Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Featured Author: Sheila Kohler

"When my sister died a violent death thirty years ago in apartheid South Africa, my writing took a new turn.  I was driven to explore the reasons for violence within intimate relationships, in particular, the abuse of power and privilege. Since then I have published nine novels, three collections of short stories, and several others not yet collected, all of which focus in some way on this theme. They represent my attempt to delve into the mysteries of hate and anger, and of love and compassion, as well.  I am hoping that you will share them with me."
~Sheila Kohler, from her website

Author Sheila Kohler's books reflect her own life's journey, set as they are primarily in contemporary South Africa or in France (during the Revolution, WWII, and the end of the 20th century) - Kohler was born in Johannesburg, studied and married in Paris, and moved to the United States only after her children were grown.  Her first story was published in 1987, and her first collection of short stories was published in 1990. Kohler's third novel, Cracks, was made into a feature film in 2009 starring Eva Green. She has won the O. Henry Prize, the Willa Cather Prize, and the Antioch Review Prize, and has been published in O Magazine, the Yale Review, and the Boston Globe. Kohler teaches at Bennington College and Princeton University.  Her books have been called "mesmerizing", "tender", "elegantly disturbing", "graceful", "subtle and sharp"; NoveList Plus compares her to Claire Messud, Michael Cunningham, and Tolstoy. You can see videos of her reading from her books and being interviewed on her website and also read some of her published articles.

Set in a girls' school in a remote corner of South Africa in the early 1960s, Cracks is a haunting, mesmerizing story of young girls caught up in a drama of passion, longing, and identity...a singular and stunning tale of the passion and tribalism of adolescence, an explanation of time and memory, and of the carnal violence that lies at the heart of the most innocent. [from the blurb]

Children of Pithiviers
In Children of Pithiviers, a pair of young sisters escape deportation and find shelter with a local aristocratic couple known to all as Madame and Monsieur. Seventeen years later, a beautiful young Sorbonne student arrives to spend the summer as a "paying guest" of Madame and Monsieur, whose fortunes have diminished considerably since the war. Eighteen-year-old Deirdre discovers a diary kept by the two Jewish girls. In doing so, she not only learns their fate, but reawakens old suspicions, and old appetites on the estate. [from the blurb]

Bluebird, or, The Invention of Happiness
A sweeping historical novel, Bluebird, or The Invention of Happiness is based on the life of Lucy Dillon, an eighteenth-century French aristocrat. Wrenched from the court of Marie Antoinette by the Reign of Terror, the brave and resilient Lucy escapes with her family to the freedom and hardships of a newly independent America, where, on a dairy farm in the Hudson River Valley, she discovers a new life - and her true self. [from the blurb]

Becoming Jane Eyre
A beautifully imagined tale of the Brontë sisters, Becoming Jane Eyre delicately unravels the connections between one of fiction's most indelible heroines and the remarkable woman who created her.

Love Child
The compelling story of a forbidden marriage, a baby lost, and a love triangle gone horribly wrong, Love Child centers on Bill, a slightly disreputable white woman in Johannesburg who came of age, married, had children, and was widowed, all within the confines of South Africa's English enclave.

In 1978, Dawit, a young, beautiful, and educated Ethiopian refugee, roams the streets of Paris. By chance, he spots the famous French author M., who at sixty is at the height of her fame. Seduced by Dawit's grace and his moving story, M. invites him to live with her. He makes himself indispensable, or so he thinks. When M. brings him to her Sardinian villa, beside the Bay of Foxes, Dawit finds love and temptation—and perfects the art of deception.

Note: all book descriptions are taken from the "More Details" section of the book's record in the library catalog, unless otherwise noted.

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