Thomas Hardy was one cold dude. Read some of these excerpts from his letters and find your day ruined. Highlights include a critique of a prime minister’s funeral and his excitement at the hanging of Elizabeth Martha Brown, accused of killing her husband. Here’s a Millions piece on the difficulties of teaching Hardy in 21st-century Florida.
“To get me through a 550-page collection, the stories must be very good indeed. These are.” When Lionel Shriver participated in our Year in Reading ritual several years back, she dedicated her reading diary to William Trevor, who just passed away. “Trevor’s writing is so perfect that you don’t even notice it’s perfect,” she wrote. “He mainlines pure narrative directly into your veins. The words never get in the way; the words, like their author, disappear.”
New this week: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton; The Story of Land and Sea by Katy Simpson Smith; Lisette’s List by Susan Vreeland; Fives and Twenty Fives by Michael Pitre; Mr. Tall by Tony Earley; and Love, of a Kind by Felix Dennis. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview.