Tin Man

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Sarah Winman

First Sentence:     All Dora Judd ever told anyone about that night three weeks before Christmas 1950 was that she won the painting in a raffle.

Back of the book:

It begins with a painting won in a raffle: fifteen sunflowers, hung on the wall by a woman who believes that men and boys are capable of beautiful things.

And then there are two boys, Ellis and Michael,
who are inseparable.
And the boys become men,
and then Annie walks into their lives,
and it changes nothing and everything.

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The Evening Road

TER

Laird Hunt

First Sentence:     I was working the crank on the new pencil sharpener, feeding it fresh Ticonderogas, trying to get the points just right.

Back of the book:

Meet Ottie Lee Henshaw, a startling, challenging beauty in small-town Indiana. Quick of mind, she navigates a stifling marriage, a lecherous boss, and on one day in the summer of 1930, an odyssey across the countryside to witness a dark and fearful event.

Meet Calla Destry, a young black woman desperate to escape the violence of her town, and to find the lover who has promised her a new life.

Every road leads to the bedlam of Marvel, a town where lives will collide and be changed forever. Reminiscent of the works of Louise Erdrich, Edward P. Jones and Marilynne Robinson, The Evening Road is the story of two remarkable women on the move through an America riven by fear and hatred, and eager to flee the secrets they have left behind.

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Last Sentence:     How about this one?

A Thousand Paper Birds

ATPB

Tor Udall

First Sentence:     Jonah stands at the threshold.

Back of the book:

An intimate portrait of five inextricably linked lives, spanning one calendar year at Kew Gardens – an exquisite, strange and beautiful debut for fans of Alice Sebold, Curtis Sittenfeld, Barbara Kingsolver and Audrey Niffenegger

After the sudden death of his wife, Audrey, Jonah sits on a bench in Kew Gardens, trying to reassemble the shattered pieces of his life.

Chloe, shaven-headed and abrasive, finds solace in the origami she meticulously folds. But when she meets Jonah, her carefully constructed defences threaten to fall.

Milly, a child quick to laugh, freely roams Kew, finding beauty everywhere she goes. But where is her mother and where does she go when the gardens are closed?

Harry’s purpose is to save plants from extinction. Quiet and enigmatic, he longs for something – or someone – who will root him more firmly to the earth.

Audrey links these strangers together. As the mystery of her death unravels, the characters journey through the seasons to learn that stories, like paper, can be refolded and reformed. Haunted by songs and origami birds, this novel is a love letter to a garden and a hymn to lost things.

Quote from the book:

Once they are alone, their unspoken words pull taut between them like a tripwire.

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My Absolute Darling

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Gabriel Tallent

First Sentence:     The old house hunkers on its hill, all peeling white paint, bay windows, and spindled wooden railings overgrown with climbing roses and poison oak.

Back of the book:

At 14, Turtle Alveston knows the use of every gun on her wall;
That chaos is coming and only the strong will survive it;
That her daddy loves her more than anything else in this world.
And he’ll do whatever it takes to keep her with him.

She doesn’t know why she feels so different from the other girls at school;
Why the line between love and pain can be so hard to see;
Why making a friend may be the bravest and most terrifying thing she has ever done
And what her daddy will do when he finds out …

Sometimes strength is not the same as courage.
Sometimes leaving is not the only way to escape.
Sometimes surviving isn’t enough.

Quote from the book:

She climbs out of the bus and walks to where the rabbit lays on the dirt. She collars its feet, slits it from anus to throat, pulls its fur off like a bloody sock, and pitches the pelt into the brush.

 

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Midwinter Break

MB

Bernard MacLaverty

First Sentence:     In the bathroom Stella was getting ready for bed.

Back of the book:

Sixteen years on from his last novel, Bernard MacLaverty reminds us why he is regarded as one of the greatest living Irish writers. A retired couple, Gerry and Stella Gilmore, fly from their home in Scotland to Amsterdam for a long weekend. A holiday to refresh the senses, to do some sightseeing and generally to take stock of what remains of their lives. Their relationship seems safe, easy, familiar – but over the course of the four days we discover the deep uncertainties which exist between them.

Gerry, once an architect, is forgetful and set in his ways. Stella is tired of his lifestyle, worried about their marriage and angry at his constant undermining of her religious faith. Things are not helped by memories which have begun to resurface of a troubled time in their native Ireland. As their midwinter break comes to an end, we understand how far apart they are – and can only watch as they struggle to save themselves.

Bernard MacLaverty is a master storyteller, and Midwinter Break is the essential MacLaverty novel: accurate, compassionate observation, effortlessly elegant writing and a tender, intimate, heart-rending story – but it is also a profound examination of human love and how we live together, a chamber piece of real resonance and power. Forty years on from his first book, Bernard MacLaverty has written his masterpiece.

Quotes from the book:

“The first drink brings a little distancing—a concentration on another world—an ironing around shirt buttons, a smoothing of wrinkles.”

What Stella was missing was the rearing, the day-to-day grind of the rituals of love, the babysitting, the bathing, the book reading, the arms around, the cheek to cheek, the sheer physicality of it all. The first words. The first steps.

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