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OLM Favorites: Macaroni and Cheese

December 1st, 2017
16

“You come as opportunely as cheese on macaroni” is a terrible line, a symptom of all the reasons George Eliot’s Romola is a failure. But is failure really such a bad thing? Maybe a novelist’s reach should exceed her grasp.

From the Archives: No Trace of Lipstick

October 1st, 2017
From the Archives: No Trace of Lipstick

An outstanding new biography argues convincingly that Olivia Manning is one of the most undervalued woman novelists of the 20th century. But was Manning a “woman novelist”? She thought not.

Over the Top

March 1st, 2017
Over the Top

An ambitious new novel joins a long and illustrious parade of writers in telling the story of WWI as a tale of innocence lost.

Mind the Gap

January 1st, 2017
Mind the Gap

A new historical thriller hearkens back to the sensation novels of the 1860s, offering up a twisty tale of murder and madness. But can it live up to its predecessors?

Infinitesimal Jest

October 1st, 2016
Infinitesimal Jest

Ian McEwan’s latest novel has an ingenious premise–but does it deliver on its promise? Rohan Maitzen reviews Nutshell.

Read, Write, Love

September 1st, 2016
Read, Write, Love

When Pulitzer Prize winner Jhumpa Lahiri abandons English for Italian, she learns as much about herself as about her new language.

From the Archives: Summer Reading 2012

July 1st, 2016
From the Archives: Summer Reading 2012

As the haze and heat of summer kick into full swing, the folk of Open Letters break out their annual Summer Reading recommendations!

Comfort and Joy

June 1st, 2016
Comfort and Joy

Mary Balogh’s Survivors’ Club novels are romances, which means they tell hopeful stories about people whose struggles end happily. Why should that optimism earn them such disdain?

Discussion: Middlemarch for Book Clubs

May 2nd, 2016
lucyreadseliot

Open Letters Senior Editor Rohan Maitzen discusses her new ebook, Middlemarch for Book Clubs

Answer in Paradox

April 1st, 2016
Answer in Paradox

An intimate new biography gives us a Charlotte Brontë for our times – and raises questions about the entanglement of life and art.

Our Year in Reading 2015

December 1st, 2015
Our Year in Reading 2015

In the course of the year, many, many books cross the paths of OLM’s editors, and the end of the year is a natural time for reflecting on that endless stream. Our editors each pick a book from their year-in-reading that stood out from the rest.

The One Who Gets Wounded

December 1st, 2015
The One Who Gets Wounded

Adam Johnson’s stories cast us adrift in moral, emotional, even existential uncertainties; the only reassurance they offer lies in the excellence of the fiction itself.

Pen and Tell Her

November 1st, 2015
Pen and Tell Her

Elizabeth Gilbert wants you to be creative, without fear. Whatever brings you to life, whether it’s learning a dance, writing a song, or drawing on the wall, just do it! But what if you want to review her book?

The Truth of a Thing

July 1st, 2015
The Truth of a Thing

Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life emphasized the contingency of any single story. In contrast, her new novel focuses on one life lived to the full. But for better or for worse, Atkinson can’t resist the lure of metafiction…

Second Glance: Fatal Beauty

May 1st, 2015
Second Glance: Fatal Beauty

Nothing shakes up the literary establishment like women writers — or women readers — who won’t stay quietly in their place.

Shallow Sargasso Sea

March 1st, 2015
Shallow Sargasso Sea

Can you improve on a classic? A new novel retells George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda — but much more is lost than gained in the attempt.

Our Year in Reading 2014

December 1st, 2014
Our Year in Reading 2014

Our unabashedly bookish editors and friends look back on some of the highlights from 2014’s reading.

Peer Review: Elena Ferrante’s Hunger, Rebellion, and Rage

September 1st, 2014
Peer Review: Elena Ferrante’s Hunger, Rebellion, and Rage

The critical consensus around reclusive Italian novelist Elena Ferrante is enough to make you suspect collusion – but to what end? and at what cost? Rohan Maitzen reviews the reviewers.

