Did you enjoy A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True by Brigid Pasulka, the February 2023 selection for our Facebook Book Club? Looking for more sweeping family drama? Check out these titles. Then head over to the group to find out what March’s book will be and join in on our community conversations.
The Good Left Undone by Adriana Trigiani
This sweeping epic follows three generations of the Tuscan Cabrelli clan as they deal with war, heartbreak, and family secrets. Octogenarian Matelda Roffo, knowing her days are numbered, reveals to her children and grandchildren the truth about her mother Domenica’s seldom-discussed first marriage to a Scottish sea captain. The looming war takes him away, but the two run into each other in Glasgow, Scotland, a year later and decide to marry. Tragedy strikes and Domenica returns to Tuscany to make a life for herself and her newborn Matelda. In the present, Matelda’s revelations send ripples across the family and change the trajectory of her granddaughter’s life. Trigiani’s lush descriptions and trademark acute attention to family dynamics make this saga of family and legacy one to savor.
Lost Souls of Leningrad by Suzanne Parry
The 1941 siege of Leningrad has fascinated novelists time and again. This debut historical novel was inspired by Parry’s longstanding interest in Russia. Her heroines are teenage Yelena and her widowed grandmother, Sofya. They face mortal perils as Hitler assaults the heart of Russia. Starvation is inevitable as food depots are bombed and winter arrives. The women are buoyed by the love of their sweethearts. Sofya’s lover is an admiral, but she has kept an immense secret from him for decades. Yelena’s young lover drives in the convoys that supply the city from Lake Ladoga. Sofya and Yelena perform heroic deeds but also bad acts as they struggle to survive. With the Russian attack on Ukraine fresh in the imagination of readers, the wartime horrors of the siege and the emotional toll on the victims ring true. Parry has transformed her impressive research into a vigorous story of how love vanquishes despair.
Something Unbelievable by Maria Kuznetsova
An overwhelmed new mom discovers unexpected parallels between life in twenty-first-century America and her grandmother’s account of their family’s escape from the Nazis in this sharp, heartfelt novel. Larissa is a stubborn, brutally honest woman in her eighties, tired of her home in Kiev, Ukraine–tired of everything really, except for her beloved granddaughter, Natasha. Natasha is tired as well, but that’s because she just had a baby, and she’s struggling to balance her roles as a new mother, a wife, a struggling actress, and a host to her husband’s slacker best friend, Stas, who has been staying with them in their cramped one-bedroom apartment in upper Manhattan. When Natasha asks Larissa to tell the story of her family’s Soviet wartime escape from the Nazis in Kiev, she reluctantly agrees. Larissa recounts the nearly three-year period when she fled with her self-absorbed sister, parents, and grandmother to a factory town in the Ural Mountains where they faced starvation, a cholera outbreak, a tragic suicide, and where she was torn in her affections for two brothers from a wealthy family. But neither Larissa nor Natasha can anticipate how loudly these lessons of the past will echo in their present moments.
The Nesting Doll by Alina Adams
Spanning nearly a century, from 1930s Siberia to contemporary Brighton Beach, a page turning, epic family saga centering on three generations of women in one Russian Jewish family–each striving to break free of fate and history, each yearning for love and personal fulfillment–and how the consequences of their choices ripple through time.
Moving from a Siberian gulag to the underground world of Soviet refuseniks to oceanside Brooklyn, The Nesting Dolls is a heartbreaking yet ultimately redemptive story of circumstance, choice, and consequence–and three dynamic unforgettable women, all who will face hardships that force them to compromise their dreams as they fight to fulfill their destinies.
The Night Travelers by Armando Lucas Correa
Correa unfurls a stunning multigenerational story involving WWII Germany and the Cuban Revolution. In 1931 Berlin, poet Ally Keller gives birth to Lilith, her daughter with jazz musician Marcus, a Black German man. After Marcus goes missing, and as Germany marches toward war, Ally fears Lilith may be targeted by the Nazis because of her skin color, so she begs her Jewish neighbors, Beatrice and Albert Herzog, to take seven-year-old Lilith with them to Cuba. As Lilith adapts to life in Cuba with the Herzogs, she befriends Martín Bernal, and they eventually marry. But Martín’s alliance with Batista’s government puts him in danger when Fidel Castro comes to power, forcing him to leave Lilith and their daughter Nadine alone after he is captured, and Lilith arranges for Nadine to leave Cuba for the U.S., where she’s adopted by an American couple. Years later, Nadine attends college in Germany, and while working as a scientist at a research center in Berlin, her interest in her heritage leads her to information about her birth mother’s early years.