BookBrowse Highlights

Our latest Editor's Choice review is of Lars Mytting's The Bell in the Lake, the first volume of a fascinating historical fiction series based on Norwegian legend. The corresponding "beyond the book" article explores the architectural phenomenon of medieval stave churches.

This week, we also have an exciting variety of new titles available for members to request for First Impressions review and our Book Club.

We also have a new Wordplay, a new Culture Corner and a giveaway for And Now She's Gone, a darkly humorous thriller from Rachel Howzell Hall.

Very best,
For Members: Available to Request Now
Members! This month's First Impressions and Book Club books are now available. Request at before end of Saturday, October 17.
If you're not currently a member and wish to become one, join today, or renew your membership; then request a book by end of Saturday and you will receive it.

Books are mailed to members free of charge with the understanding that they'll do their best to either write a short review or join an online discussion, depending on whether the book is assigned for First Impressions or the Book Club.

Due to publisher restrictions, books are only available to US-residents. Members who take part fairly regularly generally receive about 3-4 books each year.
While only members can request books, anyone can sign up to receive notifications for upcoming discussions, and join in if they wish; and First Impressions reviews are available to all read.
Editor's Choice
The Bell in the Lake
by Lars Mytting
A legend from Lars Mytting's Norwegian hometown tells of two centuries-old church bells that, like conjoined twins, were never meant to be separated. Inspired by that story and by the real-life move of a stave church from Norway to what is now Poland, he embarked on a set of three novels in which history and myth mingle to determine the future of the isolated village of Butangen.

In Butangen in 1880, ancient stories still wield great power. Along with a crucifixion scene and a tapestry of the Day of Judgment, the church features carvings of Norse myths and imaginary creatures. In the tower are two commemorative bells cast to remember Halfrid and Gunhild Hekne, conjoined twin sisters and local weavers who died on the same day.

The church is to be taken down and reconstructed in Dresden. Meanwhile, Astrid Hekne, a maid at the parsonage, is completely bound to her father's household, as well as to the pastor's, and it is understood that when (not if) she marries everything that she owns will pass to her husband. As a descendant of the conjoined Hekne twins, Astrid considers herself the guardian of the Sister Bells and feels called to sabotage their removal ... continued
Beyond the Book: Stave Churches
It's no secret that Lars Mytting loves trees. He wrote a novel titled The Sixteen Trees of the Somme (2017), and is known for his international bestseller Norwegian Wood (2015), a nonfiction guide to sources of firewood that gives instructions on how to chop, stack and cure wood for burning. With The Bell in the Lake, he continues with the subject of wood as material by delving into Norway's architectural history, specifically its famous stave churches.

While stone cathedrals were constructed elsewhere in the Middle Ages, in parts of northern Europe wood was the building material of choice. More than 1,000 stave churches were assembled in Norway, mostly in the 12th to 14th centuries. The name refers to the type of timber framing used. Viking boat- and home-building skills were applied to these medieval churches, which feature intricate carvings of real and mythical animals (such as dragons), and combine Norse and Christian symbology.

The stave churches were typically constructed in rural valleys and fishing villages, and ranged from simple chapels like Undredal Stave Church, which only seats 40 people, to elaborate multi-level constructions with tiered roofs and turrets like Heddal Stave Church, Norway's largest ... continued
The Overlook Press. Historical Fiction. 400 pages. Published Sep 29, 2020
BookBrowse Rating: 4/5, Critics' Consensus: 4.2/5
Review and article by Rebecca Foster
Culture Corner
Each week, we're sharing a few links to cultural experiences you can access from home during the pandemic, such as online concerts, theater and art.

This week we look at the influence of renowned American artist Edward Hopper, and suggest a 14-minute video by Eyes On Cinema about the artist's impact on the world of film, including the famous director Alfred Hitchcock.
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And Now She's Gone
by Rachel Howzell Hall

About the Book
Isabel Lincoln is gone. But is she missing?

It's up to Grayson Sykes to find her. Although she is reluctant to track down a woman who may not want to be found, Gray's search for Isabel Lincoln becomes more complicated and dangerous with every new revelation about the woman's secrets and the truth she's hidden from her friends and family.

Featuring two complicated women in a dangerous cat and mouse game, Rachel Howzell Hall's And Now She's Gone explores the nature of secrets ― and how violence and fear can lead you to abandon everything in order to survive.

"[R]azor-sharp... Full of wry, dark humor, this nuanced tale of two extraordinary women is un-put-downable." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Smart, packed with dialogue that sings on the page, Hall's novel turns the tables on our expectations at every turn, bringing us closer to truth than if it were forced on us in school." - Walter Mosley
Forge Books. Thrillers. 384 pages. Published Sep 22, 2020
Solve our Wordplay puzzle to reveal a well-known expression, and be entered to win the book of your choice or a 6-month membership to BookBrowse!

"H F T Best, P F T W"
The answer to the last Wordplay: L N Take I C

"Let nature take its course"

Meaning: Don't try to change the inevitable.

According to the Random House Dictionary of America's Popular Proverbs and Sayings, this expression is first found in The Tale of Beryn which is one of a handful of stories that scholars generally believe to be later editions to Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales...
About BookBrowse
At BookBrowse, we believe that the very best books don't just entertain and engage, they also enlighten, wrapping us in their world, giving us a window into the lives of others or a mirror to reflect on ourselves. These are the books we seek out and feature on BookBrowse, both fiction and nonfiction.
Published every Thursday, BookBrowse Highlights is one of BookBrowse's four free newsletters. We also publish Publishing This Week every Sunday; and Book Club News and Librarian News monthly.
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