While fully acknowledging the fact that we sound like your English teacher: books can be transportative. It's just a simple fact—a really good piece of writing can make you forget where you are and immerse you in an entirely different world, even if it's just for the duration of a bus ride. Here, four books that invoke such a rich sense of place, you'll probably miss your stop.More
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
The Paris Wife tells the story of Hadley Richardson, the first wife of Ernest Hemingway, through their tumultuous years in Paris in the 1920s (after Hemingway's death, his memoirs from the period were published as A Moveable Feast). Escape to the French Riviera with the couple's friends (including F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda), glimpse inside Gertrude Stein's infamous salons, and drink absinthe with James Joyce at Parisian bistros. Sound glamorous? It is, but it's also heartbreaking. The story pulls you with similar conviction into the turmoil created by Hemingway's infidelity; you'll feel the pangs of isolation and betrayal right along with Hadley. It's an emotive look at the Lost Generation, as seen through the eyes of someone who was right there in its intoxicated, complicated heart.
The Paris Wife (Ballantine Books), $9, powells.com.
The Farm by Tom Rob Smith
Imagine you're sitting at home, 2,000 miles away from your parents, and get a call from your dad saying that your mom has been acting weirdly for the past few weeks and has just had a psychotic breakdown. He's worried for her, he says, and wants to make sure she gets the care she needs at a mental hospital. But what if, just two minutes after you hang up the phone with your dad, your mom calls you saying that everything your dad just said is a lie? She claims your dad has gotten involved in some insidious activities and is hanging out with a potentially murderous crew. Begging for help, she says she's coming to you and is going to tell the police everything. Stressful. Who would you believe? What would you do? This is the not-insignificant dilemma facing the protagonist, Daniel, in Tom Rob Smith's The Farm. Alone in his London apartment, he faces a test of loyalty no child should have to endure. As both parents rush to England to plead their case, a chase ensues—alongside a mystery. When Daniel travels back to his parents' farm in rural Sweden, the urgency of the situation—set against the bleak wintry backdrop—only heightens. Unraveling the conflicting accounts and engaging with the potentially precarious villagers, Daniel finds himself entrenched in a scheme even more ominous than he could have predicted. Or, is his mother making it all up? His father would certainly say so. This thriller asks the ultimate question: who would you trust?
The Farm (Grand Central Publishing), $11, powells.com.