New in paperback April 1 – April 9

With wonderful weather this week, sidle over to Meridian Park, ease into the cradled roots of a tree and open a good book. Here are a few new paperbacks you may want to check out.

"Burial Rites" by Hannah Kent (Back Bay) “Burial Rites” by Hannah Kent (Back Bay)

Hanna Kent’s “Burial Rites” (Back Bay, $15), which is shortlisted for the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction, is about an Icelandic woman who awaits execution for the murder of two men. She’s been shuttled to a northern farm, where the resident family trembles at housing a criminal. But as the winter months pass and her death looms, they find her story is much different than the official account they’ve been led to believe. Reviewing for The Post, Steve Donoghue called “Burial Rites a “bleak and beautiful . . . wondrously adept novel.”

Cecilia Ross, the main character of Elizabeth Berg’s “Tapestry of Fortunes” (Ballantine, $15), is a motivational speaker who just can’t heed her own advice. Grieving after the loss of a friend, she packs up and moves into an old house in Saint Paul, Minn., where she bonds with three new housemates.

"The Fall of the House of Dixie: The Civil War and the Social Revolution That Transformed the South" by Bruce Levine (Random House) “The Fall of the House of Dixie: The Civil War and the Social Revolution That Transformed the South” by Bruce Levine (Random House)

Between December 1860 and June 1861, 11 southern states abandoned the union in order to preserve chattel slavery. “A war launched to preserve slavery succeeded instead in abolishing that institution more rapidly and more radically than would have occurred otherwise,” notes  historian Bruce Levine in his book “The Fall of the House of Dixie” (Random House, $17), an exhaustive study of the social transformation caused by the Civil War.

The whole world, it seems, is smitten with Pope Francis. Interested in the papacy? Check out Peter Eisner’s “The Pope’s Last Crusade” (William Morrow, $15.99). By 1938, the sinister rise of Nazi Germany troubled Pope Pius XI. He decided to condemn Hitler in a papal encyclical. The pope, who was ailing and near death after two heart attacks, tapped an American Jesuit to prepare the document, but powerful forces in the Vatican, including Cardinal Eugenia Pacelli, who would succeed Pius XI as pope in 1939, suppressed the document. Eisner’s book follows that effort and the repercussions it had on the church’s reputation.

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Timothy R. Smith · April 9, 2014