The BookShelf |

The BookShelf

“The Story of Edgar Sawtelle” by David Wroblewski.

Set in Wisconsin, this deeply nuanced epic tells the story of a boy, his dog, and much more.

Father, son, and even dog take turns narrating before the story is told primarily by the inexplicably mute Edgar Sawtelle.

Part mystery, part “Hamlet,” the story opens with a sinister and seemingly unrelated scene that begins to make sense as the narrative progresses.

The rich depiction of Edgar’s family, who are breeders of unique dogs, creates a warm glow that contrasts sharply with the cold evil that their family contains.

This tension, along with a little salting of the paranormal, makes this an excruciatingly captivating read.

Readers examine the concept of choice, the choice of the dogs in their relationship with people, and the choice of people in their acquiescence to or rejection of their perceived destiny.

Ultimately liberating, though tragic and heart wrenching, this book is unforgettable.

“Moscow Rules” by Daniel Silva.

Gabriel Allon, art restorer, master spy, and sanctioned assassin, returns in Silva’s 11th thriller about terrorism in our violent world.

After the murder of an informant in St. Peter’s Basilica, Allon is sent to the newly wealthy but corrupt Moscow to stop arms dealer Ivan Kharkov from selling sophisticated weapons to al-Qaida.

Allon is caught and expelled after some nasty nights in a Russian prison.

If the Russians won’t play fair, then it’s up to Allon and the rest of Israel’s intelligence network to do the job.

The key to Kharkov is his wife, Elena, who collects the works of a particular American artist, and Allon’s art background enables him to get close to her.

This results in an intricate dance that is a masterwork of technology and human foibles.

Like all plans, however, Allon’s go awry, and this leads to a tense and exciting conclusion.

Silva’s just improves with each new book.

“Chosen Forever” by Susan Richards.

Richards reflects on how rich life becomes when one travels one’s own best path.

Orphaned early in life, Richards struggled to connect with the world until a horse named Lay Me Down taught her how to trust another creature and to love deeply.

These hard-learned lessons became her emotional bedrock.

As she chronicles her travels across the country to promote her very successful book “Chosen by a Horse,” she is stoically honest about her battles with anxiety and alcoholism.

Book tours are far from glamorous, and Richards allows her readers a rare glimpse into what goes through the mind of a nervous author as she wipes sweaty palms on her black trousers on the way to the podium to read.

But she does meet her future husband, Dennis Stock, along the way. A talented photojournalist, he gently and determinedly woos her, believing that fate brought them together.

Richards writes more courageously than she perhaps realizes, and each page of this uplifting book will touch a chord in everyone.

“Living in a Foreign Language” by Michael Tucker.

The actor Michael Tucker and his wife, the actress Jill Eikenberry, having sent their last child off to college, were vacationing in Italy when they happened upon a small cottage nestled in the Umbrian countryside.

The 350-year-old Rustico sat perched on a hill in the verdant Spoleto valley amid an olive grove and fruit trees of every kind.

For the Tuckers, it was literally love at first sight, and the couple purchased the house without testing the water pressure or checking for signs of termites.

Shedding the vestiges of their American life, Michael and Jill endeavored to learn the language, understand the nuances of Italian culture, and build a home in this new chapter of their lives.

Both a celebration of a good marriage and a careful study of the nature of home, “Living in a Foreign Language” is a gorgeous, organic travelogue written with an Epicurean’s delight in detail and a gourmand’s appreciation for all things fine. (New in trade paper)

“Shadow of the Silk Road” by Colin Thurbron. The Silk Road was an ancient trade route between China and the Mediterranean Sea, extending 7,000 miles and linking the Celestial Empire with the Roman one.

Marco Polo followed the route on his journey to Cathay. Thurbron chronicles his trip along the legendary road from China into the mountains of Central Asia, across northern Afghanistan and the plains of Iran, and into Kurdish Turkey.

He vividly describes the people he meets, the restaurants he eats in, the hotels in which he stays, and the beauty of the mountains, rivers, deserts, and trees.

He talks to policemen, traders, farmers, camel drivers, and a band of pilgrims kneeling in the dunes to pray; he takes pleasure in remembering “food palaces worked by waitresses in crimson and gold-frogged uniforms who were giggling and careless” and an old woman asleep by a holy spring, her head resting on the gnarled trunk of a tree.

This is an illuminating account of a breathtaking journey. (New in trade paper)


Compiled by manager Susan Beck at The Book Seller, 107 Mill Street, Grass Valley, 272-2131. Hours are Mon. through Fri. 9:30 a.m. – 7 p.m., Sat. 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., and 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Sunday.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User