Book descriptions

Five Novels by Carson McCullers: Classic Southern Gothic Fiction

Presented here is an overview of five novels by Carson McCullers (1917 – 1967), representing her body of long form fiction. Though known primarily for these books, she also wrote two plays, a number of short stories, children’s poetry, and other works.

Carson McCullers has earned a place among classic southern writers, along with William FaulknerFlannery O’Connor, and Tennessee Williams. Following each brief overview of these major works is a link to more in-depth reviews or analyses.

Most of McCullers’ work is set in the American South, centering on characters who struggle with loneliness and isolation. Her writing is associated with the genre known as Southern Gothic, defined by the Oxford Research Encyclopedia: Read More→

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Six Novels by Shirley Jackson: Psychological Thrillers by a Master

American author Shirley Jackson (1916 – 1965) was known for fiction and nonfiction works that have influenced generations of writers who came after her. Presented here are the six novels by Shirley Jackson that were published in her lifetime. If you’re looking for where to begin with Shirley Jackson’s books, start anywhere — they’re all engrossing reads.

Jackson remains best known for “The Lottery” (1948), her widely anthologized (and also widely banned) short story. This controversial work, published the same year as her first novel, put her on the literary map.

It’s not easy to categorize Jackson’s work. Psychological terror or thriller may come close, if one considers that Stephen King and Neil Gaiman have cited her as an influence. Her six novels and scores of short stories uncover the evil and ugliness that lurk just under the surface of propriety and social mores. Read More→

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Charlotte Brontë’s Novels: Jane Eyre, Shirley, Villette, & The Professor

Charlotte Brontë’s novels reflected  her romantic, yet deeply emotional approach to fiction writing. Coupled with her exquisite use of the English language, her brilliant novels — Jane Eyre, Shirley, and Villette — ensured her lasting stature in the world of literature. 

This survey, which includes The Professor (her least-known, much-rejected work, written before Jane Eyre and published only after her death), includes links to analyses and plot summaries of these iconic works of literature.

  • Jane Eyre, Charlotte’s best-known novel, is the story of the title heroine’s love for the inscrutable and reclusive Mr. Rochester and her quest for independence. Read More→

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Literary Ladies Guide to the Writing Life by Nava Atlas

Literary Ladies Guide to the Writing Life: Inspiration and Advice from Celebrated Women Authors Who Paved the Way by Nava Atlas (2011) is now available as an audiobook (updated and expanded) produced by Blackstone Publishing (2023).

The desire to put pen to paper has been described by many writers as an obsession that can’t be denied. Perhaps best expressed by author Anaïs Nin, who writes, “You write out of a deep inner necessity. If you are a writer, you have to write, just as you have to breathe…”

In Literary Ladies’ Guide to the Writing LifeNava Atlas presents a treasury of intimate glimpses into the unfolding writing process across fifteen brilliant careers in women’s literature and relates their struggles, striving, and successes to those experienced by women writers today. 

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A Strange Journey: Tove Jansson and The Moomins

The Moomins (Mumintroll in Swedish) were the most famous creation of Finnish-Swedish author and artist Tove Jannson. Though this beloved creator wrote and illustrated many other works for both children and adults, the names of Tove Jansson and The Moomins will be forever linked.

The family of round, white fairytale creatures — which resemble hippopotamuses first appeared in 1946, and were the central characters in a total of nine novels, four picture books, and a comic strip that ran for more than twenty years.

Although Tove was a prolific illustrator, painter, and writer for adults, the Moomins are her enduring legacy, beloved across Finland and the world, and still hugely popular today. Read More→

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