The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert — This is a pleasingly ambitious historical novel about the life of a nineteenth-century female botanist. It seems cliche to use the word “sweeping,” but that really does describe the experience of reading this novel. It deals with science, love, family, and perhaps most strikingly, female sexuality, all within the context of one woman’s intellectual quest to describe the natural world.
Euphoria by Lily King — This is the story of a love triangle between anthropologists, based loosely on events in Margaret Mead’s life. King’s writing is gorgeous and the characters are well-realized. The subject is fascinating, the setting vivid, the plot suspenseful. All of this ties in for a perfect read!
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark — This lovely short novel somehow captures perfectly a beloved teacher’s influence, positive and negative, on young students. It’s very difficult for writers to describe such a fleeting, ephemeral thing, yet somehow Spark does it in a way that’s timeless and touching.
The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton — This classic is really worth reading. Wharton is a master of describing the nuances of forbidden love, within the context of wealthy late nineteenth-century New York. It’s entertaining and heartbreaking and suspenseful all at once. If you love reading about love, this subtle, beautiful novel is for you!
What did you read this summer? Post your recommendations in the comments!