We’re always on the lookout for books that strike a chord with our readers. In our New & Notable series you’ll find selections that appeal to our editors and that we’d like to share. This week, the flaming butterflies in Barbara Kingsolver’s novel unsettled us; Ian MacEwan’s story of betrayal and intrigue tantalized us; and we were eager to discover even more depths in our remarkable founding father Thomas Jefferson.

 

Fiction | Contemporary  Women

Flight Behavior, by Barbara Kingsolver. Dellarobia Turnbow is a restless farm wife who gave up her own plans when she accidentally became pregnant at seventeen. Now, after a decade of domestic disharmony on a failing farm, she has settled for permanent disappointment but seeks momentary escape through an obsessive flirtation with a younger man. As she hikes up a mountain road behind her house to a secret tryst, she encounters a shocking sight: a silent, forested valley filled with what looks like a lake of fire. She can only understand it as a cautionary miracle, but it sparks a raft of other explanations from scientists, religious leaders, and the media. . . . As the community lines up to judge the woman and her miracle, Dellarobia confronts her family, her church, her town, and a larger world, in a flight toward truth that could undo all she has ever believed. (Excerpted from HarperCollins, publisher.)

Review

“Kingsolver has written one of the more thoughtful novels about the scientific, financial and psychological intricacies of climate change. And her ability to put these silent, breathtakingly beautiful butterflies at the center of this calamitous and noisy debate is nothing short of brilliant.” —The Washington Post

 

Fiction | Mystery

Sweet Tooth, by Ian MacEwan. Cambridge student Serena Frome’s beauty and intelligence make her the ideal recruit for MI5. The year is 1972. The Cold War is far from over. England’s legendary intelligence agency is determined to manipulate the cultural conversation by funding writers whose politics align with those of the government. The operation is code named “Sweet Tooth”. . . . Once again, Ian McEwan’s mastery dazzles us in this superbly deft and witty story of betrayal and intrigue, love and the invented self. (Excerpted from Doubleday, publisher.)

Review

“A wisecracking thriller hightailing between love and betrayal, with serious counter-espionage credentials thrown in . . . . This is ultimately a book about writing, wordplay, and knowingness.”  The Telegraph

 

Nonfiction | Biography | Presidents

Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, by Jon Meacham.  In this magnificent biography, the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of American Lion and Franklin and Winston brings vividly to life an extraordinary man and his remarkable times. Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power gives us Jefferson the politician and president, a great and complex human being forever engaged in the wars of his era. Philosophers think; politicians maneuver. Jefferson’s genius was that he could do both, often simultaneously. Such is the art of power. . . . Passionate about many things—science, architecture, gardens, friends, Monticello, and Paris—Jefferson loved America most, and he strove over and over again, despite fierce opposition, to realize his vision: the creation, survival, and success of popular government in America. (Excerpted from Random House, publisher.)

Review

“This terrific book allows us to see the political genius of Thomas Jefferson better than we have ever seen it before. In these endlessly fascinating pages, Jefferson emerges with such vitality that it seems as if he might still be alive today.”—Doris Kearns Goodwin