Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness
Synopsis: One day, Susannah Cahalan woke up in a strange hospital room, strapped to her bed, under guard, and unable to move or speak. Her medical records show psychosis, violence, and dangerous instability. Susannah’s astonishing memoir chronicles the swift path of her illness and the lucky, last-minute intervention led by one of the few doctors capable of saving her life. He asked Susannah to draw one simple sketch, which became key to diagnosing her with a newly discovered autoimmune disease in which her body was attacking her brain, an illness now thought to be the cause of “demonic possessions” throughout history.
Christy Says: Imagine you are just going about your life as usual when all of a sudden you start to feel like you are going crazy, literally. Doctors can’t figure out what is wrong with you, and test after test, scan after scan comes back negative, meaning there is no medical reason for you to act this way. This is both an amazing and terrifying story of a young woman who suddenly develops a mysterious illness that is extremely difficult to diagnose and is masked as insanity. Although she is unable to remember a large period of time, Susannah does an outstanding job of piecing it together with the help of her family and doctors who cared for her during her hospital stay to write this memoir.
Call Number: 616.832 CAH
Synopsis: Previously filmed in 1935 with Ann Harding, Enchanted April, a romantic novel by Elizabeth, was remade in 1992. The first film skips along superficially at 66 minutes: the second, directed by the always intriguing Mike Newell, runs 101 minutes, allowing for richer characterizations and a bottomless reserve of brilliant dialogue. Two cloistered, married English woman (Josie Lawrence, Miranda Richardson) impulsively rent an Italian villa and embark upon a vacation without their spouses. They are joined by two other ladies: the high-flown aging widow Joan Plowright, and elegant upper-crust beauty Polly Walker, whom they’ve never met. Under the spell of an exotic new location, the foursome are in for quite a few life-altering experiences, many of them amusing, and not a few very surprising. Impeccably accurate in its recreation of European manners and mores in the 1920s, Enchanted April is sheer bliss from fade-in to fade-out.
Donna Says: Brenda Bowen will publish her debut adult novel, Enchanted April, in June. It is a contemporary rendering of Elizabeth von Arnim’s 1922 novel, Enchanted April. Bowen’s update is on my “To Read” list but it prompted me to select the movie Enchanted April, staring Miranda Richardson, Joan Plowright, and Alfred Molina as my May staff pick. It is a charming period piece with beautiful locations and cinematography that explores love, hope and friendship. I highly recommend viewing this movie during spring. Who knows, it may even get you excited to try Bowen’s novel this summer.
Call Number: ADVD ENC
Lady Catherine, the Earl, and the Real Downton Abbey
Synopsis: Lady Catherine, the Earl, and the Real Downton Abbey tells the story behind Highclere Castle, the setting for Julian Fellowes’s Emmy Award – winning PBS show Downton Abbey, and the life of one of its most famous inhabitants, Catherine Wendell. In this companion piece to Lady Almina and the real Downton Abbey, Catherine, a beautiful and spirited American woman who married Lady Almina’s son, the man who would become the 6th Earl of Carnarvon, presides over the grand estate during a tumultuous time for the British aristocracy. Following the First World War, many of the great houses of England faded as their owners fortunes declined in the new political and social world of the 1920s and 1930s. As the war loomed, Highclere’s survival of the family home of the Carnarvons was again in the balance as was peace between the nations of Europe. Elizabeth Says: If you are like me and already miss Downton Abbey, this is a great way to pass the time until season 6. The events of lady Catherine’s life aren’t quite as melodramatic as the Crawley family’s (nothing really is that melodramatic). Lady Catherine’s marriage to the 6th Earl of Carnarvon wasn’t without its ups and downs. Unlike its predecessor, this book branches out from Highclere Castle to give us a look at events of the time, including the abdication crisis of King Edward and World War II. Perfect for Anglophiles, Downton Abbey fans, and general history buffs. Call Number: 941.082 CAR Eye of the Needle Ken Follett Synopsis: One enemy spy knows the secret to the Allies’ greatest deception, a brilliant aristocrat and ruthless assassin – code name: “The Needle” – who holds the key to ultimate Nazi victory. Only one person stands in his way: a lonely Englishwoman on an isolated island, who is beginning to love the killer who has mysteriously entered her life. All will come to a terrifying conclusion in Ken Follet’s unsurpassed and unforgettable masterwork of suspense, intrigue, and the dangerous machinations of the human heart. Megan Says: I never thought I would enjoy an action spy thriller until I discovered Eye of the Needle. This is a brilliantly written high powered page turner. Follett’s character development is lavish and well executed. He’s got my attention and I am greatly looking forward to more Follett thrillers. Call Number: F THR FOL The Captive Grace Burrowes Synopsis: Captured and to tortured by the French, Christian Severn, Duke of Mercia, survives by vowing to take revenge o nhis tormentors. Before the duke can pursue his version of justice, Gillian, Countess of Greendale, reminds him that his small daughter has suffered much in his absence, and needs her papa desperately. Gilly endured her difficult marriage by avoiding confrontation and keeping peace at any cost. Christian’s devotion to his daughter and his kindness towards Gilly gives her hope that she could enjoy a future with him, for surely he of all men shares her loathing for violence in any form. Little does Gilly know, the battle for Christian’s heart is just beginning. Nina Says: If we starred staff picks, this would be one. An amazing, meaty, intelligent blend of romance and historical fiction. If you love the former, read this book. If you love the latter, read this book. I repeat, if you love historical fiction and would never pick up a book with this kind of cover with what you think is sappy romance – because this book is anything but sappy – read this book. If you have to put a book cover on it , that’s fine. As long as you Read. This. Book. You’ll be glad you did. And after you read this book, you’ll be doubly glad it’s the first in a series. Call Number: ROM F BUR H is for Hawk Helen MacDonald Synopsis: When Helen MacDonald’s father suddenly died on a London street, she was devastated. An experienced falconer, Helen had never before been tempted to train one of the most vicious predators, the goshawk, but in her grief, she saw that the goshawk’s fierce and feral temperament mirrored her own. Resolving to purchase and raise the deadly creator as a means to cope with her loss, she adopted Mabel, and turned to the guidance of The Once and Future King author T.H. White’s chronicle The Goshawk to begin her challenging endeavor. Projecting herself “in the hawk’s wild mind to tame her” tested the limits of MacDonald’s humanity and changed her life. Heart-wrenching and humorous, this book is an unflinching account of bereavement and a unique look at the magnetism of an extraordinary beast, with a parallel examination of a legendary writer’s eccentric falconry. Obsession, madness, memory, myth, and history combine to achieve a distinctive blend of nature writing and memoir from an outstanding literary innovator. Randall Says: Although she was already a practiced falconer, it was not until the sudden and devastating loss of her father that MacDonald set out to raise and train her first goshawk. This book is at once a portrait of bereavement and an honest account of the bond humans and animals are capable of forming. Macdonald’s prose is beautiful and polished: “Deep in the muddled darkness six copper pheasant feathers glowed in a cradle of blackthorn.” Wild, humorous, and heart-breaking: H is for Hawk will appeal to readers who enjoy memoirs and nature writing. Call Number: 598.944 MAC