Marisa Silver reimagines the story behind Dorothea Lange's famous Depression-era photo, Migrant Mother. In Silver's story, two women — photographer and subject — briefly cross paths, and a contemporary professor of cultural history uncovers a mystery captured in the resulting photo.
Basing his career on the work of disgraced 17th-century set designer Adriano Lavicini, New Expressionist stage designer Egon Loeser leaves Weimar Republic Berlin to pursue a disinterested woman. He arrives in Los Angeles, where a Caltech physicist is trying to develop a teleportation device.
Fourteen-year-old Doug Swieteck has just moved to a new town where he doesn't have any friends. His teachers and the police think of him as a "skinny thug." He finds his way to the library, where he discovers John James Audubon's Birds of America. When he notices that some of the pages are missing, he resolves to track them down.
St. Petersburg, 1917. After Rasputin's body is pulled from the icy waters of the Neva River, his 18-year-old daughter, Masha, is sent to live at the imperial palace with Tsar Nikolay and his family. Desperately hoping that Masha has inherited Rasputin's healing powers, Tsarina Alexandra asks her to tend to her son, the headstrong prince, Alyosha, who suffers from hemophilia. Soon after Masha arrives at the palace, the Bolsheviks place the royal family under house arrest. As Russia descends into civil war, Masha and Alyosha find solace in each other's company.
In the spring of 1950, Coral Glynn arrives at an isolated mansion in the English countryside to nurse the elderly Edith Hart. There, Coral meets Hart House's odd inhabitants: Mrs. Prence, the perpetually disgruntled housekeeper; and Major Clement Hart, her charge's war-ravaged son. When a child's game goes violently awry in the nearby woods, a great shadow descends upon its residents.
When her master's son, the father of her four children, reneges on his promise to free her in 1832 South Africa, Philida, a slave, lodges a complaint against the family. After being sold to a new owner, she journeys to the north of Cape Town, where she tests the limits of her freedom.
Lady Philippa Marbury, known as Pippa, is a bit ... odd. More interested in books and plants than men, she's about to be married but knows little of the marriage bed. So she enlists a scoundrel, the well-known rake Mr. Cross, to help her do some research.
Peter Carey's hero and heroine, Catherine and Henry, are separated by 150 years. What brings them together is an enormous, 19th-century mechanical duck. Catherine, a horologist, or clock expert, is restoring it in the present day. It's a distraction from the sudden death of her married lover. More than a century earlier, Henry commissions the duck as a giant toy for his beloved but very sick child. As the two narratives unfold, the duck becomes a swan, and many of its inner workings are revealed. That's not exactly true, however, for the difficult, mysterious characters who populate the book.
Tara Conklin's debut novel links the stories of Lina Sparrow, a 21st century lawyer, and Josephine Bell, an artistically talented 19th century slave. As Josephine plans her escape from a Virginia plantation, Lina goes in search of the perfect plaintiff for a slavery reparations lawsuit.
Jilted by her fiance, Quaker Honor Bright leaves the comfort of her native England for the harsh frontier farmland of 1850 Ohio. Among strangers and feeling the pressures of an alien world, Honor struggles to ford a cultural divide wider than the Atlantic she just crossed. And soon a new urgency takes hold: Honor joins the Underground Railroad, aiding runaway slaves in their escape to freedom.
In belle epoque Paris, the Van Goethem sisters struggle for survival after the sudden death of their father, a situation that prompts young Marie's ballet training and her introduction to a genius painter.