The Synopsis Edition
With the winners of the Indie Lit Awards set to be announced quite soon, I thought I'd begin a series of posts about the Short List for the Fiction category. Today is a refresher course on the finalists, so that you can get ready to cheer (or groan) when the decisions are announced on Tuesday morning.
When this list was finalized at the beginning of the year, I could only claim real familiarity with one of the titles: The Night Circus. (Really, how could I have avoided familiarity with that one? Talk about publicity campaign!) I'll talk about my thoughts on each of the books later this week, but here are some front/back cover details to get the ball rolling. (Shown in alphabetical order.) Who do you hope takes the prize?
In a glorious landscape of sea and sky, where nature's bounty seems endless, these two families are caught in the cross currents of conflict and change--and swept up in an approaching cataclysm that will require all their strength of heart and soul to survive.
In exchange for false identity papers, Claire agrees to aid the French Resistance. Despite the ever-present danger, she comes to love the enduring beauty of the City of Light, exploring it in the company of Thomas Grey, a mysterious Englishman working with the Resistance. Claire's bravery and intelligence make her a valuable operative, and slowly her values shift as she witnesses the courageous spirit of the Parisians.
But deception and betrayal force her to flee once more--this time to fight for the man she loves and what she knows is right. Claire just prays she has the heart and determination to survive long enough to one day see Paris again.
Within these nocturnal black-and-white-striped tents is an utterly unique experience, a feast for the senses, where one can get lost in a maze of clouds, meander through a lush garden made of ice, stare in wonderment as the tattooed contortionist folds herself into a small glass box, and become deliciously tipsy from the scents of caramel and cinnamon that waft through the air.
Welcome to Le Cirque des Rêves.
Beyond the smoke and mirrors, however, a fierce competition is under way—a contest between two young illusionists, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood to compete in a "game" to which they have been irrevocably bound by their mercurial masters. Unbeknownst to the players, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will.
As the circus travels around the world, the feats of magic gain fantastical new heights with every stop. The game is well under way and the lives of all those involved--the eccentric circus owner, the elusive contortionist, the mystical fortune-teller, and a pair of red-headed twins born backstage among them--are swept up in a wake of spells and charms.
But when Celia discovers that Marco is her adversary, they begin to think of the game not as a competition but as a wonderful collaboration. With no knowledge of how the game must end, the innocently tumble headfirst into love. A deep, passionate, and magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.
Set in a middle-class neighborhood in Atlanta in the 1980s, the novel revolves around James Witherspoon's two families: the public one and the secret one. When the daughters from each family meet and form a friendship, only one of them knows they are sisters--a relationship destined to explode.
As Jones explores the backstories of her rich yet flawed characters, she reveals the joy, and the destruction, they brought to one another's lives. And at the heart of it all are the two girls whose lives are at stake--portrayed with raw authenticity as they seek love, demand attention, and try to imagine themselves as women.