Title Menu: 10 Great “Minor” Works by Major Writers

August 1st, 2014
Title Menu: 10 Great “Minor” Works by Major Writers

The great writers of the ages were hardly (often) one-hit wonders. In praise of diversity, the staff at OLM celebrate the lesser-known b-sides of some pretty well known pens.

Beethoven in the Soul

July 1st, 2014
Beethoven in the Soul

Over time, the books of our youth make way for titles better suited to the grown-up readers we have become. But not all of them: YA or not, some books — such as K. M. Peyton’s Pennington trilogy — deserve a lasting place on our shelves.

Title Menu: 12 Hot Summer Reads

July 1st, 2014
Title Menu: 12 Hot Summer Reads

It’s summer at last, and you won’t find any relief from the heat in our editors’ round-up of the hottest books they know.

Title Menu: 8 More George Eliot Novels

June 1st, 2014
Title Menu: 8 More George Eliot Novels

Middlemarch is all the rage now – as it should be! But what if you’ve already read not just George Eliot’s masterpiece but all of her novels? Do not despair: these eight books will bring you close to her in spirit.

Lost in Eliot

February 1st, 2014
Lost in Eliot

The books we reread say a lot about who we are or who we hope to be. They also shape us, as Rebecca Mead discovers in exploring her own long relationship with George Eliot’s Middlemarch.

Title Menu: Twoo Wuv

February 1st, 2014
Title Menu: Twoo Wuv

February would be unremittingly bleak if it weren’t for the excuse it gives us to ponder the meaning of love, that many-splendored thing. Our editors offer up their favorite literary treatments.

Our Year in Reading 2013

December 1st, 2013
Our Year in Reading 2013

In this annual retrospective, the Open Letters team looks back on the highlights of our 2013 reading.

Bridget of Sighs

December 1st, 2013
Bridget of Sighs

The new Bridget Jones novel will make you laugh and cry — but it might also make you fret, as it continues the series’ ongoing celebration of incompetence. Is blue soup really the best we can hope for, or the most we should strive for?

Second Glance: No Lesser Crime

November 1st, 2013
Second Glance: No Lesser Crime

“The Moonstone will have its vengeance on you and yours!” Those fateful words propel us into one of the first and best of modern English detective novels — still sensational after all these years.

An Inglorious Life

October 1st, 2013
An Inglorious Life

Elizabeth Gilbert’s ambitious novel imagines the life of a 19th-century woman botanist, as insightful as Darwin but lost to history. It’s an interesting project, and a worthy one, but does the novel live up to its premise?

Summer Reading 2013

July 1st, 2013
Summer Reading 2013

In our annual feature, the Open Letters team offers suggestions for summer reading that take you off the beaten path of blockbusters and beach novels.

Summer Reading 2013 continues

July 1st, 2013
Summer Reading 2013 continues

In part two of our seasonal feature the Open Letters staff recommends another trove of unconventional books – and a few old favorites, too.

From the Archives: Summer Reading 2012 Continues

July 1st, 2013
From the Archives: Summer Reading 2012 Continues

Our feature continues, as more Open Letters folk share their annual Summer Reading recommendations!

It Might Have Been

May 1st, 2013
It Might Have Been

In life there are no second chances, no do-overs. But what if we could keep trying until we got it right? Kate Atkinson explores the possibilities in a novel that just might win her a coveted literary prize or two.

Her Hands Full of Sugar-Plums

March 1st, 2013
Her Hands Full of Sugar-Plums

George Eliot’s Middlemarch is beloved for its wit and wisdom. But behind its many beauties lurks a disquieting possibility: that misery is the price we must pay for morality.

Queen of the Gypsies

February 1st, 2013
10

Spoiler alert! It’s a familiar warning — but isn’t it also a silly one? There’s so much more to novels than their plots. And yet what if we’re better readers for not knowing? Consider The Mill on the Floss, for example.

