Award-winning author Darin Strauss’ new novel, The Queen of Tuesday, is based on the life of Lucille Ball, star of the silver screen and Hollywood’s first true female mogul. She acted in and produced widely popular sitcoms including, I Love Lucy, The Lucy Show, and Life with Lucy.
The Vignes twins, Stella and Desiree, grow up together in a small, southern, black community. Mallard is a town that Desiree longs to escape. And so, aged sixteen, the twins run away to New Orleans in search of somewhere new. It is here that their lives diverge. When Stella takes on a new job, she “passes” as white and becomes involved with her employer. It isn’t long before she abandons her sister, leaving her family forever. Despite the miles and decades of silence between them, Stella and Desiree will always be intertwined. When their own daughters meet coincidentally many years later, the secrets and lies of their mothers’ past collide.
As veterans, Archie and Samad are bonded by memories of World War II (and one troubling memory in particular that unfolds throughout the novel). Much later in life, Archie, an awkward, luckless, mediocre man, marries a much-younger Jamaican woman named Clara and they have a daughter named Irie. Samad, a strong-minded yet down-trodden man, enters into an arranged (somewhat loveless marriage) with Alsana and together they have twin boys. Set against the backdrop of 1980s north west London, the novel looks at the many ways in which families and cultures intersect and try to survive in less-than-easy circumstances.
The Nolans are an Irish American family living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn at the turn of the 20th century. Francie and Neely Nolan know what it is to grow up in poverty as their parents, Katie and Johnny, struggle to get by. With an alcoholic father and a stoic mother, this is a story about Francie (and the Nolan women who came before her) - an imaginative, thoughtful, resourceful girl with boundless resilience in the face of hardship.
It’s 1939, at the beginning of the Second World War and the Germans have just invaded Paris, where a young woman named Odile Souchet lives and works as a librarian. Running parallel to Odile’s story in war-torn France, some 40 years later, we meet a girl named Lily who has befriended her elderly neighbour - Odile.
Last week, I posted a review of Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, published in 2013. Seven years earlier, Adichie wrote Half of a Yellow Sun, a novel set in the 1960s during the Biafran war. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the end of civil war in Nigeria. Adichie’s novel portrays the experiences of survivors and, through its powerful words, urges the world not to forget the tragic events that led to the surrender of Biafra.