Staff Picks: February 2011

The Red Garden

The Red Garden Book Cover

This book is a collection of stories that chronicle the history of Blackwell, a mythical town in Massachusetts. Each story takes place in a specific time period and focuses on different characters descended from the town founders. The stories are short and not directly related yet they piece together a fragmented picture of the town’s history. Recommended for those that like magical realism.

Lady of the Butterflies

Lady of the Butterflies Book Cover

This is the story of Eleanor Glanville, daughter of a Puritan landowner in the English moors during the 17th century. The marshy land that she lived on was abundant with butterflies. At that time butterflies were believed to be the souls of the dead and Eleanor's scientific study of butterflies had others believing she was mad. This historical romance shows the differences between Puritans and Catholics, and how they affected England politically and historically. A large part of the story involves Eleanor's love life and her struggle with her lovers over the decision whether or not to drain the marshes around her home. An excellent read for those who like historical fiction.

The Pox party / taken from accounts by [Octavian Nothing's] own hand and other sundry sources ; collected by M.T. Anderson of Boston

The Pox party / taken from accounts by [Octavian Nothing's] own hand and other sundry sources ; collected by M.T. Anderson of Boston Book Cover

In this young adult novel, the story is centered on Octavian and his mother, Cassiopeia, an African princess, who were sold into slavery before the birth of Octavian during pre-Revolutionary War in America. Octavian is an experiment for the Novanglian College of Lucidity in Massachusetts to be studied for his African intellect and ethnicity in order to see if he can be successfully educated in comparison to white people. Anderson writes from the point of view of Octavian and we, the reader, see Octavian believing his life is normal to coming to the realization that his life is nothing more than a test. Octavian’s story, albeit fiction, really is an amazing account of the life of those living in slavery and their hope for freedom.