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The best novels of 2010

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The Totally Hip Video Book Reviewer picks the best novels of 2010.

LORD OF MISRULE , by Jaimy Gordon (McPherson, $25). This novel abounds with observations about horses, money and luck. Gordon has completely mastered the language of the racetrack and formed it into an evocative and idiosyncratic style. Winner of the National Book Award. -Jane Smiley

MAJOR PETTIGREW'S LAST STAND , by Helen Simonson (Random House, $25). A smart romantic comedy about a refined British gentleman finding love and diversity late in life. -R.C.

MAN IN THE WOODS , by Scott Spencer (Ecco, $24.99). An agonizing question hovers over this thriller: Will two decent people have their happiness destroyed because of a senseless encounter with an unbalanced man? -P.A.

MATTERHORN , by Karl Marlantes (Atlantic Monthly, $24.95). This Vietnam War novel reads like adventure, and yet it makes even the toughest war stories seem a little pale by comparison. -David Masiel

THE OTHER FAMILY , by Joanna Trollope (Touchstone; paperback, $15). The story of two families firmly divided yet irrevocably connected by the man who was the biological father in both households. -Reeve Lindbergh

OUR KIND OF TRAITOR , by John le Carr (Viking, $27.95). A Russian moneylender presses a young British couple to help him retire from his dangerous profession. If a better thriller has been published this year, I'd like to see it. -Dennis Drabelle

THE PASSAGE , by Justin Cronin (Ballantine, $27). This spectacular vampire saga - first in a planned trilogy - stitches together scraps of classic horror and science fiction, techno thrillers and apocalyptic terror. -R.C.

PHANTOM NOISE , by Brian Turner (Alice James, $16.95). Turner's poetry shows us soldiers who are invincible and wounded, a nation noble and culpable, and a war by turns necessary and abominable. -Courtney Cook

PRIVATE LIFE , by Jane Smiley (Knopf, $26.95). In the course of this brilliantly imagined, carefully chiseled story, Smiley introduces a rich cast of characters, a virtual rush of Californian diversity. A quantum leap for this author. -Marie Arana

SAVAGE LANDS , by Clare Clark (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25). The struggling French colony of Louisiana provides a richly atmospheric backdrop for the intertwined lives of three settlers who are newcomers to this unwelcoming terrain. -Sybil Steinberg

SELECTED STORIES , by William Trevor (Viking, $35). Wry, wistful, slice-of-life stories that have been likened to those of Anton Chekhov because of their acute observations, limpid prose, and subtlety of presentation. -Ron Hansen

SHADOW TAG , by Louise Erdrich (Harper, $25.99) A tense little masterpiece of marital strife that recalls the novelist's tragic relationship with the late writer Michael Dorris. -R.C.


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