Not too late for summer reading in September

Here are three new books that get thumbs-up reviews from the Jewish Book Council.

In Lauren Grodstein’s “The Explanation of Everything,” Andy Waite’s life has been in flux. A biology professor at a small New Jersey college, he teaches an evolutionary course known as “There is No God.” He is immersed in academia, hoping for tenure as he engages in writing a grant proposal to research revenge-related alcohol abuse. At the same time he is raising two young daughters alone, while constantly seeing and talking to the ghost of his dead wife, who was killed by a drunk driver.

As he attempts to carefully and civilly reconcile his shaky relationships with colleagues, students and friends, he is sideswiped by two manipulative evangelical students who want to prove the truth of intelligent design and dispel Andy’s atheist views.

Richly drawn characters who speak their minds and hearts and beckon us into their  lives populate this well-plotted story.

“The Explanation for Everything” by Lauren Grodstein (352 pages, Algonquin Books, $24.95)


Author Daniel Silva’s art restorer, Gabriel Allon, is once again reluctantly brought into service as an agent for “the Office,” Israel’s intelligence agency. In “The English Girl,” the brilliant undercover operative helps his British counterpart find a beautiful young woman who has disappeared on Corsica. She is the mistress of the prime minister and his career could be ruined if the affair were to become public. Gabriel’s search uncovers a far more complicated situation, leading him to collaborate with some unsavory characters.

Readers will not be able to put down this book: The action is nonstop, taking them from Corsica to France to Great Britain to Russia to Israel.

“The English Girl” by Daniel Silva (496 pages, Harper, $27.99)


On her 23rd birthday Juliet Montague comes home to find that both her husband and her most prized possession — her portrait, painted when she was 9 — have disappeared. In the traditional suburban London Jewish community in which she lives, Juliet is now an agunah. Her husband has vanished without giving her a divorce, leaving her unable to marry and looked upon with a mixture of sympathy and suspicion.

On her 30th birthday, as Juliet heads to London to buy a badly needed refrigerator, she sees a young artist working on a portrait of a girl and decides to buy that instead. The artist refuses to sell it, telling Juliet that what she wants is a portrait of herself, which he will paint. That meeting and portrait change Juliet’s life.

“The Gallery of Vanished Husbands” keeps the reader fully engaged in Juliet’s daring leap into a foreign world where she is never entirely at home.

Author Natasha Solomons will be at Book Passage at 7 p.m.. Monday, Sept. 9, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera.

The Gallery of Vanished Husbands: A Novel” by Natasha Solomons (352 pages, Plume, $32.36)