We’re always on the lookout for books that may strike a chord with our readers. In our New & Notable series you’ll find weekly picks that appeal to our editors and that we can’t help but share. Our selections this week (a) “provide proof that being a writer’s wife is a profession in itself,” (b) recount the inspiring story of Marie Tharp, the woman who mapped the ocean floor, and (c) pull at our heartstrings with a story of love in a time of war.


Biography | Literary
The Wives: The Women Behind Russia’s Literary Giants, by Alexandra Popoff

In Russian literary marriages, the wives of some of the most famous authors of all time did not resent taking a “secondary position,” although to call their position secondary does not do justice to the vital role these women played in the creation of some of the greatest literary works in history. Many of these women were the writers’ intellectual companions and made invaluable contributions to the creative process. Living under restrictive regimes, many of these women battled censorship and preserved the writers’ illicit archives, often risking their own lives to do so.  (Excerpted from Pegasus Books, Publisher.)


Taking in turn the wives of Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Mandelstam, Nabokov, Bulgakov and Solzhenitsyn, Popoff shows the nunlike devotion of these women . . . Fascinating proof that being a writer’s wife is a profession in itself.” ~ Kirkus Reviews


Earth Sciences | Women’s History
Soundings: The Story of the Remarkable Woman Who Mapped the Ocean Floor, by Hali Felt

Before Marie Tharp, geologist and gifted draftsperson, the whole world, including most of the scientific community, thought the ocean floor was a vast expanse of nothingness. Through sheer willpower and obstinacy, Marie earned the job of interpreting the soundings (records of sonar pings measuring the ocean’s depths) brought back from the ocean-going expeditions of her male colleagues. The marriage of artistry and science behind her analysis of this dry data gave birth to a major work: the first comprehensive map of the ocean floor, which laid the groundwork for proving the then-controversial theory of continental drift. (Excerpted from Henry Holt and Co., Publisher.)


“Felt’s biography reimagines [Tharp’s] progression from a nomadic childhood through scientific breakthroughs with a vivid, poetic touch, revealing an idiosyncratic and determined woman whose ‘vigorous creativity’ advanced everyone’s career but her own.” ~ Publisher’s Weekly


Literature | Fiction | Historical
City of Women by David Gillham

It is 1943—the height of the Second World War—and Berlin has essentially become a city of women. Sigrid Schröder is, for all intents and purposes, the model German soldier’s wife: She goes to work every day, does as much with her rations as she can, and dutifully cares for her meddling mother-in-law, all the while ignoring the horrific immoralities of the regime. But behind this façade is an entirely different Sigrid, a woman who dreams of her former lover, now lost in the chaos of the war. Her lover is a Jew. (Excerpted from Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam, Publisher)


“The author’s impeccable research, realism and tenderness are important. They make fiction seem like a viable tool for reminding ourselves of history as it truly happened—and not simply as it affects us.”  ~USA Today






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