One thing I did while I was hibernating was read three novels:

Life after Life, by Kate Atkinson

The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt

The Last Runaway, by Tracy Chevalier

Of the three, it was The Goldfinch that kept me up past my bedtime on a regular basis until I finished it. Just brilliant. Theo broke my heart. The other characters are beautifully-drawn; the plot had its hooks in me from the very beginning and didn’t let go. Even though I raced through it, when I got to the end, I had the feeling that you do at the end of a really long, really good ski run. Exhilarated and wanting more. Read it, but don’t say I didn’t warn you about what it’s going to do to your beauty sleep.

I thought Life After Life was everything the reviews promised. As Ursula hiccups through her life, starting and ending and starting again, I found myself wondering just how the next time around was going to shape up, and was nearly always delighted. The  flashes of subtle humor throughout were, for me, a huge part of its charm. Highly recommended.

The Last Runaway was a gift, and while I’m not sure I’d have bought it myself, I enjoyed it. There were a few places where I wished the editor had been a bit more firm — enough already with the “It’s so different from England” comments — but the story was compelling. And if you’re a quilter (or related to one), you’ll find yourself imagining Honor’s works of art. Worth a read.

If you’ve read any of these, and/or have recommendations for gems that I missed, please pipe up in the comments. I’d love to hear what you have to say.