tell her about his current exploits or his past assignments or missions, about the life he lived when he was away from her. Berta had to accept this and she did: there was a zone or a dimension of her husband that would remain forever in darkness, always just beyond her field of vision and her hearing, the untold tale, the half-closed or myopic or, rather, blind eye: a life she could only imagine or speculate about.”

How well –– if at all –– can we know the person we’re living with?

Berta Isla is the breathtaking portrait of a magnificent, lively and energetic woman, mother of two children and wife of the secret agent Tomás Nevinson, a man trained to embody betrayal as “principle, guide and method.”

Identity and deceit take center stage in this flamboyant account of a marriage, which also covers 50 years of Spanish history. Mysterious and sublime, Berta Isla is a towering achievement.

Berta Isla by Javier Marias, trans. from the Spanish by Marie-Odile Fortier-Masek, ed. Folio/Gallimard

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LaRose by Louise Erdrich

“Our son will be your son now……It’s the old way.” By accident, Landreaux has killed the son of Peter and Nora, his neighbors –– and in-laws. So in accordance with the Ojibwe tradition, he and his wife Emmaline decide to give their own son, Larose, up for adoption to Peter and Nora. This act of atonement sets off a chain of events that will take years to move past.

Entangled family tragedies, magical realism, razor sharp dialogue, magnetic storytelling: everything that has made Erdrich’s fiction unique in American literature are present in LaRose. LaRose is a masterful, spellbinding exploration of grief and pain, proving once more that Erdrich is one of the most talented and fearless writers at work today!

LaRose by Louise Erdrich, trans. from the English by Isabelle Reinharez, ed. Livre de Poche / Albin Michel

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Fragiles Serments by Molly Keane

In the mood for a melancholic social comedy, where twists, turns, and witty descriptions abound? Then look no further than Fragiles Sentiments to bring along on your summer travels.

Silverue –– an enchanting Irish mansion –– is bursting with life. John, the prodigal son, is returning from a “long travels abroad”–– a euphemism for a stay at a mental asylum. Blessed with wealth and beautiful children, Lady Bird, John’s mother, has little to worry about except for the passing of the years and John’s mental troubles. To help her through the potentially awkward occasion of his return, Lady Bird has enlisted the support of Eliza, a woman she believes to be her confidante. But Eliza has her own secrets, and John’s homecoming will prove to be the catalyst for revelations which Lady Bird would have preferred stay buried in the past.

Molly Keane has a knack for revealing the secrets of the decaying Irish aristocracy. With much wit and insight, she chronicles their shameful secrets, failures, treacheries, neglected childhoods, and lonely existences. Delightful!

Fragiles Serments by Molly Keane, trans. from the English by Cécile Arnaud, ed. La Petite Vermillon, La Table Ronde

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Céline by Peter Heller

Celine is an elegant, aristocratic private eye who has made a career of tracking down missing persons. So when Gabriela, a young woman, asks for her help with the unexplained disappearance of her father, Céline accepts. This investigation leads her to the border of Montana and Wyoming, where Gabriela’s father went missing. He was assumed to have died from a grizzly mauling, but his body was never found. As the two women explore Yellowstone National Park trying to revive a trail gone cold, it becomes clear that they are being followed. Who might want to keep this case closed?

Combining his hallmark exquisite plotting and gorgeous evocation of nature with a wildly engrossing story of family, privilege, and childhood loss, Peter Heller gives us his finest work to date.

Celine by Peter Heller, trans. from the English by Céline Leroy, ed. Babel / Actes Sud

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After almost two decades of working in publishing, and a few round trips between Paris and New York, Miriam has decided to settle down at Albertine to do what she enjoys most: recommending books she loves. Somehow this also includes taking bizarre pictures for Albertine's social media outlets.
Other recommendations by Miriam Bridenne