Winner of the 2015 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award
From the orange desert of rural Australia to the snowy wastes of Siberia, from a Colorado jailhouse to a town square in northern England, Carys Davies’ characters traverse expanses of solitude: restless teenagers, middle-aged civil servants, and Quaker spinsters contend with domestic abuse, marital strife and a myriad of other challenges—revealing, through their struggles, the secrets of the human heart.
The seventeen stories in this lauded collection—written with prickly wit and punch, “as if Mark Twain and Annie Proulx had sat down at a desk together”—established Carys Davies among the strongest literary voices in Britain.
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa See, “one of those special writers capable of delivering both poetry and plot” (The New York Times Book Review), a moving novel about tradition, tea farming, and the bonds between mothers and daughters.
In their remote mountain village, Li-yan and her family align their lives around the seasons and the farming of tea. For the Akha people, ensconced in ritual and routine, life goes on as it has for generations—until a stranger appears at the village gate in a jeep, the first automobile any of the villagers has ever seen.
“My father proposed to my mother at gunpoint when she was nineteen, and knowing that she was already pregnant with a dean man’s child, she accepted.”
Thus begins this riveting story of a woman’s quest to understand her recently deceased mother, a glamorous, cruel narcissist who left her only child, Elsie, an inheritance of debts and mysteries. While coping with threats that she suspects are coming from the cult-like spiritual program her mother belonged to, Elsie works to unravel the message her dying mother left for her, a quest that ultimately takes her to the South African family homestead she never knew existed.
On a summer evening in 1931, Lilly Blackwood’s mother grabs her from her attic bedroom and takes her outside for the first time in her life. At nine years old, she has never seen the other rooms of her home, let alone smelled the outdoors. Her mother claims to keep her caged for her own protection—that people would be horrified if they saw what she looked like. But on this unforgettable night, Lilly’s mother expels her from her attic sanctuary. And sells her to the traveling circus sideshow.
More than two decades later, nineteen-year-old Julia Blackwood is finally orphaned.
He was nine when the vines first wrapped themselves around him and burrowed into his skin. Now a college botany major, Jeremy is desperately looking for a way to listen to the plants and stave off their extinction. But when the grip of the vines becomes too intense and Health Services starts asking questions, he flees to Brooklyn, where fate puts him face to face with a group of climate-justice activists who assure him they have a plan to save the planet, and his plants.
As the group readies itself to make a big Earth Day splash, Jeremy soon realizes these eco-terrorists’
Kevin Pace is working on a painting that he won’t allow anyone to see: not his children, not his best friend Richard, not even his wife, Linda. The painting is a canvas of twelve feet by twenty-one feet (and three inches) that is covered entirely in shades of blue. It may be his masterpiece or it may not; he doesn’t know or more accurately doesn’t care.
What Kevin does care about are the events of the past. Ten years ago he had an affair with a young watercolorist in Paris. Kevin relates this event with a dispassionate air,