Google Search

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Weekend book picks: 'How It Ends,' 'City of Women'

What should you read this weekend? USA TODAY's picks for book lovers go international, with a touching love story set in Ireland, and a compelling historical novel about World War II Berlin, a "city of women."

This Is How It Ends
By Kathleen MacMahon; Grand Central, 346 pp., $24.99; fiction

Craving a novel about family ties and romance? This summer serves up This Is How It Ends.

Irish writer Kathleen MacMahon's debut novel takes place in Ireland in 2008 in the run-up to the U.S. presidential election. It centers on Bruno Boylan, a middle-aged American who, on his first trip to his father's homeland, falls in love with Ireland and Addie Murphy. She's a bit of a loner, caring for her dad and doting on her sister's young children.

They give each other a go and though a future together seems tenuous — Bruno is waiting to go back to the U.S. if and only if Obama is elected — their love seems life-changing and then is tested by tragedy.

USA TODAY says *** out of four. "Readers mourning the loss of Irish author Maeve Binchy may find a new friend in MacMahon, who delivers a similar sort of family drama well suited to drowsy afternoons and a cup of tea with a packet of tissues nearby."

City of Women
By David R. Gillham; Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam, 392 pp., $25.95; fiction

City of Women is the story of Sigrid Schröder, a (fictional) stenographer in 1943 Berlin whose husband is off on the front lines. She has a secret in her recent past, an affair with a Jewish man. When she has the opportunity to help a resistance group, we know before she does that she will take it.

USA TODAY says *** out of four. "The author's impeccable research, realism and tenderness … make fiction seem like a viable tool for reminding ourselves of history as it truly happened."

The Great Escape
By Susan Elizabeth Phillips; William Morrow, 420 pp., $25.99; fiction

Presidential first daughter turned runaway bride Lucy Jorik leaves her groom at the altar. A sullen biker and a small island in Lake Michigan help her heal.

USA TODAY says **** out of four. "Phillips' novels — funny, sweet, insightful — set the gold standard in contemporary romance."

On the Island
By Tracey Garvis Graves; Plume, $15, 328 pp., paperback original; fiction

A 30-year-old teacher and her 16-year-old student are stranded on a deserted Maldives island for 3½ years. Not as icky as it sounds.

USA TODAY says *** out of four. "From shark attacks to sex scenes, On the Island defines guilty pleasure."

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
By Rachel Joyce; Random House, 325 pp., $25; fiction

When a woman he had once known but not seen in 20 years writes to say she's dying of cancer, Harold Fry takes his inadequate response to the nearest mail box. Rather than mailing it, he keeps walking — from one end of England to the other, for 87 days and 627 miles.

USA TODAY says **** out of four. A "remarkable debut novel … a gentle adventure with an emotional wallop."

For more information about reprints & permissions, visit our FAQ's. To report corrections and clarifications, contact Standards Editor Brent Jones. For publication consideration in the newspaper, send comments to Include name, phone number, city and state for verification. To view our corrections, go to

View the original article here