5 Novels, 5 Intriguing Locations

Experience war-torn Europe, spend a winter in the Minnesota wilderness, learn about the intricate social structure of a beehive—and more 

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"The Bees"

by Laline Paull; Ecco


Laline Paull takes readers deep into the beehive in this strikingly original story about Flora 717, a worker bee whose insatiable curiosity spurs her unlikely rise to elite forager. But as she climbs the social ranks, Flora unwittingly commits an unthinkable crime, one that challenges the stature of the Queen. You’ll buzz through this novel as Flora attempts to defend the hive against both external predators and internal chaos, all while guarding her own terrible secret.


by Rebecca Rasmussen; Knopf


It’s the spring of 1939 and newlyweds Eveline and Emil have carved out a home for their newborn son, Hux, in an untamed stretch of Minnesota wilderness. But before fall descends on the old-growth forests, Eveline learns she is pregnant again—but not by Emil, who left town months before to tend to his dying father. She abandons the baby girl and speaks of her only once, on her deathbed some 15 years later. Tormented by the knowledge of a forsaken family member, Hux sets out to find his half sister—a wild, distant child who was raised an orphan—and bring her home.

"The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing"

by Mira Jacob; Random House


Concerned that her father suddenly believes he can converse with dead family members, Amina Eapen tries to understand what’s happening by tracing their family history all the way back to India in 1979. She cobbles together a portrait of the painful past, ultimately discovering a divisive argument that led to a devastating loss—one that haunted the family for years to come. 

"Above the East China Sea"

by Sarah Bird; Knopf


Though born 70 years apart and of different nationalities, Tamiko Kokuba and Luz James share striking similarities: Both lived in Okinawa, Japan, as teenagers, and both contemplated suicide after losing family members to war. Tamiko—whose story takes place after World War II—and Luz—who lost her sister in the Afghan war—both turn to the ancestral spirits, a cornerstone of Okinawan culture, for comfort. Through these indelibly intertwined lives, Bird tells a story that is at once tragic and triumphant: of war’s crushing effect on its innocent victims, and of the enduring power of community and tradition.

"Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932"

by Francine Prose; Harper Collins


Prose deploys an eclectic cast of characters, including an American writer and an actress turned baroness, to bring to life the cross-dressing woman in Brassaï’s famous photo “Lesbian Couple at Le Monocle, 1932.” As Prose tells the fictional story of the woman, who she names Lou Villars, readers are offered a realistic glance into the seductive and war-torn world of Europe in the 1930s.


Next: Life's Most Puzzling Questions: Insights and Answers from 5 Authors

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