We’ve Been with Lizzie All Along

February 1st, 2013
pride

A conversation about the enduring appeal of Pride & Prejudice.

Our Year in Reading 2012

December 1st, 2012
Our Year in Reading 2012

In this special feature, we look back at some highlights of the reading we did in 2012.

Our Year in Reading 2012 Continues

December 1st, 2012
Our Year in Reading 2012 Continues

In this special feature, we look back at some highlights of the reading we did in 2012.

Performance Anxiety

November 1st, 2012
Performance Anxiety

What does it mean to say “only the music matters?” In her bleakly intelligent new novel, Lynne Sharon Schwartz challenges us to consider what we really value in music and how our own demand for superhuman perfection strips it of its soul.

Book Review: The Life of George Eliot

September 20th, 2012
henrybio

A careful and discerning new biography tackles that most daunting of all great Victorian novelists, George Eliot – with largely praiseworthy results.

All the World to Nothing

May 1st, 2012
9

The real mystery of Richard III is not the fate of his nephews, the Princes in the Tower, but why we never tire of telling and re-telling his story. What do we really see when we stare at his enigmatic portrait?

Abandonment, Richness, Surprise

March 1st, 2012
VWoolf

Impressionistic, idiosyncratic, unsubstantiated: Virginia Woolf’s literary essays challenge us to rethink, not just our experience of reading, but our expectations of criticism itself.

Second Glance: The Quiet One

January 1st, 2012
Second Glance: The Quiet One

Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is usually overshadowed by her sisters’ masterpieces, Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, but this gripping novel, a startling exposé of Victorian patriarchy, deserves a turn in the spotlight.

Our Year in Reading

December 1st, 2011
narrow-road-to-the-interior-paperback-book

In this special feature, we look back at some highlights of the reading we did in 2011

Our Year in Reading Goes On

December 1st, 2011
festhitler

More highlights from our 2011 reading

Desultory Vivacity

November 1st, 2011
middlemarch

Does marriage mean much anymore? Does the novel? Jeffrey Eugenides sets out to reinvent the classic literary story—but can he combine the style and the substance of the greats he hopes to update to our times?

Summer Reading 2011

July 1st, 2011
hbo-rome-2

In this year’s special feature, our team of avid readers offered some suggestions for books a little off the beaten path of summer blockbusters.

Summer Reading 2011 Goes On

July 1st, 2011
lindbergh

More of this year’s special feature, where we offered some less predictable ideas for books to tuck into your beach tote or suitcase.

Memo to a Colleague

May 1st, 2011
marjoriegarber

Is Marjorie Garber’s defense of literary studies balm to the beleaguered English professor’s soul? Not yet, anyway.

A Woman of High Courage

February 1st, 2011
IndemnityOnly

For nearly three decades, Sara Paretsky has used the familiar form of the private eye novel to turn a critical eye on contemporary America. Rohan Maitzen reviews the latest in her V.I. Warshawski series.

George Eliot for Dummies

November 1st, 2010
2

Free thinker, strong-minded woman, scholar, lover, novelist: George Eliot lived a courageous life that should be known and celebrated. But does Brenda Maddox’s biography do it justice?

Against the Wind

October 1st, 2010
gwtw

It’s one of the iconic bestsellers of the 20th century, an epic of love and war — but how well does “Gone With The Wind” hold up, as a book? A personal journey through a problematic classic.

The Morality of Vanity Fair: It’s All About You

July 1st, 2010
67.1

Thackeray’s seminal big baggy monster of a novel is a satiric romp across all levels of English society – and every bit as enjoyable now as it was when it was the talk of London in 1847

The Idea of Her

June 1st, 2010
rainingmen

Her stature has only grown over time, dominating bookstores, television, movie theaters, and now the Internet. She’s Jane Austen, the world’s least likely pop star.